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What could be the most efficient left hand fingering for D7 chord when the previous stroke is 5-finger (left hand). I was told by a teacher it's not efficient to use 5-finger bass (l.h.) and then immediately a chord with 5-finger (l.h) unless it's really necessary. In this example, I guess it's inefficient to play 5 and then 5-3-1. Is playing 5 and then 4-2-1 a good option? (feels more natural to me), or shall I strive for 5 and then 4-3-1? enter image description here

  • 4-2-1 doesn't feel natural to me, unless you have hands that can reach more than a tenth. 5-3-1 is fine here. Use the pedal (most certainly half pedal or less, ask a teacher about it) if you need. – Alexandre C. Jul 17 '18 at 18:40
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The main issue here is not really whether 4 or 5 takes the lower note. It's making up your mind that you're going to let go of the bass note and MOVE your hand up the keyboard, a definite arm movement. The hand will follow an arc.

Also, have the hand 'open', ready to play the chord, as you play the bass note.

Try this exercise: enter image description here

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Since the bass notes aren't marked staccato, and are part of the chord voicing, I'd play the two chords with the same fingers - 5,3,1, especially as I can't reach the second bar all in one handspan anyway. The bass notes would be with pinky each time. Might even pedal each bar as well. Whole arm movements, spreading fingers for the triad as I go.

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It's really a matter of what feels natural to you, as others have said. That has a lot to do with the size and configuration of your hand.

I find that I use 421 on all of the chords. To give you an idea of my hand size, I can barely play the second-inversion D7 chord all together, using 5321.

To determine what's the most efficient fingering for you, I suggest that, for any fingering you try, you evaluate the effort required to move your hand and the effort required to stretch it, and adopt the fingering that requires the least effort.

But don't confuse the effort required to do it with the effort required to do it wrong. You know that if you're running and you stumble, it takes a great deal more effort to keep from falling that it does to simply run. The same principle applies on a smaller scale (and much more often) at the piano. If you are putting extra effort into a fingering simply because you are having difficulty getting your fingers to do what they're told, then you need to fix that before you can evaluate whether the fingering is efficient or not. Set your mind to visualizing doing it accurately, and translate that into your hands and fingers. If you learn a fingering and you find a better one later, you haven't wasted your time. What you have learned you will be able to use somewhere else.

If your teacher is saying that it isn't efficient to use 5, you have to decide whether he/she is giving you a "rule" or is evaluating what is most efficient for you and asking you to learn how to do it. Rules are made to be broken, but there are reasons for them. Using 5 on the lower notes of the chords requires more arm movement, so if you can settle your hand easily on the chord using 421, it's probably a more efficient fingering once you learn it.

  • Thanks for the answer. I don't meet my ex-teacher now, so I was wondering whether it's really a 'rule' applied in most cases (using 5th is inefficient because of more arm movement) or it was said for that particular (another) case and can't be regarded as universal rule. – alexsms Jul 18 '18 at 10:52
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    @alexsms I would say the latter. With the possible exception of "life is," I wouldn't regard anything as a universal rule, personally. There's a story that one of Haydn's students once told him that he (Haydn) regularly broke all the rules of composition that he was teaching, to which Haydn responded "Yes, but that's because I know when to break them." – BobRodes Jul 18 '18 at 16:02

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