New Fingerings For Piano ScalesI must warn you that what you are about to read may be considered heretical by piano teachers who have learned the standard fingerings for playing scales hands together that have been with us for perhaps hundreds of years.
As a beginner adult piano student, I was making slow but decent progress until I ran into the wall of learning how to play scales with two hands together for two octaves. The fingerings for the basic scales for the C,G,D, and A major scales use the following pattern:
RH: 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 3 2 1
The thumb is numbered 1 and the little finger is numbered 5 on each hand. Click here to see a complete listing of the fingerings.
I could play patterns fairly fluently with hands separate. However, despite working at this on and off for months, this fingering causes a kind of brain freeze for me. Because the right hand starts with a pattern of three and the left hand starts with a pattern for five, the regular patterns that make sense when playing hands separate are at odds with each most of the time. Sure, the middle fingers (3) give each other a salute from time to time, but mostly you have to will each hand to do something contrary to what the other hand is doing.
I found this discouraging to the point of considering stopping piano lessons. I suspect I am not alone and that there have been a large number of promising young students who have given up on the piano over this.
I spent some time searching the Internet for alternative of fingerings and found mostly the standard fingerings and a variation by Robert Kelley. Robert Kelley's fingerings are mostly the traditional fingerings, only starting with the thumb and going into the pattern right away. The idea of starting with the thumb and avoiding starting with five fingers on the left hand gave me an idea. Why not use a parallel fingering pattern that can be started at any octave and have both hands using the same pattern up and down the scale for as many octaves as you want?
So I derived a fingering that uses the following strategies for the for the C,G,D, and A major scales:
The new fingerings look like this:
RH: 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 3 2 1
Note that both hands play the 1 (thumbs) together.
The advantages of this fingering include:
With regards to parallel motion, I am pondering the benefits of simply repeating the pattern of thumb, two fingers, thumb, three fingers on the way down as well as on the way up the scale. The standard fingerings and the fingerings I have listed above go back down in a similar to retracing steps. That is pretty easy.
The alternative of continuing the 1 + 2, 1 + 3 pattern both directions would look something like:
RH: 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 4 3 2 1
The main advantages of this pattern include:
I lean towards this fingering, though I am still experimenting. Perhaps your preference will depend on how your mind works.
The new fingerings take me over the wall so that I can continue to explore the piano with joy.
The question is, why would everyone not use these new alternative fingerings? Here are some possible reasons:
I am open to discussion of the merits and disadvantages of the new fingerings. Please try them out and click here to send your comments.