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This is a snippet from a piano exericse book, different fingers are used for same notes, as outlined by the read circles.

Is the purpose solely to train finger switch? This is a piano exercise book after all.

I think I also read somewhere that this is also used in real pieces for articulation or dynamic purposes? I could be wrong and just mis-remembered.

  • Does the book have no text discussing the various exercises and fingerings? May 7, 2020 at 15:59
  • Not really, 99.9% of the book are just these exercises.
    – John
    May 7, 2020 at 16:04

4 Answers 4


That particular example is a little contrived - probably because it's an exercise book. But there are multiple benefits to using different fingers to play the same note:

  • Positioning/Articulation - This is usually why it's written in most books. Look at the 2 & 4 finger placements on the first measure. That's a place where playing the note w/a middle finger could be less comfortable than the index. Being able to comfortably have different ways to access a note can really improve your playing ability.
  • Dynamics - You mentioned this and this is definitely a good reason, too. Using multiple fingers makes it much easier to range dynamics on the same note.
  • Finger relief - it's easier to stay consistent when you have got to play those 16ths in the bass for a rock piece.

The other answer has made good points. I would like to highlight one important reason for practicing such finger switching: To train dexterity, versatility and adaptability of the fingers.

If you always default to one hand/finger position, it can be harder to play passages quickly or learn new passages quickly. In general, piano playing obviously rarely involves fixed positions for the same notes. For example, playing the same note repeatedly might be done by alternating between middle, index and thumb (or ring, middle and index); playing say the C-E-G triad is usually done with 1-3-5, but C-E-G-C would be 1-2-3-5, so the fingers for E and G have changed; and even for an octave, which is usually played 1-5, you might sometimes prefer to play it 1-4 (if you can reach it). And so on. In your example, we are looking at an interval of a fourth, and then later a fifth.

But all this doesn’t mean that you have to obey every fingering you come across. Some configurations work well for some and not so well for others; there can be different answers. In fact, there are many editions of works of composers that have the fingering given by other musicians, and some don’t like this because such editions may not “line up with the original intent of the composer”. This is what urtext editions are for.


Your example is not just an arbitrary exercise. Without a doubt it was specifically designed to help train your fingers, but it does so in a practical way that demonstrates a possible real world use case.

Take a look at the second section. After the sixteenth note run, beginning on A with your 1st finger, you land on E with your 5th, exactly as written. Now imagine repeating the E 3 more times with your 5th before jumping up to play the G with your...5th? Ok, let's try repeating it twice with your 5th, then the last time with your 3rd, then jumping to G with your 5th...better, but still a little awkward. Instead we shift one finger at a time and when we need to get up to the G, our fingers are magically in the right place.

This becomes especially important when considering the Allegro tempo of the passage. Any other fingering will be awkward, clumsy and slow. Some might be workable, but this is likely the fastest and smoothest way to play it.

Changing fingers on the same repeated note (or even without releasing the note) happens quite often in advanced piano pieces (Chopin comes to mind). This exercise also provides a good way to practice this technique and get your fingers used to it. After the "same note, same finger" idea has been ingrained in you for so long, swapping fingers, especially in rapid succession (eg, Liszt, La Campanella) can feel really awkward.

  • My thought too. Generally about changing fingers for repeated notes, but also preparation for the reach up to the higher notes. If the given finger at first feels awkward, training it until it feels natural should be beneficial. May 7, 2020 at 16:08

While in general it's a good idea to change fingers on repeated notes, the whole idea was taken to a pedantic extreme in the early 20th century. Some of the fingerings in some piano books adhere to the principle to a point that I find downright silly.

I will always use multiple fingers for very rapid repeated notes, but not so much in slower pieces or if there are notes in between such as in tremolo passages. (One exception is long trills, which I often play with fingerings like 132313231323, etc.) As a general rule, if switching fingers helps keep them from getting fatigued, it's a good idea. Otherwise, it overcomplicates things.

That said, if you are switching fingers solely for the sake of training yourself to switch fingers, then it is of course a great idea.

For a fairly advanced discussion of the subject, you might want to look at this post.

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