Fingering Technique

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

  • Keymaster
    HBrock25 on #88589

    Hello~ I have a question for you teachers involving the fingering sequencing.

    Is there always only one “right” way to accomplish the fingering?

    I do realize that sequencing now is providing a foundation for more complicated passages. As a beginner, I am trying to follow the several books I own, and my teacher, religiously; however, I have noticed subtle but distinct differences between them in regard to position so I’m wondering about the fingering as well.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Michele

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #88590

    There are usually several options for fingering the same passage, but they have to be musical, yet comfortable. Since we all have different sizes of fingers, etc., there is no one-size-fits-all fingering rule. Practice putting the emphasis on different fingers in the same passage, i.e. a scale, just to develop the ability to bring out the phrasing no matter which fingering you use. However, bear in mind that it is MUCH easier to bring out the phrase if your fingerings are working with you, instead of against you. Sometimes you’re stuck with having a weak finger on a strong beat, but it’s better if you can avoid that. Always try several fingerings before you settle on one, then write that in (in pencil) so you don’t forget.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #88591

    That is really a big question. I think that fingering determines much of phrasing. You would have to study the musical line and think about which notes group better with which. How does the line build or fall? It is a different effect to play a one-octave scale with groupings of 4-3 or 3-4. Or maybe it should be 4432121. It depends. If you can play the notes evenly first, then you can look at this. Every line builds or falls. It should never remain exactly the same. Each finger has a different quality. 4 and 1 are the last in each direction, so they have a finality to them. 2 sings well. 3 is the most resonant. 234 in sequences can be very cantabile. Enjoy.

    Member
    tony-morosco on #88592

    What they said ;^)

    Seriously, Right and Wrong in this case is a subjective thing. Fignering does effect the music, but different people are built differently, and have different preferences and ideas of what good is.

    If you were to look through all of my earliest sheet music you would see that virutually every piece of music I have from that time with fingerings indicated have changes made by my teacher. She definitly had opinions on what good fingering was, and it has really been an influence on me. If you asked me to mark out fingerings in a piece and compared it to how my first teacher would have done it I would bet they would be

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #88593

    Fingerings are tricky, and to some extent, personal.

    Member
    Michele J on #88594

    Thank you all for your valued responses to my question.

    Carl, the thought of three octaves right now renders me speechless and my fingers immobile. 🙂

    The exact problem, which I should have specified in my initial post is this:

    My teacher has told me to always use a support finger. One of my books specifically addresses this question and says, “No,” unless that string is to be played. That simple Q&A was a revelation for me, and I find it much easier to work the material with the latter in mind.

    I am following the practice techniques and fingering of the etudes to the letter of the law, so to speak, as I realize I am not in a position to modify tried and true technique exercises.

    However, forcing a support finger where I find it uncomfortable and unnecessary is causing a problem, specifically with buzzing, as it’s difficult for me to get out of my own way. That’s what I meant by fingering. I will discuss this with my teacher at my next lesson now that I know there is more than one acceptabe method.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #88595

    I’ve never heard of putting a finger on a string just for support, when it’s not even going to play anything.

    Participant
    alexander-rider on #88596

    I have to say Carl, that I used my thumb to support my 2nd funger, when I started playing the Dussek sonatine in F-major. It gave me a sense of security. I, didn’t maintain it of course, becuase my 2nd finger had gained strength. A

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #88597

    The only time I use a “support” finger is in orchestra passages where you have to repeat, ad nauseum, the same note many times. In this way, you can keep your eye on the conductor. An example is the beginning of “Danse Macabre”, with the twelve strokes of midnight. You can use a finger to dampen the previous note, as in “isolated sounds”, but when you’re just playing normally, no, you don’t use “support” fingers.

    Participant
    alexander-rider on #88598

    I used my thumb to support my second finger in the repeated octave sections in the Dussek. I probably should have made that clearer. I do thnik it really helped me then.

    Member
    Michele J on #88599

    Too funny, Carl. No, I’m not “that” girl. 🙂 If I was, I would have contacted Julieanne by now for lessons! 🙂

    Elizabeth and Alexander, I understand the benefit of placing for support in repetetive sections and I do it too, even if the book does not so indicate. Some of the etudes use a support finger, but I think their purpose is strengthening individual fingers.

    This week I’m planning on addressing the support finger, and alternate fingering, depending on the piece, with my teacher. It is somewhat confusing for a beginner when there are contradictions between books, books and teacher, teacher and teacher. I do not want to ask “blind” questions and your responses have provided me with understanding I before I inquire.

    This column is terrific resource and I’m glad I found it. Thanks again for your help!

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