I'd like some feedback on some keyboard diagrams I'm making. I'd like to indicate where you would put your fingertip (fingers 1-5) on the y-axis if you were to play certain chords depending on if the thumb (1) or pinky (5) is on a black or white key. These aren't proper chords. It is just a draft to test for finger height.

Keyboard Layout With Thumb or Pinky on Black or White Keys

How high up do you generally play on the piano if your thumb or pinky is on a black key?

If you think you'd put them elsewhere, could you download the image below and send me an image with a red circle where you would place your fingers instead?

At the moment I am only considering statically playing one chord rather than a piece of music. It will be a chord dictionary for the beginner, so there are no other complex considerations like what the previous or next chord will be.

My assumption was that the position of your fingers is maintained, you simply move your hand up or down vertically and press down if the key is to be used.

Would you say that you curl your longer fingers (2,3,4) more when your pinky or thumb is on a black key, so that your fingers don't reach as far up as they normally would with the fingers extended? I have a sense that you either have to press harder with longer fingers (2-4) when they reach the top of the keys, or you shorten the extension so that you have a longer lever for the piano key, thus reducing the effort you need to press it. If one does use the curling method when fingers are near the top, which fingers would curl the most? What percentage would you reduce the outstretched fingers by? Would the length be 90% of the normal length, say, when the thumb and pinky are on the white keys? Or would you curl them 90% when the pinky is on a black key, and 80% when the thumb is on a black key?

  • 2
    This is not easy. A preliminary check shows that: i - players fingers have a huge variance in actual length. ii - the proportional length and stretch of players four/five fingers varies considerably. iii - players use different techniques from each other. iv - taking three or four notes out of context will possibly allow for different fingerings for those same notes. v - clusters of notes are often specific, rather than random, so a random set will not be helpful to players.
    – Tim
    Nov 19, 2018 at 7:52
  • 1
    I'm curious about why you want to know this. Assuming you get an answer how will that be useful to you?
    – JimM
    Nov 19, 2018 at 8:48
  • I agree with Tim, this isn’t answerable. In addition to Tim’s concerns, I would add that even for the same player playing the same chord, the finger positions might vary depending on what chords are played before and after and how loud the chord is played, among other things. Also where the chord is on the keyboard matters, since reaching to the left or right makes a difference in finger position. Nov 19, 2018 at 13:00
  • I'm trying to see if my design may be an improvement to diagrams like this for beginners. I just want this to be a resource people who are learning their first chords can use, so they can visually see where it might be ideal to place their fingers. I often find as a beginner that I have to shift the fingers into the right spot after seeing diagrams where the finger position is not provided. flametreepublishing.com/ProductImages/… Nov 19, 2018 at 15:41
  • For instance, an image showing me on the y-axis where my fingers should go is much more helpful than conventional images where the dots only appear on two heights (one height for black keys and one height for white keys) !Finger Positions. I want to show general principles like fingers 2-4 are longer than 1 and 5 so its easy to see where one should place ones fingers, unlike !Piano Dots. Nov 19, 2018 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


I don't really think too much about precise 'Y axis' position.

I try to maintain a good hand position with fingers curved. But my hand is small so I have to uncurl to reach full octave chords.

If I have to place my hand deeper into the keys - closer to the fall board - and leverage on the keys decreases, I compensate by using a stronger touch.

So, alignment of the Y axis isn't the main concern. Good hand shape and touch are the focus, at least for me.

But, most importantly, this comment...

At the moment I am only considering statically playing one chord rather than a piece of music. It will be a chord dictionary for the beginner, so there are no other complex considerations like what the previous or next chord will be.

...really concerns me.

This seems contrary to the whole point of fingering technique.

Except for 5 finger position and full octave chords - which have standard fingerings - the entire topic of finger is about preparing for what comes next.

This Y axis concept may be counter-productive.

  • It's not about technique per se, its about visualization which aids the beginner in quickly putting their fingers in the right place. Of course adjustments will be made later depending on the next chord, or on the person's individual hand and finger size. So, yes, it may not be useful for intermediate or advanced players, but is a stepping stone for beginners. Nov 19, 2018 at 16:25
  • There are existing sources for this. This one imslp.org/wiki/… includes photos of the hand positions. Nov 19, 2018 at 16:44

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