Figuring fingerings out yourself

Posted by: Barbareola

Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/15/12 04:41 PM

The sheet music that I have for the piano comes with hints for the correct fingering. However, I have some sheet music that does not, for example collections of folk and pop songs.

How do you go about with figuring the fingerings out yourself? Is there a set of RULES that Teacher hasn't taught me yet? Or do you simply try out a couple of variations and settle on the best?
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/15/12 05:34 PM

There aren't rules, Barbareola, but there are guiding principles such as minimising changes of hand position, avoiding the shorter thumb and fifth fingers on black keys in scale passages, avoiding trills with weak fingers and so on, all whilst taking account of the articulation of the phrase.

Songs will generally not require much effort in finding suitable fingerings and most sight readers will come up with something suitable in a very short time. With classical music you are more likely to find passages that make you stop and think but once you gain some experience of developing satisfactory fingerings you will soon get the hang of it.

Bach's Inventions will inculcate you with good habits. Fingering changed with Bach, he is the foundation of all keyboard technique.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/16/12 02:21 PM

I think another rule is to keep the hand small. This rule is in conflict with minimising changes of hand position and it took me some learning (from teacher) to find out where the balance is. Also this depends on the piece you're playing.
Posted by: PaperClip

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/16/12 02:57 PM

Whatever suits best, works for me. If it still doesn't feel right, I ask my teacher what I do wrong. Though, sometimes it feels right, but it isn't. That's because I try the fingering at a very slow speed while the fingering needs speed. That is how I do now.

However, when I started I didn't know how it suppose to feel. Doing some etudes from Czerny for beginners gave me a lot of good solutions how to do the fingering in most cases.
Posted by: Emissary52

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/16/12 03:40 PM

Barbareola – A great question! I’ve only begun to get a handle on what may be the answer, myself. I used to think that there was some “magical algorithm” that people more advanced than me knew and it would make everything about fingerings intuitively obvious, but sadly, there isn’t!

This question comes up just after you have enough “musical knowledge” to be dangerous. If you’re like me, you may have completed a couple of basic method books and are looking to stretch your horizons. You buy a few extra music books usually labeled Easy Piano and discover they have little or no fingering numbers. The “Non-Easy” regular-strength versions give you Nada!!! I used to hate that kind of book! Who were they “easy” for …Glenn Gould or Bill Evans? I felt like a kid who just learned his multiplication tables and now has been handed a calculus test.

I think that like most beginners, a lot of us are spoon-fed fingerings and “kinda” get dependent on seeing them and get cranky or scared when they’re not in front of us. But playing a greater variety of pieces seems to prepare you for the times those “Easy Piano” pieces show up without (or with very few) fingering numbers. You look at pieces of music and remember what you did on some little song or piece in the past and your fingers just seem to go to the right place. To be sure, this process does take a long time, and it’s more “evolutionary” than “revolutionary”, but there will come a time (…I’m going through it myself at the moment!) that you will not feel like you are trying to pole-vault over the Grand Canyon!
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/16/12 04:27 PM

Fingering for me was all over the place when I first started learning (unfortunately some of the first pieces I memorized are fingered so strangely, to save time and energy, I just play them that way since it's mostly muscle memory and they're dear to me), but I think as soon as I started learning a little about scales and chords, it all sort of came into focus.

Study some of the different common scale fingerings (arpeggios too!) and you'll start to see patterns, and if you're like most (me included), how to approach fingering will suddenly become significantly easier.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/16/12 05:11 PM

Another basic fingering principle is that you want to plan your fingering so that you do not "run out of fingers" on a phrase.

For example, if you have a phrase of five close notes in a row, start with your thumb, and you will have enough fingers to finish the phrase.

I have seen students start on such a phrase with the third (middle) finger, or the fourth, and have to resort to a clumsy (and unnecessary) movement to finish the phrase. A lot of this is just common sense.
Posted by: Barbareola

Re: Figuring fingerings out yourself - 11/17/12 02:42 PM

Thanks everybody for your help! I'll keep them in mind when I go through my song collections. smile