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Just a question, Betty, about your black note scale rules (which featured again in a current ABforum thread.) This is part of the summary which you posted in a thread a few months ago, with fingering for the scale of Eb major:

written by Betty 4th September 07:
Scales starting on black keys:

THE "RULE"
UU - UUU (groups of two and three black keys)
23 - 234 (RH fingers)
32 - 432 (LH fingers)


Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
RH (3-1-2-3-4-1-2-3
LH (2-1-4-3-2-1-3-2)


I quite see the application for scales where all blacks are used (eg F# major, B major.) However, your fingering quoted for E flat isn't the standard one - it isn't the one in the article by Paul Wirth that you recommend either. And I presume following your rules would produce a non-standard fingering in LH for Bb and Ab also. Paul Wirth has (for LH of Eb) 3214321, and this is the fingering I've always used and always seen in scale books. Yours was 2143213.
I suppose the question is: do you teach this fingering because you think it works better, is easier, or because it fits your system and makes it easier to remember? I'm not a stickler for established fingerings necessarily (I have a few personal quirks in my arpeggios smile ) but I wondered about this. And if you're showing these "rules" to beginners do you think you should point out that this is not the standard fingering for Eb, Ab and Bb (LH)?
Then again, maybe this fingering is more common than I think (I've led a pretty sheltered life laugh ). Does anyone else use Betty's fingering? (that is, 2143213 for LH of Eb)


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Are you referring to this post? http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/27/1407.html#000008

The reason for the "standard" fingering is that it puts the 4th finger on a black key.

When scales come up in real pieces of music, it's very rare for them to begin and end on the key note, so you have to be ready to try all sorts of crazy fingerings depending on what comes before and after the scale. However, it's good to learn the standard fingerings as a foundation before you try other things.

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Yes, that's the post Alexander. I totally agree about what happens in real music! What I was wondering about was Betty's systemisation of scale fingering. It results in a "non-standard" fingering for the teaching and practice of scales, not just the adapting we do in a particular piece of music. Then I began to wonder whether her fingering was more "standard" than I'd thought. I've never used that fingering myself when playing an Eb major scale (LH), though I may have used all sorts of things for parts of the scale in an actual piece smile .


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I say play whatever fingering makes the most sense to you. Sometimes the size of hands will alter the fingering, but if this fingering doesn't work for you (it doesn't for me either), then don't do it. Perhaps Betty's suggestions were to be used only in scales B, F#, C#, and their enharmonic spellings.


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I use 3214321 for the LH. My personal preference.

Betty's fingering is one of the "suggested fingerings" in our teacher's handbook because the hands play "thumbs together," and that's easy for kids to anchor to.

The worst scale fingering is B harmonic minor. I still can't find a good one that'll help me avoid playing in that narrow strip of white key between two black keys.


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Quote
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
Betty's fingering is one of the "suggested fingerings" in our teacher's handbook because the hands play "thumbs together," and that's easy for kids to anchor to.
That's interesting - I wondered if that was it. It certainly is easier for some kids when there's a thumbs together moment.


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Ahoy! Good questions and comments!

Glad to see some interest and curiosity in other fingerings possibilities for scales. I am a great believer of 1) keeping things simple and 2) being consistent. I am also a big believer in 3) present the concept before you are going to need them.

EXPLANATION OF WHY USE THESE RULES?
Many things went into my deciding to use the BLACK KEY FINGERING RULES as consistently as possible in all scale fingering in this graphic:

23 RH
UU
32 LH

234 RH
UUU
432 LH

RULE: In the b keys I am trying to use RH (finger) 4 on the 4th degree of the scale and LH 4 on the 2nd degree.

RULE: In the # keys I am trying to use RH 4 on the 7th degree of the scale and LH 2 on the 7th degree of the scale.

RULE: I am also trying to use 4 fingers of each hand only once per octave.

RULE: The only place 5 would be used is as the "brake" with which to stop the scale movement. Other fingers have that capacity to stop, not only 5.

RULES: There are a few "obstinate" scales in the mix, but I use them anyway, because in the # keys the 3's play hands together, and in the b keys, the 1's play hands together.

In teaching scales, the student would be growing up through as needed to support literature as needed sequentially through Keys of C - G - D- A - E which supports the same fingering choices. (These are the HT 3's)

The Key of F is the same fingering in the LH but the RH has RH 4 on the black key.

ACCOUNTABILITY
These scales completely support my black key fingering and they use the HT 1's)
B and Cb (enharmonic)
F# and Gb (enharmonic)
C# and Db (enharmonic)
Bb
Eb
Ab the 3's and the 1's are HT

I hope this is a better explanation for you.

AZN: What are you referring to as your teacher's handbook? Yes, this is the idea that there is not only scales with the 3's HT but some with the 1's HT.

Morodiene: I think it does matter how scales are learned - I don't think there is a benefit to whatever fingering makes sense to you. If you were to say "personal choice" in certain keys (what I've called (obstinate)that would be an adjustment out of necessity to conform to the hand. Doable. But fingering is just as much - MORE - of a system - then most people are aware of.

This is why I teach fingering impulses from the introductory lesson as an orientation to the keyboard - with those very same UUU and UU black key groups. It is immediately easy to see at the first lesson that there are 3 white keys in the front of the 2 blacks, and 4 white keys in the front of the 3 blacks. (C-D-E) (F-G-A-B). Believe it of not, fingering on all future scales is decided right now.

Yes there are exceptions to rules.
5's play as the brake in scales
5's play in chords and inversions.
IF you teach all 5 Finger Positions you have paved the way for all root position chords.
5's play on octaves.

I will workout a written document that works for scale work in every Major Key and will have it available as an attachment to your e-mail at home if you will provide me with your email address by PM (I am not approaching minors at this time.)

And, I'd love to see more exploration of this system. One of the advantages I see is that the students after getting through 5 Finger Positions, and the CGDAE scales, can refer to the black key rules and "invent the rest of the keys. Since I have also taught Scales by Tetrachords as the first step to approaching the C scale when we started - the work they do on their own in quite convincing, because they don't have to refer to a music page to write their own scale - keysignature, notes in the scale, and fingerings.

At this point, the Circle of 5ths makes a lot of sense.

Sorry I didn't get back immediately to this question. Please let's bat it around and see if there is anything to discover?

Currawong: You gave me a workout here! (Ha, Ha)

Betty

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Quote
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

RULE: In the b keys I am trying to use RH (finger) 4 on the 4th degree of the scale and LH 4 on the 2nd degree.
Betty, thanks smile . I think you've answered my questions! The above quote is the only thing I'm still puzzled about. Seems to work for F major and none of the others, but maybe I've missed something blindingly obvious here smile .

By the way, I meant what I said about not being a stickler for standard fingerings necessarily - I think I like your fingering for Bb major better than the established one! This has always been my most unfavourite scale. Not sure whether I'm game to teach it to my exam students however...

quote: Currawong: You gave me a workout here! (Ha, Ha)
Always happy to oblige laugh .


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currawong:
This has always been my most unfavourite scale.

Same here. I've always thought that Beethoven Op22 (1st movement especially) presents a lot of its technical challenges due to its inherent Bb major-ness and ubiquitous scalar/arpeggio figures. Truly great music though, obviously smile .

Michael B.


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Currawong:

Obstinate - doesn't comply - no matter what I do. When I make the chart/document it will all show up as to any inconsistencies. Sometimes applying one rule, means you can't consider the other rule. The rules are the "standards" as we've known them from various sources.

It would be great if a few of the interested people here would "verify" the document and "feed back" to me. Outside of the inconsistencies (not many) is there something of value that you found? I think it's teachable, do you? If not, why?

A kind of combination of logic and creativeness gives us choices. One thing to watch for would be "comfort" on the elevated notes and white note combinations, the fingers (mine) automatically go to the designated notes, stringing them out in place for quick finding and playing. They don't have the "each-ies" sound of most scales the first time you play them as you are trying to find the next note to play.

Does anyone use Keyboard Graphics when teaching scales?

Thanks for your inputs!

Betty

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Quote
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Obstinate - doesn't comply - no matter what I do.
Pesky scales! Can't you just drag them kicking and screaming into your system? (Just joking laugh )

re keyboard graphics - I use a keyboard diagram I've designed (using PageMaker) and have fingering printed on the keys. Sometimes I make them into laminated charts as an aid.


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Quote
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
...RULE: In the b keys I am trying to use RH (finger) 4 on the 4th degree of the scale and LH 4 on the 2nd degree
...
RULES: There are a few "obstinate" scales in the mix, but I use them anyway, because in the # keys the 3's play hands together, and in the b keys, the 1's play hands together.
...
Ab the 3's and the 1's are HT
Sorry if this seems like a silly question, but from these rules I can't tell which fingerings you're using for Ab and Bb. The "rule" of using the 4th finger on a black key whenever possible doesn't appear in your list--do you put 4 on white keys for these scales?

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quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

RULE: In the b keys I am trying to use RH (finger) 4 on the 4th degree of the scale and LH 4 on the 2nd degree.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Currawong said: "Betty, thanks . I think you've answered my questions! The above quote is the only thing I'm still puzzled about. Seems to work for F major and none of the others, but maybe I've missed something blindingly obvious here."

I think THIS is more correct: RULE: In the b keys I am trying to use RH (finger) 4 on the 4th degree of the scale and LH 2 on the 4th degree. :rolleyes:

Alexander Hanysz and Currawong, you are welcome to keep an eagle eye out of this transaction. However, I hope we all don't get headaches!

I will complete that document any day now. You KNOW (it's so obvioius) I need help in the editing making sure everything is
correct! help

And, currawong, I'd like to know about pagemaker - I haven't used it yet. Your quote was helpful about keyboard graphics - "I use a keyboard diagram I've designed (using PageMaker) and have fingering printed on the keys. Sometimes I make them into laminated charts as an aid."

Thank all!

Betty

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Looks like Alexander and I are both puzzled about the same thing, Betty. I don't see how this rule applies to any flat scale except F major. To use RH finger 4 on the 4th degree of the scale simply doesn't work in any logical way I can think of unless the scale begins with fingers 1234. Waiting for enlightenment smile .

PageMaker is a page layout/desktop publishing programme. I don't even know whether it's still around, as ours is 10+ years old and only works on our older computer. I find it easy to use because you can put everything exactly where you want it. But no doubt there's something more recent that does this and more.


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It's interesting that Betty posted that fingering. I've noticed over the years that many students default to it, rather than the "accepted" fingering. There could be several reasons for that, and perhaps I find the accepted fingering easier only because I've mastered it and used it for so many years.


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They like it because it puts the thumb on C. It also avoids the problem of having a weak, timid 4th finger play a black key, keeping the black keys on fingers 2 and 3.

Unfortunately, the fingering ignores the physiology of the hand and the idea of black-to-white grouping that is so important to black key scale fluency.


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Ah ha, thanks! Now I can stand my ground without worries!


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They like it because it puts the thumb on C. It also avoids the problem of having a weak, timid 4th finger play a black key, keeping the black keys on fingers 2 and 3.
Betty's fingering puts 4 on black keys. However something doesn't make sense (Betty?). Everyone is puzzled about the statement regarding using the 4th finger on the 4th degree of a scale. However, even in the isolated example of the Eb + scale on the top of the page, the right hand fourth finger plays the 5th, not 4th, degree (Bb). Something seems to have gotten lost in the explanation.

I'm a student starting again from scratch so the only thing I can do is understand the logic of what is presented. The logic seems to be that middle fingers 234 play the black keys, outer fingers 15 never play the black keys, and students can orient themselves easily on the keyboard. Would that be the gist of it, Betty?

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Yes, Keystring, it can be that simple, and be correct.

However, If I try to incorporate the other rules, that were identified they all can not work together. This leaves me wanting to clarify the scales where the concept does not work, and find out what IS true of them.

Consistency and simplification were my original goals.

Attempt at answers:

I had looked up older standards which expounded on rules being part of scales.

As I worked on the scale fingering using my concept of black fingers (I'm sure other people have discovered how well this work), I also discovered that certain "rules" do not work if I'm applying the concept that I want to use throughout....there are exceptions to the rules.

So, we discovered that the 4th finger on the 4th degree is b keys is not possible.

There have always been exceptions in fingering.

Have you noticed that the RH 23 - 234 and LH 32 432 fingering is simply using the C scale flattened to B/Cb and using all 5 black notes? So, the black key fingers ARE relevant.

I need to work on completing/finalizing this for myself whether anyone else is interested or not.

I am looking for the same things other teachers would look for, the benefits to the students.

John, I understand your use of "default" and saying "I've already learned them". I like a good skeptic! I would like to relieve the painful, dreaded part of scale building and make scales easily secure in thinking, and hand approach. It looks easy to do on the written pages of music, however, it takes a lot of work to learn them and ace them. And, the good old comments about, they are not always fingered as we learned them when you see them in different composer's pieces. Dilemna's in a way.

I need some very quiet time to get back to this because I want to decide this for myself once and for all.

I want the fingering to come from the musician inately or intuitively.

That's the whole purpose of why explore this!

It not only has to comply with the "rules" created by doing this, but it has to feel good to the hand, creating fluency from within the student, meet the criteria of consistency and simplifying.

Sharpen your pencils!

Betty

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Keystring summarized: "The logic seems to be that middle fingers 234 play the black keys, outer fingers 15 NEVER play the black keys, and students can orient themselves easily on the keyboard. Would that be the gist of it, Betty?"

BP: Yes, that is a significant "rule".

Keystring commented: "Everyone is puzzled about the statement regarding using the 4th finger on the 4th degree of a scale."

BP: Yes, that is a previous "rule" in scales and some of these "rules" mentioned above do not apply anymore when you go to the Black Key Fingering I'm trying to work with.

I have been trying to find time to get back to "proof" the scales in Circle of 5ths order using as many of the the Black Key Fingerings as possible and comfortable. (This means a few changes to the way I have learned them.)

My point of all of this is that: this system works easily for several keys, and primarily has scales playing very efficiently.

But they no longer conform to the several rules I was trying to keep in place. That is why the "confusion" is happening.

Thanks for all the feedback - and I realize that many would say, "If it isn't broken don't fix it!"

I hope you are giving the scales with black notes a serious workout using the Black Key Fingering, because many do work so very, very well, and the system is easy to remember.

I appreciate opinions! And, enjoy questions!

Betty

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