When practising, I constantly reshape my non-playing fingers in the key/scale of the song I am learning.

Is this okay, or should I position them in the place which is most comfortable? The latter will result in them resting on random notes, rather than notes of the scale.


The best practice is to move minimally, and stop thinking about where your hands are now and instead focus on where your hands need to be in the immediate future (usually 1-2 measures down the road, depends on your piece). For example, if you are playing a piece in E major and are resting on the root chord (E, G#, B), you do necessarily need to place your third finger on G#. The piece may not call for it in the next measures, and by then, you may have already moved to another position, and thus, in the interest of moving minimally and your own fingering comfort, you could just simply let it rest on G during that time.

Moreover, it takes additional time to be constantly readjusting, which will slow you down noticeably when playing faster pieces and may hamper your ability to prepare for other future hand positions if you're (unconsciously) always trying to return to a stock "position."

Last note- I'm not sure how long you've been playing the piano, but if you're a beginner or even at an intermediate level or so, I wouldn't worry about finger placement too much. As you play more, you'll get more of a sense of how to space out your fingers and where they should rest, very naturally. In the end, it doesn't matter at all where you rest your fingers and there's no right or wrong way, as long as the notes are correct and it doesn't hamper the ease of your playing.

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You should always try when you can to minimally move your fingers and hands when deciding where to place your fingers. In most cases this is keeping your fingering consistent with the positions and scales you are utilizing.

A simple example is if you were playing in C position on piano and none of the notes were outside that position, you would keep your fingers in that position the whole time (Left hand: 5 on C, 4 on D, 3 on E, 2 on F, 1 on G and Right hand: 1 on C, 2 on D, 3 on E, 4 on F, 5 on G ). Putting your fingers on any other key in this scenario make you have to move your fingers twice as much as you would move your finger away from the key you are playing and then again back to it so minimize this habit and it will help you in the long term.

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  • would this still be the case if i was to play the C5 (with octave)? the non-playing fingers rest naturally or try and land them on the scale? – steviem1986 Dec 24 '15 at 0:05
  • I've not heard of 'C position', but assume it to be the first 5 notes of that major scale. Not many songs using just that ! – Tim Dec 24 '15 at 12:27
  • @Tim yep. It's typically one of the first positions taught due to its simplicity, but yeah it's not typical that a song is exclusively using those notes but this was just a simple example to demonstrate why moving your fingers away from the position you are using doesn't make sense. – Dom Dec 24 '15 at 23:00

You are over-thinking the process. If those fingers are not being used, you need to concentrate far more on those which are! It makes no difference if the unused fingers are over scale notes or any others. At some point in the future of your playing, they may be needed next to play any note/s. You will also find that having to move your whole hand up or down is necessary. You won't be worrying about the spare finger positions then. Basically, if that's all you have to think about, you must be doing everything else perfectly!

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  • i just figured it may be best practice to rest them on the scale if some improv to take place at a later date. but common sense really says that the hand needs to be comfortable with proper technique first and foremost. thank you for clearing this up! – steviem1986 Dec 24 '15 at 16:28

You should position your hand to enable what comes NEXT. If you are starting a C major arpeggio - C, E, G, C - you need an open hand position, with 1, 2, 3, 5 all ready to play their notes. If you are starting a C major scale, you'll have 1, 2, 3 ready to play C, D, E, but by the time E is played, your thumb should already have tucked under so as to be in position for F.

Of course, the whole hand travels as well. We practice the "tuck under" thing, we also practice octave (or greater) jumps - perhaps playing C, E, G chord, then the same chort an octave higher. Much playing combines the two approaches.

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