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#27756 - 06/12/04 07:41 PM Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
HopkinsHarmony Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/11/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Minnesota
Hello again,
Thank you to those of you who have posted so far to my other question about how to teach 8th notes.

I've noticed that one of the big advantages of the PA series is that it prevents students from associating a particular finger with a particular note. It does this by changing the finger that is used to play a note (starting the song on 1 and then on 2 and then on 3, etc.) I think this is a great way to go around it.

However, my question is, are all the finger numbers really important anyway? I realize that in later music, in order for it to be fluent, you must use certain fingers to move smoothly from note to note (i.e. you probably wouldn't teach your kids to play CDEFG (or any 5 notes in a row) with anything other than 12345. It's just easiest and avoids crossing over or under.

But, in Primer level of PA, would it be just as easy not to even teach fingering and allow them to use whatever fingers come most naturally? Do you think eventually they would always start with thumb and thus have to always revert to "position" playing in order to know what to place thumb on?

In a way, all the finger changes seem so unimportant (and confusing!) when young students are trying to grasp major concepts such as note values/rhythms/time signatures and WHAT notes to play on the piano based on where they're located on the staff.

Just curious to hear what anyone has to say about fingering in general and fingering in the PA series. I'm wondering if I shouldn't even confuse my students with it in the first place.

Amy

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#27757 - 06/12/04 08:06 PM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
There are numerous threads, some most colorful, that address this subject in the archives, including posts from Randall Faber. You might want to search there for some information. You also might want to check out the PDF file Piano Adventures Newsletter copies available on this website. The last issue, I think, had an article from Randy about positions.

In addition to reading and fingering, something else that pedagogues deal with in primer level material is technique, and in this case it involves building the hand. A willy nilly approach to fingering from the very beginning might negate some of that building. Hope this gives you some more info!

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#27758 - 06/13/04 05:59 PM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
I think any successful teacher knows that allowing students to use any finger they want is an invitation for disaster! \:\)
Using correct fingering, while it may seem difficult in the beginning, actually aids a student in good technique, memorization, expression, control, sight reading, etc. While some students use correct fingering natually, most have to be guided. Amateur pianists fuss and complain about fingering, not realizing how much better they could sound.

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#27759 - 06/14/04 11:11 PM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
The fingering in Faber's early books does prepare the student for natural patterns later on. I have seen some pretty scary things when students use their own inventive fingering. I don't even know why they thought it would be easier! Wow...

The advantage to teaching students to use assigned fingering is that they learn technically correct fingering that they can use later on. How can they be expected to invent fingering if they don't know the basics of finger technique?

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#27760 - 06/15/04 08:55 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
unreal Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 06/23/03
Posts: 945
Loc: CA
Actually, I think Hopkins is on to something here--in the very beginning I teach step and skip pattern reading on a clefless staff, my own little "method." Pick a starting note, any ol' starting finger, and read/play the short pattern. It's interesting to see the clever solutions kids come up with when they "run out of fingers," and how quickly they figure out they'd better not start with the RH thumb if the notes go down. The purpose of this is simply to begin teaching note-reading, but later they understand why the book says to use a certain fingering for ease of playing, and will look for the fingering in the book. I remind them occasionally that if you don't use the same fingering every time, your poor hand thinks it's learning a new piece every time you play it!

So, if the purpose of a fingering change in PA Primer is to avoid position playing, and I already have the kids doing that with my little "method" and the PA Technique Primer, I generally ignore the marked fingering and let the kids figure out something workable. I'm not ignoring the importance of fingering, I'm emphasizing it in my own way because it is such an incredibly important topic for pianists of all levels. Long-term, they're going to have to learn to figure out their own fingering to use instead of those horrendous ones you sometimes find, or the ones absent entirely.

Speaking of fussing and complaining about fingering, I've got a 14-year old boy starting Egyptian Rhapsody. He's loving it, but he's in a quietly rebellious stage now, fighting for his independence in just about everything, and he won't play the LH f minor arpeggios with the correct fingering. He has to do a twisty thing to get the crossings in, and it's causing a "bump." Oh boy, did I let him have it last week! Well, in a nice way, I hope. I said I don't want him to play the piece OK, or even pretty darn good, I want him to play it superbly, and I know he can, but he needs to use the fingering that every other pianist in the entire history of piano-playing has realized is the best, and if he doesn't know how, he needs to learn how NOW, not just for this piece, but for his future as a pianist. Whew! Waiting for his next lesson a week from Thursday....

[ 06-15-2004: Message edited by: unreal ]

[ 06-15-2004: Message edited by: unreal ]

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#27761 - 06/16/04 06:15 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
IMO if you let children do whatever they want with fingering and ignore the fingering written in, then they will continue to do that forever. Then every time they get a new piece they use horrible fingering, the teacher has to correct it, and the student basically has to learn the passage all over again and they may be weak on that passage forever. I always tell my students relearning something is "dumb" practicing. Learn it right the first time. If students have been taught from the beginning to look at the fingering and follow it, they learn pieces so much faster. If a piece has horrible fingering, fix it before the student takes it home to practice. I speak from personal experience. I never got anywhere in piano until I started paying attention to fingering. :rolleyes:

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#27762 - 06/16/04 07:21 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
unreal Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 06/23/03
Posts: 945
Loc: CA
Absolutely true, and most Faber fingering is excellent. I insist kids look at the fingering from the first readthrough in PA Level 1-4 (not Primer, as I said), but sometimes they figure out fingering on their own that works for them and that's OK (with my approval!), and they eventually will NEED to do that since Schirmer and other editions of intermediate-advanced music frequently have ridiculous, unusable junk written in by some editor with huge hands who still adheres to harpsichord rules. In my own playing, I Never look at fingering unless I have trouble and need a quick suggestion, but I Always write in what I use. I'm not obsessed with using the fingering in the book, I'm obsessed with using GOOD fingering, the SAME fingering every time you play it, so it works well and your poor hands don't think they're learning a new piece every time you play it.

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#27763 - 06/16/04 07:23 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
unreal Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 06/23/03
Posts: 945
Loc: CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Susan:
I never got anywhere in piano until I started paying attention to fingering.


I'm going to print this on a sign and hang it in my studio! \:D

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#27764 - 06/16/04 11:20 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
Learning the correct fingering is also essential for when a student becomes advanced. A certain fingering may be nessesary for a certain sound that may be wanted. A sound that comes from your thumb is a whole lot different then the sound that comes from your fourth finger.

I think that younger children don't really understand that fingering is when you play a certain finger on a note. Instead, they think of fingering being which note to play and when.

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#27765 - 06/17/04 07:32 AM Re: Finger Numbers in Piano Adventures
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ginger:

I think that younger children don't really understand that fingering is when you play a certain finger on a note. Instead, they think of fingering being which note to play and when.


You're right! And when they get to the point where they think the first way, that is when you start to hear maturity in their practice and playing.
One reason I like Piano Adventures is the little blanks where students write in the the note to get the correct position. I do think it helps students to start thinking of fingering in the best way.

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