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For the above musical phrase I'm using the fingering 1st bar: 124 124 124 5 2nd bar: 134 134 134 5. After practicing 4 hrs on digital piano my finger joins become sore. Is this a normal thing or am I doing something wrong? I'm uncomfortable with this finger position especially the 2nd bar. What would be the correct fingering for the 1st two bars?

Below image is for context enter image description here

  • Your hands are bigger than mine--I can only reach an octave with my thumb and pinky finger. – Dekkadeci Aug 13 at 6:11
  • Am I missing something in that notation: shouldn't the meter be 6/8 or triplets be marked? The tempo shows a dotted quarter note. – Michael Curtis Aug 13 at 15:15
  • @MichaelCurtis You are right. I've added an image for context – user62513 Aug 13 at 17:44
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Fingering, at least pertaining to your plaint, is not as important as HOW you finger. There are constant adjustments which must be employed from the arm in order to protect the fingers, give them effortlessness and give you strength and endurance. You already have enough strength and endurance but some incoordinate movement is probably getting in the way. They could include pressing into the keybed, twisting your wrist (ulnar/radial deviation), sitting too high, too low, clawing at the keys, playing too still and quiet or trying to use two muscles at the same time to move one bone.

Pain-free playing requires a lot of in/out, up/down, left/right and grouping of the fingers. These must be done for each finger in order to align the weight of the forearm behind each finger. When you put all the movements together it is grace-filled, effortless and pain free because you don't use the incorrect muscles and fulcrum.

For instance, in the bar where you have a chord with the 4 on the F and the 5 plays the G, between the F and G there needs to be some adjustment (I'd have to see you play) such as realigning the elbow, supinating (rotating up) from the elbow, forward shifting from the elbow, or starting from a higher position so gravity plays the G and not the flexor at an ulnar deviation.

Again, without seeing you, it sounds like you are pressing too hard into the keys, trying to play from your flexors and, your abductors are probably engaged at the same time. If you are hanging on to that chord with your thumb still stretched out, that creates tension right there. The damage of tension is cumulative.

This is a simple fix but could take months for you to rewire your brain to move properly. Bad habits are hard to break.

If your teacher has no solution, they are part of your problem and it is time to seek a new teacher. If your car needs new brakes because your old ones are wearing out, you wouldn't go to a mechanic who says "drive more" or gives you exercises to be a better driver. You don't need any patented pedagogical nostrums, you need to learn the laws of physics and the mechanics of your anatomy.

Don't try to fix this on your own. You may need someone to break down each of the ten-ish proper movements and slowly put them together.

If you are playing a real or acoustic piano, you'll notice if you very slowly press a key down without playing it, you will hit a bump. That is the point of sound. If you press beyond the bump it gives way and you are pressing into the keybed. Your goal is to play to this point of sound using only enough weight (gravity) of the arm to press to that point while also employing the aforementioned up/down, in/out, etcetera motions. The reason for these movements is so you don't use the same muscle twice in a row and because your fingers are different lengths. These movements equalize the fingers. Many students curl their fingers in an attempt to equalize them but this instantly creates tension between both your flexors AND extensors. You can't move a bone in two directs at the same time so why pit one muscle against the other when you are only going to force one to win. If you do learn to play to the point of sound, this will give you that pearly carrezando sound.

BTW, the in/out motion also equalizes the fingers, especially if you are playing on the outside of the keys where their fulcrum is lightest. Like playing on a see saw, you "weight" more if you sit on the edge of the seat than you do if you sit on the inside. The same is true with the piano key and your arms. Your fingers, BTW, don't have muscle so why would you try to play from there?

Go with gravity, don't press.

  • Thanks for identifying the problem, I taught piano myself- hard to find good teacher here. Now I'm able to play up to 140bpm, but still my I'm not able to play freely (without much tension build up in wrist and forearm). Will try your fix and try to find a piano teacher – user62513 Aug 14 at 16:52
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Most likely, the reason you have sore joints is because practicing for 4 hours continuously is at least 3 hours too long to be effective, unless you are a professional musician (and if that case you probably wouldn't need to ask the question). Effective practicing is hard mental work, not mindless repetition. If you don't feel you need a mental break after 30 minutes (or less), you aren't thinking hard enough about what you are doing!

For the fingering question, even if you want to use 4 5 on the two 8th notes at the end of the bars, there is no reason to use 4 on the other two chords if you have to stretch for the 4.

The marked tempo of dotted quarter = 150 is simply insane, unless this is only supposed to be played by a computer. Don't waste your time trying!

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    The piece is "He's a Pirate" from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, so no, I don't think the tempo is insane--it's close to, if not at, the original speed. – Dekkadeci Aug 13 at 0:15
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    @Dekkadeci The fact that it's a well-known song that someone once managed to play on a soundtrack doesn't mean that it's a good exercise for piano players of any level. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 13 at 0:39
  • @YourUncleBob - who says it has to be played at that speed? – Tim Aug 13 at 11:02
  • @Tim The metronome marking above the score? That surely sets a target that people may feel they have to reach. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 13 at 14:39
  • @guest Thanks for the note about effective practicing. I'll try out your fingering – user62513 Aug 13 at 17:24
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If this is what you practised for four hours, it's not surprising your fingers are sore! It's amazing that you can even string a sentence together after that, too !

There is absolutely, at this level, no point in spending four hours on four bars. Practice means repetition, to an extent, but that sort of repetition is unproductive. What other fingerings have you tried out? What does your teacher have to offer?

As said many times, fingering is rather a personal thing. Each of us needs to work out what an effective fingering is. That's part of the practice time. And sometimes, it's worth deciding that a piece is just beyond us at this point in our playing career. And moving on, returning to it after time, when our skills have improved. It's not like admitting defeat - merely putting it on hold for now. Unless it's for an exam, an audition, etc - which it probably isn't.

Couple of hopefully helpful points: make practice last one hour maximum - unless you know different, and prolonged practice is the only thing that works for you (judging by the question, maybe it doesn't), and when writing fingering numbers out, for repeated notes, generally the same numbers are applicable, so no need to repeat writing. (Of course, you may have done that just for the question).

  • thanks for the note on the fingering, I'll try and find out a comfortable one. Reg. prolonged hours, it helped me to play 'flight of the bumblebee' up to speed, but on this piece it clearly didn't work- especially the second bar caused too much tension on my wrist- particularly with the illustrated fingering. Will break up the practice session! Reg. Writing fingering on notes- yes it was for illustration :) – user62513 Aug 13 at 17:39
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There doesn't seem to be an obvious problem with your fingering.

But this is an arrangement from some unknown source, and it may not be a good piano arrangement.

You might try different voicings that fit your hand better. Instead of the wide spacing you could compact it a little and just give a hint of the chord in the left hand. Something like this...

enter image description here

...or something else that feel comfortable.

In the right hand the repeated notes may be more playable as single notes where you can change fingers from the repeating notes.

You might dispense with double notes for both hands. I think the point of the music is more rhythmic than lush harmony. It could be parred down to make it 'fall under your fingers' so you can focus on the quick rhythmic effect between the two hands.

The point is the music you provided isn't an urtext. If it isn't playable, change it.

  • This is an officially released arrangement by Peter Bence (youtube.com/watch?v=ugfUPWIC1i8). "If it isn't playable, change it"- will do this if i'm not able to play it comfortably :) – user62513 Aug 13 at 17:53

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