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Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering #2755219 08/01/18 04:07 PM
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SpecialKH Offline OP
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Hello - older (50 ha) re-learner here and seeking advise.

I took 12 years of lessons, elementary through high school, but at some point realized I wasn't good enough to make a career out of it and it evolved into a hobby. Probably the most difficult piece I ever learned was Gypsy Rondo by Hayden. I played quite a bit in the 10-15 years after school, but the last 15 years or so, I have not played at all. Life gets busy/piano beyond repairing/etc.

So last weekend I was gifted/inherited an old (100 years) baby grand. I have an appointment for tuning/evaluation/repair in a couple weeks (needs two strings and 1 hammer that I can tell so far). I'm so excited to get to play again but here's my question:

I was taught originally by the church pianist (small town) and never learned scales. I completed John W. Schaum course through "G" if that means anything to anybody and when I auditioned in my 10th grade for a summer music program, the instructor said "You have horrible fingering" - I had never even been told what the little numbers were for - it's probably amazing I figured out how to play the pieces I had up until that point! So I changed to a "real" instructor (that was all he did was teach) and I learned better fingering (and what those little numbers were for!) but he never made me do scales, either- I've never done one.

I have pretty good music reading ability still - can sight read basic pieces and my hands are still comfortable with the keyboard. So I wonder if my bad habits are too deeply ingrained and:
- if I should take lessons vs. pick up where I left off or maybe just go through my John W. Schaum books from beginning to end?
- are scales really that important to good fingering and/or key changes?
- any other feedback or helpful tips?

I'm trying to keep my hands off the piano until it's tuned and repaired and I can't wait! laugh

Last edited by SpecialKH; 08/01/18 04:10 PM.
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Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755224 08/01/18 04:22 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by SpecialKH

I have pretty good music reading ability still - can sight read basic pieces and my hands are still comfortable with the keyboard. So I wonder if my bad habits are too deeply ingrained and:
- if I should take lessons vs. pick up where I left off or maybe just go through my John W. Schaum books from beginning to end?
- are scales really that important to good fingering and/or key changes?
- any other feedback or helpful tips?

I can't get over my surprise that your church organist teacher didn't teach you basic good fingering, or that those little numbers in your scores are fingerings - after all, a pianist can hide behind the sustain pedal wink but an organist can't, and has to get fingerings - including stuff like finger switching - down pat.

Anyway, it sounds like you really want to develop good piano technique, so I really recommend you get a good teacher who is willing to concentrate on technique building, and get him/her to overhaul your technique and teach you scales & arpeggios etc. They are the bedrock of classical piano technique......like Haydn's keyboard music.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: bennevis] #2755227 08/01/18 04:38 PM
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SpecialKH Offline OP
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Thanks for your reply - I thought maybe it was time to re-train before I got too far along.

I don't know why it never came up or if I didn't pay attention, but she didn't correct any bad fingering - I think as long as it SOUNDED ok then she didn't realize which fingers were doing what.

Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755263 08/01/18 07:09 PM
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When I went back to learning piano again, I realized my fingering was a mess too. I don't think I had a the discipline as a student to be too concerned about it. Now that I've done A LOT more training, I am now a stickler for fingering for all of my students and myself. Consistent fingering is one of the big keys to playing without making mistakes. If I sometimes use 3 and sometimes use 4 on a note, now I have two different versions to practice, and I may get confused when I get to that spot.

I'd say go through the Schaum since you have it already. If it has explanations in the book, you may find other things that you have forgotten. Or, better yet, get a teacher wink


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755284 08/01/18 09:36 PM
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Fingerings on sheet music is not absolute. They are reference to make playing easier. Needs to be some trial & error using the fingerings written as the starting point. 1 set of fingerings that may be fine with 1 person may feel awkward for another because the size & shape of the hands are different.

Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755289 08/01/18 11:10 PM
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outo Offline
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I would try with a teacher. Not for scales and not for fingerings, but to get a new fresh perspective for learning. In the best case you will find someone who not only helps you learn better or unlearn things from the past but also inspires you to learn new things in a new and more efficient way. With the teacher you can start focusing on the kind of music you actually want to learn and play. I see little point in going through methods in your age. I'm about the same age btw. and started lessons anout 7 years ago.

I personally don't think scales are that important unless you do exams. And my teacher agrees. Many of us don't practice scales regularly. Unless you want to focus on classical era piano music, then I suppose you might as well practice the scales in isolation of music. Fingering however is the key to good piano technique. Good fingering depends on repertoire and your hand size and shape, and it's good to work out your own consistent fingering rules from the start. A teacher should help with this.

Last edited by outo; 08/01/18 11:36 PM.
Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755391 08/02/18 11:39 AM
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There are books dealing with scales and arpeggios that could help you.

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/search?Ntt=piano+scales

Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 08/02/18 11:41 AM.

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Re: Introduction/ question from relearner on scales & fingering [Re: SpecialKH] #2755491 08/02/18 06:03 PM
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SpecialKH Offline OP
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I think I have a plan, which starts with - is the piano salvageable? I'll cross my fingers - tech coming 8/10. Then I'll contact a teacher to discuss lessons, cost, recommendations, etc. and I'll know where to purchase music and books, too. I'll probably take some lessons for at least a short while to get some new, better habits before I go off on my own.


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