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#2115588 - 07/10/13 09:04 AM Absolute beginner question
King Norre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Antwerp, Belgium
Hey guys,

I was trying to play a new lesson but I have a question about it. In the last bar they say you have to play the do(c) in the bass with your thumb(1). I find it a bit confusing because if you played the sol(g) with your pinkee(5) in the previous bar shouldn't you just use your index(2) finger? Wouldn't that be easier?
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#2115592 - 07/10/13 09:09 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
You play the first beat of the last bar LH with finger 1 in order to set up the stretch to the note an octave lower with 5. It would be harder to stretch 2 to 5. Some people would be able to play an octave with 2-5, but it's easier to play it 1-5.

This is something you will start to encounter in your music: playing with fingers different from a precise 5-finger position (that is, with the 5 fingers on precisely adjacent keys), in order to make other moves later on more convenient.
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#2115596 - 07/10/13 09:20 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: PianoStudent88]
King Norre Offline
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Registered: 10/04/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Antwerp, Belgium
Ah, I think I got it. So you have to play the two notes in the last bar without shifting position? Just stretching?
Thanks for the advice thumb


Edited by King Norre (07/10/13 09:21 AM)
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#2115599 - 07/10/13 09:28 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I have short fingers so sometimes I cheat on the fingering and do my own thing. I pass my exams so what does it matter. I am learning a new chromatic scale and I played it very well (chromatic scales are not hard). BUT my teacher said I was not using the correct fingering. I said to her.. at the end of the day what does it matter. When you sit the exam, the examiner does not look at your fingering so who cares. Her reply was.. it does matter because it will affect your playing, and the more experienced you get, you cannot get away with doing any old fingering.


Edited by adultpianist (07/10/13 09:31 AM)

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#2115604 - 07/10/13 09:57 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: King Norre
Ah, I think I got it. So you have to play the two notes in the last bar without shifting position? Just stretching?
Thanks for the advice thumb

I'm not sure excatly what you mean by "without shifting position", so let me say that it's OK if the thumb comes away from the high do/C as you move the pinkie to the low do/C. In fact, you could let your thumb come entirely away and end up with your hand relaxed in a neutral 5-finger position with 5-4-3-2-1 over do-re-mi-fa-sol. (I'm not sure if you would do exactly that, but it's as much of a possibility as ending with your hand fully stretched with 5-1 over do-do.)

Ask your teacher to show you how to play this 1 to 5 do to do, and what to do with your hand, so you don't get into any awkward habits.
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#2115605 - 07/10/13 10:01 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: adultpianist]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: adultpianist
I have short fingers so sometimes I cheat on the fingering and do my own thing. I pass my exams so what does it matter. I am learning a new chromatic scale and I played it very well (chromatic scales are not hard). BUT my teacher said I was not using the correct fingering. I said to her.. at the end of the day what does it matter. When you sit the exam, the examiner does not look at your fingering so who cares. Her reply was.. it does matter because it will affect your playing, and the more experienced you get, you cannot get away with doing any old fingering.

There is more to good piano playing than passing an exam! And no exam is able to test all the components of good piano playing. Your teacher is absolutely right. I say this as someone who, like you, does enjoy the structure and accomplishment of working towards passing exams. But I know that the exam is not the sole measure or director of what I want to accomplish, which is good piano playing.

Now, there are several different fingerings that are commonly used on a chromatic scale. And there may be reasons on a specific chromatic passage in a specific piece to use a variation different from any of the common ones. But when practicing a scale, it is good practice to determine a fingering and stick to it.

I am having a hard time picturing how short fingers would affect one's fingering in a chromatic scale in any case, since all the notes to be played are so close together.

[ETA: Perhaps you could post the fingering you are using, and the fingering your teacher wants you to use?]


Edited by PianoStudent88 (07/10/13 10:10 AM)
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#2115620 - 07/10/13 10:49 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: PianoStudent88]
adultpianist Offline
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Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
As far as I am concerned, If I was setting the syllabus for a piano exam, I would make the examiner sit next to the student and watch their fingering to see if they use the right fingering. What is the point of learning to play with correct fingering and then play using the wrong fingering? Yes you still play the piece well and so on, but with incorrect fingering. My teacher tells me you MUST use right fingering because when you have to eventually play longer and faster pieces, it will make it more comfortable to play with speed.

For example... the Bach Harpsichord concerto is played with a lot of trills at a very fast pace. You almost certainly have to be precise in your fingering with that piece.


Edited by adultpianist (07/10/13 10:51 AM)

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#2115638 - 07/10/13 11:40 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 815
Originally Posted By: King Norre
Ah, I think I got it. So you have to play the two notes in the last bar without shifting position? Just stretching?


Sort of.

Generally speaking, you're doing one of two basic things when playing more complex pieces. Either you're playing *within* a hand position or you are *changing* hand positions.

When playing within a hand position, your hands really aren't moving up and down the keyboard.

When changing hand positions, you're generally moving your hands up and down the keyboard so that you can put your hands over the notes to be played and play within a hand position for a while.

When changing hand positions, any time you have to pick your hand up and put it down in the new position, it's risky. If you overshoot or undershoot a note, not only will you have hit a clunker, but you're going to have to scramble to ensure you don't play more clunkers.

So lots of piano technique is about cleverly managing your hand position through gradual shifts so that the passages are more secure. If you were to play that C with 2, then you might have to pick up to hit the low C.

By hitting that C with 1, you've been able to play within hand position for the G-to-C interval, but you've ALSO cleverly and securely shifted your hand position so that the C-to-C interval is now within reach.

For more complex pieces, it eventually becomes a puzzle. I picked up a new piece last Friday, went through it trying to work out fingerings, only to spend all my lesson Monday reworking the fingerings with my teacher.
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#2115677 - 07/10/13 01:02 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: adultpianist]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 803
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: adultpianist
As far as I am concerned, If I was setting the syllabus for a piano exam, I would make the examiner sit next to the student and watch their fingering to see if they use the right fingering. What is the point of learning to play with correct fingering and then play using the wrong fingering? Yes you still play the piece well and so on, but with incorrect fingering. My teacher tells me you MUST use right fingering because when you have to eventually play longer and faster pieces, it will make it more comfortable to play with speed.

For example... the Bach Harpsichord concerto is played with a lot of trills at a very fast pace. You almost certainly have to be precise in your fingering with that piece.


Discovering a workable fingering is important, but there is no such thing as correct or wrong fingering, not even in Bach! In the end the only thing that matters is the result, sound and fluidity. Since hands are different, a good fingering for one person does not necessarily work for another. I can understand if an examiner is looking for consistency, but if one is not consistent and plays with random fingers the piece will suffer anyway. I would really question a teacher who claims that there's only one correct fingering to use. But maybe what your teacher meant was that you must stick to the fingering you have chosen and found solid. It is quite common though, that one needs to change a fingering after a while because what works when playing slowly does not always work when speeding up. I personally think that the ability to pick good personal fingerings is one of the most important skills one can have as an amateur pianist.

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#2115726 - 07/10/13 03:34 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
> if you played the (g) with your pinkee(5) in the previous bar shouldn't you just use your index(2) finger?

No, don't do that. The last two measures for the left hand should be played with fingers 1, 5 pick up your entire hand, move to the new position then 1, 5 again. The lesson here is to learn to move your hand. A rest is provided for you to move, so you have plenty of time, and you will get a more consistent tone this way if both measures are played with the same motion 1,5 and 1,5.
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#2115729 - 07/10/13 03:40 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: adultpianist]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: adultpianist
As far as I am concerned, If I was setting the syllabus for a piano exam, I would make the examiner sit next to the student and watch their fingering to see if they use the right fingering. What is the point of learning to play with correct fingering and then play using the wrong fingering? Yes you still play the piece well and so on, but with incorrect fingering. My teacher tells me you MUST use right fingering because when you have to eventually play longer and faster pieces, it will make it more comfortable to play with speed.

For example... the Bach Harpsichord concerto is played with a lot of trills at a very fast pace. You almost certainly have to be precise in your fingering with that piece.



The examiner does not look at your hands and don't care about your fingering. You could play your technical and repertoire tests with any fingering you like. The only thing they care about is the sound. There are always more than one fingering for anything but the one that yield the best tone should be used. No points are deducted for fingering mistakes, but points are deducted for hesitations, uneven tone, and wierd unexpected accents.
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#2115730 - 07/10/13 03:41 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: 4evrBeginR
> if you played the (g) with your pinkee(5) in the previous bar shouldn't you just use your index(2) finger?

No, don't do that. The last two measures for the left hand should be played with fingers 1, 5 pick up your entire hand, move to the new position then 1, 5 again. The lesson here is to learn to move your hand. A rest is provided for you to move, so you have plenty of time, and you will get a more consistent tone this way if both measures are played with the same motion 1,5 and 1,5. (doesn't apply if you are on a digital)

I wouldn't call what I do, picking my hand up and moving it between measures.

Next to last measure, sol with 1, natural location from mi-fa with 3-2 in previous measure. Stretch to lower sol with 5, relaxing the thumb down towards the pinkie as play sol so that I'm ready for...

Last measure, a slight contraction of the hand to play do with 1 (instead of with the naturally located 2). Stretch to lower do with 5, relaxing the thumb down towards the pinkie as play lower do, since it's better to relax the hand than to keep it stretched if the stretch is not needed for something following.

My hand does move positions, but not as simply as being in a stretched 5-1 from sol-to-sol, followed by a one piece move at the barline to a stretched 5-1 from do-to-do.
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#2115778 - 07/10/13 05:16 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: 4evrBeginR]
King Norre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Antwerp, Belgium
Thanks for all the replies guys! thumb

I'm playing it with 1-5 now, just like the book said wink
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#2115807 - 07/10/13 06:39 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
Sweet06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
yeah man, my teacher GRILLED me for getting fingerings totally wrong, i was ignoring them in the book. use em dude, its good technique and while you can caveman finger your way thru most of the easy stuff, i have a feeling later on when we are upgraded to intermediate we'll look back and be glad we put effort into doing the fingerings properly.
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#2115822 - 07/10/13 07:35 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: outo]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3174
Originally Posted By: outo

Discovering a workable fingering is important, but there is no such thing as correct or wrong fingering, not even in Bach!


I disagree with "There is no such thing as correct or wrong fingering..."

Fingering is for many students a learned discipline, and until you learn what works, your "fingering" can be a real mess, and practicing that mess will build into your memory fingering patterns that might "work" now, but will not with more advanced music. And which can lead to injury, even if the music allegedly sounds OK, which it usually doesn't to a trained ear.

For example, I have seen students, in beginner music, play a simple C chord C-E-G with fingers 3-4-5, which is totally clumsy and completely unnecessary in that music, and they had no idea there was a better way, even if the finger numbers of 1-3-5 were printed on the page at the chord.

They are usually so busy with reading the notes and playing them that fingering is overlooked. (Solution= go slower!)

Or people play a series of 5 notes that begins with G above middle C, and progresses upwards, yet start the run not with finger #1, so they have enough fingers to complete the run, but rather start with finger #3 or #4 or even #5 and then have to jump or twist their fingers around to complete the run.

You can call those examples OK fingering, but they simply are not.

The statement, Since hands are different, a good fingering for one person does not necessarily work for another is basically true, but there are limits to what works for the overwhelming majority of people. Plus, that statement can be used as an excuse to continue on with terrible fingering.

Basically, what is printed in beginner music, and most later music, "fits" the hands and ability of the majority of people, and if it doesn't, it should be used as a framework guide from which to adapt.

The bottom line is that there exists basic principles for fingering that work for most people most of the time.

Beginners should follow those basic principles, and learn why they exist.

Any changes should occur only later when the student is knowlegeable enough to ascertain that there is a better way. Or their teacher should know. I spend much of my time with students explaining fingering, and it principles, and have yet to see very many examples where printed fingering should be changed for individual hand shapes and sizes, although it does occur once in a while.
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#2115825 - 07/10/13 07:42 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
Sweet06 Offline
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Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
i can kind of get behind the argument of not having "wrong or correct fingering" but i think the correct statement would be, there is no "wrong" fingering, just more efficient and better fingering. like someone said, its all about the sound that you create from the piano, no matter how you do it. but now i'm just arguing semantics :P
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#2115855 - 07/10/13 09:24 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: rocket88]
keystring Online   content
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There is such a thing as fingering which is correct for that player and I think that is what outou meant. We have different sized and shaped hands and the fingering that is written in a book does not necessarily suit that particular set of hands. This isn't a matter of laziness or "excuses" - in fact, working out good fingering is work. I imagine that most teachers guide their students toward finding suitable fingering, first finding it for them, and eventually having them do it on their own. Using silly thoughtless fingering creates problems. Always following numbers written in a book even when it is uncomfortable for that hand can also not be good.

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#2115858 - 07/10/13 09:43 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3174
I think that the argument of the "correct fingering for that player" is overplayed.

Most printed fingering is ok, or nearly ok, as it is for most people...I am talking about beginner music here.

For a person with very small or very large hands, or a hand problem (I have had 2 adult students who were missing a finger), then they should and do have to make adjustments.

But for the average hand size person, go with the typical normal which is usually what is printed, which will help you avoid the ridiculous and self-defeating.

And it will help you learn what are the conventions of fingering, which, once again, are adjustable to a degree to fit hand sizes, but you can go beyond those into the area of bad fingering.

BTW..I do not think, nor did I say, nor imply, that the concept of "correct fingering for each player" was an excuse that led to "laziness" (I did not use that word).

What I did say in that post regarding beginners who were using poor fingering when it was written in the music is this, quite the opposite of being lazy:
Quote:


They are usually so busy with reading the notes and playing them that fingering is overlooked. (Solution= go slower!)


Enjoy your playing folks!
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#2115920 - 07/11/13 01:43 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: rocket88]
outo Offline
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Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 803
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I think that the argument of the "correct fingering for that player" is overplayed.

Most printed fingering is ok, or nearly ok, as it is for most people...I am talking about beginner music here.

For a person with very small or very large hands, or a hand problem (I have had 2 adult students who were missing a finger), then they should and do have to make adjustments.



Ok, if you are talking about beginner music, it's probably close to the truth. But after that the teacher must take into account the personal differences and teach how to revise fingerins when needed.

The idea that by following the correct fingering (assuming the OP means the fingering given by the composer/editor) would enable one to play fast and difficult music just isn't true. You talk about majority, but the fact is that the majority of piano students still are children and female, with smaller hands, while the composers were mainly men and often playing with period instruments, not the modern piano.

I guess I have a different view, since even from the beginning much of the music I learned did not have fingerings (so I had to learn how to figure them out) and my hands generally require a lot of revisions to the given fingerings. I check them out with my teacher just to make sure they are really needed and I am not just avoiding something that is actually workable with some practice. With etudes I always try to follow the given fingerings, sometimes my teacher has to tell me that I am being silly not to change because it just doesn't fit my hand and there's an easier way grin


Edited by outo (07/11/13 01:50 AM)

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#2115946 - 07/11/13 03:39 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: King Norre]
rnaple Offline

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Registered: 12/23/10
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One thing has not been mentioned. Physiology. To understand physiology is to understand what the body can take for long periods of time. There are accomplished musicians who never learned physiology. Thus they now have injuries and having to relearn what is right fingering for what the hands can tolerate.
Thus the term: Overuse injuries.

What we are doing. Go with experience. A teacher. Guidance. Will get you ahead of the game.
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#2115957 - 07/11/13 04:18 AM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: rocket88]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I think that the argument of the "correct fingering for that player" is overplayed.

I didn't know that this is an argument that is commonly made, and I was not thinking of beginner books. I was also not thinking of students who carelessly use any fingering in a hurry and who would use this as an excuse. This is something coming from my own studies and when I learned this it made a lot of sense to me.

I think we're in different scenarios.

Good fingering is important because it makes or breaks piano playing, but the fingering prewritten in the book may not always be suitable for a student. In that case students may rework the fingering, often with their teacher's help. I think that you said something like that in your earlier post too.

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#2116109 - 07/11/13 12:06 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: keystring]
Ragdoll Offline
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Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 689
Loc: Illinois
eekwow So many staccato notes! I can't help you with the question but... This score looks like "Dueling Banjos" Is it? That's what I heard in my head when I looked at it. grin
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#2116115 - 07/11/13 12:41 PM Re: Absolute beginner question [Re: Ragdoll]
King Norre Offline
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Registered: 10/04/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Antwerp, Belgium
Mmm ... I don't know. It's just a lesson from my Michael Aaron Piano Course book. Maybe he got his inspiration from Dueling Banjos?
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