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Fingering and reading
#2891773 09/18/19 04:52 PM
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Tom97 Offline OP
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I struggle with different hand positions while reading. I am used to having both my hands in C position - which means that (for LH) the 4th finger always plays G.
So - whenever I see G, my 4th finger hits the note. It has become automatic. I am now trying to learn a piece with different hand position (LH is 1 note lower so my 4th finger now is on F). This means that whenever I see a G on the score I have to play my 3rd finger, not the 4th.
However, whenever I dont focus intensely, I screw up and hit the 4th finger (F now) when I see G, not 3rd.
I´ve read somewhere that the purpose of having good fingerings is that you can actually take advantage of this sort of muscle memory but now it seems more like a bad habit. What do you think of it?

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Re: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2891777 09/18/19 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom97
I struggle with different hand positions while reading. I am used to having both my hands in C position - which means that (for LH) the 4th finger always plays G.
So - whenever I see G, my 4th finger hits the note. It has become automatic. I am now trying to learn a piece with different hand position (LH is 1 note lower so my 4th finger now is on F). This means that whenever I see a G on the score I have to play my 3rd finger, not the 4th.
However, whenever I dont focus intensely, I screw up and hit the 4th finger (F now) when I see G, not 3rd.
I´ve read somewhere that the purpose of having good fingerings is that you can actually take advantage of this sort of muscle memory but now it seems more like a bad habit. What do you think of it?

this has been great. practice with it in different keys and your habit will be broken! smile


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Re: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2891802 09/18/19 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom97

I´ve read somewhere that the purpose of having good fingerings is that you can actually take advantage of this sort of muscle memory but now it seems more like a bad habit. What do you think of it?

Next time you sight-read, use only your two index fingers to play all the notes, assuming there's no more than one note to play in each hand.

That will ensure you read the notes properly, rather than associate each note with a finger.


"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: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2891862 09/19/19 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom97

I´ve read somewhere that the purpose of having good fingerings is that you can actually take advantage of this sort of muscle memory but now it seems more like a bad habit. What do you think of it?


no, it is not a bad habit. The average person can rely on the fact that a relaxed hand will spread evenly over five keys giving surety to a basic set of intervals. A stretched hand for the average person, (at least me anyway..... Mr Average), will also give a perfect octave and likewise be very reliable. These two very simple things have helped me enormously, and continue to do so, to know where my fingers are without looking. But when you know where any of you fingers are touching in a five finger position, without even looking, the next step is to be able to lift and find any one of those five notes with alternative fingers. This seems tricky at first, and you might have to look for a little while to be sure, but with practice it will become pretty much second nature. The step after that will be to start using the fingers as sensors so you know where the gaps in the black keys are, and that will blow your mind the first time it happens (if you don't do it already that is).

The one thing we can be sure of is, that as soon as we are comfortable with one thing on the piano, we are going to be challenged to take the next step.


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Re: Fingering and reading
earlofmar #2891869 09/19/19 01:42 AM
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While I generally agree with what Earl wrote above, I strongly disagree with this first sentence:
Originally Posted by earlofmar
no, it is not a bad habit.

if it is meant as an answer to OPs question, if the way he has trained himself into the C position, where a certain note has a fixed finger correlation (G is always 4, D is always 2, etc) is a bad habit or not.

Because that is definitely a bad habit and you should break it as soon as possible. The later you break it, the harder it will become.

You have encountered all on your own the reason why modern piano teachers nowadays eschew many old piano method books, where the student stays too long in the C position, and instead prefer more modern books that introduce other positions much earlier (or if they use a C position fixated book for reasons, they augment it with additional pieces in other positions).

Re: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2891874 09/19/19 01:56 AM
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Yes, it's a bad habit, it must be broken. It's good to remember what finger plays each degree of a scale, but otherwise a finger must not be associated with a key.

Re: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2891876 09/19/19 02:15 AM
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I agree that playing scales should get you over this issue fairly quickly.

Scales and arpeggios will have your fingers on many notes.

Even simple five finger exercises can start on any note and break such a habit as you described.


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Re: Fingering and reading
Tom97 #2892047 09/19/19 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom97
. . .
I´ve read somewhere that the purpose of having good fingerings is that you can actually take advantage of this sort of muscle memory but now it seems more like a bad habit. What do you think of it?


You (and many other beginning students) mis-understand something :

. . . There are no "standard hand positions" for playing piano.

The finger that plays a G in one measure, may play a D in the next. Or a Bb. And a sequence of notes in the score may require different fingering, depending on the notes that precede and follow it.

So you absolutely _do not_ want to associate any pitch (in the written score) with any fixed finger. It will lead you to trouble (and it already is leading you to trouble) as soon as you graduate to anything beyond "absolute beginner" music.

There _are_ some standard patterns of fingering -- scales and arpeggios -- that we practice until they're automatic. Those (and fragments of them) occur frequently in music. "Muscle memory" comes into play, when you see a _sequence_ of notes in a score, and your brain and muscles say:

. . . "Oh -- I know how to play that!"

and use the "standard fingering" that they've practiced for umpteen hours. It doesn't always work (depending on preceding and following notes!), but it's a decent bet.

"Good fingering" is whatever requires the least effort, and yields the best result. There are some rules for that, but I'd bet that there are exceptions to each of them.

(I don't teach, and others are welcome to disagree.)


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker

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