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I am learning piano by myself, and I have some questions now. I have asked a few friends of mine, but I am getting different answers.

So my question is what would be the proper fingering for these 2 bars of notes (for the left hand)?

(They're on the bass clef of a E major key.)

1:

|| A2 E3 C#4 A2 E3 B3 E4 ||

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5315 531 ?

5315 321 ?

5315 313 ?

Or something else?

2:

|| A2 E3 C#4 A2 E3 B3 E4 E3 ||

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5315 5315 ?

5315 3215 ?

5315 1215 ?

Or something else?

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For fingerings, it's important to know that there isn't a "right" fingering. There are, however, lots of WRONG fingerings.

The right fingerings are the ones that let you play the passage easily and fluidly, with a minimum of hand tension. Wrong fingerings get in your way, require excessive hand motion, or affect the musicality of the passage.

Key considerations:

  1. Generally avoid using the thumb on black keys (often causes unnatural hand shape)
  2. Avoid leaps that land on 5
  3. Keep the fingers on the same notes where possible
  4. Keep similar patterns in the same hand shape/fingerings where possible

Which fingering you use really depends on your hand size and how comfortable you are leaving the keyboard. I would probably finger the passages 5-1-2-4-1-3-1 to avoid putting the C# on the thumb and leaping back to the pinky. Or, depending on how it feels, 5-2-1-5-3-2-1-5, since that tenth is something I can reach and it might be easier to leave my hand in that shape. It depends on where it goes next. Consider whether the E needs to be at the top of the hand or the bottom? You could end on any 2 or 5 easily.

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  • First option seems good to me. Although it all depends on so many factors that it's difficult to say. Also, different hands, different fingering – Pedro Gonzalez Jun 2 '15 at 6:00
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A lot of it depends on tempo, as well as the size of your hand. In general, it's better to avoid passing the thumb under or finger over in widely-spaced figures such as this one, unless the tempo is very slow and you want a very legato sound and can't get it any other way because your hand is too small.

Also, thumb on black keys is much less of a consideration in this sort of figure than being able to reach the notes easily (reasonably easily). That's more of a problem in stepwise figures where you might have to pass the thumb under a finger on a white key to hit an adjacent black key, which is obviously much more difficult than finding another fingering.

In yours, I would use your second choice in each, assuming the last note doesn't have another note after it. In the first passage, I might use your third choice (maybe 2 instead of 3 on the last note, though), if I wanted the slightly different emphasis that I would get by doing so.

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It also may depend on how fast or slow the notes are as was mentioned. Is there a pedal involved? I would try to keep my hand as close to perpendicular to the keyboard as possible. I tend to think that your first choice is the closest except for the 2nd to the last B where I would use my 2nd finger. Thats for the first example. In the 2nd I would use what you suggested in the 3rd one but use the 2nd finger on the 7th note, B.

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Good fingering requires analysis of the entire passage and a fair bit of problem solving. It is important to keep in mind not only the notes you are playing, but also the notes that are coming. A really good fingering for a few notes might make finding a good fingering for the next few challenging or even impossible. Sometimes it helps to work backward.

Looking at the first three notes of your example, I would absolutely use 5-2-1 (since 2 and 1 can span about as much distance as 5 and 2)

I would play the next three exactly the same if it weren't for the next note (E4). Since we now have a new destination we need to reconsider our route to get there. Frankly, in this situation, we have a couple valid choices:

1) 5-2-1-2: reuse the fingering from the first three notes (5-2-1), but cross over your 1st finger on B3 and play E4 with your 2nd or 3rd

2) 5-1-2-1: use 5-1 for your first two notes (instead of 5-2), cross over your 1st and use your 2nd on B3 and your 1st on E4

Finally, adding on the additional E3 from your second example, we now need to make sure that everything preceding it leads us to a position that allows us to comfortably move down the octave from E4. Arriving at E4 on 2nd or 3rd, from the first option above, makes this difficult, but using the second option and playing E4 with our 1st leads perfectly into playing the final E3 with our 5th.

So, in the end, it was the last finger that determined the rest. Essentially, each finger affected all those leading up to it. (You can see, I'm sure, why working backwards can help.)

And, after all that, we end up with the following fingering: 5-2-1-5-1-2-1-5

(Also note that if we instead want to go up to A4 instead of down to E3 we can simply use the first option above, land on E4 with our 2nd or 3rd and easily reach A4 with our 1st (5-2-1-5-2-1-3-1); to change just the last note we had to adjust the fingering for the entire second half!)

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