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In short and in general, my question is: When choosing the best fingering, is it better to add more jumps to avoid fingers spreading, or spread fingers to reduce amount of jumps?

There are particular examples where it happens to be hard to choose for me.

Example 1 (red marked on picture) Initially I preferred to play it with 4-2-1 because my 4th finger kept its position and it was easier to hit the key. But then I found that if I played it with 5-2-1 it made my arm more relaxed (and it seems like a more "usual" position), but it required some extra effort to avoid mis-hitting.

Example 2 (green marked) Again, 4-1 helped me to play easily without looking at the keyboard, because my 4th finger kept its position. But the 5-1 option made my arm less tense, and then again, playing an octave with 5-1 seemed more usual for me. But it added an extra position change (a little one, but nonetheless).

Example 3 (blue marked) Here I wanted to play it with 4-2 to keep my 2nd finger here for the next note, and to keep my 1st finger on the low A-note from the previous bar (left blue bracket) and move it out slightly only on the end of this bar (right blue bracket). In this case I didn't have to look at the keyboard at all.
The fingering I finally chose made my arm more relaxed, but added 3 position changes instead of keeping my arm in one position.

So, in all these cases I chose to keep fingers together in more relaxed way, but the cost was that I added some extra position changes and now it requires extra accuracy to not miss the keys. Did I get it right or wrong (given the reasoning above)?

score with fingering difficulties indicated

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  • 1
    I actually ended up picking some fingerings for trickier pieces for reasons other than the ones you mentioned - for example, better ability to play the passage of dyads legato or staccato, or better accuracy of triads that share some notes.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 18, 2022 at 17:45
  • What is the piece and composer?
    – Aaron
    May 18, 2022 at 18:24
  • @Aaron it's the "Cadets, advance!" movie OST, "she song about love" by Viktor Lebedev
    – AlexandrX
    May 19, 2022 at 20:56
  • ...and the alternative name of song is "the earth where so many farewells" (i hope i translate it right))
    – AlexandrX
    May 19, 2022 at 21:04

1 Answer 1

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Unfortunately, there is no general rule for fingering. It's entirely dependent on the musical context and one's hand size/shape. The only general advice is that it's best to stay as relaxed as possible.

Example 1

I prefer, and recommend, the 1-2-5 fingering for example the reason you've stated: it allows my hand/arm to be more relaxed. There's nothing wrong with 1-2-4, and a person with very long fingers, for example, might prefer it, but for me, 1-2-5 is more relaxed.

The key to making this work is to make sure finger 5 relaxes after playing C in the preceding triplet. If the finger remains stiff, it will be harder to get it in place for the marked chord. The same is true for the other fingers that play the triplet: once their job is done, they must fully release/relax, to ensure ease of movement to the chord.

Example 2

Again I would prefer 1-5 for the reasons already given.

Example 3

Here I would use 2-5. It both keeps my hand most relaxed but also keeps my thumb ready for the upcoming lower notes.

Additional suggestions

The small position changes involved in the various examples are such that with time and experience they will become easier to feel, to the point where they will become natural.

However, situations like these are also fairly common — where one finger is easier because it's nearby, but another finger allows for more relaxation and/or a better transition to the upcoming notes. In these cases, the finger switch is invaluable. In example 1, this would mean playing initially with 1-2-4 but then "sliding" finger 5 to take finger 4's place. In this way, the initial execution is more convenient, but the substitution of finger 5 allows the hand to relax.

The technique takes some time to get used to and to execute smoothly, but once it feels natural, it can be used in many, many places.

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