Intermediate Keyboard Lessons
Playing Octaves with the Left Hand
By now, you are familiar with the term octave, which is a derivative of the Latin word octava, which means 'eight'.
In order to play an octave, you have to open up and stretch your left hand. The low note is played with your fifth finger, an d the high note is played with your thumb.
Place your fifth finger on the low C key and your thumb on middle C and play example 1a.
Play example 1a often so you can get accustomed to stretching the fingers on your left hand and getting the feel of playing octaves.
In the next example, you're going to play eighth notes. Eighth notes are a subdivision of quarter notes. In other words, two eighth notes equal one quarter note. As you can see in measures 2, 4, 7 and 9 in example 2a, there are two eighth notes for the third and fourth beats of each measure. In measure 2, the third beat is comprised of the two eighth notes E and D, and the eighth notes C and B make up the fourth beat. Your goal is to play the eighth notes evenly within the third and fourth beats of the measure. As you can see from the fingering in example 2a, your thumb will be playing more than one key; it will play the A, G, F and E keys. You will discover that the thumb on your left hand will be very active when playing bass lines.
In example 3a you are going to play a series of eighth notes in every measure except the last measure, which has a whole note. With the steady flow of eighth notes, this exercise is designed to help you play the eighth notes evenly. Start playing this exercise slowly. When you have worked out the placement of notes on the keyboard and the corresponding fingering, increase your speed to the designated allegro tempo.