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Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? #2847926
05/13/19 10:21 PM
05/13/19 10:21 PM
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RmntcPianoLvr Offline OP
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Hi Guys,

Just a quick question here. On many pieces that I learn (every Bach piece, plus some), I tend to write in fingering for EVERY note that's written on the sheets, because it helps me stick to one fingering and not keep changing it around, which in turn lets it sit in and helps me stay consistent to make it easier to go up in tempo. Additionally, sometimes the edition I use will have fingerings in there that I don't like, which will end up confusing me when I'm practicing at faster tempos, so I cross them out and write subsequent fingerings to ensure that doesn't happen.

However, some people tend to think that writing too much fingering is bad because sometimes different fingerings can create different effects in certain passages and you shouldn't close off that option.

Is writing down too much fingering on my sheet music a bad thing? I don't know if this makes a difference, but I almost always figure out the fingerings myself and hardly ever resort to watching other people's fingers.

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Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847932
05/13/19 10:55 PM
05/13/19 10:55 PM
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My position is that fingering needs to be consistent, so I see no other way to make that happen without writing in the fingering. I don’t write in all notes if the relationship between the first and last written fingerings is self-evident for the missing fingerings. This doesn’t close off an option for creativity, but helps cement muscle memory once an option is chosen. It can be changed if something works better but that creates re-learning, so I really try to think about it—and run tricky passages by my teacher for suggestions

If I don’t make a decision and write it in, I am fumbling around to get the passage to sound right.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847933
05/13/19 10:58 PM
05/13/19 10:58 PM
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Adelaide, South Australia
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CharlesXX Offline
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You need to write in enough fingering for you to comfortably read and learn the music. Only you will know how much you need. There is no "too much".

As for: "writing too much fingering is bad because sometimes different fingerings can create different effects in certain passages and you shouldn't close off that option." Fingering complex pieces is not some sort of random process. You will have tried out various possible fingerings and you need to stick to the one best for you, and the music! Makes learning that much easier.

If you decide a fingering doesn't work, erase it and start again.

I use a white-out pen to put a little white dot over printed fingering that I don't want to see.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847936
05/13/19 11:41 PM
05/13/19 11:41 PM
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I don't usually write fingering on every note. A group of notes that involve a scale run is quite obvious. Once you write in the starting note, the rest would fall into place so the starting note of a phrase is the most important. Some phrases can be tricky so I'd write in fingering on the notes that are not too obvious.

There are times you'd use a certain finger so that the next phrase would be more connected than having to break the 2 phrases so I'd write the number in.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847940
05/14/19 12:09 AM
05/14/19 12:09 AM
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WhoDwaldi Offline
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Maybe I shouldn't spook you, but many memory lapses in Bach are unresolved fingering problems--it's always good to work them out. A gripe that I have with editors is that they often do not put enough finger numbers on downbeats.


WhoDwaldi
Howard (by Kawai) 5' 10"
Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847943
05/14/19 12:22 AM
05/14/19 12:22 AM
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Finland
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outo Offline
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Write as much as you need. Personally I write a lot even if I do not really read them. This is because my practice methods involve starting from as many places as possible and that is a lot easier when the starting fingers are written in.

I always use a pencil, because I might need to make changes later.

Last edited by outo; 05/14/19 12:24 AM.
Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2847974
05/14/19 03:50 AM
05/14/19 03:50 AM
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If it's a good choice of fingering, writing it in is fine. It's not that you're using it as a substitute for reading notes, it's that you're aiming for consistency. One thing you could do is photocopy the piece and write all the fingerings on the photocopy. Once it's secure go back to using the main copy, or another photocopy in which you've written other directions on, etc. I used to do this when I was still building my technique, and I may go back to doing it since sometimes when I re-learn a piece I find that it works better with a different fingering choice.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848039
05/14/19 10:02 AM
05/14/19 10:02 AM
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Texas
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I think that, generally speaking, the rule about not writing in too much fingering is for beginners, to encourage development of music reading skills. If you're working on sophisticated stuff, especially note-y works by Bach and the like, write in as much fingering as you need! Just make sure you use pencil so you can revise if/when needed (and don't be afraid to revise them if needed).

I buy expensive Henle clothbound editions of Bach and Beethoven, and then proceed to mark them up extensively!


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848108
05/14/19 02:50 PM
05/14/19 02:50 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 92
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline
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Writing in fingering can be useful when you are trying to learn a piece really quickly, and want to jot down a helpful reminder. However, if the fingering that you're writing in is so counter-intuitive that you aren't just doing it automatically, it might mean that you're overlooking something important.

So, you might want to try not writing in any fingering at all. Then, use this as an opportunity to practice trusting your hands to find the right fingers by themselves. Over time, this will happen.

As a result, you will find that fingering takes less mental energy, which you can then devote to more important matters.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: MichaelJK] #2848114
05/14/19 03:10 PM
05/14/19 03:10 PM
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Writing in fingering can be useful when you are trying to learn a piece really quickly, and want to jot down a helpful reminder. However, if the fingering that you're writing in is so counter-intuitive that you aren't just doing it automatically, it might mean that you're overlooking something important.

[...,]


Continuing in this line of reasoning, you may want to put fingering in on a copy for learning purposes. If the piece is not going to be memorized and after it has been learned, you should able to play it from your "good" copy without having to rely on written-in fingering for every note. That might become too much of a crutch on which you have to rely to be able to play the piece.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: MichaelJK] #2848119
05/14/19 03:26 PM
05/14/19 03:26 PM
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DanS Offline
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Writing in fingering can be useful when you are trying to learn a piece really quickly


+1

The shorter the deadline, the more I tend write on my music, although I tend to write a lot of fingerings in general.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848135
05/14/19 04:42 PM
05/14/19 04:42 PM
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I am very curious how much fingering professional pianists write in their scores. My guess is that it varies a lot from pianist to pianist and also depending on the piece.

I only know of two specific examples. I'm pretty sure I read that Glenn Gould wrote in no fingerings which I find hard to believe but maybe it's true. I know that Landowska wrote in tons of fingerings in her scores because I just got her book "Landowska on Music" and there is a photo of her score to one of the fugues from the WTC.

Anyone know of other specific examples of how much fingering a professional wrote down?

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: pianoloverus] #2848152
05/14/19 06:08 PM
05/14/19 06:08 PM
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LarryK Online content
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I am very curious how much fingering professional pianists write in their scores. My guess is that it varies a lot from pianist to pianist and also depending on the piece.

I only know of two specific examples. I'm pretty sure I read that Glenn Gould wrote in no fingerings which I find hard to believe but maybe it's true. I know that Landowska wrote in tons of fingerings in her scores because I just got her book "Landowska on Music" and there is a photo of her score to one of the fugues from the WTC.

Anyone know of other specific examples of how much fingering a professional wrote down?


Here is a page marked up by Glenn Gould. Don’t ask me what’s going on there, lol.

A Page from Glenn Gould

Last edited by LarryK; 05/14/19 06:10 PM.

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Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: LarryK] #2848162
05/14/19 06:39 PM
05/14/19 06:39 PM
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I think that demonstrates what can happen when the score is marked up too much!

I limit my markings to when there is a change in the hand position which is not a repeat of what has gone on before, nor is obvious.


Semipro Tech
Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: LarryK] #2848178
05/14/19 07:47 PM
05/14/19 07:47 PM
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Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I am very curious how much fingering professional pianists write in their scores. My guess is that it varies a lot from pianist to pianist and also depending on the piece.

I only know of two specific examples. I'm pretty sure I read that Glenn Gould wrote in no fingerings which I find hard to believe but maybe it's true. I know that Landowska wrote in tons of fingerings in her scores because I just got her book "Landowska on Music" and there is a photo of her score to one of the fugues from the WTC.

Anyone know of other specific examples of how much fingering a professional wrote down?


Here is a page marked up by Glenn Gould. Don’t ask me what’s going on there, lol.

A Page from Glenn Gould


I wish I could understand that...It's probably fascinating...

The markings I make in scores tend to be mainly about phrasing, form, cadences, harmonic progressions. Marking in fingerings or articulations or circling wrong notes or whatever just seems like micromanagement to me.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848189
05/14/19 08:08 PM
05/14/19 08:08 PM
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Finland
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outo Offline
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I cannot handle messy scores, the fever markings the better. I only write fingerings because they can be hard for me to remember and sometimes pedalling initially when counter intuitive. Everything related to music is stored in my head. My teacher's markings can be erased after I have figured them out in practice.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: LarryK] #2848194
05/14/19 08:31 PM
05/14/19 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Here is a page marked up by Glenn Gould. Don’t ask me what’s going on there, lol.

A Page from Glenn Gould
He doesn't have any of his own fingerings marked but this is only one example so it doesn't mean he never marked in fingerings.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: LarryK] #2848202
05/14/19 09:39 PM
05/14/19 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Here is a page marked up by Glenn Gould. Don’t ask me what’s going on there, lol.

A Page from Glenn Gould

My music eventually looks just like that which is why I started photocopying my scores. I freely scribble notes on the copy, even using colored markers. My notations are usually about interpretation with just a few finger markings. When the marking gets too intense, I pull out a fresh copy. This way my expensive Henle's and Barenreiters stay pristine. Photocopies also make my scores more portable since I can easily fit what I am working on into a small binder rather than carrying around books of scores.

Regarding writing in fingering, as I become more advanced and learned more music, I found I needed less and less fingering notations. Now, I am able to limit finger numbers to just a few tricky places. Just this morning, I was re-fingering some phrases because they didn't play smoothly when I brought them up to tempo.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848394
05/15/19 07:32 AM
05/15/19 07:32 AM
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Isn't the problem that there is just a lot of music to learn? Putting in a lot of fingering was generally shied upon in my early music circles. Especially if linear scale stuff. But I had a hard time with Bach counterpoint with this approach.
I favor putting fingering on every note even if obvious in Bach or similar music. Makes it easier and if you put the piece down for a while you have it there for you. I see no shame in this. Do whatever it takes to make it easier to play.

Re: Writing Too Much Fingering a Bad Thing? [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2848462
05/15/19 12:33 PM
05/15/19 12:33 PM
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To write down fingerings is most important, not only when you learn a new piece, but also - perhaps even more - to re-activate it after a longer break. Write as much as necessary and as little as possible.

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