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Fingering for pieces: is comfort the most important factor


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#16 linda.ff

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 16:34

So comfort isn't so much a factor as logic.


I agree with you to quite an extent, but I find keeping your hand over the same 5 keys if at all possible is not the best answer for many. We've had this discussion here before:if you just had to run up and down a set of three adjacent keys, over and over fairly quickly, would you use 123, 234 or 345? Probably not 345 - ah, but if those three notes were immediately preceded by two lower notes, as in CDEFG-FEFGFEFG etc, you have to decide whether staying over those 5 keys is appropriate as you will then be using less appropriate fingers. And I think articulation has a lot to do with the decision too; one of my favourite sayings is "staccato is your friend" (the other three friends being rests, ends of slurs and repeated notes) as I believe that it's more important to be using appropriate fingers than to keep your hand in one place - appropriate fingers being of course crucial to comfort. If you're playing legato, yes, you need to do thumb turns and expansions and contractions, but any time you need to lift the weight (as in all of those "friends" I just named) is a suitable time to reposition for a more appropriate fingering - and this could be more frequent that many beginners suppose.
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#17 stork

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 20:23

How do you determine what fingering to use when learning a piece?  Do you mostly ignore the indicated fingering and play what's comfortable or instinctive [for the required tempo], or do you mostly follow the fingering verbatim, trusting the editor and believing that there is a sound logic to their choices?

 

Neither. I pay attention to editorial fingerings, as they're often a short-cut to finding a decent fingering which works for me, but I don't see any need to stick to them rigidly. For some works there are as many fingerings as there are editions (as well as differences in articulation, dynamics and even the choice of notes).

 

Comfort is an important factor, but so is articulation, and logical consistency (it can be helpful to use 'known' patterns from scales/arpeggios, or consistent patterns for similar figuration).


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#18 agricola

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 14:07

Fingering should be considered together with hand positioning and direction of travel.  Editorial fingering sometimes seems difficult either because the player doesn't yet know the piece well enough to understand where it's taking them or because their hand positions are too static.  I have often changed the fingering in a piece when starting to learn it only to return to the editorial fingering later when I have a more connected flow going.  So I would say it's worth delaying a final decision until the piece is nearly up to tempo. Ultimately the most important thing is to make the piece sound as it should. 


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#19 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 22:44

Can you lovely people help with something I've discovered while practising the grade 2 broken chords and arpeggios.
 
The LH fingering patterns below are those which feel most instinctive/comfortable so far.  What I'd like to know is am I setting myself up with problems later down the line and do I need to revisit these choices now before they're ingrained?
 
Secondly, I wonder if the arpeggio pattern, with different fingerings (highlighted), will also cause problems.
 
The choices are taken from the options given in the ABRSM book, but again my concern is that what is apparently comfortable now, at relatively slow tempi, is going to be impractical in the future.  Thanks for the help.

J21hEAu.jpg


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#20 EllieD

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 09:01

I think the "4" marked under the A in the second of the broken chords is meant to go under the C, I guess that's a typo? Otherwise I think they look right.

 

The switch from 4 to 3 to play the B in the arpeggio seems a bit strange. I would normally finger that sequence with 4 on the B every time, and that choice would be consistent with the fingering of the broken chord above. I guess a different hand might find 3 more comfortable but I can't think there's any good reason to swap from one to another.


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#21 sbhoa

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 10:42

Can you lovely people help with something I've discovered while practising the grade 2 broken chords and arpeggios.
 
The LH fingering patterns below are those which feel most instinctive/comfortable so far.  What I'd like to know is am I setting myself up with problems later down the line and do I need to revisit these choices now before they're ingrained?
 
Secondly, I wonder if the arpeggio pattern, with different fingerings (highlighted), will also cause problems.
 
The choices are taken from the options given in the ABRSM book, but again my concern is that what is apparently comfortable now, at relatively slow tempi, is going to be impractical in the future.  Thanks for the help.

J21hEAu.jpg

For the lower one I use 4(some find 3 fits well instead) for all the Bs


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#22 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 19:44

I think the "4" marked under the A in the second of the broken chords is meant to go under the C, I guess that's a typo? Otherwise I think they look right.
 
The switch from 4 to 3 to play the B in the arpeggio seems a bit strange. I would normally finger that sequence with 4 on the B every time, and that choice would be consistent with the fingering of the broken chord above. I guess a different hand might find 3 more comfortable but I can't think there's any good reason to swap from one to another.

 
 

...
For the lower one I use 4(some find 3 fits well instead) for all the Bs


Thank you both for your considerations. I think this example illustrates my problem: although apparently comfortable and consistent (in the sense that I currently default to this each time) for my current speed, my choices are non-standard and "a bit strange".  I wish there was an algorithm for determining what I should be using... 

 

I will practice with 4s instead of 4&3 going forward.  Thanks.


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#23 sbhoa

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 21:56

 

I think the "4" marked under the A in the second of the broken chords is meant to go under the C, I guess that's a typo? Otherwise I think they look right.
 
The switch from 4 to 3 to play the B in the arpeggio seems a bit strange. I would normally finger that sequence with 4 on the B every time, and that choice would be consistent with the fingering of the broken chord above. I guess a different hand might find 3 more comfortable but I can't think there's any good reason to swap from one to another.

 
 

...
For the lower one I use 4(some find 3 fits well instead) for all the Bs


Thank you both for your considerations. I think this example illustrates my problem: although apparently comfortable and consistent (in the sense that I currently default to this each time) for my current speed, my choices are non-standard and "a bit strange".  I wish there was an algorithm for determining what I should be using... 

 

I will practice with 4s instead of 4&3 going forward.  Thanks.

 

None standard is not necessarily wrong. If it does the job musically and is consistent then it may well be fine.

Without seeing what you are doing it's not really possible to make a judgement or offer advice.


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#24 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 05:57

Another fingering query, I'm afraid!
 
I'm starting on the grade 2 B:1 piece by Reinecke. In bar 4 in the LH, the score suggests fingering 2-1-2 for the last three quavers.
 
MLUuOAA.jpg 
 
For the preceding Gs & Cs I have been using 4 & 1 respectively.  I find the switch from 4 (G) to 2 (C ) somewhat awkward and I would like to understand the editor's reasoning. My instincts are that 4-1-2-4 or even 4-1-2-1 would have been better for the last 4 quavers – and indeed 2 on B/Bb and 1 on C are 'native' to the C major and F major scales I've been practising. The rest before the bar-5 LH C surely affords enough time without the need for an awkward change of fingering?
 
I have been practising using the fingering suggested (and so slowly getting used to it), perhaps oddly because it feels so awkward I've convinced myself there must be a very sound reason for it, not only for this piece but piano playing in general!

 

Thanks in advance!


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#25 Latin pianist

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 06:45

The fingering printed would never have occurred to me. I would use 4124 which means you can easily get down to 5 on the C in the next bar. I'd be interested too to know if there is a good reason for the printed fingering.
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#26 zwhe

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 07:20

I think if you played the first beat of the bar 4-1 following on from the first section, and then swap to 5-2 it would work and have you in a good position for the C in the next bar, but I agree most people would prefer to just jump down in the rest.


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#27 agricola

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 07:38

Jumping down to the lower C might result in the last G of bar 3 being played with too much weight as it is being used as a springboard.  My preferred fingering for the last four notes of bar 3 would be 5231 (a secondary advantage is that means the lower C is then securely under your little finger).  However at Grade 2 this might be unnecessarily complicated !


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#28 EllieD

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 16:36

I did actually play that piece a few months back, and although the suggested fingering did seem weird at first, I got used to it and it worked for me in the end. I think it worked for me because I'm a terrible one for looking at my hands - following the suggested fingering meant that I didn't really need to as my hand was already in place and I didn't need to jump anywhere. 


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#29 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 19:26

Thanks, everyone, for your views on this.  Like EllieD, I'm very slowly getting used to the printed fingering.  agricola's suggestion as a potential reason is interesting.


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#30 Ritzmar

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 07:16

Spanish Pavane, I am with EllieD.  Your answer covers everything, well done! 

(Of course, it helps that I agree passionately with every word you have written here . . . hurrah.gif      )

 

I teach several adults, and getting some of them to stick to a fingering and use only that fingering can be a major problem.  Yes, five fingers on five notes/consecutive letter-names.  Why is this rarely emphasised nowadays?  Repeated notes:  why change fingers on slow, repeated notes?  If the idea (which I believe the editor must have) is to avoid tensition and hard-edged sounds, then teach how to achieve this by relaxation and orthodox standard methods.  Fast repetitions are a totally different matter.

 

And the great Liszt stated that every serious pianist should be able to play every single scale using the same fingering as for C major, just as fluently as if using that scale's standard fingering.  I think that this remark is truly profound, and says A LOT about Liszt's depth of keyboard undertanding.  In a nutshell, by all means know the 'correct' fingering, but do not be inextricably bound to it.  There are many times when one may need to use a fingering which flies in the face of conventional thinking, in order to achieve a particular musical effect, or deal with an unusual technical idiosyncracy.  And be able to use an unorthodox fingering in a flash, on the spur of the moment.  Bach dragged fingering out of the Middle Ages and more or less into the 21st century.  HIS thumbs must have lived on black keys just as much as his other fingers (witness, as stated above, the WTC books 1 & 2).

 

I like to think that I am very creative, but logical with my fingering (I can always learn, however!!)  Like others above I will try out a tricky passage and suggest what I believe to be the best solution to solve all the various aspects to consider.  And then the student will try it, or alter it in some way to suit their hand or style.  If the change can be done fluently, and does not harm the musical effect, I generally write in the alteration (in PENCIL ! ! ! !  argh.gif   )  and we carry on.  Incidentally, who hasn't done this; only for the student to go straight back to the original obliterated fingering and use it perfectly well, without even realising it??  Ha ha!

Ligneo Fistula, this is a great question; sbhoa, like you I always start with the editor's fingering, as it gives a baseline to work from (someone has already tried their fingering and found that it worked), 

 

 

 . . .  But if anyone has any idea how to get the student to STICK to it, I will be delighted to learn!       . . . answers on a postcard, please . . .


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