Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Solve Your Piano Fingering Problems

Useful tips to help with your piano fingering

In this video, Robert tells you a story that will help with your piano fingering.

Released on July 8, 2020

    
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. This is LivingPianos.com. Today's question is how to solve your fingering problems. Fingering on the piano is one of the most important aspects of developing a secure technique. So what I'm going to do today with you is tell you my personal story of how I solved my fingering problem.

Did I have fingering problems? Oh my goodness, you would not even believe it. When I was a student, as a child studying with my father, my fingering was atrocious. First of all, I had weak fingers, and truth be known, I didn't practice nearly as much as many of my father's other students. Little tiny hands, I didn't practice a lot, they were weak and I had just miserable fingering. And my father struggled with me to try to correct all the fingerings, and I took a look at some of my scores from my early teen years, and what I did was, and this is where the solution came in for me, and I'm thinking this might be helpful for some of you, is I got to a point where I just said, "I want to solve this problem."

I had fingering problems for years, and it was always a nightmare at lessons. So what I did was, I just didn't know how to solve the fingering problem, so I just wrote in the fingerings for almost every single note. It was crazy, but that was the only way I could really know that I was going to play the right fingering. And I look at some scores in that period of time, and it looks ridiculous. There's just gobs of fingering all over the place. Fortunately, I was smart enough, or I should say my father was smart enough, to always have his students use pencil, so the scores are not destroyed.

So this is what I went through, but here's the epiphany that happened. After doing this for a period of time, I got to a point where I stopped writing and fingering, and I almost never write in fingering anymore. Is that bizarre? It sounds like a total contradiction, but I transcended fingering such that I understood fingering in a way that I didn't have to write it in. Now it's not to say that I would never write in fingering, but it's really rare that I write in fingering anymore.

I will certainly try fingering that's printed in the score, with the editor suggestions. And if I have a fingering problem, I'll search for many different solutions. But the vast majority of the time I just develop a sense of fingerings that work. And truth be known, I don't always use the same fingering in pieces that I play, because I got to a point of understanding fingering in such an intrinsic way, that I don't need to write them in anymore.

Isn't that crazy? I don't know how many of you have gone through this same process. I mean, as a matter of fact I never even talked to anybody about this. So I'm wondering any of you pianists out there who've had fingering problems and overcame them, how you overcame them?

If anybody went through what I went through, because it worked for me, and I don't know if it's working for anybody else. But that is a real key if writing them all in, being meticulous, and then getting to the point where you just understand it on such a level, that you really grasp what fingering should be.

So I hope this is helpful, and like I say, love to hear from all of you, here again at LivingPianos.com, your online piano store. Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin.
Find the original source of this video at this link: https://livingpianos.com/how-to-solve-your-piano-fingering-problems/
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

warmtileslolly * VSM MEMBER * on July 15, 2020 @6:54 pm PST
Going through the Schirmer's Muzio Clementi collection book helped me tremendously, and still does. I like to play all the way through the book at one rehearsal & remind my fingers HOW to work.
Audrey Guild * VSM MEMBER * on July 9, 2020 @10:02 am PST
I, too, had to write in most of my fingering. What a pain. Finally, after a thorough study of theory, i.e., scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. etc. the light bulb went on and I can limit fingering notations on my music.
reply
Robert - host, on July 10, 2020 @2:39 pm PST
That's exactly how things unfolded for me. Glad to see it worked for you as well!
Jeanne saunders * VSM MEMBER * on July 9, 2020 @1:50 am PST
Roberts advise is really helpful .
Thank you, Jearned.
reply
Robert - host, on July 9, 2020 @10:32 am PST
So glad this helped you!
Andreas Schloesser on July 8, 2020 @9:56 am PST
Nice video, reminds me of my youth. My son, who is now also grown up and plays much better than me, recently played with a strange fingering (right hand, run downwards 5-4-3-2-3-2 or something like that), resulting from the playing situation. I asked him what he was doing there and he replied: "Oh gosh, now the fingering police is coming!"
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Robert - host, on July 8, 2020 @4:36 pm PST
You were right to correct that fingering unless there are some very unusual challenges in the context of the music!
Klaus-Dieter Scharf * VSM MEMBER * on July 8, 2020 @8:25 am PST
Hello Robert,
thank you for the video and the written text, so I can understand as a German Speaking. My question: Do you use the fingering you find in the printed sheet music usually or do you ignore them? I find them sometimes not effective. Are there some rules for using special fingers or not? When I look at the fingering of Claudio Aarau for the Beethoven Sonate Op. 49 No.2, there are really special fingerings and I ask me, what have he thought? I would not use such fingering. Best regards Klaus-Dieter
Susan Kelly on July 8, 2020 @6:19 am PST
I watched your video on fingering. I’m 69 yes old and was without a piano for about 30 years. Recently I was able to purchase a 6’ grand piano again. I had a Yamaha Clavinova for awhile so I was able to keep some music in my memory but I was unable to play some music I played as a teenager because the keyboard was too short. I looked back on some of my advanced sheet music and discovered my piano teacher had written in the fingering above some of the notes in pencil. She also drew lines on the runs to show right hand from left hand fingering. Awesome video. Nice to know I was trained the same way.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on July 8, 2020 @5:11 am PST
Another of your lessons that makes me grin and brings memories. My mother was horrified of some of my "creative" fingerings. Now, with my extra small and arthritic hands, when I start a new piece, sometimes I have to try different fingerings in some difficult passages, and once established what works for me I also write with the pencil over the notes.
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Robert - host, on July 8, 2020 @12:17 pm PST
Now you have a good reason for your creative fingering!
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