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#511992 - 10/16/02 09:16 PM finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
i am trying to learn piano from books. i have my main finger placement at middle c, but what i don't understand is when i need to play keys higher or lower on the scale is there a set method to placing your fingers? i don't feel i should randomly place my fingers once i move away from the middle c finger placement. in my lessons, i am now needing to move my right or left hand to the right or the left to strike other keys which cannot be reached without moving my hands. i don't know how to place my fingers once i move away from the basic left hand cdefg and right hand cdefg.

i have researched this in another book i am reading "How to Read Music", but i think my question is so elementary that it is not discussed. thanks.

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#511993 - 10/16/02 09:30 PM Re: finger placement
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
This question makes me sad. I think you need some time with someone who already plays -- preferably a teacher. Your first teacher may be your most important. It is hard unlearn things once you've learned them improperly. There must be a community college or someone nearby who can help.

Don't just rely on books -- your basics need a real person. I've been playing for over 40 years and still see a teacher from time-to-time.

Ken

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#511994 - 10/16/02 09:36 PM Re: finger placement
JBryan Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 9798
Loc: Oklahoma City
kluurs is right. You are attempting to acquire basic skills that can never be learned from a book. You need a teacher.
_________________________
Better to light one small candle than to curse the %&#$@#! darkness.

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#511995 - 10/16/02 10:05 PM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
thank you for your response, and thank you for your honesty. however, i have a beyond full life which right now would never allow me the time to take formal lessons. i enjoy the piano and would like to learn it as a hobby--that is, play and study it when time allows.

maybe, i will seek for someone who would be willing to show me the awnsers to my questions. i realize it might be difficult to answer them via the internet.

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#511996 - 10/16/02 10:07 PM Re: finger placement
kdurling Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 37
Loc: Berkeley, California
bmw -

First of all, I totally second what the other guys have said - get a teacher, and fire them and get another one if you don't like them.

That said, here are two things that you might find useful.

1) most beginning piano music is organized into 5-finger "positions" not unlike what string players use, and they are defined by the note covered by the lowest finger in each hand. You've described the "C" position. In most cases when you leave that position, it will be to another clearly defined position, say a "G" position, where your LH pinky and RH thumb will be on G, and that will put a new set of notes under your hands until the next shift is required. How exactly you make the shift is contextual, and this is where a teacher comes in.

2) If you place your RH thumb on E (any E) and your 2nd thru 5th fingers on F# G# Bb and C respectively, arrange yourself so that a line extended from your forearm continues straight over the top of your hand and is parallel to your fingers (this is called straight and level) and your fingers curve gently and naturally down to their respective keys, you basically have a model of what a good hand position should be. I have my students drop their hand down by their side to relax the fingers, and then bring it up *without changing anything* and lay it on the keys in the above description. The line from your elbow to your first knuckle should be ever so slightly tilted down, which you achieve by adjusting bench height. Make sure your shoulders stay relaxed.

This is the hand position that I consider "ground zero." I may have to change it to achieve certain things, but I always come back to it as soon as possible. It should also show you how to approach playing the black keys, should you run into them. Playing in keys with more than 3 or 4 balck keys is much easier than others, because the hand can be more often in the above position - which was, by the way, a hand position used by Chopin to teach correct shape.

Hope this helps a little - go out and get a good teacher!
_________________________
Ken

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#511997 - 10/16/02 10:25 PM Re: finger placement
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Some folk appear to have been able to teach themselves, but the fact that you are asking questions at all leads me to agree with the others. You really do need a here and now, one-on-one pianist to show you what you want to learn. If you want to do this badly enough you'll find the time.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#511998 - 10/16/02 11:11 PM Re: finger placement
Lyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 364
Loc: North Carolina
Hi BMW,

I strongly agree with everyone else here, you definitely need to find a teacher. You mentioned that you just want to be able to play for your own enjoyment (as a hobby) and that's perfectly alright...but it's pretty tough to enjoy playing the piano when incorrect fingering and poor technique not only makes playing awkward, but can be very painful and can result in injury as well. You owe it to yourself to make[/b] the time in your busy schedule to find yourself a good teacher and learn to play in a manner that you will be able to enjoy it. As a student nurse I can certainly relate to having a busy schedule, but making time for regular piano practice and improving my skill is still a priority for me. I wish you the best in your learning.

Lyn B.

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#511999 - 10/17/02 02:33 AM Re: finger placement
nancyww Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 585
Loc: central oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by bmw:
.
maybe, i will seek for someone who would be willing to show me the awnsers to my questions. i realize it might be difficult to answer them via the internet.[/b]
bmw, It would save you alot of time and frustration if you could find someone to show you the answers to your questions. Some things are not easily explained in words. Do you have any friends who play the piano? Do any of your children's friends take piano lessons? You could save up your questions and ask them whenever you see them, or make a point to invite them over for tea and cookies and talk music. This might help you until you have the time for regular lessons.

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#512000 - 10/17/02 06:46 AM Re: finger placement
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
I think you should go on trying till you are so happy with what you do that you look fo a coach/teacher/friend.

Go slowly and try and feel the keys and even better if you can : see them while you read the notes.

Do not play by memory until you can read simple pieces.

You can do it.

I have worked myself with several teachers in France (they were French, Spanish, Japanese and American !). They always emphasized the interpretation and never noticed that I would play by memory and could not read music or play without looking at my fingers.

It took me years to undo their teaching till I could read.

Once you can read, it is like for books : the music is mainly in the text and if you are attracted to a text, there is a good chance that you have the music already in you.

But if you cannot read, the whole of litterature is closed for you.

Go very slowly till your fingers go to the right place. The trick is to really let your fingers do the work. Do not try to direct them consciously. They must learn at their own rythm.

Once the process will be started, you will experience the same joy a baby has when he masters a new skill.

This is the source of all things to come.
_________________________
Benedict

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#512001 - 10/17/02 02:57 PM Re: finger placement
fuddle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/15/02
Posts: 2
Loc: U.K.
It is possible to learn this stuff by oneself. But I would say it requires a whole lot more discipline than under a teacher.

It is worth reading books (preferably with pictures) that explain the principles of hand position .. and more generally of posture. Make sure you apply this.. It is unfortunate that, to begin with, some elements of posture/fingering may be more tiring than seemingly more natural styles.. but are nevertheless important... An example of this might be sitting up straight if your posture is otherwise more lazy/slouched.

Note that the hand's position relates to fingering because fingering patterns are generally designed to maintian good hand position throughout a performance.

For fingering in particular, begin by practising using books in which all or most of the correct fingering is shown. Practice scales and such too (a lot). As you progress you will eventually find the fingering is obvious, and move to books where only less obvious fingering is shown.

The whole point of one method of fingering over another is to allow you to play more expressively, and hence better. If you wear out your hands, unbalance them, twist your fingers or get tied in knots trying to follow the notes you're not playing well. Eventually this is clear enough, but to begin with you will need to train your fingers to find familiar patterns of hitting the notes, and getting to the correct positions. I think the only way to do this is by making sure you get it right to begin with.. and that means taking it seriously.

If you do none of these things I would expect you will either need re-training when eventually finding a teacher (harder still), or be simply stunting your progress or reducing your playing capacity. In either case the previous comments by others are spot on.

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#512002 - 10/17/02 05:28 PM Re: finger placement
John51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/02
Posts: 295
Loc: England
 Quote:
however, i have a beyond full life which right now would never allow me the time to take formal lessons. i enjoy the piano and would like to learn it as a hobby--that is, play and study it when time allows.

All the more reason to get the lessons, faster progress for less input time. Maybe you can find a teacher close to your work, if your lesson is during a lunch break it's cost you no time at all.
I'm six weeks into having lessons, and it's a big thumbs up from me.
_________________________
Whaddya mean I shouldn't be swinging it? Beethoven wrote some great rags.

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#512003 - 10/17/02 05:35 PM Re: finger placement
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
bmw -- where do you live?

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#512004 - 10/17/02 05:56 PM Re: finger placement
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
bmw, I agree with everyone else: ideally, finding a teacher is the best thing to do.

But here's a little more info on your question. When you need to start reaching out and away from a "home base", the fingering you choose will depend on the interval (number of notes) from where your hands are currently placed to the position of the next note (which may be out of reach) AND the direction of the notes which follow that one. Much of getting around the keyboard involves "crossing the thumb under" the other fingers. A quick and easy example of this is when you play a diatonic scale. Place your right thumb on C then play D and E with your index and middle finger respectively. As you play the E with your middle finger, cross your thumb in under your index finger toward your middle finger and as you pivot slightly on your middle finger, the thumb can reach and play the F. While the F is being played with the thumb your other fingers are allowed to fall back to their normal playing position relative to the thumb and you will notice that your hand position is now poised 3 notes higher on the keyboard than they were when you started. It is easy now to play, G, A, B and C with your index, middle, ring and pinky fingers respectively. When you come down the scale: pinky (C), index (B), middle (A), index (G), you play the F with your thumb and cross you hand over it so your middle finger comes resting over E. As you depress E allow your thumb to come back to it's normal position relative to the other fingers and viola! you are back where you started. This principal is constantly at work in piano playing. In this example the interval between each note is just a half- or whole- step, but the same principal will be at work when the intervals are greater than this.

If it's not a good time to find a teacher, may I suggest trying to find an acquaintance or friend of a friend who plays, and ask if you can have a half hour lesson with them just to get some of your questions answered. You won't regret it.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#512005 - 10/20/02 07:38 PM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
thank you for your responses.

those of you who insist that if playing the piano is important enough to me, i will find a teacher--incorrect. it is important, but it does not rank above other things in my life. yet, if i am able to learn it, as time allows, i would be pleased and excited.

my heart desires to play; and i plan to do it correctly. that is, i strongly believe in learning things the proper way to minimize incorrect skills. i am reading a book that teaches strictly reading music. i have another book that starts off with basic piano playing and progresses to basic/intermediate piano playing.

thus far, it has come very easy to me. my hands have always had a mind of their own and have been speedy at any task they have been put forth to do. my mind and my hands have always worked together effectively, and i am eager to see if studying and playing will give good results. that is, results to play music for enjoyment, Christmas, family etc.

thank you to those who wrote that it can be done. (that's a great attitude.) it might not be learned to perfection nor learned as gracefully as those who take piano lessons. yet, i am a 'strong' supporter of never saying no to anything you desire to do.

i live in carrollton, tx--a suburb of dallas. i will continue to read, study, and play.

thanks.

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#512006 - 10/20/02 07:49 PM Re: finger placement
JBryan Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 9798
Loc: Oklahoma City
I certainly am a great believer that all things are possible given enough determination and work. I am also a great believer in not doing things the hard way and trying to learn to play the piano without a teacher is doing things the hard way. Why stumble around in the dark when a perfectly good lantern is at hand. Nevertheless, I wish you well and we are always here to help in whatever small way we can. \:\)
_________________________
Better to light one small candle than to curse the %&#$@#! darkness.

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#512007 - 10/23/02 01:31 PM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
thanks. we'll see what happens.

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#512008 - 10/23/02 01:58 PM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
kdurling:[/b] thank you. i just experimented with what you wrote, and it will definitely help.

bernard:[/b] thank you. you seem to have read my question 'perfectly'. i agree that finding a teacher would be an outstanding idea, and when i am able to do so, i am sure i will. yet, i have to say that what you wrote answered my question perfectly. i have just practiced the information you provided, on my piano, and i will be able to move forward in my lessons (via the book), until i hit another roadblock.

thus far, i have read a lot of great information in the books, but they did not address the issue of 'physically' moving up and down the keys. i am excited to be able to move forward. again, thanks. \:\)

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#512009 - 10/23/02 08:05 PM Re: finger placement
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
bmw, That's Great!! How exciting; glad I could help. By the way, I didn't think of it earlier, but it would also be of great value to you if you found some printed music that had fingerings in it. A great quantity of music comes with fingerings and though the fingerings should be taken as suggestions (and eventually you want to use fingerings that work best for you), it would be worth your while to go to a music store and peruse some of the piano books. The fingerings are given as little numbers 1 through 5 above the notes. 1=thumb, 2-index, 3=middle, 4=ring, 5=pinky. This will give you some ideas.

Good luck to you and all the best.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#512010 - 10/23/02 08:48 PM Re: finger placement
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
bmw

Here's another thought... I'm not sure if you have a good internet connection but if you do, there's some online instruction you might want to consider.

Keyboard Video Instruction

There's an "Art of Fingering" section that has some useful info. You have to scroll down the page a bit to find it.

Don't fret when he starts talking about the Chopin g-minor Ballade. He provides an on-line demonstration of the c-major scale -- gets you some rudiments before he moves beyond what you probably need.

Hope it works for you...

Ken

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#512011 - 10/24/02 12:03 PM Re: finger placement
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Your determination is admirable.

May I recommend a e-book (freeware) which might help you tremendously as it did for me.
http://members.aol.com/cc88m/preface.htm
I have worked on my on for years after taking lessons with many teachers some of them of good reputation.
The results where extremely frustrating.
Mr Chang's book helped me understand the reason.
What I like particularly is this :
10% technique
90 % music
So I just picked up the pieces I have always dreamt of playing and I concentrate on getting all the joy I can get out of them.
I will go and see a musician/teacher/coach as soon as I am happy of what I do.

Too often teachers get the joy out of your work by emphasizing what is not (yet) right.
It's like educating a child by showing him/her all the time the difference between where he/she is at now and Einstein or Mozart or...his/her parents.

Do what you feel like. And do it how you like doing it.

But read the e-book, just in case.

Good luck.

Benedict \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#512012 - 10/24/02 12:36 PM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
benedict, kluurs, & bernard:[/b] thanks so much. i am eager to view the online book and instruction. i will keep you all posted. \:\)

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#512013 - 10/24/02 01:20 PM Re: finger placement
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
This will fall on deaf ears. But, a good teacher will be able to demonstrate things in ways that you will be able to understand and execute in a fraction of the time that it takes you to discover them for yourself. Some things you will never figure out on your own. As a result, it will take you many, many times longer to master pieces than it would take if you had a teacher. Also, there will always be music that you will not be able to play because you have not been shown the proper fundamentals.

A rant about fundamentals. People have this idea that fundamentals are too difficult and time consuming to learn. Those with a busy schedule never have time to learn fundamentals. The reality is that fundamentals make things easy. They make it possible to master the technical difficulties in a new piece of music in a couple of sittings instead of fumbling through them over the course of many months or years.

As an illustration, contrast five months spent learning fundamentals vs. five months fumbling through a piece of music. Learning fundamentals allows a person to sit down and play any piece of music that uses those skills, quickly and efficiently. Fumbling through a piece of music does not teach anything that can be used on other pieces of music. In fact, the person will probably not even be able to play the piece they have been working on after five months. After five months the person who stumbled through one piece might be able to play that piece. The person who learned fundamentals will be able to play any number of pieces. Which one spent their time more wisely? Which one wasted their time, which they didn't have much of?

I have experienced both sides of this personally in my own playing and have seen it in students. Those students who I have been able to convince to really learn their fundamentals (and there haven't been many) made the largest strides and had the best results. Those who would not did not progress very fast at all. In fact, in those cases I felt that lessons were probably just a waste of their time.

Here is another illustration from my own playing. When I approach a new piece of music I never sit down and painstakingly figure out the fingering for each note. I decide on fingering based on many things, including what it does to my hand position (both coming into and out of the passage) and the sound that it produces. Many times I can just sit down and play the piece and the fingering just comes naturally. This is a result of time spent learning fundamentals from very good teachers and later spent learning them for myself. I should add, though, that I learned things a lot faster and with a lot less trial and error than when I tried to discover them for myself.

Sorry for the long rant:) I get concerned when I hear (or read) people say that they don't have time to learn from a teacher. Learning from a good teacher makes things go so much faster and smoother than stumbling around without one. Trying to learn without a teacher seems more like the waste of time to me. Again, this conclusion is based on examples that I have seen again and again, and again...

Ryan

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#512014 - 10/24/02 01:28 PM Re: finger placement
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
ryan,

no question on the value of the teacher. Probably the brightest person I know...scary bright...even among scary bright people...a superb guitarist, he decided to learn piano on his own. I pushed for him to study with a teacher. After a time, he did. He hasn't looked back. He'll tell you that the teacher saves time and energy not going down the wrong path.

But bmw is choosing not to do the teacher thing for now...we've outlined the reasons why a teacher can help her more with getting started, but it ain't going to happen so...

Ken

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#512015 - 10/24/02 02:34 PM Re: finger placement
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Kluurs,

I know. This just seemed like an appropriate place to do my little rant. I have to do that every once in a while, for therapeutic reasons;)

Ryan

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#512016 - 10/25/02 05:08 AM Re: finger placement
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ryan,

Someone talked once (was it Hume ?) of progress arising from dissent among friends.

You write :
"Those students who I have been able to convince to really learn their fundamentals (and there haven't been many) made the largest strides and had the best results. "

Did you ask yourself was your rate of convincing your students to learn their fundamentals was so disappointing ? Take no offence in my question, please.

There is a structural problem there : adults want to play music straight away. They usually start with their favourite records. Often the teacher anticipates this and encourages the student ("client" would be more accurate and more productive) to play "music".

The right method could be to mix both approaches : teach the fundamentals through music.
Mozart or Bach versus Hanon or Czerny.

Another point : why is it that teachers seem to suffer physically at the idea of someone being an autodidact ?
Nature has created both teachers and autodidacts.
Each species should respect the other one.

That would be more musical.

From exchanges new approaches can emerge Or so I hope.
_________________________
Benedict

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#512017 - 10/25/02 12:12 PM Re: finger placement
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Benedict,

Yes I did ask myself that question. Please do not assume that I think "fundamentals" are drudgery that consist of nothing more than Hanon or Czerny. I do not assign Czerny and very little Hanon (see note below). I believe in teaching people how to make music with the goal that they will be able to use what they have learned to play anything that is within their difficulty level. In fact, I do not restrict my students to playing only what I assign them, I encourage them to try things on their own so they can see for themselves whether they are making progress. What is sad is when students refuse to even learn the fundamentals required to play music that they want to learn!

The answer to your question is not the same for every student. However, most often the piano just lost out to TV, video games, and the telephone (depending on the age of the student). I saw a direct correlation between the success of the student and how they balanced their TV/Piano time. The best students had families that did not watch TV. I also had very good results with adults. It is easier to get them to understand the importance of balancing their practice time.

A note on Hanon. I do use Hanon with later beginners and intermediates. I have them play just one exercise at a time, at a moderate tempo, in lots of different keys, with different kinds of articulation, and with varying dynamics. This helps them with a variety of things, including reading, finger control, freedom of fixed positions (which I carefully avoid), and for experience with five finger patterns that the brain can catalog away for future use.

Ryan

P.S. I want to add a quick disclaimer. I currently not teaching. To many other responsibilities have taken up all of my time. However, if I can get some projects finished up then I plan to take on a small amount of students again.

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#512018 - 10/26/02 01:19 AM Re: finger placement
bmw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 9
benedict & kluurs:[/b] thank you for your responses on my behalf. i really do appreciate it.

trixie & primarily ryan:[/b] shame on me for defending myself because it really does not matter; yet, i assume i possess a level of pride that most people have. i may not have appeared as intelligent because my language is not one of an exemplary pianist. therefore, i am not very knowledgeable of the music terms. as you already know, i have not been instructed by a teacher. piano is important enough, or should i say interesting enough, to me that I want to learn it.

now, i am not one who sits and watches television. we have a television in the home for my childrenís videos and an occasional 5 p.m news hour. i am up at 5 a.m., workout until 8 a.m. I then hit the ground running with my three-year-old and my thirteen-month-old. I am head-over-heals in love with my children and devote 'very' dedicated time to them. that is, you would be astounded at the level you would be able to converse with my 3yr. & 1mth. old little girl. she amazes everyone with her level of intelligence. she has been told by three teachers that she is very advanced. now, could she really get to that point, have a smile which lights up everything, and have the sweetest self-confidence if i explained to her that she is important as long as it does not interfere with mommy's desires (i.e. piano playing). my children amaze people and are complimented always, oops, did I say always- yes Ė i said they are always complimented. this isn't just a proud parent bragging. sometimes, I am uncomfortable of how people go on about them. i brought those sweet children into the world, and they will not suffer due to my selfishness. i am not one who sits my children in front of the television and gabs on the phone for hours. oddly enough, I don't have many gabbing friends. I have always been so focused on what I do that it has not left time to be a stereotypical gossiping female.

remember, I am not a soap opera watching mother. I despise the laziness of today's society. would you come to my house and see it out of order, no. would you come to my house and see anything undone, no. I am currently getting things in order to open my own business; when do I do that? I do that when I can squeeze it into a two-hour nap session my children take, or I do it when I'm not typing on this website. \:\)

my husband is taken care of also. when he comes home and wants to talk about his day once the children go to bed. even though, I am totally exhausted, I smile and listen to him as he tells me about his day. I believe in being selfishless. once my priorities realize how much they mean to me, because I have dedicated most of my day to them, I then try to squeeze in what I like to do, piano playing, sewing, creating my business plan, creating databases and programming for the mere fun of it. okay, so I gave up creating databases and programming when my daughter was eighteen months old. I didnít get enough enjoyment out of it as I did not see a big benefit it was adding to my life.

to cover all bases, I do not live on the internet. my husband teases me about my advance knowledge and use of computers; yet I have such little interest in the internet. I get on the internet when I have something to look up specifically (i.e. piano help). the internet, when used for slothfulness, will rob one of productivity.

now, how badly do I want to be foolish and not learn the fundamentals of playing the piano? I evaluated the piano and realized that the fundamentals seemed to be learning the Ďmusic languageí. that is, how to read music. so, after my husband bought me a piano, the first book I purchased was a book on learning to read music. next, I purchased a book on basic to intermediate piano playing. do I want to say I am ready for a recital-no. do I want to say I am ready to amaze you with my piano playing-no. yet, I do know that it is coming easy, really easy. could that be because I believe I can do it-possibly. my "I can do anything as long as I am willing to work for it" attitude, has enabled me to learn a multiple of things-quickly. after i received the post from bernard regarding the elementary way to move your fingers up and down the keyboard, I have advanced in my playing (already), and it feels natural. I know now, which I did not know before, that there is not a 'written in stone' finger placement. I don't have much trouble playing pieces within a twenty-eight key range without looking at the keys except on occasion. do I memorize the music? there are a couple of pieces I have memorized because I have played them frequently because they are fun to play. yet, on average I get bored with one piece of music after a few times, and then I move on. therefore, it is not easy to memorize if you only play a piece every once in a while.

teaching is of grave importance. I have taught several to learn computers, and the joy I receive when teaching someone something that would have otherwise taken them pages of reading and studying to learn is gratifying. yet, once again, I do not want to say, I will wait until my children are old enough to play with one another and entertain themselves more during the day which will leave me time to do more of what I want to do before I begin to learn the piano via a teacher. why waste precious time? I will never have today again. I want to play, and I can promise you, I will play. please, donít take that as being haughty. I know I will never play as I would play after being instructed by a teacher and many lessons. but, I will learn to read music, I will play, and I will be able to play new music set before me, and it will not be by memorizing pieces. I must feel the fundamentals are important. instead of struggling with what was holding me up, I went to the internet in search of help from those who know.

i realize that piano lessons don't have to be lengthy, and it seems i could squeeze a few of them in a week or even one a week. i have no family here and refuse to have my children in daycare or in the care of a 'trusted' individual until they can both speak fluently. my daughter already does, but my son does not. read the paper with what does happen with some children when left in even 'great' professional care. my husband is a professional and works many hours. i will not take our family time up, when he gets home (late), with piano lessons for myself, so that he can watch the children for me.

am i too focused on pleasing others-no-it is a decision i make daily and am pleased with it.

i am sure i will regret this lengthy post. i will not only regret it because the hour i was going to play on the piano tonight is long gone and 5a.m will come early tomorrow. but i will regret it also because it reveals a lot more information about me than i make a habit of exposing. however, i wrote it primarily due to my evil pride but also maybe, it will help you to realize that some individuals should not be judge foolish so quickly.

this has been written with respect and sincerity.

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#512019 - 10/26/02 07:24 AM Re: finger placement
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Dear BMW (though BWV would be an even more musical pseudo),

I found your letter very moving and I hope it has helped you to state what you are, what your values are, what your lifestyle and priorites are.

You painted the portrait of a very decided, intelligent woman. That's who you are, and why should that person learn the way she decides.

Speaking of computers, I decided three years ago to create a software of my management/coaching method.

I chose Visual Basic as a programming language and I learnt it all by myself starting from scratch. It was very difficult because I did not want to learn the fundamentals but realize my own project.

Everybody said I was crazy not to take lessons with pros.

It took me the time it took. But my program has been used by several people including a computer expert. Of course,I show nobody the code. I would be too ashamed of my empiric style.

May I suggest you print this e-book

http://members.aol.com/cc88m/PianoBook.htmlhttp://members.aol.com/cc88m/PianoBook.html

It has been written by Mr Chang who went to a piano lesson that his daughters took from a very old French teacher (she had played with Debussy ! and studied under Cortot).

Mr Chang, a scientist, was amazed to notice that all he thought about sound piano practice was absolutely the opposite of what the teacher taught.

Being a scientist, he studied and "modelized" the fundamentals of his teacher and all great pianists (Chopin, Liszt...) and teachers.

His fundamentals are so rational and logical that you will love them.It is very close to computer programming: things have a reason and either they work the way you want them to work or they don't.

I started three days ago and my life has changed from pianistic purgatory to Heaven.

This morning, I chose the pieces I wanted to play:
Bach is my great goal:

I took the first little prelude and applied the principle of memorizing right hand then left hand.
(in fact it is a bit more complex, but...).

After five minutes, the music was there. But not the sweat that always has come with practicing.

Then I took the first Invention.
Same happiness.

Then the first Prelude of Well Tempered Clavier I.
Then the first fugue.

Evey time, I just memorize the theme, which in fact is like the seed of the whole work.

Then I did Moonlight Sonata.
Then Schubert "Musical Moment" nį1.

And to test myself, I tried a Nocture in Do minor by Chopin.

Amazing : I could do what I never had been able to achieve.

Just play !

That's empowerment for you.

So now, I going to borrow at the library :
Rameau, Couperin, more Chopin( it's so beautiful when you play, even two bars over and over), and Debussy and Thelonious Monk and Keith Jarrett.

I think the composers have a musical idea that is really like a seed. And they let them grow.

So, I will grow a garden of masterpieces.

First, you plant the seed with love.
Then, I will water every day and see how they grow.

If everything goes well, I will show my garden to my daughters at Christmas.

They liked it when I grew tomatoes on my window-sill. They should like my new crop.

Thank you for your long letter. It inspired me to just write things as they came.

To sum it all up : the only thing that is needed seems to be joy.
If there is joy, results follow.And joy increases.
If results don't follow, joy vanishes.You must find a better way to practice.

That is a good feedback loop.

Good luck.

Benedict
_________________________
Benedict

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#512020 - 10/26/02 08:49 PM Re: finger placement
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
bmw, I think you were trying to reply to something I wrote, but I am not sure I understand what it was. Can you please restate the main point(s)? I was jumping to no conclusions about you, and I appologize if you took my reply to Benedict as a reply to you. I know that you believe yourself to be an intelligent person and that you have a can do attitude. All I am asserting is that I have seen time after time that this is not enough. There are motions, techniques, "fundamentals" to playing the piano that are seperate from the language of music. From where you are coming from you really have no idea of what I speak (same with Benedict). So, you will either tkae the advice of myself and others who have been there, or you won't. I truly wish you the best (and Benedict, because I see that he/she is going to be in the same boat).

Ryan

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#512021 - 10/27/02 10:27 AM Re: finger placement
sparrow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/01
Posts: 106
Loc: Groningen, NL
Iíve seen other people on the net ask the same question BMW poses and always itís a teacher who replies most vehemently that studying on your own is a bad idea (sometimes to the point of insulting that personís intelligence, too). And hardly ever is it mentioned that there are also bad teachers around who can spoil a lot of things for you. So, dear BMW and Benedict, donít get discouraged, as I can vouch for the fact that it IS possible to teach yourself to play the piano, including those important ďfundamentalsĒ Ryan talks about. I think a teacher is good for discipline and pointing out errors, but in the end it all comes to you yourself having to wriggle your fingers in the right way. And if youíre disciplined enough and are willing to seriously work on your errors instead of just stumbling through song after song, you certainly can teach yourself.

In my case the need to teach myself lay in the refusal of my parents to let me take lessons. I didnít progress much, because as a kid I was satisfied just to play the easy pieces I found in the beginnerís books we had in the house. In my teens I wanted to better myself so I could play popular tunes from movies etc., and started practicing a little more. I never memorized things and always just sightread along. A year and a half ago I decided to really have a go at it, and itís amazing what you can accomplish if you give it some time. At the moment Iím working on polishing up my memorized pieces by using the playback option on my new digital piano, which works well. I donít need a teacher to tell me where my playing is uneven. I donít need a teacher to tell me what piece to learn for next week. Another advantage of not having a teacher is that you donít need to waste time on scales and theory, which in my opinion is useless (unless you want to compose, of course).

So, BMW, Benedict and anybody else wanting to teach himself: take heart! The most important thing is to have fun while playing the piano and youíll improve every hour you spend at it.

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