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I'm learning piano and came across an exercise called broken chords, when you play arpeggios for every inversion of a particular 7th chord.

The problem is that different sources use two types of fingerings.

Let's say we are playing a root position of Cm7 in the left hand.

  1. some sources like ABRSM guides strictly follow the rule "no thumb on a black key". So the fingering is 5312.

  2. other sources ignore that rule and use thumb very often. The fingering is 5321. In this sources position of the hand always looks like we are ready to play blocked chord.

Is there reason for this difference? What fingering would you recommend?

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In broad terms, the "no thumb on black keys" approach is aimed toward the most comfortable fingerings across different keys/chords, while the "block chord" approach aims toward the most consistent fingerings across different keys/chords.

I use both fingering approaches, depending on the context, but tend to find the "block chord" approach the more accessible starting point for teaching/learning.

(FWIW: While ABRSM recommends fingering for chords/scales/arpeggios, they don't actually consider fingering in the exam itself. They just listen for even and accurate playing.)

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As Aaron states, there's no 'official' (as in 'this will be tested') fingering for any scales or arpeggios. Mainly because we all have different finger and hand dimensions and articulation.

So, those published are a guide, which may well work for maybe most players, but the best of us will experiment to discover what is actually best (or not-too-bad) for each scale and arpeggio. The best result is something which sounds fluid at the speed needed. So, as I've stated many times, part of practice is to search for that very fingering.

The transition between one position and the next is probably the most crucial, so that's what needs looking at most.

To tell you what works for me will be of little use to you: unless your fingers/hand/arm sizes are identical, along with your articulation. I may suggest two or three different ideas to a student, who hopefully will try them out at home, and come up with what's best for them.

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