Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1847974 - 02/19/12 05:49 PM Martian fingering
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
I've begun using this term, humorously, but also entirely seriously.

I came up with it because of the resistance I've gotten initially from parents and other teachers about allowing beginners to grab the correct notes with any fingers, no matter how weird it seems.

I have to explain that this is only temporary, that I am trying to build a very quick link between notes and keys, and that the moment I see reading happening naturally I will immediately replace the Martian fingering with "earth" fingering. smile

The resistance is only temporary and is much like countering "pretend your hand is holding a ball" or "keep a coin on your hand while playing scales".

The result of sticking to this idea is that my current group of very young players are reading music faster than ever before, and because they build reading reflexes quicker, I am able to introduce rather advanced fingering concepts much more early.

I had not expected this to work out so well. Have any of you had similar experiences?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
(ad) My Music Staff
Check out the new way to manage your music studio
#1848041 - 02/19/12 07:42 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
If you don't get beginners to use the correct fingering, it's a bad habit that'll be impossible to break later on.

Fingering is all about logic and mental discipline. Some kids have both. Most have one or the other. But some kids have neither!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#1848045 - 02/19/12 07:49 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
Beth_Frances Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 189
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
This is interesting, and goes very much against the grain of traditional teacher thinking! I despise getting transfers who use "martian fingering" (I do like that term smile ).

BUT, I can see how it might work. Since most beginner pieces are only in one or two hand positions, by not having the hand sit in that position, they might be encouraged to think more about what the note name of the next note is rather than that it's just the next finger up or down.

Do you play it as a game (lets use the most crazy fingering we can come up with!!!), or just not correct when they, of their own volition, start on finger 5 when it says to use finger 1?

Top
#1848087 - 02/19/12 09:11 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
If you don't get beginners to use the correct fingering, it's a bad habit that'll be impossible to break later on.

Fingering is all about logic and mental discipline. Some kids have both. Most have one or the other. But some kids have neither!

I think you missed my point.

I'm a fanatic about intelligent fingering that works. But note reading has to be there to add the fingering TO...

Your reponse makes it seem as though I am "teaching a bad habit" that will be "impossible to break later on".

That's just not what I do..
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1848117 - 02/19/12 09:55 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
This is an interesting premise. Do the students not naturally choose fingerings that seem logical? How would you describe the fingerings you see them using?
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#1848196 - 02/19/12 11:51 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 350
When I teach songs by rote, I tend not to correct fingering. I let kids discover for themselves what the most efficient way to finger it is. I find that kids that love learning songs by rote can better "handle" songs where they're constantly revising hand position, expanding and contracting the hand as it moves up and down the keyboard. They also tend to learn note names more quickly. I've never tried it as a strategy to learn to read music, however. I think I'd be to nervous to allow students to be sloppy about fingering because I don't think I was taught to be careful enough about it until I was much too advanced to go back and unlearn bad habits. It's been tough to teach myself to pay attention to fingering at all, and I don't want to subject my students to that. I'm intrigued by your observations, though.
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

Top
#1848241 - 02/20/12 01:04 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Minniemay]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
This is an interesting premise. Do the students not naturally choose fingerings that seem logical? How would you describe the fingerings you see them using?

The fingerings they choose are fascinating. If they do not work well, I immediately step in.

1) A beginning student played Twinkle Twinkle, LH, with 5 fingers placed perfectly on C through G. Second lesson. I start off IMMEDIATELY with simple tunes in the bass clef, because I have never yet taught a student (one who does not play another instrument) who had a comparitive weakness in the treble clef, which automatically tends to get over-stressed. When this student got to A, she simply used the RH to play it.

2) Another young student got as far as G, then did a finger substitution. Then, coming back down, this one (a young boy) came down to D, 5th finger, then turned 4 over 5. Both these moves become necessary, at some point, in odd situations. After he played the music correctly, I showed him two solutions:

a) Cross 2 over 1, to get to the A, then cross back.
b) Reach with 2 to the G on the opening 5th so that the thumb is there for the A, come back to 2 on G, finger substitute from 2 to 1 on the G, then come down in a five-finger position.

I would never have taught the second fingering possibility ordinarily, but I cogratulated him on intuiting the substitution. I told him it is a very advanced idea and that we will need it someday.

Another, more common thing: a student plays the C scale for the first time, in a piece, ascending. Student plays 1 2 3 4 5, then anything may happen. I have seen kids cross 3 over 5. In my music I have 1 over the F, so at that point I can say: "You had a very intelligent solution. But there is a better one, and we are going to use it now."

Then I show the standard 123, 12345 fingering.

Sooner or later students have to learn music on their own. Sooner or later they will run into editions that have little or no fingering, or that suggest fingering that absolutely is not good for their hands. Why wait a long time to discuss WHY we make the choices we make? No one gave me that info, and I was damaged by the lack of intelligent guidance.


Edited by Gary D. (02/20/12 01:05 AM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1848248 - 02/20/12 01:20 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Beth_Frances]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
This is interesting, and goes very much against the grain of traditional teacher thinking! I despise getting transfers who use "martian fingering" (I do like that term smile ).

So do I, but usually when students come to me with horrendous fingering, they also:

1) Lift and depress the sustain pedal as the hand lifts and depresses, which I call "marionette" pedaling. When a transfer student pedals correctly, I am shocked. It is a rare thing.
2) Either play with spaghetti fingers (no finger action, limp) or with a very tight hand (which destroys both light playing and powerful passage work).
3) Play with utterly stiff, locked wrists OR play with excessive, choreographed movement
4) Have no idea how to count accurately.
5) Have never played anything, no matter how long, in any other manner except from the beginning to the end, going back to the beginning as soon as they glitch.

And so on...
Quote:

BUT, I can see how it might work. Since most beginner pieces are only in one or two hand positions, by not having the hand sit in that position, they might be encouraged to think more about what the note name of the next note is rather than that it's just the next finger up or down.

Think about it in another way. Actually demonstrate, for a student, how to play something simple, one note in each hand, with only the 2nd finger, for both parts. Show that it can be done, that someone with claws could make music, using the sustain pedal and a GREAT deal of finesse.

Then repeat with the best possible fingering, showing that good fingering is actually easier, that it works better.

Play a chromatic scale, as quickly as possible, using only 1 finger. Then use the most frequently taught fingering, mostly 1 and 3 except for BC and EF. Then use the "Liszt" fingering to blaze up and down the keyboard at maximum speed.

We can always show that the best fingering possible always trumps an inferior one.
Quote:

Do you play it as a game (lets use the most crazy fingering we can come up with!!!), or just not correct when they, of their own volition, start on finger 5 when it says to use finger 1?

No. I present it as a challenge, as they are learning to read. If I see them trying to use finger numbers to play melodic line and see mistakes happening BECAUSE of fingering, I will play the same line with one finger, or two, showing that it can be done. I will ask them to prove they are reading the notes by using only one finger. The moment I know they are reading, I will flip instantly to the best possible fingering I can suggest.


Edited by Gary D. (02/20/12 01:22 AM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1848258 - 02/20/12 01:42 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Brinestone]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Brinestone
When I teach songs by rote, I tend not to correct fingering. I let kids discover for themselves what the most efficient way to finger it is. I find that kids that love learning songs by rote can better "handle" songs where they're constantly revising hand position, expanding and contracting the hand as it moves up and down the keyboard. They also tend to learn note names more quickly.

I do absolutely no rote teaching for music, only for certain skills. I do encourage students to test their ears by trying to learn music by working it out. For example, one of my eight-year-old students came in playing Axel F (Beverly Hills Cop), and he only had one pitch wrong. The rhythm was pretty close too.

But when I give my students music, I usually refuse to play it for them until they have "had a go at it". That means that the moment they complete a page, pure sight-reading, I will then play it for them. I also give them as many new pages as they ask for at the end of each lesson. Exploring for one week in the first few months is not going to damage anything. The following week I check it all, and if any fingering they are using looks like the beginning of a bad habit, I correct it immediately and insist that they follow my suggestions.

The catch 22: if we give them too many solutions, no matter how well they eventually play, they may become overly dependent on us and unable to work on their own.

But if we do not immediately step in and guide them through solutions that avoid permanent bad habits, that is crippling and is likely to lead to a permanently flawed technique that another teacher will eventually have to try to fix, assuming that is even possible.
Quote:

I've never tried it as a strategy to learn to read music, however. I think I'd be to nervous to allow students to be sloppy about fingering because I don't think I was taught to be careful enough about it until I was much too advanced to go back and unlearn bad habits. It's been tough to teach myself to pay attention to fingering at all, and I don't want to subject my students to that. I'm intrigued by your observations, though.

We can't possibly do damage by teaching our students how and why to pick fingerings, and we need to be ready to step in when they get lost. But what is equally damaging is doing the fingering for them, because that short-circuits the study of and mastery of WHY we choose the fingerings we choose.

Fingering is for polishing a technique that will eventually find a way to handle any problem. Reading is about reflexively being able to just get the fingers on the right notes as fast as possible. Those two very different skills have to fuse so that they work together, and that is a very difficult thing to accomplish, or to teach.


Edited by Gary D. (02/20/12 01:43 AM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top
#1848282 - 02/20/12 03:30 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Most of my students accept the fingering I give, and sometimes we discuss the rationale. I have a few dyslexic students who can't cope with finger numbers, and I allow martian fingering because it is the only way to make progress. I recently took on a student playing at grade 3 level (actually not, but playing grade 3 pieces). He uses solely fingers 1, 2 and 3 on each hand and 4 and 5 just fly away and don't get used. He has managed so far because he has big hands. He uses them in a turned out position, which is really tense. I was amazed (1) that he was doing this and (2) that his music had absolutely *no* fingerings written in from his other teacher. My conclusion is that he has *never* been taught fingering, but allowed to use whatever he liked, so he never learned to use fingers 4 and 5. I was quite shocked at this but perhaps the more seasoned teachers here have seen this before.

It makes me appreciate the value of getting a 5-finger position sorted early on.

The main thing about student's own fingering strageties (e.g. 4 over 5 when at the end of a run, etc) is that they don't think ahead. I see what I need to be teaching them is how to find the most ergonomic way to *not* run out of fingers when in a run. They typically don't see that one solution will maintain legato, another won't. So I do need to show them how to think like a pianist.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

Top
#1848294 - 02/20/12 04:30 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Gary D.]
Elza Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 21
Loc: UK
Gary D, I teach in a very similar way to you. I find that I get much better results (in the long term) by getting my students to learn the note names rather than teach via finger numbers. It is much more important to avoid tension by using a free arm, a comfortable body position and curved fingers. My students learn to used curved fingers, but play tenuto (non-legato) in the early stages. At a very young age (4 and 5 years old) not all children are ready to use their 10 fingers. As you say, if their reading and listening is solid there will be no difficulty in introducing the most appropriate fingering when they are ready.

Top
#1848314 - 02/20/12 06:28 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: ten left thumbs]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
TLT, may I borrow a line with a thought:
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

The main thing about student's own fingering strageties (e.g. 4 over 5 when at the end of a run, etc) is that they don't think ahead.

Thinking ahead is something I discovered rather late as a student, and I wonder whether it occurs to us at all if it isn't promoted somehow by teachers. Those two words just struck me as important. smile

Top
#1848370 - 02/20/12 10:07 AM Re: Martian fingering [Re: keystring]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: keystring
TLT, may I borrow a line with a thought:
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

The main thing about student's own fingering strageties (e.g. 4 over 5 when at the end of a run, etc) is that they don't think ahead.

Thinking ahead is something I discovered rather late as a student, and I wonder whether it occurs to us at all if it isn't promoted somehow by teachers. Those two words just struck me as important. smile


I remember struggling with thinking ahead while driving. Children on pavement with ball, slow down. Bus head, may stop here. It was really hard, and probably the last thing I learned.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

Top
#1848564 - 02/20/12 04:23 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
This is an interesting premise. Do the students not naturally choose fingerings that seem logical? How would you describe the fingerings you see them using?

My favorite scale-passage fingering from students:

12345454 or 12345345

For them, being illogical is intuitive. You see a lot of this in sight reading, because kids don't think about fingering--they're so worried about playing the right notes. Even some of my better students continue to do this at Level 8.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#1848606 - 02/20/12 05:47 PM Re: Martian fingering [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
This is an interesting premise. Do the students not naturally choose fingerings that seem logical? How would you describe the fingerings you see them using?

My favorite scale-passage fingering from students:

12345454 or 12345345

For them, being illogical is intuitive. You see a lot of this in sight reading, because kids don't think about fingering--they're so worried about playing the right notes. Even some of my better students continue to do this at Level 8.

This is because the concept of how scales work does not yet "live in their bodies". Scale fingering is an intellectual concept that exists as a disconnected concept for them.

The ability to sightread and reflexively pick good fingerings seems to happen very late for most students, and if they get too much help from us, that sense may be delayed.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

Top

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
150 registered (aesop, 36251, ajames, accordeur, *windowlicker*, 46 invisible), 1483 Guests and 21 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75897 Members
42 Forums
156843 Topics
2304609 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Some tuning clients are just so...
by Eric Gloo
08/21/14 07:54 PM
Brands of soundboard
by PhilipInChina
08/21/14 06:23 PM
Ear training - what is it?
by Scordatura
08/21/14 05:05 PM
Speaker/monitor quieries
by Enthusiast
08/21/14 04:06 PM
Rubinstein or horowitz couldn't play op 10 no 1?
by rov
08/21/14 04:05 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission