SOPP563: When is the optimal moment to decide the fingering?

in #secretsoforganplaying7 months ago

Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!

Ausra: And Ausra!

V: Let’s start episode 563 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Daniel, and he writes:

“Hello Vidas and Ausra!
I have a question about fingering and practising in a very slow tempo. If I do the fingering early I often have to choose another solution when I know the difficult parts better and can play them in a ”final” tempo. So the question is: When is the optimal moment to decide the fingering? Thanks for all good inspiration!”

V: Hmm… that’s a good question, Ausra, right?

A: Yes, it is a good question.

V: What I do, I can say first and then you later share your version.

A: Okay.

V: Nowadays, I sit down on the organ bench, and I sight read a piece of music. At the same time, I record or even live stream the video with the camera pointed from above to the keyboards, so that hands, fingers, and even pedals would be visible. And once that’s done, I submit this video to my team to transcribe the fingering and pedaling for me. So basically, what I’m doing is using complete fingering right from the start. What about you?

A: So it means that you have a very good notion of fingering and feel very self confident, yes?

V: Not always, though. Of course, there are some elements which need editing, and I edit them later. But for most of the time, especially early music, it’s no problem.

A: Yes, it’s the same for me with early music. I have a pretty good sense of how to finger it automatically, but I remember when I was a student in my early years of organ studies, I realized that it’s probably not a good thing to sit down and to write fingering right away after picking up a new piece, because I realized after you’ve spent hours and hours fingering it and then you practice, and after some time you see that some of those fingerings simply don’t work for you, and you have to rewrite it. So what I have done since that time, I would play a piece a few times, and only after that, I would write down my fingering.

V: Makes sense. Recently, I’ve been going to church and practicing well known pieces, and also at the same time recording them later, but not as a sight-reading, but as a finished composition—finished performance, basically, ready to upload on YouTube and any other streaming platform. But it takes, for me, maybe ten times to play it slowly and faster to get ready, and especially if the piece is a little bit harder and faster and longer, and it might take a few more days to do it. But then, I suspect my fingering would be maybe a little bit different if I record it the last take—the tenth try, or the twentieth try, or the fortieth or fiftieth try, and then try to notate my fingering based on that video. Make sense?

A: Yes, it makes sense. I think that the worst thing you can do is to play the same keys each time with a different fingering. That would slow down your progress of improvement. So I guess at some point, and quite early in learning the piece, you have to decide finally on what your fingering will be.

V: Yeah, maybe you can choose... If Daniel, for example, wants to choose something in between what we are doing... we are having two opinions. Ausra suggests first to practice a few times and then notate fingering, and I… not recommending to do it like myself—write down fingering right from the start—but I’m just sharing what I’m doing, because I have that much experience. So maybe you could do something in between, right? Maybe play a few times and see if you’re comfortable with sitting down and writing down fingering then. Would that be helpful, Ausra?

A: Yes, I guess everybody has to choose for themselves. What works for one might not work well for another one.

V: Exactly. And it comes with the experience. After five, ten, twenty years, it will take less and less and less time to figure out the right fingering for you. Maybe you can do it right away when you sight read the first time.

A: Right now, for example, I’m working on “Pièce D’Orgue” that Vidas fingered, and this is probably one of the pieces that I took a score with fingers in it...

V: Vidas fingers!

A: ...after a very long time, and I noticed that everything is just fine for my right, but not everything is just fine for my left hand. So basically, most of the places I ignored what is written in the left hand and created my own fingering.

V: Why is that?

A: I don’t know?

V: Think.

A: Well okay, let’s not go there.

V: Maybe you have one extra finger.

A: I don’t think so.

V: There are people who have six fingers, actually.

A: But I have only five on each hand.

V: Hannibal Lecter had six fingers, you know?

A: Vidas is in a mood, as you can hear.

V: Good. So guys, choose what works for you. Right? We’re sharing what works for us, and probably the right answer will be somewhere in between for each of you. Thanks guys for sending these thoughtful questions, we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,

A: Miracles happen.

Vidas and Ausra 2 MP 2.jpg


Check out my Secrets of Organ Playing books:
https://amazon.com/author/vidaspinkevicius


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