The key to making good, accurate jumps on the piano or keyboard is the same whether the jump is big or small: Maintain a comfortable, balanced hand position as you jump from the starting hand position across the keyboard to your landing destination. Jumping with an overextended pinky and your hand outstretched like the descent of a giant hawk upon its prey is very common.

Instead, the image you want to keep in mind is of a frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. A frog starts and lands with its body centered over the lily pad, contracting to the same closed, restful shape. Your hands are frogs. As they jump from one position to another, they should look the same before and after the jump. You can practice this skill with every exercise.


Note-to-note jumps

In this first exercise, you try jumping from note to note. Visualize each jump before you make the move. Include the relaxed, frog-like shape of your hand, the arc it traces, and the finger landing on its target key.


Note-to-chord jumps

Same principle — visualize and jump to an easy, relaxed position on the chord notes, and don’t overextend your fingers or move with your hand stuck in an awkward hand position.


Chord-to-chord jumps

You want just enough muscle flexion to keep your position stable. Your hands should also have enough flexion to hold their position as they come down into the keys without collapsing in the joints. Flexibility in your wrists absorbs the weight as you play the chords.


Accents on the downbeat

The next two exercises increase the challenge level with greater hand independence, varied articulation, and faster hand position changes. Here, your frogs get a springboard from the upbeat (on beat four) to the downbeat (on beat one). Practice with a light upbeat and a well-accented downbeat.


Accents on the upbeat

Now move the accent to the upbeat, with a light, springy downbeat.