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When Is Fingering Necessary?



When is fingering necessary in a young person’s piano lesson? Some piano teachers say, “From the first moment,” but I think otherwise. Fingering is the process wherein a child is asked to use a certain finger for a certain piano note. The drawing above shows how the fingers are numbered for piano.

Start with thumbs as number 1, and then go up to 5, which is the little finger. As an abstract concept, it is essential to learn fingering eventually in order to play the piano properly. But our question is, “When is learning fingering necessary, and may I temporarily disregard the finger indications in the piano books?”

Learning Fingering Should Be Briefly Delayed

Piano books and teachers are full of drills to get the five fingers in a row, and keep them that way. We beg to differ with this approach. The worst habit to be learned at the piano is not bad fingering. It is not enjoying playing.

Conventional Lessons Demand Three Things Immediately

A child who is starting to read music in the conventional manner must do three things all at once:

  • They must learn to identify the notes on the page, usually naming them (A B C D E F G) as well.
  • Fingering must be learned, using the correct finger for each of the notes.
  • You must learn rhythm, which is the timing of each note.

For kids, attempting to learn the notes on the page, and relate them to the correct keys of the piano is an intensely difficult process. This is without asking them to name the notes as well. Most kids use their index finger at first. Give them time to discover fingering at their own pace.

Start With A Simple Fingering Game

Before I begin a more formal lesson on fingering, I play a simple, abstract game that will engage the child with their fingers without the added distraction of notes and reading music. It is directed at their three strongest fingers, thumb, index and middle (third) fingers. In this game, called Threesies, we play the keys 1 2 3, 2 3 4, 3 4 5 etc., with the same fingers each time, thumb, middle and third finger.

Threesies
(play each set (bar) with the same fingers)
| 1 2 3 | 2 3 4 | 3 4 5 | 4 5 6 | 5 6 7 | 6 7 8 | etc.
 

 

 

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

Play Along Songs Are Fun!

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