Multi-tasking finger puppet

Finger puppets for piano posture and note accuracy in Didsbury Manchester

I am a big fan of using lots of fun props and manipulatives in lessons, and over the last few years I have ended up with boxes full of them.   I just can’t resist their lure!

So I extra-love it when I can put them to work double-duty and find multi-tasking uses for these little rascals. 

This little shark finger puppet from Ikea has found a new lease of life this week!

Ikea shark puppet on piano keys in Didsbury Macnhester

First use: encouraging a level wrist.

I get beginner pianists to practice forming a curved ‘shelter’ hand shape.  We talk about building shelters in Forest School, and not collapsing their shelters onto our beloved little fuzzy Reddy-Eddie.  However, often beginners then inadvertently raise their wrist. Here’s 4 year old Leo’s first attempt at forming a curved hand shape:

high wrist Didsbury piano Manchester

He’s not squashing the fuzzy, but see how high that wrist is! 

Next I invited him to lower his wrist so that the shark can ‘clean his wrist.’

Once his wrist is level with the keys he will feel the little shark brush against the underneath of his wrist as a tactile reminder. 

Piano wrist technique Didsbury Manchester

Ok, it’s not perfect yet- he’s 4!  We can refine this, because the hand shape has dropped a little.  But he dropped that wrist all by himself, and can feel what it’s like to be level with the keys, all thanks to baby sharkey!

Second use: improving accuracy of anything!

This worked wonders with even a twelve year old boy last week!   Sometimes if our focus and concentration is a bit lacking, ‘silly’ mistakes creep in. 

This student was making mistakes playing the correct pattern of LH steps, repeats and leaps in The Phoenix Rises by Daniel McFarlane from Supersonics Piano:

We place the shark on the keys about an octave or so away from the top key.  We say that the top is ‘the sea.’  

Each time they play something accurately the shark moves one key up closer to ‘the sea’, and the student is a bit safer.  But if they make a mistake, the shark moves down one key closer to their hands….DUN-DUN-DUUUN! 

It is amazing how determined students will be to keep that shark away from them!  It always produces good results and a laugh instead of them feeling frustrated. 

It’s an altogether more light-hearted way to raise expectations.


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