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Fingering question
#2950509 02/23/20 12:25 PM
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One of the first things I do when learning a new piece is to get the fingering right that works for me. For me, that means finding fingering that seems natural to where my fingers are at any point so my hand isn't moving around a lot, as well as taking into account what's happening next in the music so the fingering choices prepare for what happens next.

I find myself not using the written fingering at times, since it seems unnecessarily complex, like a lot of thumb crossover when instead you could just use the 4th or 5th finger. Is this done sometimes to avoid the naturally weaker 4h or 5th finger? An working through the Bartok Mikrokosmos Book 4 (boosey and hawkes) #115 now and find the written fingering choices more complex than it seems to need.

How important is fingering to you when learning a new piece, and how do you determine if the fingering works for you?

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950648 02/23/20 06:21 PM
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If the written fingering doesn't work for you, ignore it. It's just one person's opinion, and generally designed to be as non-controversial as possible. I, however, love to use controversial fingerings whenever possible.

I also try to avoid committing to fingering unless absolutely necessary. Especially the first few times you look at a piece, the ideas you come up with might not be the best.

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950653 02/23/20 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by eboats
I find myself not using the written fingering at times, since it seems unnecessarily complex, like a lot of thumb crossover when instead you could just use the 4th or 5th finger. Is this done sometimes to avoid the naturally weaker 4h or 5th finger?

Yes, it's done when a note needs to be somewhat accented (e.g. it's a strong beat), it's often not comfortable to make accent with finger 4 or 5.

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950688 02/23/20 07:57 PM
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I agree with you: for me it's just a suggestion but everyone's hand is different. I find what works best for my hand and what flows best from note to note. I also have very small hands so often have to be creative to find something that works.

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950717 02/23/20 09:47 PM
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If it's ergonomically sound, and enables the right sound or tone or phrasing etc. then use whatever fingering works for you.

Being able to work fingerings out I find is just a matter of experience. It's not an exact science.

Usually I take a working fingering while becoming accustomed to the notes, which may change in a few places as I start to speed the piece up.

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950744 02/23/20 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by eboats
One of the first things I do when learning a new piece is to get the fingering right that works for me. For me, that means finding fingering that seems natural to where my fingers are at any point so my hand isn't moving around a lot, as well as taking into account what's happening next in the music so the fingering choices prepare for what happens next.[...]
That's exactly what I do when I learn a new piece. If there is written fingering, I try first to use that, but I always try to understand the reason behind that fingering... There is always a reason... My target is to play with the minimum amount of movements needed. But sometimes a less intuitive hand movement is needed, for example, to let you play better a trill. Can you play a fast trill with 4th and 5th finger?

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950923 02/24/20 10:53 AM
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Thanks for all the great feedback. Definitely makes sense to avoid the 4th/5th for a fast trill or accent. But do you find you can strengthen the 4th/5th finger through certain exercises or do we just have to live with some avoidance of it? As an adult who has played piano most of my life, I still struggle with the weakness of 4th finger in my playing.

I guess I'm wondering if great piano players feel they have equal agility/dexterity with all 5 fingers in each hand.




Last edited by eboats; 02/24/20 11:00 AM.
Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950971 02/24/20 12:19 PM
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You can definitely strengthen them with the right exercises. I dont particularly avoid them, in fact i use them quite a lot in particular when there is counterpoint with multiple voices. But there are plenty of other pieces where it is usefull. If you post an extract of the Bartok where you think it is complex, people can give you their opinion.

Re: Fingering question
eboats #2950987 02/24/20 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by eboats
Thanks for all the great feedback. Definitely makes sense to avoid the 4th/5th for a fast trill or accent. But do you find you can strengthen the 4th/5th finger through certain exercises or do we just have to live with some avoidance of it? As an adult who has played piano most of my life, I still struggle with the weakness of 4th finger in my playing.

I guess I'm wondering if great piano players feel they have equal agility/dexterity with all 5 fingers in each hand.

Nope, 5th and especially 4th will never be as strong as other fingers. There are anatomical differences that make it impossible. So we always have to choose fingering considering the individual qualities of every finger.

It's best to choose fingerings that most reliably lead to desired results. For example, there is always a chance of a "bump" when playing 2-1-2, but playing 3-2-3 is much more reliable if you need even notes. So if you have a choice it's better to avoid 2-1-2 in this situation and stick to 3-2-3.


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