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Piano Technique: Fingering Principles

Fingering Principle #1

Good fingering is easy fingering!

Fingering Principle #2

Choice of fingering should always be based on goals, not rules. Instead of asking “What is the “right” fingering for this passage?” Instead, ask “What fingering makes musical, physical, and logical sense for this passage?”

Fingering Principle #3

You never have to sacrifice physical ease for musical effect. In fact, physical ease and musical effect are inseparable. If it feels good, it will sound good and vice versa!

Fingering Principle #4

Your fingering should make musical, logical, physical sense. It should fit the contours of the music, be easy to remember, suit the anatomy of your hands, and not fight against the natural capabilities of your body.

Fingering Principle #5

Good fingerings are not found by thinking “one note at a time”. Playing is a dynamic, not static, process, where you are always preparing for what comes next. Easy fingerings fit the ebbs, flows, and contours of whole musical phrases, not just individual notes.

Fingering Principle #6

Piano playing should never hurt or feel tense. Any uncomfortable or awkward stretching or scrunching of the hand is a symptom that the fingering is flawed or some other aspect of your technique needs more study.

Fingering Principle #7

Don’t be afraid to use the entire length of the key. In other words, don’t just play the part of the key that is closest to you. Playing farther away can do wonders for freeing your technique and opening up your fingering options.

Fingering Principle #8

The fingering should not confuse your sense of where your body is in relation to the piano. If you feel like the fingering is causing you to feel insecure about where the keys are, that is a sign that the fingering is flawed or some other aspect of your technique needs more study.

Fingering Principle #9

Your thumbs are very special. Because your thumbs are on the side of your hand and have lots of freedom of motion, they give you a much wider reach for distant notes than any of the other four fingers alone. If you have a long reach in a certain passage, try to incorporate your thumbs to make the reach simpler and tension-free.

Fingering Principle #10

Your choice of fingering and the choreography that you adopt mutually influence each other. The solution to a technical problem invites experimenting with both of them.

Fingering Principle #11

Good fingering and good technique are inseparable, but “good fingering” is so much more than just knowing which finger goes on which key. If you want to take your playing to the next level, you must also consider where and how your fingers make contact with the keys.

Fingering Principle #12

Musical fingering is only one of many aspects of expert piano technique. Do not fall into the trap of thing a good fingering coupled with finger training will solve all your technical problems.

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