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How do you make your fingering decisions? I’ve been thinking about how I make mine ~ if you’d like to add your ideas, please leave them below in the comment section!

First, fingerings are an individual decision. They have to fit your hands, not the publisher’s, your teacher’s, or anyone else’s. Everyone’s hands are unique. They do different things well. Mine aren’t perfect ~ I’ve come to see this as reality, not a limitation. (Some of my teachers would disagree.) Of course, when studying it’s important to push your limits. After a while, though, you begin to realize that you’ve “been there” & can now use what works for you.

Practicing a fingering that doesn’t work for your hand is, for me, a total waste of time after a certain point. If you know your hands will never go there, wouldn’t it get the music to performance faster to use something friendly? The first thing I do in a piece I’ve never played (if I intend to perform it at some point) is to change the trill fingerings. There is one that just doesn’t work for me, & I’d rather sound good than feel required to use the numbers that someone I’ve never seen happened to write in the score. I can practice the fingering in question & play it @ home. Then, when performing the piece, it doesn’t work, so I change it.

For me, the intention of the composer is a guide. “Standard” fingering is useful, of course, but doesn’t meet all situations.

While practicing today, I found myself using organ technique in a Bach fugue ~ that is, switching fingers on a note while holding it. I have played organ for several years, so the finger switching happens on its own sometimes. It is useful for Messiaen (to get to a place you can’t reach otherwise) or in an on-stage emergency, to cite 2 examples. But its frequent use in playing melodic lines can be a liability ~ the ability to control the linear movement is seriously compromised. (“Bad” fingering will cause hesitations in the music & cause unwanted accents, among other things.) I have to say, though, that in chorus rehearsals I use it all the time. (It just happens ~ part of sightreading, most likely.)

For anyone who thinks that a keyboard is a keyboard, piano & organ are played very differently. Also, the harpsichord uses a completely different mechanism, in addition to having a smaller keyboard.

In my experience, no one who has come backstage has ever mentioned fingering.

Putting in fingerings backwards works like a charm. Decide what you need to use @ the end of the phrase, then decide how to get there. (This idea originated w/my former/most recent teacher, Martin Katz. Thanks, Martin!)

You may want to change your decisions along the way, as you get further into the piece. In my own work, I need to write in fingerings early on, so as not to stay in sightreading mode too long.

Listening to the sound as I practice, rather than only relying on my hands, solves most issues for me. I have been told I have good technique, but that is absolutely NOT what I think about most or listen for. (My love of music came way before technique, which is a big factor here. I’m not a prodigy. What I hear in my head has always run the show.)

Today I practiced 2 Bach fugues & a prelude, Liszt, 2 Messiaen preludes, & went back to Bach, for 2 hrs. total.

Last night the humidity was lower than in the daytime, so I tried opening the keyboard cover. It helped dry out the works a little.