Blog

Piano Fingering Success

piano fingers

The other month I stumbled on my very first piano tutor book from when I was a seven-year-old. The thing that struck me, as I thumbed through the pages, was that my music teacher had written the word “fingering” on almost every page! I can still hear the frustration in his voice as he yet again tried to explain to me the pitfalls of using “any old finger.”

As a piano teacher myself now, it fascinates me that some students have a natural tendency towards following fingering and others, like me, need constant nagging!

Light bulb!

Most sheet music editions have all the fingering suggestions carefully printed but one of my adult students was learning an arrangement without any fingering. In times past, I would pencil in my suggestions but this time I asked him to go away and work out what fingering would work best. The result was amazing! Not only had he enjoyed “taking ownership” of his fingering but it had made him think long and hard about the consequences of good and bad finger choices teaching him some valuable applications of scale and arpeggio fingering. His exercise practise has greatly improved since as he now has added reasons for practising them and he know happily adds or edits the fingering on his new pieces, carefully deciding how choices he makes will make the performance easier and smoother sounding.

Decomposing!

As I compose and arrange many of the songs that my pupils learn, I’m going to try and deliberately leave out any fingering suggestions and let them enjoy the challenge of figuring out which fingers will work best. Any trick that helps my students to “take ownership” of their learning is a great motivational tool and thoroughly worth exploiting!

Fingering advice

Whenever I look at very old editions of educational piano music from hundred years or so ago, the thing that strikes me is that they often gave fingering suggestions for every single note! I have learnt over the years that the more annotations that are pencilled onto the pupil’s score, the more they ignore the instructions. Less is more. What is the bare minimum finger suggestions that is needed? Strategic moments only and mostly write fingering outside the stave (staff).

 

See other posts by Reuben Vincent

Join him on his facebook discussion page

 

photo by:

About the Author

Reuben Vincent
Reuben Vincent is a freelance musician working as a composer, producer and private music teacher, based from his purpose built recording studio in Bagillt, Flintshire, North Wales, UK. His main instrument is the piano although he is also known for a "mean" solo on the Kazoo!!!

6 Comments

  1. Guillermo

    That was one thing my group piano teach in college was not picky about was fingering. She wanted rhythm and note accuracy but fingering was up to us. Often I did follow written fingering but sometimes coming up with my own was more efficient in tricky passages. I personally prefer when pieces only have one or two specific note fingerings and leave the rest up for the player.

  2. Claire Geraldine

    YES!! I knew I couldn’t be the only one. I have systematically removed all the fingering number from my students books with Tippex (whiteout?) since I began teaching 20 years ago. I only introduce it when they move out of the initial middle C hand position – by which time they have learnt the note names very well too and haven’t just played by numbers.
    Learning their own fingering, and owning that, has helped them all to a certain extent, but more so those inclined to play with awkward fingers. I make them do just as you have written above 🙂 YAY!
    Its the same as when they make a mistake – far better for them to mark it in their own way, rather than me circle it! They never remember what it means by the time they get home.
    Fingering is so personal; I’m often surprised at the fingering suggestions in some tutor books too!
    Nice post.

  3. Reuben Vincent

    Hi Claire. Thanks for taking the trouble to comment. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree with you. I like your idea of introducing fingers later as pupils do try to play by numbers not by the note names. Good tip thanks Claire. I’ll have a think about trying that

  4. Reuben Vincent

    I agree. Fingering is very personal and the less the better. It really helps to consider which is best for the individual. Thanks for your comment

  5. alen owen

    That was very informative article……………for custom essay writing service visit http://www.expertwritinghelp.com/