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I was practicing the Fur Elise piece on the piano,

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Since I'm trying to improve my piano playing skills, I'm practicing to play it without looking at the keyboard. I've practiced the first two lines of the note. I can play the right hand very well except for one part,

It starts with E D# E D# E B D C A, which is not difficult. Now I have to move my right hand to play the lower C note with my thumb. I find it very hard to do this without looking at the keyboard because this key is far away from the other keys. I'm wondering how to practice these finger jumps?

Other right hand keys are easy to play without looking at the keyboard because their positions are close to each other.

5 Answers 5

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You can avoid making a leap if you end with a different finger. Here's how I play that phrase personally:

The notes in the first two full right hand measures are labeled sequentially 5 4 5 2 4 3 2 (rest) 1

The stretch of a sixth between two adjacent fingers may look like a lot, but your thumb is flexible, get used to using it to its fullest! Of course you'll need to learn to stretch exactly the right amount, but any hand-based muscle memory is going to be easier to execute reliably than an arm-based leap.

How did I figure out this fingering? Trial and error, same as you. There will be less error eventually as you learn to anticipate problems and how to solve them, but there's no magic to it, just ten fingers and a little creativity where it's called for. As far as fingering goes there's not really a "wrong" way as long as it works for you.

Finally, leaps will come up sometimes and the other answers here are pretty good in regards to those, so listen to them too. But there's also nothing wrong with taking the "easy way" if it leads to a better performance.

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  • I agree with the general advice, but wanted to tell what I do. I still play the A with my thumb, but then I slip over and grab it with my ring finger (i.e. finger 4) and then my hand naturally fits the CEAB that comes up.
    – trlkly
    Commented Mar 23 at 7:13
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Make a silent change on A from thumb to finger 5, like other say.

But now the most important help that I miss in the given answers:

Blind piano players find their orientation by touching the black keys: So you have to search with closed eyes the keys c# and d# with with finger 1 and 2. Left from C# is C.

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All you can do, is like most of us, and get familiarised with the stretch on piano between the previous A, which you play with your specific finger, and the lower C, which as you say will be with your thumb. That stretch is specific to tis tune, and will need to be learned visually before it's playable without looking.

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  • Thanks! I just noticed that if I play the prevoius A with index finger instead of the thumb it is easier to reach the lower C with thumb.
    – Etemon
    Commented Mar 21 at 18:18
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For this specific jump, there is the option of playing the A with the thumb, but then swapping in another finger (say, 4 or 5) so that the C is within can be felt. The sixteenth rest after the A is a perfect time to make the swap.

In general, the most efective way I know to practice leaps from note (or chord) X to note (or chord) Y is:

  1. Place the hand on X, at rest on the surface of the keys.
  2. Make a staccato leap off of X.
  3. Make a smooth arc to Y, watching your entire arm from shoulder to fingertips, and also keeping an eye on your destination.
  4. Land at rest on the surface of the keys of Y.

The most important element is step 3, making a smooth arc. It needs to be smooth — no abrupt changes of direction, no corners, real height — and there can be no "adjustments" (e.g., no landing on the key surface and then adjusting the finger placement).

When the leap is made cleanly from start to finish, one has a much better chance of making the same leap without looking at the keyboard.

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Do not think of making a leap. Make a stretch. The finger on the A will be the anchor that allows you to know where everything else is, and thus allow you to find the note in question.

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    Not if the finger on A is the thumb, which is one of the more intuitive fingers to use there.
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 22 at 1:20

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