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Numbers and Fingers

I am still persisting with building my piano skills (see Fingers on Hanon) and still at the level where I would be fairly certain of failing even a Grade 1 exam on the instrument. It is a little frustrating because on bass, guitar and various other instruments I could run rings round the requirements. With a little revision, I could probably even get a decent pass on flute at ABRSM Grade 1, the previous instrument outside the guitar / bass sphere that I had a go at. With the piano though, I’ve got a wealth of understanding about how it should work and still a poverty of skill to make my fingers unlock that.

One of the challenges is how piano books refer to the fingers. I’m used to thinking of my hands as having a thumb and four fingers. Thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky are T, 1, 2, 3, 4 on either hand. Normally both hands are involved with sounding each note and, held in opposition (one hand up, one hand down), the thumbs are on the left and pointing the same way. On piano, I just have to press a key with any of those digits and the mechanism takes care of producing the sound. The hands sit the same way with the thumbs next to each other and the numbers run from pinky to thumb on the left and thumb to pinky on the right. If I’m instructed to play with ‘2’ on each hand, that’s the ring finger on the left and the index finger on the right.

If you haven’t got a piano to hand, try writing with both hands simultaneously. That’s pretty hard. Now try writing separate things with each hand – almost impossible, although I did have a friend at university who had that as her party trick! Now, try not to look and, when you, set it up so one of your hands can only be seen in a mirror. I think that’s what my hands feel like on the piano at the moment. More practise required.

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