Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just started taking piano lessons. In the first class, I was taught about the different scales (C through B). But I was instructed to use the same fingering for all the scales (major and minor).

RH: 123 12345 -> What I was taught
LH: 54321 321

But I saw online that some scales have different fingering, e.g. the F major scale

RH: 1234 1234 -> What I saw online
LH: 54321 321

Could someone please tell me if what I'm being taught is "wrong"?

share|improve this question
    
You'll have another problem trying to play B Major LH with that fingering. – buildsucceeded Jan 5 at 14:51
2  
Piano fingerings are recommendations. As such, try both fingerings out and see which is easier for you. – Tyzoid Jan 5 at 15:33
up vote 18 down vote accepted

There are no "correct" or "incorrect" fingerings for scales (or anything else). But some fingerings are obviously better than others. In particular, the 12312341... (assuming you continue for >1 octave) you learned for C, which works all the way through G, D, A, E, to B, doesn't really work well for F, because of the Bb. So generally you use 12341231... so that your 4th finger is on the black note. This is the one you saw online for a single octave.

share|improve this answer

There are no 'correct' fingerings for scales - or pieces, for that matter. Everyone's hands are physically different, so that's one reason.In fact, in exams, fingering isn't looked at with a view to awarding marks. The F major scale is almost impossible to play with your original fingering, as the thumb would end up on a black key. While this is not always a bad move, here it would be. Also consider Bb and Eb scales. Better starting them with a finger - index or middle. Also consider if that's what teacher said - if true, maybe start looking...

share|improve this answer
4  
Thumb on a black key is not what makes it bad. It's "finger on a white key followed by thumb on a black key" that makes it bad. – Jeff Y Jan 5 at 11:22
    
@JeffY - exactly. I should have phrased it that way! – Tim Jan 5 at 11:34

"But I was instructed to use the same fingering for all the scales (major and minor)."

Your teacher over-simplified, or you misunderstood. Yes, there is a standard fingering for scales that begin on a white note. But there are exceptions. As you have noticed, Fmajor and minor require 1234,1234 in the R.H. in order to avoid a clumsy thumb turn onto a black note. (If starting from the top, notice that high F gets 4, not 5). Similarly, but in reverse, L.H. B major and minor need to start on 4.

The first scale learnt is often C major. This is a mistake. It seems "easy", but there are SO many ways to finger it that "work". That's fine, but there's a terrible danger of fingering it a different way each time rather than teaching your fingers a consistent pattern. Learn E major first. You CAN'T finger it wrong, without obvious contortions!

To those who automatically rebel against "rules" - yes there are other ways to finger many scales as well as the "standard" way. Use them if you wish. As the syllabus says: "Any consistent system of fingering is acceptable". The point is "consistent". One of the reasons we learn scales is because they often occur in real music, and will often be required to be flashy and fast! A consistent, well-practiced fingering enables this.

share|improve this answer

The rule of thumb (ha!) for scales is: avoid using the thumb on black keys.

Since the usual right-hand fingering 12312345 would have the thumb playing B♭, you'll have to make an adjustment and use 4 on B♭ instead.

For a more extreme example, take the F♯ Major scale for the right hand:

F♯ G♯ A♯ B C♯ D♯ E♯ F♯

The thumbs must fall on the two white keys, B and E♯:

F♯ G♯ A♯ B-1 C♯ D♯ E♯-1 F♯

The other fingers follow naturally after B:

F♯ G♯ A♯ B-1 C♯-2 D♯-3 E♯-1 F♯-2

And since we have determined that 2 goes on F♯, the entire scale is fingered as:

F♯-2 G♯-3 A♯-4 B-1 C♯-2 D♯-3 E♯-1 F♯-2


The same rule of thumb also applies to arpeggios. There are, however, chords which consist entirely of black keys (e.g. F♯ Major), so in that case, you would just ignore the rule.

share|improve this answer

Fingering and scales are important to master. But when you reach the level of sightreading you will realize as long as it allows you to comfortably play any fingering will do, you have no time to doublethink fingering haha. For me, studying Bach gives me all I need. His works require delicate voicing (sometimes 5 voices!) so Bach forces you to get the most out of your hands, no convention will work, just intuition in the end.

share|improve this answer

The point of fingering is to maximise the amount of time where your hands are already in the right position for the next note, and minimise the times where there is a reach or a crossing over or any other awkwardness.

So 1F 2G 3A 4Bb is much easier than 1Bb.

It's not just about ease; you are trying to achieve even tone and timing and getting your fingers in a twist is just making it much harder to keep the timing even (as you swing your hand around) let alone the tone.

I struggled with getting fingering right for years and years and then one day somehow it all clicked; maybe I got a particularly good night's sleep or something. Since then I have been able to pretty much trot out any scale in any key but it seems to have taken a very long time of having to learn which finger to start on before I got there.

Consider Ab major: you could go with 123-1234 with a 1 on the D, but the hand has to move further as you start with a thumb on a black key. If, instead, you try 23-123-123(4) then you find it's more comfortable.

It isn't all that important, and these are details that only really help very slightly with scales which aren't themselves a wondrous thing. However I found that the fingering can hugely help with getting the scale right; starting Ab on a 2 naturally puts your fingers in the right place and there is less work to do, so you get it right more often and you can worry less about the scale. Your teacher may have been trying to give you a simple rule of thumb(!) so you know what to do when you aren't sure, but none of this is hard and fast unless the exam board has some requirement.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.