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Piano Fingering Diagram

 

 

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PIANO FINGERING DIAGRAM

Piano fingering is an art that is easy in its simplest presentation, or can be a very complex system of rules meant to be broken. 

Below is a diagram of how the fingers are numbered at the piano:

The simplest arrangement is five fingers in a row. All beginning piano methods start in this position.

The history of fingering is one of refinement and the breaking of rules.

Carl Czerny was one of the first to number the fingers, or at least one of the first to publish a piano method that did so.

There are too many rules to list here, but perhaps it is interesting to examine the beginner's piano prohibitions that are broken by famous composers and pianists every day:

  1. Children are told never to have two of the same fingers in a row. Thus, it is bad form to play pinkie-pinkie, or thumb-thumb.  
  2. Children are told to play with curved fingers.
  3. Children are told they must follow the fingering in the book.

Regarding the first, Chopin has many passages that require two pinkies in a row, the most obvious of which is the opening theme of the G minor Ballade. 

And don't expect to play Rachmaninoff without similar "breaking" of the rules. I find countless places where he requires two thumbs in a row, often several feet apart on the piano keyboard, and timed a millisecond apart as well.

Curving your fingers is fine if that lets you play well, but many pianists use a flat fingered position, among them the very best, Vladimir Horowitz. I often use  it as well, especially in legato and melodic passages. It suits my hand, but perhaps not yours, refuting the madness of a "one size fits all" finger and hand position.

What is the physical reason for the flat finger? If you play with the pad of your finger, the last knuckle, you will have much more surface area of your finger on the piano key, whereas if you play with the tip of the finger, especially the pinkie, you will have a much smaller area to "grasp" the key.

As for following the fingering in piano books, I try to get children to learn the rules and then creatively break them. So if a child breaks a fingering rule but shows a clever alternate solution, I pay attention to it and reward the creativity.

Even a child can perceive, after a while, that putting the right finger in the right place will be crucial. The difference is that I get them to ask, "What is the right finger?" without slavishly following the suggestions of book. 

My advice is to learn and memorize the sequence of keys visually in the song you want to play, well before you try to assign fingers to the groups of notes.

It's easier to assign fingers when you have a feel for the "road." Trying to learn both at once can be painful for absolute piano beginners. 

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2011 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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THE COMPLETE BOOK PACKAGE: 

1. 107 page illustrated THE CHRISTMAS CAROL KIT Book with 44 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers   

2. 120 page illustrated PIANO IS EASY Book with 50 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers 

3. 50 page I CAN READ MUSIC Book 

4. 132 page TEACH YOURSELF PIANO STEP BY STEP Book, 56 minute DVD Video and removable stickers 

5. 141 page THE BIG BOOK OF SONGS BY NUMBER Book with 130 songs, and removable stickers 

6. 88 page EASY CLASSICAL PIANO BY NUMBER Book with 10 songs, and removable stickers, and 29 minute Play Along Audio CD 

6 BOOKS, DVD AND 3 PLAY ALONG AUDIO CDS 

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