Learn to improvise. 2004-2005. Lesson 16: piano fingering.

Beginners often don't pay attention to piano fingering, with the result they have a strange way using their hands. For every melody and chord you must ferret out which finger will have to be used for every note. Sheet music sometimes has the fingering with numbers above the notes to save you time. The numbers from thumb to the little finger are 1 to 5.

We will use the scale of C as an example to show good fingering. If the right hand plays from left to right the thumb shifts every 3 or 4 notes underneath the other fingers in the following way:
1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5
c d e f g a b c d e f g a b c
It takes exercise to play so smooth you can't hear the jump of the thumb.

Sometimes it is better not to start like you expect, e.g. the scale of D-flat can best be started with the index finger in stead of the thumb.

Everyone will be able to find the best fingering for a certain phrase, but he has to be motivated to pay enough attention to it. After the right fingering has been found, often one ignores to apply it for a refined and rhythmic articulation. The capability of a piano to give every note its own strenght rarely is exploited. Usually one playes too loud. Try to play softly!! From there you may play accents, which will appeal to the listener rather than stun him.

During improvising there is no time to ferret out the fingering, but those who have always payed attention to fingering in other cases, have got a routine preventing them from extreme clumsy use of their hands. Apart from that, also during improvising one can think ahead and have ones hand in the right position before knowing every single note one is going to play.

The other way around an improviser may make the choice of his notes dependent on the position of his hands on a certain moment. This is not inferior; after all, every instrument has its peculiarities and the same holds for the combination of an instrument and his player.

A good position requires a steady chair, with a height to have your forearm horizontally. The shoulders must be relaxed. The fingers have to be bent in a way the last phalanx (near the nail) is vertical during the touch of the key. The nails have to be cut short.

A refinement may have people (often women) moving their pulses for a light touch. Sometimes, when black and white keys are used the fingers have to be placed between the black keys. The touch is heavier, but there is no other choice then.

Every style has its typical phrases. In jazz it is the blue note in combination with some other notes. On the piano this is played by combining the notes e-flat and e (in the key of C). In classical music the melody 'e-flat - e' is played with two different fingers, but in jazz the middle finger often slides off the e-flat to the e to get a jazzy effect.

Some fingerings are good for everyone, like those of the scales. But as hands and locomotion are different, there may be differences in fingering. Apart from that one may deviate from the common rules due to circumstance. Some jazz pianists play with streched fingers in stead of bent ones. Mind to make a good fingering for a phrase before learning it by heart!
HOMEWORK: Make the best fingering for the melodies and chords you like.

More about piano fingering, taken from the Internet.
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