Why Fingering is Important – No Matter What Instrument You Play!

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fingeringWe know fingering is important. We write it in our music, our students’ music. And then we follow those directions precisely – unless it’s not convenient.

When I was a young student, I never paid attention to the fingering. I just played and fixed whatever didn’t work. Often, however the fixes wouldn’t stick. When I look at my copies of the music I studied then, I can see my teacher’s frustration in the big, black circles she drew around the fingering I wasn’t following.

There came a moment, however, when it was clear to me that in order for me to play the harp as well as I wanted, I was going to have to pay attention to the details, including the fingering.

And the results were startling. At least they startled me; my teacher was naturally not surprised. By following the fingering, I could learn pieces faster and play them better. I had the tools to make my playing expressive and to make my performance more consistent. Why hadn’t I tried this sooner?

And now I am saying the same things to my students that my teacher said to me, and feeling some of the same frustration. So here is my Teacher Speech #43: Why Practicing the Correct Fingering is in Your Own Best Interest…

There are four distinct and critical reasons why following the correct fingering is important:

1. Fingering makes your job easier. Correct fingering promotes technical facility. It should make your physical performance more fluid and seamless, and, yes, easier.

2. Fingering makes the music. Good fingering supports the musical ideas. Way beyond just staccato or legato, good fingering should reflect and communicate the phrasing, the energy and the expression of each passage.

3. Fingering helps you learn. Actually, it’s not the fingering itself, but it’s you following the fingering each time you play. In our practice, we try through repetition to develop correct habits that we can replicate in performance. If we are careless and lax about playing the correct fingering EVERY time, we lose one of our best tools for creating security in our performance.

4. Fingering develops muscle memory for a lifetime. When we practice a good fingering repeatedly, we are teaching our fingers the fundamentals of our technique. The fingering that served us so well in that one particular piece becomes a part of our fingering “repertoire.” In any new piece that you learn or sightread, similar passages and patterns will feel familiar as your fingers do what they have done many times before.

Enough said?

 

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