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I just recently started watching Online Piano and Violin Tutorials on Youtube.

In one of her lessons, she said using the right hand, you should play a C scale by 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

My question is: Suppose I am playing a C, should I always use my thumb(1)? I still can't grasp what finger is used to hit what piano key. Is there a predetermined rule that for example index finger(2) is always used to hit D?

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    Fingering is always different and depends on a number of factors. Just because you use a certain fingering in a scale does not mean that it will always be like that. Beginner books usually mark fingerings. – Nick B. Jul 29 '15 at 6:17
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In the lesson, it's about playing a scale - a set of 8 notes from one key, going up and down from the root note C. If the tune is a simple one, and it will be initially, maybe the 5 notes it uses will be right under your 5 fingers. However, it will depend on where the notes are in relation to each other. You may have to put a thumb under the hand to get a higher note, or move to a different part of the keyboard. If the tune has, say, only C,D,E,F and G, then yes, the index will stay with D. However, as soon as tunes start using higher than G or lower than C, your hand will move accordingly, and the index finger will play whichever note is conveniently placed under it.

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    So seasoned pianist hit the key depending on what finger is available or convenient? Not because a finger is assigned to a specific keys? – aozora Jul 29 '15 at 6:37
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    @aozora It would be more difficult if you had notes assigned to fingers. It's much easier to just play with the finger that's over it. You wouldn't play middle C, and the C above that with the thumb, you'd probably use your thumb for middle C and your pinky (or another finger, depending on what comes next) to play the higher C. – Jacob Swanson Jul 29 '15 at 6:43
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    @Aozora, Yes. And if you look at a pianist performing on youtube or in concert, you will see the hands moving fluidly over the whole keyboard. – aparente001 Jul 29 '15 at 21:32
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In the beginning, yes, you will always, or almost always, use your thumb (= finger #1) for the C, and index finger (finger #2) for D. But that's only in the very beginning.

A beginning Piano Method book would be very helpful for you.

  • Can you suggest any good beginning piano book? I tried reading Piano for Dummies but I find it not much informative. – aozora Jul 29 '15 at 6:13
  • Clementi's piano method is online in PDF form, a search should uncover it. It includes such things as the recommended fingerings. These fingerings are recommended, by the way, simply because they are the best way to start. Notice when doing 123 1234 123 12345 in a two octave C scale, your longest fingers are in reach of the black keys? It's just a good habit to memorise these fingerings so your hands are automatically in the best positions, most of the time. – Andy Jul 29 '15 at 7:13
  • @aozora I like everything I've ever seen by Faber and Faber. Just go to a music shop, the kind that has classical sheet music (not the kind that specializes in drums or guitars) and browse through their beginning piano method books to find a good fit. There are several different approaches for beginning books and you'll want to pick one that works well for you. If there are no shops in your town then perhaps SE will allow you to write a separate question about that. – aparente001 Jul 29 '15 at 17:39
  • @Andy - can you explain 'your longest fingers etc'.? If you're going to be using black notes, you probably won't be in a C scale position anyway, I'd have thought. – Tim Jul 29 '15 at 18:16
  • @Tim The shortest fingers are 1 and 5 (thumb and pinkie), and I suppose the longest fingers are 3 and 4 (middle and ring). I think Andy was looking at the big picture, since pretty soon Aozora will be ready to add one or two black keys! – aparente001 Jul 29 '15 at 21:31

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