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Fingering

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  • #86158
    Mel Sandberg
    Participant

    Lovely topic – I wonder if other people have had the same experiences.

    #86159
    alice-freeman
    Spectator

    I frequently did not use my first teacher’s fingerings because they really did not work for me. Her fingers were each an inch or more longer than mine (we compared hands one day at my request) and I could not play arpeggios the way she could because I simply could not reach the notes without hitting adjacent strings in the process. I worked on some of the same music with a second teacher whose hands are the same size as mine and the difference in fingering technique is truly amazing. I’m not saying that you are this kind of teacher, Mel, but just trying to shed some light from a student’s point of view for why we don’t always follow the teacher’s instructions. My first teacher always thought I could “stretch” given enough time and practice and never recognized hand size as a limitation.

    #86160
    dawn-penland
    Participant

    Mel,

    My teacher showed me the fingering for double glissando’s in Salzedo’s Night Breeze.

    #86161

    When you are descending, and this should be explained clearly in the music, you use the nail of the second finger as in “falling hail” effect, combined with the normal thumb, which gives a very good sound and makes turning around at the top easy. You have better control doing them with the second finger preceding the third as instructed. Trust your teacher, not everything is revealed at first.

    #86162

    To answer Mel, I simply keep insisting that the fingering be followed and consider it as wrong as a wrong note. Students need to learn to follow fingerings, to play well, and as well to learn how to finger pieces.

    #86163
    tony-morosco
    Member

    While I recognize that there are some instances where certain fingerings are just necessary I think that fingerings are a very personal thing. My take is that if you really can’t explain why a certain fingering is necessary in a certain situation then perhaps it isn’t so necessary for a student to stick to it.

    If you can’t say clearly, “you need to use this fingering because…” and give a reason that amounts to more than “…because I say so.”, then perhaps you should take a moment and actually ask the student why they are using their own fingering rather than the one you are suggesting.

    Ask yourself, does their fingering sound worse than yours? Does their fingering hinder their movement on the harp, make it harder or impossible to get to the next placement or in some way

    #86164
    Tacye
    Participant

    I agree with Tony- if you explain why a certain fingering is chosen (and are willing to discuss the merit of alternatives) the student is also gaining the ability to finger passages on their own.

    #86165
    Mel Sandberg
    Participant

    Tony, I think you misunderstood my question.

    #86166
    Mel Sandberg
    Participant

    Sorry, something else occurred to me – I am quite pedantic about conistent fingers for myself, and also impart that to my pupils, but if they don’t want to use my fingers, I still encourage them to rub out mine, put in their own, and then be consistent.

    #86167
    tony-morosco
    Member

    OK, if they are using their own fingerings and it isn’t working right then you need to explain what is wrong. If they are getting uneven tone point that out, or if they end up with fingerings that makes it hard to move from phrase to phrase then point that out.

    If it isn’t working then show then that it works better. If they still refuse to do it the way that works better then again I would ask them why they are doing it that way when it simply doesn’t sound good or work? Put them in the hot seat to defend why their way is better.

    Ultimately if they don’t want to listen you either have to drop them as students, which you indicated isn’t really an option, or you can just accept that they aren’t going to listen and so aren’t going to play to their best potential. And tell them that. Just say, “you can do what you want, but if you play that way you are not going to sound good and you will not be playing the best that you can.”

    From there they make their own decisions.

    But honestly, I don’t get it. Why anyone would choose to play in a way that doesn’t work well is beyond me.

    And I agree about the consistency. That should be stressed. Perhaps make a deal with them. Tell them you won’t nag them as much about their fingerings so long as they keep them consistent.

    #86168
    Tacye
    Participant

    Do your students understand the importance of consistent fingerings?

    #86169

    Dear Mel, I am very impressed that you speak five languages! I have been really lucky that I have had very few students who would not listen to my advice. I have dropped the few defiant and headstrong ones, though it has been a long time since I have had to do this. If they cannot understand the importance of developing a good fingering and being consistent with it, then they are not going to progress well. Perhaps they should record themselves and hear the difference when they use a good fingering and when they don’t. Best of luck!

    #86170
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Holy Christmas! Did this ever stir the pot! There have been some excellent contributions here- in particular from the always excellent Tony Morosco-so I’m going to ruminate a bit about fingering in general and not go over territory already covered.

    When I begin a new piece, I start by laying out the piece: putting in pedal markings, writing in fingerings where needed, rewriting enharmonics as needed, etc. But when I get down to actually learning the piece and working it up to tempo, I find very often that what I wrote down initially doesn’t work at a faster tempo, or presents problems(buzzing for one) so I have to make changes as I get to know the piece better. Sometimes a pedal has to be in a slightly different place to avoid a pedal slide, a fingering has to be changed for comfort, speed, cleaner playing, whatever. The point here is that even for myself, it is sometimes to change fingerings as work on a piece progresses.

    When I’m teaching a student a piece, I will usually give them a choice of 2 or 3 fingerings for an awkward or difficult place and let them see which one works best for their hand. If the fingering that they are using is not working, then I’ll insist on a change and explain why. An obvious example is the broken thirds at the bottom of the first page of the Mozart flute and harp concerto. Students will typically try to play that 2121212121212. But I’ll explain the reason why they need to play it 2131213, etc. It simply won’t work without alternating 2 and 3.

    There are times where you have to insist on a fingering(like that passage in the Mozart) because nothing else will work at full tempo. There are other times where you might give the student several possibilities and then see what happens. If, as the piece gets closer to completion, a fingering isn’t working, explain that what works at one tempo doesn’t always work at another, so it has to be changed.

    One thing that I would add here is to make sure the student documents what he/she is doing. For years I would go through the initial layout stage and then, as I learned the piece, make changes without writing them down. When I go back to the piece years later i have to try to remember what I did in one place or the other. I’m very careful now to erase and rewrite so my copy of the piece accurately reflects how I actually play it.

    #86171
    Mel Sandberg
    Participant

    I do everything possible to explain the crucial factor of consistent fingers, but if they don’t want to believe it, or do it, then I give up.

    #86172
    Tacye
    Participant

    I do everything possible to explain the crucial factor of consistent fingers,
    but if they don’t want to believe it, or do it, then I give up.

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