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I am having trouble playing this arpeggio:

B♭ - D - F - A♭ - B♭ - D...

For the right hand I have tried this fingering:

B♭ - D - F - A♭ - B♭ - D
2  - 1 - 2 - 3  - 4  - 1

But on the way down, I am extremely slow switching between 1 (D) and 4 (B♭). It's actually easier for me to switch on two white keys, like this:

B♭ - A♭ - F - D - B♭ - A♭
3  - 2  - 1 - 4 - 3  - 2

But that doesn't seem right. What is the generally recommended way to play this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is one of the more difficult arpeggios for most people, because of getting the thumb under the fourth finger for a major third.

Try playing F and D together with 2-1. Note your hand position. Now, while holding down D with the thumb, play Bb with 4. You should notice that your wrist has to move pretty far laterally.

Now, see how far you can turn your wrist to the left (I mean turn laterally with the palm roughly parallel to the keys, not rotating the wrist--don't do that) on the first two notes. Then play the Bb again with the thumb still on the D. This will show you how to minimize the lateral movement of the wrist, which represents an economization of movement.

Another way to think of this is to see how closely you can position your wrist, while playing the F and D, in the position needed to reach over the thumb to play Bb. The closer to that position you can be when playing the F, the less you have to move your wrist when you get to the Bb.

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Technically, there is no 'correct' fingering for any arpeggio - there is fingering which is generally accepted as the easiest or most comfortable way to play an arpeggio.

However, I would advise against starting on 4, and would suggest starting on 2 as you would in, say, an Eb major scale. Then, I recommend going to 1, which would allow you to:

B♭ - D - F - A♭ - B♭ (- D - F - Ab - Bb)
2  - 1 - 2 - 3  - 4  (- 1 - 2 - 3  - 4 )

As I said, there is no single 'correct' way of doing it, but for me that is the easiest. It's up to you as to how you do it - what ever you find most comfortable. There is no point in contorting your hand to play an arpeggio in a way that one pianist likes, if you know an easier one.

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You're right, when starting on B♭ and going up with the right hand it would make more sense to start on 2. I have fixed this in the question –  Ivan Maeder Apr 1 at 17:59

Forget the first note for a moment. The D,F,Ab and Bb fall nicely under thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.You then have to move the right hand along, left to right, parallel to the way the music sheet is on the piano.At the same time, the thumb will be moving under the hand, in order to play the next D, and so on.Now, the first Bb. It really doesn't matter whether it's played with the ring, as it will be as you ascend, or the index or middle. I prefer middle to start, as it gives a little more space underneath for the thumb to hit the D.

On the way down. you start with top Bb using ring, and use up all the digits, and do the same lateral movement, right to left, though, as you did before. Again, the lowest, last Bb can be played with whatever you like.If you were going down another octave, it'd need to be played using ring, but as the last note, it doesn't make any difference. It's a scale - not as if you're going anywhere after it.

Your third idea is not so great. Generally scales come down backwards from the way they're played going up.Try not to flick your elbow up, or raise your wrist too much, more of a smooth transition of thumb under, whilst moving your hand/wrist/forearm steadily from side to side, going either up or down.

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