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US Congressman Donald Manzullo signs a short arm cast.  (Photo: Wikipedia)

US Congressman Donald Manzullo signs a short arm cast. (Photo: Wikipedia)

A reader asks:

One of my piano students broke her right arm.  Do you know of any method books to help improve her left hand during the 6 weeks she’ll be in a cast?


I understand your reasons for using this as an opportunity to address a common problem. However, you may want to put yourself in your student’s place for a moment first.

  • Everyone’s left hand is 2 weeks behind the right.
  • The left hand often learns by imitating the right.
  • Someone who is forced to use only one hand is at risk of overuse and injury.  The uninjured hand is being used all day for everything.  That is tiring!  Have you ever tried it?

If this were my student, I would go with the situation instead.  There is so much variety to be found!  You and your student will both have fun, and your student will learn more than you imagine in the process.

A few suggestions:

  • Duets
    • use music for 2 hands, with student playing one part and teacher playing the other.  Then switch parts.  (Your student will be playing the treble part with her left hand!  How unusual is that?)
    • play duets written for 4 hands, leaving 1 part out.  (You have 3 hands between you.)
  • Chorus music or hymns
    • student can play all 4 parts, one at a time.  This is wonderful sight-reading practice.
  • Teacher plays
    • student pedals
    • student walks around the room in rhythm, counts out loud, sings names of notes, plays triangle or drum with 1 hand
  • Listen to a recording and talk about it
  • Make up a piece

OK, now that I’ve gotten you started, it’s your turn!  I’m sure you will have more ideas.  Just go with it!  You can make up a lesson as you go along. Your student will have plenty of ideas, too.

Good luck, and have fun!

Have you taught a student who broke his/her arm?  What did you do?  Please share your thoughts in the Comment Section below!

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