“Flyways” are simply the name of the fingers that tend to raise up higher than the others. That’s what I call them anyway:
One reason this happens is because the fingers are not strong enough to push down by themselves, and they feel like they need some help. Most commonly, the ring finger is the weakest, and when pressed, it seems like it needs some help, and the other fingers raise up to give it a little extra help to push down.
Sometimes, like in the picture above, motor skills and dexterity are still developing. The other fingers go up because the child is learning how to use his individual fingers. Other times, for any age, the tendency is to want to see the note “happening.” In other words, like an artist wanting to see where he puts his paint brush, the early piano player feels as if he needs to physically see the note being played.
Another related issue is anxiety. Yes, our bodies tense up and tend to pull everything towards our head. It seems crazy, but think about what happens physiologically when you get tense. Have you noticed your shoulders go up to your ears? Even your breathing tends to be towards your head – in your chest – very short and shallow breaths.
The fingers can go up from nervousness as well.
Practice relaxing at home while you play. Tense up your fingers, arms, shoulders and head/face as tight as you can for three seconds and let it loose. Take a breath (or seven) and try almost visualizing the pressure draining out of your head.
That’s a physiological exercise (among many) you can try, but here’s another thing which is easier to say than do:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6
Very appropriate, I would say.
The fingers will come down in time. Just like learning anything, the repetition will strengthen the fingers, give students a chance to know the music enough to play with out trying to “see” it being played, and end up relaxing them because they are discovering they can do it!