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Clementi Sonatine op. 36 no. 3, mm. 14–15 and Beethoven Sonatina op. 49 no. 2, mm. 7–11

When playing the descending scale in the images shown, I always use finger 3 (orange) on the black F# key (3214321) because it's easier than finger 4 (printed) as it's far from the center and the hand needs to turn inward. I noticed almost all the printed fingerings suggest finger 4 (4321321). Is it just because it's the same fingering when playing the scale in ascending direction? Anyone agree my fingering is better(only for descending)? (I know it's no big deal, but asking because I haven't seen anyone using my orange fingering).

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    Ant fingering in any piece is merely a suggested fingering. It's often a good start point, but seasoned players may not even notice it, or pay attention to it. We should all (as you have) try out alternative fingerings, to find our own optimum, whatever the piece and its printed fingering. If your fingers feel better suited to what you decided, that's great for you - may not work at all for another player. Longer/shorter fingers, more/less mobility, more/less experience all contribute.
    – Tim
    Oct 29 at 8:49
  • Thanks. I thought of asking this question to see if I practised that 'theory' too freely. I was wondering why no one else used my preferred fingerings for this scale. If only I could find a famous pianist using my uncommon fingering I'd be thrilled :) Oct 29 at 17:59
  • I found one person using my fingering: @1:22 youtube.com/watch?v=feK9jK7-p0A Nov 6 at 23:43

3 Answers 3

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Fingerings are personal, and what you've suggested is perfectly reasonable, so if that's what you prefer, then go for it.

There's a slight tendency to come down a little harder when crossing over the thumb, so placing that cross on the downbeat plays into that tendency. It's also just nice from a mental organization standpoint to have that more significant moment happen on the beat. It helps you cluster your actions into the most logical groups. But, of course you should learn to be adept at crossing whenever is necessary and doing so smoothly and transparently, and fingerings like you suggest should work just as well for a skilled player. It's just a tiny bit harder to phrase it correctly.

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  • Thanks. I have almost never considered the beat, logical grouping and phrasing factors when choosing best fingerings. I see now why all the suggestions for this particular scale use that same fingering. Perhaps another advantage is when sight reading, not knowing what's coming up: using finger 4 instead of 3 the first time encountering finger crossing will ensure there will be one more finger available later if needed. Oct 29 at 18:01
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Narrowing the choices to two:

  • Finger 4 on F#; Finger 3 on C vs.
  • Finger 3 on F#; Finger 4 on C

I would most likely choose the former. G and F# are closer together than D and C, so finger 4 doesn't have to reach as far across the thumb; and the F# being raised places it at a natural height for the finger as my hand passes over the thumb.

However, it's entirely possible I would just use finger 3 the entire way. In the Clementi case it doesn't substantially affect things, and the in Beethoven has, though it means an additional crossover, it still gets me to finger 2 on F# at the end of the measure. The advantage in both cases is consistency of fingering — not needing to be concerned which note gets 4 and which gets 3.

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  • What affected my comfort was that G, F# are way farther away from the center than D, C are, so it takes more turning of the hand if using finger 4 on F#. If it was the lower octave then I would use finger 4 on F#. Oct 29 at 6:29
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    @GrandAdagio You shouldn't be turning your hand — very bad for your wrist — or forcing your hand to stay in the center of the keys. Instead, as the music dictates, shift your hand toward and away from the fall board. That puts your thumb closer to the F# after which you can adjust back toward your body.
    – Aaron
    Oct 29 at 6:35
  • @GrandAdagio An example of the technique can be seen in Piano: Left handed Gmaj7 chord. It deals with a chord rather than a scale — and left hand rather than right — but the images might provide some guidance.
    – Aaron
    Oct 29 at 6:38
  • thanks, I will pay attention to that. When I use finger 4 on F#, the next finger 3 tends to touch the white F key rather than E. Maybe it has to do with small hand. Oct 29 at 6:49
  • @GrandAdagio That's a separate issue. Sounds like you're best off staying with the fingering you're already using.
    – Aaron
    Oct 29 at 6:53
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It's a G major scale. Your hand is (or should be) very accustomed to playing it both up and down with the standard fingering, 4 on F♯. So the idea is that you use this familiarity when a G major scale occurs in a piece.

This 'turn inwards' worries me. Do you turn your hand at this point when practicing the scale? Get your teacher to show you how not to!

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  • Thanks, I'm working on correcting that turning inwards. (I don't have a teacher :)) Oct 29 at 17:58

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