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#3110794 04/26/21 03:07 PM
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I take piano lessons and when I get a new piece to work on, I try to pick the best fingering. Some pieces will have a few suggestions, but others don’t. I work on the piece quite a bit the first week to be sure I have the notes right, good fingering and hopefully the rhythm too. But at lesson time my teacher will say that some of my fingering makes it more difficult to play it. She will write in the fingering for a few places and have me rethink other fingering for the following week. She isn’t being dogmatic on the fingering. Just suggesting what might work better for me. And her suggestions usually do work out better. Then I have to unlearn and relearn the fingering which makes for slower progress. This has happened several times. Is there anything out there that could help me get it right the first time? Must be missing something. Or is it just going to be a slow learning process of trial and error?
For example, I worked on the first page of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique no 8, 2nd movement (no fingering suggestions) and at my next lesson suggestions were written in. I’m to see how I like them and rethink other fingering and start on page 2. There are a few places I really don’t know what to do with the fingering on page 2, so I am not going to do those measures and just wait for my next lesson.


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PatG #3110801 04/26/21 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
She will write in the fingering for a few places and have me rethink other fingering for the following week. She isn’t being dogmatic on the fingering. Just suggesting what might work better for me. And her suggestions usually do work out better. Then I have to unlearn and relearn the fingering which makes for slower progress. This has happened several times. Is there anything out there that could help me get it right the first time? Must be missing something. Or is it just going to be a slow learning process of trial and error?
It's all part of learning, so don't be afraid to make mistakes or "poor" decisions in fingerings. Your chosen fingerings will improve the more pieces you learn.

Even experienced pianists find they have to change their fingerings when what they originally thought was best didn't quite work when they started practicing it. (With one piece, I even had to switch hands......)


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PatG #3110805 04/26/21 03:33 PM
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I am learning that same piece. My edition has some fingering in it but not a lot. My teacher prefers that I try to figure out the fingering first and then if it does not work, he will help. I also do not always follow the fingering as it does not always work for everyone's hands. I will try the suggested fingering but usually end up changing some of it. I do not have small hands but the arthritis is especially bad in my right hand and I have trouble with octaves in that hand so there is no way I could do octaves with 1 and 4.
I remembering being at Summerkeys , a music program for adults in Maine. I had been struggling with a couple of measures in a Mozart Sonata movement. The teacher suggested a change from what was written and it was so much easier for me to play it with the different fingering.


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I will just echo what bennevis has written in the hope that repetition of the idea will encourage you. Selecting good fingering that works for you is a learned process, and, as with many things learned, it takes time.

When it is available, it is often helpful to check various editions on IMSLP for example. There, you can sometimes find different fingerings from different editors. The more suggestions you find the more you will learn about possibilities which, in turn in the long run, may help you develop a sense of what may work for you.

Remember though that what works at a slow, practice tempo does not always work at performance tempo; that's where we all have to adjust our "good" fingerings from time to time to "better" ones.

Regards,


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PatG #3110903 04/26/21 08:59 PM
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I often find “unique” fingering that works well for me, LOL. I don’t care, as long as I can make a beautiful trill in Chopin, LOL. You gotta do what you gotta do! 😂😂😂

I’ve had to relearn fingering twice in one piece. 🙄 Sometimes I’ve found that a popular fingering just doesn’t work for me. It’s fine to decide on something you like better. I generally don’t bother asking anymore and just figure it out on my own. At least I don’t have to deal with relearning then! 😊


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PatG #3110905 04/26/21 09:10 PM
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You don't always find the best fingerings the first time. You leave the piece or section for a day or 2. When you come back, you know how the piece should sound and try alternative fingerings. The last piece I worked on I put in fingerings on the sheet the first time through and then revised my fingerings the next time.

PatG #3110937 04/27/21 02:13 AM
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PatG #3110941 04/27/21 02:27 AM
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My suggestion would be to ask your teacher to give you a new piece one week earlier than now. During this week, all you do with the piece is figure out the fingering. Next lesson, she suggests a different fingering, and now your practice of the piece starts for real. So you avoid learning a piece with incorrect fingering. smile


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Originally Posted by Animisha
My suggestion would be to ask your teacher to give you a new piece one week earlier than now. During this week, all you do with the piece is figure out the fingering. Next lesson, she suggests a different fingering, and now your practice of the piece starts for real. So you avoid learning a piece with incorrect fingering. smile
I don't think this problem is completely avoidable and in the grand scheme of things one week doesn't make any difference. I think anyone who has played for a sufficiently long time had situations where they had to change the fingering of a piece long after having learned it. In fact, in the piece I prepared for the next recital I had to change not only the fingering but all the ornaments to play them in a different way than I had planned initially. I did this after about 2 months of practicing the piece. Looking back I think the experience was instructive and I don't regret having done it.

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Originally Posted by PatG
Then I have to unlearn and relearn the fingering which makes for slower progress. This has happened several times. Is there anything out there that could help me get it right the first time? Must be missing something.

No, I don't think you are missing anything, fingering can be a real pain and there's no other way than trial and error.

In difficult passages I may change fingering three times before getting the right one.

Just one example. I have been playing the Anglaise from Bach French suite in B minor. Difficult for my level. Everything reasonably OK but for a short passage in the middle that I couldn't get to work with the proposed fingering.

After 1 month of playing it I decided to change it; it took me some 10 days to have my finger memory acquire the new habit, but it was worth it as now I can play thorough that flying. So, no shortcut, just trial and error, time consuming and fatiguing but really no way around that as far as I can tell.

But hey ! If you find a way let me know !!!

Enjoy

Mark.

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Most of the most challenging works for piano, those that only the most advanced pianists can attempt, come in at least some editions with fingering. I think this shows that, except for a small number of supremely gifted pianists, finding good fingerings is not easy.

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Originally Posted by marklings
Just one example. I have been playing the Anglaise from Bach French suite in B minor. Difficult for my level. Everything reasonably OK but for a short passage in the middle that I couldn't get to work with the proposed fingering.

A few years ago I learned the first movement of the Bach Italian Concerto in F. The problem I noticed was the fingerings for 2 chords: G-Bb-C-E going into F-A-C-F. The suggested fingerings is to get you to play with different fingers for different notes to get a smoother transition. A 4-note chord is a big stretch for me with small hands. Playing 2 notes an octave apart I can only use the thumb & pinkie. Day 1 I recognized the problem after trying the suggested fingerings. By day 2 I'd change certain numbers to be more playable. Day 3 I've already learned the chords (with my fingerings). I wouldn't wait more than a week and then decide the suggested fingerings are not working. In a week I would have learned half of the piece with my own finger changes.

I'm working on an arrangement of an orchestral piece with no suggested fingerings. The first few days was to learn the notes at a slow tempo. On the way I'd put in the fingerings I find workable. After a week of learning a page, I'd be more comfortable playing at the preferred tempo. Some of the fingerings that worked at a slower tempo felt awkward at the faster speed and had to be changed.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Most of the most challenging works for piano, those that only the most advanced pianists can attempt, come in at least some editions with fingering. I think this shows that, except for a small number of supremely gifted pianists, finding good fingerings is not easy.

Once I watched a professional do an online demo of the slow part of "Fur Elise". The fingerings were unconventional but work very well.

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The most basic thing for finding good fingerings is to learn to think in terms of hand positions, that is in terms of groups of notes which you can play without moving your hand. One exercise that I did and that I think may be helpful to you is the following. Get scores with fingerings already written in by the editors, get a pencil and draw horizontal braces denoting every hand position. Then analyze the result. I'm sure that after a dozen of pieces analyzed like this your fingering skills will already improve.

It's important to remember that the best fingering is often the one that requires minimum stretching. So if you're to play a third it's most comfortably done with fingers 13, 24 or 35, for a fourth for an average hand it's 14 or 25. Try to avoid stretching when it's possible. I mean for most but the fastest pieces it's better to have more hand position changes than finger stretches.

It's also good to remember the fingering of the scale of the piece's key before working on fingering. Let it be a starting point for passages.

And I remember there was a thread where some more specific rules were mentioned. I'll try to find it.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
The most basic thing for finding good fingerings is to learn to think in terms of hand positions, that is in terms of groups of notes which you can play without moving your hand. One exercise that I did and that I think may be helpful to you is the following. Get scores with fingerings already written in by the editors, get a pencil and draw horizontal braces denoting every hand position. Then analyze the result. I'm sure that after a dozen of pieces analyzed like this your fingering skills will already improve.

It's important to remember that the best fingering is often the one that requires minimum stretching. So if you're to play a third it's most comfortably done with fingers 13, 24 or 35, for a fourth for an average hand it's 14 or 25. Try to avoid stretching when it's possible. I mean for most but the fastest pieces it's better to have more hand position changes than finger stretches.

It's also good to remember the fingering of the scale of the piece's key before working on fingering. Let it be a starting point for passages.

And I remember there was a thread where some more specific rules were mentioned. I'll try to find it.
Well, it depends on many things. I agree with your rules in general but there are many exceptions depending on the piece and your interpretiation. For example, a thick polyphonic piece where you want to sustain some voices legato and need to do finger switches, or maybe you have to trill while holding a note and the only fingers available are ones that are too weak to trill so you need to switch. Or another case, sometimes when starting a passage it might be better to start with 2 not because of hand position changes but because the elbow naturally moves outwards when you play 2 instead of 1, which might help with the phrasing you're trying to achieve. There are many more considerations. Even memorization might be one consideration - i.e. it's easier to memorize fingering that repeats identically for phrases in different registers.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Try to avoid stretching when it's possible. I mean for most but the fastest pieces it's better to have more hand position changes than finger stretches.

And I remember there was a thread where some more specific rules were mentioned. I'll try to find it.

Please do, I'd be very interested in that: personally I find way less stressing and less prone to errors stretching flingers than moving / changing hand position. I have a reasonably large hand, 10th no problem, so stretching isn't too difficult. Changing hand position always gets me in trouble, always lead me to errors.

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Sorry, it seems I can't find that thread.

However it's not difficult to describe these principles, they are all just based on anatomy. The most basic principle we are all aware of is that fingers 1 and 5 are not well suited to play black keys in passages. Also it's better to avoid playing white keys between black keys, and it's better to use fingering that allows to play black keys closer to their front edges, because there you have more control over the key.

In addition to that it's good to consider each finger's individual nature. The thumb is clumsy. If you need to play a note gently the thumb is not a good candidate for this. Fingers 1 and 3 in pair are the strongest for intervals and trills. Fingers 4 and 5 are weak, especially 4, so if you need to make an accent or little crescendo it's more easily done with fingers 2 or 3 (or 1 if you want rougher accent). And vice versa, choosing 4 and 5 for diminuendo and attenuation is a good choice. These considerations about strong and weak fingers also apply to voicing, where it's best to choose stronger fingers for a leading voice if possible.

Thumbs are not comfortable to play with deep on the opposite side of the keyboard. I mentioned it in some other thread recently.

Probably I have forgotten something.

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There is no 1-size-fits-all fingering for some passages. We all have different hands. If I am struggling to play a passage or section of a piece well and at tempo, I often review the fingering and try alternatives. I always keep a pencil and artist eraser at the piano for writing in and revising fingerings, and rest assured, the eraser gets plenty of use.

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I highly recommend the following book

The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Var Niv
From beginning to very advanced. Well written with examples


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I highly recommend the following book

The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Var Niv
From beginning to very advanced. Well written with examples
Yes, that's the one I recommended above.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by dogperson
I highly recommend the following book

The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Var Niv
From beginning to very advanced. Well written with examples
Yes, that's the one I recommended above.

Sorry, I didn’t click on the link, so I missed it. Sheet music plus is a digital download. Since it is a huge book, I would recommend the spiral bound printed version from Amazon for about the same price.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
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