I have been playing piano for a few months now, and I have come to a roadblock, in this one song I play CDEFG C on octave 4, while I do the same on octave 5. All of this is with one hand, I have been using my thumb for octave 4 and my small finger for octave 5. I find it pretty hard, I keep missing notes and having trouble adjusting my fingers to play these notes. Am I doing anything wrong, or is this just a thing I need to practice? Sorry if I am a bit unclear, I don’t know many piano terms as I have been teaching myself.

  • Post notation! I can't tell if octave 4 and octave 5 are played in octaves with two hands, one hand in two-note octaves, or as a repeat at the octave in one hand... and which hand is it if it's one. What is the rhythm? Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 13:47

3 Answers 3


Since, with octaves, both notes are always the same distance apart, get a goood span, and don't change the shape of your hand. you only need to look at the top or bottom note, and the other will play the corresponding octave. I suggest watching the thumb.

Articulate from your wrist, and move your whole arm laterally at the right speed to arrive at the next notes, and instead of moving your fingers, move the whole hand up and down in a pecking motion. Slowly, and with lots of practice, it'll come. Although, as musicamante says, there are many other techniques that should be learned before that one.

  • To expand on this, I usually use 5 on white notes and 4 on black notes. Also, while wrist articulation works fine for a lot of people, I do octaves (well enough to do a creditable job of Schumann's Papillons in college, but certainly no Horowitz) by leaving the wrists pretty much stationary while rotating at the midpoint of the forearm; elbow goes up while hand goes down, and move originates from the shoulder.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 22:38

That's just practice.

Depending on your hands, you may also try with thumb and ring finger.

But consider that if you've been learning piano for such a short time, there's a ton of other things to learn and practice before playing octaves.

I mean, it's not like it's forbidden, but it's almost like focusing on long jumping while still learning to walk.
It will require time and lots of more important milestones have to be reached before being able to do that, so don't get too mad about it, as you could even risk to injure yourself or learn with a bad technique that could become difficult to re-educate.

  • Thanks, I’ll try! But as I said I have been teaching myself for the moment until I can take classes, are there any links you would recommend? Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 23:15

I was tought to use the 5:th finger on white keys, but to use the 4:th finger on black keys. Note that this applies for both hands.

  • None of my piano teachers ever taught me away from thumb on low note and pinky on octave-higher note every single time. Granted, I can't span a 9th without hitting inner notes or needing to place my fingers very precisely.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 14:30
  • @Dekkadeci, what you are writing about the thumb and pinky applies only for the right hand. In comparison, what I wrote is "universal" in that it applies to both hands.
    – Goran W
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 16:06
  • Along those lines, my piano teachers never taught me to use anything other than my pinky and thumb for octave spans.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 11:57
  • I hear you! Well, my piano teacher (a former classical pianist) taught me to use the 5:th finger on white keys, but to use the 4:th finger on black keys. This works very fine in fact.
    – Goran W
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:02

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