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Nice party you got here at Stack Exchange. Let me join.

My goal is to become a jazz pianist/improviser. I’m currently learning through Blake Neely’s How to Play from a Fake Book and I’m stuck at fingering.

Since I aim at becoming an improviser I think I need a strategy at fingering which is highly flexible and can adapt to direct change. Therefore one thought of mine is to generally try to stay on the thumb, both hands, because then you can go in both direction (over the thumb, if needed). But when looking at a video of Chick Corea I see that it seems he stays “flat”, with hands stretched out, repositioning them when needed, instead of being curled up around the thumb. Maybe it depends on whether one plays chords or melody.

Let’s say when going from G+ to G7/F I bump into the black keys and I don’t know, and generally don’t know, what fingering is right. (For the example I do 5 3 1 to 3 2 1, left hand.)

Is it ok to from playing D-A with 1 5 (right hand), and upon realising one needs to play a B, to cross over 5th with 4th finger? Bad practice? I guess so, but what shall one do instead?

When playing the violin there is to a large degree a fixed mapping between tones and fingers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the piano. Say, an F could be played with any finger, depending on circumstances. This complicated things, I’d say.

Fingering seems to be complicated because it seems to be a function of three things: what fingering you’re coming from, your current chord/voicing combined with melody line that you need fingering for, and what you are going to play next. Phew! And that’s only when playing solo. I guess there’s no way to analyse that each time, it needs to be done in some other way.

So I need a book/resource which deals with this once and for all. Lays down the generally strategy for a jazz pianist as well as documenting how to deal with all possible cases. Levine for fingering, I guess. What do you recommend for solving this general problem? I find the results google delivers insufficient. Scales seems to be central, but chords are in the picture too.

My background: I’ve played the violin for about ten years when I was younger and attended a music programme in high school. I don’t have cash for a teacher these days. So in one sense things can't be too basic. I'm looking for reference material, or whatever you find right.

Greetings from Lund, Sweden,

  • "it seems to be a function of three things... " Absolutely right. The way to "analyse it each time" is to split the music into chunks (often, but not always, beats) where you can finger each chunk with a "fixed" hand position, and shift your hand from one chunk to the next. So your example of crossing 4 over 5 to play D-A then B is not necessarily "right" or "wrong" - the "correct" finger for B depends on what follows the B "Scales are central" - yes, but only if you following those basic principles, and don't treat the one fingering in a scale-book as "the only right way to do it". – user19146 Aug 5 '18 at 21:49
  • See this: youtube.com/watch?v=aKVLXDS4De0 – user19146 Aug 5 '18 at 21:59
  • Thanks a lot @alephzero. This chunking made a lot of sense. – Frans Aug 8 '18 at 20:45

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