• Keyboard Players: Here Is Some Basic Information On Fingering

    in Beginners,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    So you’re interested in getting some basic information on fingering?

    A vast majority of keyboard players (beginners especially) don’t know the importance of fingering on the piano. And this is because most lessons focus on areas like scales, theory, chords, progressions, songs, etc.

    So, in this lesson, we’ll be focusing on the importance of fingering on the piano and how it can make you a better piano player if you learn and master proper finger placement.

    But before we go any further, let’s talk about the human hand.

    A Short Note On The Human Hand

    Every human being is biologically designed to have two hands: one on the left and another on the right. Every hand (whether left or right) has five digits which consist of a thumb and four fingers.

    There is an anatomical reason why the thumb is NOT considered to be a finger and discussing them will lead to a departure from the goal of this lesson. Although we’re not going into that reason, it’s important for you to study the thumb and fingers shortly before we proceed.

    The Thumb – – The Gravity Of The Hand

    The thumb is the first digit in the hand that is usually shorter and thicker than other digits (actually fingers). The proper use of the thumb in piano playing is one of the rare techniques that distinguish advanced players from beginners and intermediate players.

    Due to the anatomical position of the thumb, it is the only digit that plays with its side; while other digits play with the tip. Also, it is positioned in such a way that it can go under the fingers — into the palm.

    Proper control of the thumb guarantees balance a balance of the fingers and hand.

    The Fingers — Explained

    There are four fingers on each hand:

    The index finger

    The middle finger

    The ring finger

    The pinky finger

    …and the tip of each of the fingers is used in playing the piano (which is different from that of the thumb where the side is used).

    The longest finger is usually the middle finger, followed by the ring finger, then the index finger, and then the pinky finger.

    It is also important to understand that the fingers closer to the thumb are stronger and more independent that fingers that are farther away from the thumb. This explains why the weakest finger in the human hand is the pinky finger.

    Now that we’ve refreshed our minds on the human hand, let’s proceed into learning about the concept of fingering.

    The Concept Of Fingering

    The concept of fingering on the piano deals extensively with the placement of the fingers (which affects the movement of the hands) while playing the piano.

    Finger placement (aka – “fingering”) is very important in piano playing just the same way it is important in typing where you have to master the A-S-D-F and “J-K-L-;” keys using the fingers and the space bar using the thumb.

    Piano playing can be technically challenging: because you can have an idea of what to play, but if you don’t know the right fingering to approach it with, you might find it difficult or impossible to play that idea.

    If you’ve ever seen an advanced pianist playing very complex stuff on the piano at an extremely fast tempo with clockwork precision and ease that you were amazed to a point where you probably thought “Hey! This is way beyond what I can ever achieve on the piano”, I have good news for you:

    You too can do the same (and even more) if you have an understanding of how the fingers and the hand should be placed on the piano while playing anything from scales, to intervals, to chords, and more.

    However, you have to be disciplined to learn and apply the concepts of fingering covered in this post and other reliable sources as well.

    A Short Note On Traditional Fingering

    Although everyone of us have the ability to come up with a unique finger placement for scales, intervals, and chords, etc., however, there are long-established guidelines that have been in use for several centuries now because they’ve been tested and trusted.

    Although we’ll be exploring some of the traditional guidelines to playing scales in a subsequent lesson, here are some traditional fingering guidelines:

    “On Scales…”

    The thumb (which is the gravity of the hand) plays B and C:

    …or E and F:

    So, in the C major scale:

    C and F:

    …are played with the thumb while the rest of the notes are played with the fingers.

    Attention: It is also important to note that while playing traditional scales, the thumb is NOT used on any black note. The fingers take care of black notes while the thumb (which is the gravity of the hand) come in between B-C and E-F.

    The Use Of Numbers In Fingering

    The digits on each hand are numbered from one to five; starting from the thumb as one in each hand:

    1 – The thumb

    2 – The index finger

    3 – The middle finger

    4 – The ring finger

    5 – The pinky finger

    Using these numbers, the fingering of every musical idea (be it a scale or chord) can be described. For example, the fingering of the C major scale:

    …can be given as:

    1 2 3  —  1 2 3 4 5

    …for C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C.

    “Check It Out…”

    C is played by the thumb (1)

    D is played by the index finger (2)

    E is played by the middle finger (3)

    F is played by the thumb (1)

    G is played by the index finger (2)

    A is played by the middle finger (3)

    B is played by the ring finger (4)

    C is played by the pinky finger (5)

    Final Words

    The importance of the concept of fingering cannot be over-emphasized because without a proper understanding of the placement of the fingers on the notes of the keyboard, keyboard playing can go from being challenging to being extremely difficult.

    Sheet musicians know the importance of fingering and that’s why in certain music scores, fingering guides are indicated.

    See you in the next lesson!

    Now you know the importance of fingering, go ahead and study more about how scales, chords, and other musical ideas are played using the right fingering.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Donna Patterson

    And the answer to correct fingering is …?

    Reply

    2 Reney

    This make it easier. Thanks.
    One love.

    Reply

    3 Carolyn

    Thank you Chuku for lesson on proper fingering. Now I can correct and practice the proper way. It is much easier. Thank you for all the information you share. I do value every and all information I get from GMTC. This class has really enhanced my playing.
    Thank God for sharing your talent and gift to so many. May God continue to bless you bountifully. You break down everything so simple. I really appreciate you for taking the time to put everything step by step, because it makes it easy to follow. Again thanks for all you do.

    Reply

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