Play Piano Better: Use Good Fingering

Why it’s easy to ignore fingerings

When reading a new score, there are many elements to take into consideration. Not only do you have the notes and rhythms to learn, but many times there are also fingering suggestions that are included by the score’s editor. Many students find all this information overwhelming and are tempted to ignore the fingering suggestions. It’s tempting to use an alternative finger if it feels easier at the time.

Are fingerings all that important?

When practicing a new piece, you will learn it faster and play it better if you are using the right fingerings from the first moment you begin playing.

New musical pieces can seem overwhelming when you are trying to learn the notes and the rhythms. Adding in taking the time to learn exact fingerings as suggested by the score’s editor piano fingering can make the process seem even more frustrating and annoying.

As a piano teacher, I watch many students struggle with all this information. Many students feel like the fingering suggestions are put there solely to confuse and frustrate them.

I can assure you that the fingering suggestions are not placed there just to create more things to remember. It is common for people to feel like their hard work learning notes and rhythms is not enough. As they are faced with also having to use exact fingers, they almost always find themselves wondering the same thing:

Does it matter which finger I use if the end result sounds the same?

The simple answer to that basic question is: Of course not. You can absolutely use a different fingering if the sound is the same and the alternative works better for you.

A good rule of thumb, however, is to consult with your music teacher before altering any fingerings. This can help you avoid technical problems from the very beginning of your practice sessions.

The best advice you can follow is to pay heed to the suggested fingerings and only alter them after consulting with someone whose experience you trust and whose opinion you value. The fingerings are designed to help your hands glide across the keys without fumbling. They are typically written by highly experienced people and if you take time to study them more closely you will most likely end up learning more about piano technique.

There are some basic facts about fingerings that can help you understand the printed suggestions better, and can also help you create more effective ones that work for you.

Basic Fingering Tips

1) Look at the upcoming few measures, and place your hand so that your five fingers are able to reach all of the notes that are coming along. If your right hand will be playing a melody that is moving up the scale, you will want to begin that with your thumb. As a beginner, it’s common to play tunes that require one finger for each note, and so are limited to only five notes. As you become more advanced, your hand will have to glide over more keys more quickly; but it’s still wise to stick to the one note one finger rule whenever possible.

2) Your fingers are not all equal. They are different lengths and sizes, and this can work to your advantage. The thumb makes an excellent pivot, and practicing scales will help you master that. The longer fingers are perfect for reaching the black keys, while you let your little finger focus on the easier to reach white keys.

3) Take advantage of all ten fingers! I am sure that there are many pianists who never use their ring fingers. However, this doesn’t mean it is the best way to play the piano. Playing piano can be a challenge even when using all ten of your fingers, and completely ignoring any of those fingers can greatly handicap you. While the ring finger may be a weak link, it is still a valuable tool and should be developed as such.

The next time you sit down to practice your piano look at it in another way. The printed fingerings are there to help you learn principles of good piano technique. They are there to save you time and frustration. While you can replace them if something else works better for you, taking the time to try them will help you become a better pianist.

Your Comments!

What do you think is a healthy approach to piano fingering? Do you often get annoyed at printed fingerings or are you thankful that someone has provided you with these hints? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your fingerings, changing them back and forth several times, or do you just ignore them completely and find that you can play quite well anyway?? Please enrich our lens with your thoughts on the subject.

See More Details