I've been working on Fur Elise, and I came to one section repeating a single note staccato in the bass.

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How do I play this? I've tried playing it normally, but I can't sustain it for more than a measure or so. Is there some other way to play this, or must I just keep practicing?

  • Reading just this passage, I keep slipping into Brahms' Violin Concerto! Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Well, it's like a slow tremolo so you definitely want to alternate fingers. Thumb - Middle - Thumb - Middle is a good general-purpose tremolo fingering. To do this easily, you should pull your thumb a little under the palm, almost touching the middle finger. The wrist should be straight but not rigid. You descend upon the keyboard, leading with the thumb. Then a very slight rise of the forearm should allow you to pivot forward to reach with the middle finger. The wrist may move, but only slightly.

If there are shifting accents, you almost always want to play the strong beat with your "power fingers": thumb or index, and then just roll through the other fingers until you need to start over. Use the index for the accent if you want to use the thumb for backbeat.

  • So should I be moving my hand around or angling it?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 15:39
  • 4
    My teacher suggested alternating three fingers (3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1…). The hand will then move slightly «deeper» into the keyboard and then back. No tilting is required, the palm is always parallel to the keyboard. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 16:24
  • 1
    @Mischa, a three-finger pattern is probably easier on your wrists for the reasons you describe. But here, I think a two-finger pattern is a better fit for the 3/8 time signature. Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 2:18

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