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#1024484 - 12/18/08 10:10 PM Fingering rules
Dave123 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
When you look at a new piece of music to learn. How do you work out how to finger the piece are there some rules to follow? Does one do it what appears to be best suited to you? or other.
As I venture out a little and experiment, what should I be looking for to make fingering easier and more natural?

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#1024485 - 12/18/08 10:35 PM Re: Fingering rules
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
It seems that the previous and following passages as well as comfortable and non-tension choices are the rave.

;\)

I don't think there is a standard, but once one is well-versed enough, they can see a required pattern (after so much time, it becomes a skill).
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1024486 - 12/18/08 11:04 PM Re: Fingering rules
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
A lot of it is based on logistics, i.e. having enough fingers to play a phrase, which includes thumb-under movements from scales to provide enough fingers for the phrase.

Another part is common sense. Use the fingers that are the strongest, and the fingering pattern that comfortably and naturally fits the hand. For example, I had a student who was self-taught who would play a root triad (in C, that is C-E-G) with the fingers 2-4-5. That is the most awkward way imaginable of playing it!
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1024487 - 12/19/08 01:29 AM Re: Fingering rules
dannylux Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1817
Loc: Connecticut
If you learn the standard fingering for scales, arpeggios, and chords, you will have little trouble in devising good fingering for any piece you decide to learn.

Good fingering is one of the keys to a happy experience at the piano.


Mel
_________________________
My Recordings

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn

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#1024488 - 12/19/08 07:16 AM Re: Fingering rules
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
 Quote:
Originally posted by dannylux:
If you learn the standard fingering for scales, arpeggios, and chords, you will have little trouble in devising good fingering for any piece you decide to learn.

Good fingering is one of the keys to a happy experience at the piano.


Mel [/b]
Great Advice.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1024489 - 12/19/08 08:46 AM Re: Fingering rules
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
Dave,
I would suggest looking through some books of sheet music and get a feel for how the "pros" suggest fingering. Generally they seem to follow the scales and arp fingering, as others have suggested. Reading thru (without playing) and considering why they may have chosen fingerings can be helpful.

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#1024490 - 12/19/08 11:55 AM Re: Fingering rules
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The best way to solve the whole issue of
fingering and technique is to put the
score on the piano and then simply plop
both hands (don't practice hands separate)
on the keyboard in the vicinity
where the music is to be played and
then play from the score without looking
at your hands as much as possible. When
you do this, not only does it improve
reading, since you can now totally focus on
reading the score, but this way your hands
can find the best fingering and technique
on their own with no special effort on
your part--thus you no longer have to worry
about reading fingering numbers or
if your technique is right, which greatly
simplifies playing. (The black keys,
a pianist's best friend, aid in this
because they stick up above the white
keys in a regular 2 and 3 pattern and
allow the hands to find the keys.
You wouldn't be able to distinguish
one white key from another without the
black keys, which is why the black keys
stick up like they do--a piano with all
white keys would be all but unplayable.)

This not looking at your hands when playing
with sheet music, in fact, is the single
most important thing in playing the piano
(most teachers will not tell you this).
From this one most important thing, all
other skills and requirements for playing
develop naturally with no special
effort on your part: sight-reading, ear
training, posture and carriage, the
right physical development for playing,
improvisation, fingering and technique,
rubato, accent, rhythm, improvisation,
memorization, transposition, playing
by ear, etc.

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#1024491 - 12/19/08 12:04 PM Re: Fingering rules
epf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 658
Loc: Central Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
This not looking at your hands when playing
with sheet music, in fact, is the single
most important thing in playing the piano
(most teachers will not tell you this). [/b]
And all this time I thought hitting the right keys at the right time with the right force was the most important. Silly me.

Ed
_________________________
"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria

YouTube Channel

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#1024492 - 12/19/08 01:00 PM Re: Fingering rules
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
 Quote:
Originally posted by dannylux:
If you learn the standard fingering for scales, arpeggios, and chords, you will have little trouble in devising good fingering for any piece you decide to learn.

Good fingering is one of the keys to a happy experience at the piano.


Mel [/b]
Great Advice. [/b]
And bad fingering—random and inconsistent choices that your hands find for themselves, as Gyro suggests—is one of the greatest barriers to advancement and very difficult to unlearn.

If the sound fingering and all other skills and requirements for playing well happened automatically, everyone would be able to do it—even Gyro. Sadly, by his own admission he's a "shockingly bad" pianist who couldn't sight-read volume one of a method book. And he is the very last person whose thoroughly wrongheaded advice should be followed.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1024493 - 12/19/08 01:16 PM Re: Fingering rules
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Well, if you simply take Gyro's advice and then do the exact opposite, you will probably be moving in the right direction. There is no benefit to avoiding looking at your hands. There is every reason to actually think about your fingerings in the context of what makes sense and what is reasonable giving the anatomy of a hand. Note that not all editors seem to have a good grasp of actual hands so some suggested fingerings are pretty horrible, but it's a good place to start.
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#1024494 - 12/19/08 01:19 PM Re: Fingering rules
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
a good grasp of actual hands [/b]
Thats funny. :p
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1024495 - 12/19/08 01:48 PM Re: Fingering rules
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Some classical players apparently write
in every single fingering number, even
for long pieces, at the very beginning
of learning a piece, and then adhere
strictly to that fingering when learning
the piece. This has the seeming advantage
of allowing you to learn the piece
fast, since you use the exact same fingering
every time you practice.

However, there are major problems with
this approach as I see it. First there
is the sheer tedium of the task of
writing in every single finger number
on anything longer than one page. This
can rapidly turn playing into an activity
of the most unpleasant kind, and when
an activity become associated with
unpleasantness it's not long afterwards
that the person stops doing it. For
those who can stomach this kind of
drudgery, yet this might eventually
start to limit them to playing shorter
pieces, so that there will be less of a task
of writing in finger numbers. Thus,
these people become limited to shorter
pieces for life.

Then there is the inherent slipshod nature
of the above procedure. In order to
make the task feasible one would tend
to rely on the printed fingering for
the most part, and then you're back
to playing with the one-size-fits-all
fingering that was devised by some
hack in the 1900's.

Then there is the problem of trying to
determine the best fingering in advance
of learning the piece. This is fundamentally
flawed in my view, because you don't
know the best fingering for a piece
you're unfamiliar with. Thus, you
get stuck with what may be seriously
flawed fingering from day one, and
you resist changing it because you've
invested so much time in it. Also,
fingering may have to change as you develop
more skill when learning a piece, but
again, change is resisted because
you've invested so much time in the
wrong fingering that you devised at
the start of the piece. This all can
start to put limits on a person's
playing: he'll start to stick with
pieces that are less challenging so that he
can devise a workable fingering at
the start. Thus, the person ends up
playing shorter salon pieces for the
rest of his life.

The not looking at your hands when playing
with the score method solves all these problems.
Long pieces are no longer a problem
because you're not writing in any finger
numbers. If fingering has to change
while learning a piece, the hands will
take care of that on their own with
no special effort on your part. Your
hands take care of everything with this
approach, you just play.

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#1024496 - 12/19/08 02:07 PM Re: Fingering rules
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4777
Loc: Seattle area, WA
It's hard to answer this without knowing what level you are playing. There are no rules other than to use the fingering that gives you the best performance you are capable of.

I think the answer to your question lies in experience. If you are a beginner, try to buy quality editions by editors who have a reputation for excellent fingering. If you have a teacher, he or she can recommend what to buy and can help you learn how to adjust the fingering for your hands.

As you progress, you will find some fingering feels natural - but that's actually your experience coming through. Sometimes the best fingering will feel very awkward and you may not be able to change it. You will just have to train your muscle memory with repetition. Later these tough places will begin to feel natural and this comfort will extend to future music.

Generally, it's a good idea to stick with the traditional fingering for scales and arpeggios, but no fingering is set in stone. Everyone's hand muscles, tendons, ligaments and size are different. With experience, you will fly through some passages and get stuck in others. When you get stuck, patiently try different combinations -even if they seem odd. Try thumb under 3, thumb under 4, trill with different fingers, etc. (In more advanced music you may even have to play 4 over 5, 3 over 5.) Feel free to experiment. Glance at your hands to see how they are handling the fingering. If possible, try to avoid playing black keys with your thumb, (not always possible). Repeat and repeat until you can get the tempo up, then reexamine your fingering. Is it still working?

Oh, one more thing. Write in the fingering you are using. Write down as many notes are you need to get through it. As you gain more experience, you will find you may only need to write in the leading note or notes. ALWAYS use a pencil because it is fairly common to make changes.

Enjoy the work. It really is rewarding. Good luck!
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1024497 - 12/19/08 02:07 PM Re: Fingering rules
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Nobody said anything about writing in fingering for every single note.

Nobody said anything about stubbornly sticking to chosen fingering once it's apparent that it's not viable and needs to be modified.

Nobody in their right mind would call music editors hacks. They're scholars with lengthy credentials, experts in academic research and musicians with practical experience to their credit. Following the suggestions of hack posters at Piano World is far more hazardous than following the fingering suggestions of skilled editors.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1024498 - 12/20/08 12:44 AM Re: Fingering rules
Dave123 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
Thank you for all the useful information and your thoughts on the subject. Currently I am working out of the Alfred's adult course book 1 and supplementary books, so even though it does not give all the fingering it does give some that helps one get started. I do have a teacher, we are on Christmas break so I didn't get to ask him before the break, I wanting to venture out beyond Alfred's material it was the question I asked myself as I looked through the music scores "how do I start to work out fingering".
I do work with scales quite allot and follow the recommended fingering.

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