New here.I am a keyboard player (wanted to be a pianist but couldn't afford it). I use yamaha PSR-E403, which has non-weighted keys.Suppose, I am improvising over F# Major pentatonic scale, which has all black notes.My fingers slip if I try to go to tempo like 80BPM with 4 notes in each beat.Also, thumb on the black keys is nightmare for me and it becomes a major problem when I have to tuck it under from my 3rd finger. Same problem occurs if i am arpeggiating over F# major chord on 2-3 octaves. I do great with chords like D,E, basically, when my thumb on the white keys but whole hand on black keys feels unnatural to me. How to improve contact and controls on the black keys ? I don't have any teacher to guide me on this so, any suggestions will be appreciated.

I am not sure though but it can also be a problem of my instrument, I have seen pianos with flat shaped black keys from the top but in my instrument black keys are slight curved from the top.

P.S. I have spent quite a lot of time practicing slow.

  • Could you visit a music shop and compare to see what is the same and what is different when you play a piano and when you play a different sort of keyboard? Nov 14, 2015 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


In classical music it is a general rule that the thumb always stays on the white keys. Obviously Stevie Wonder does not adhere to this rule when he plays Superstition in Eb, but there is some sense to the general rule.

Notice how short your thumb is compared to the rest of your fingers (at least mine is!). Black keys are further away than white keys so playing with your thumb on the black keys means you have to twist your wrist or go up so far on the black keys that the rest of your fingers can't play comfortably. So bringing your thumb into the mix means moving your hand around a lot more than usual, destabilizing your technique.

My technique is not particular good, so I know the issue very well. I also always feel like slipping and sliding when playing in Eb minor, so it is definitely one of the more difficult keys to play. If anyone out there have a greater way to do it, I'm all ears, but personally I've just practiced moving my hand back and forth quickly to compensate. But I am definitely adapting my soloing to the key and playing less 16th notes than I would given I was playing D minor.

  • What about not using your thumb on black keys when playing in E flat minor? You can thumb-over to the f and/or c-flat (in fact, you'd do both in the standard fingering for an E flat minor scale, starting with a 2 on the E flat). Also, the D flat is raised quite often for obvious reasons, providing an extra "thumb point".
    – 11684
    Dec 18, 2015 at 0:35
  • That describes what I'm doing at the moment pretty well, but I was mostly talking about when you play all black keys (i.e. Eb minor pentatonic). The Superstition groove is a great example. On one hand it is great to play in Eb, because you can hit mostly any black notes and it will sound good, but I find it hard to stay stable when playing fast runs.
    – zkwsk
    Dec 18, 2015 at 19:59
  • Ah, yeah. Pentatonic is nasty.
    – 11684
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:30

Muscle memory.
The idea is to do each step a few times, as opposed to the whole song, with your hand and fingers raised higher then usual.
You should ask someone before trying, as you can hurt yourself easily.

P.S.: it will be a pain in the neck, but can do miracles.

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