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Weird indecisiveness re: fingering


Josh Paxton

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So I'm working on a tricky new piece, and I went through the whole thing and methodically worked out the fingering that works best for me, like you do. There was one passage where I was torn between two different ways of fingering it, each with advantages and disadvantages. After working with it for a bit, I decided on one way that was definitely better, so that's the way I shed it. Then when I went back to it the next day, I immediately said "Wow, I don't know what I was thinking, but the other way of fingering it is clearly better." So I switched and started shedding that way instead. I have now repeated this process something like four times, changing my mind about which was is better every time I go back to shed the tune. I'm now at the point where I just want to smack my fingers and my brain, and tell them to just make up their damn minds. I've run into milder versions of this before, but never to this extent.

 

My point, apart from a mildly cathartic rant: Has this happened to anyone else, and how did you deal with it?

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Yes. For example, I originally thought that many "white key" bebop scales would be best practiced as 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 (say: c-d-e-f-g-g#-a-b). Then I totally backtracked on that and went with 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2.

 

Now I can't make up my mind and go back and forth; probably good to practice both, I guess...

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Yes, I have run into the same thing, although not to the extent you described. For me it's often when learning what were originally horn lines that I'm doubling or duplicating - trying to get a keyboard fingering that I can make rote. The work always reminds me of this famous lyric:

 

I do remember one thing.

It took hours and hours but..

By the time I was done with it,

I was so involved, I didn't know what to think.

 

I carried it around with me for days and days..

Playing little games

Like not looking at it for a whole day

And then... looking at it.

 

To see if I still liked it.

I did.

 

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

 

I repeat...

The more I look at it,

The more I like it.

I do think it's good.

 

The fact is..

No matter how closely I study it,

No matter how I take it apart,

No matter how I break it down,

 

It remains consistent.

I wish you were here to see it.

 

I like it.

..
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Yes, it happens sometimes.

 

I don't have any bright ideas about solving it, other than, over time, the slightly better way usually shows itself as the way to go, but sometimes that takes a long time. If you are not in a rush to learn it, letting the piece sit for more than a day or so (or more, sometimes lots more) can help make things clear.

A Boogie-Woogie Video:

 

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One of the deciding factors for me is what the desired tempo is going to be once I learn it.

Sometimes, there are 2 or 3 approaches to fingering a passage when you're in the learning stage (I.e., slow, and hands separate); but when you take it up to speed, it becomes apparent which fingering is more efficient.

This may sound obvious but it's something we all tend to overlook at times.

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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The first thing that comes to mind is that it's just a turd of a run that has no comfortable default choice, so all the options keep ending up equally awkward.

 

It's blasphemy for some, but I'm not above playing a note or two with the "other" hand if I have to; a single note played by the LH note in an otherwise "RH" can save a shift or a need for a 6th finger, and keep your hand in place for the rest of the run after a turnaround. Of course, that depends on what is otherwise going on with that other hand.

 

By the same token, I don't know about you, but I sometimes I find that sending a run to autonomic memory actually makes me MORE likely to flub it, since I am rarely fully autonomic when I play. My brain usually manages to engage through the fog at some point, and when a run has gone to rote, I don't always feel confident that I remember the underlying structure, rather than the raw shapes. So rather than go rote over a whole run, I usually try to give myself the assignment of, say, "Remember to 'check in' on that C# to make sure you're on 4, or else to adjust afterward if you're not."

 

Having said all that, long, fast-tempo obligatos are a weakness for me, so I have to rely greatly on "understanding" the run even more than nailing, since I always like to know I have an "out" plan back to the page when I inevitably deviate from the "correct" run.

 

 

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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Yes, I have run into the same thing, although not to the extent you described. For me it's often when learning what were originally horn lines that I'm doubling or duplicating - trying to get a keyboard fingering that I can make rote. The work always reminds me of this famous lyric:

 

I do remember one thing.

It took hours and hours but..

By the time I was done with it,

I was so involved, I didn't know what to think.

 

I carried it around with me for days and days..

Playing little games

Like not looking at it for a whole day

And then... looking at it.

 

To see if I still liked it.

I did.

 

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

I repeat myself when under stress.

 

I repeat...

The more I look at it,

The more I like it.

I do think it's good.

 

The fact is..

No matter how closely I study it,

No matter how I take it apart,

No matter how I break it down,

 

It remains consistent.

I wish you were here to see it.

 

I like it.

 

Adrian Belew with King Crimson

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out ?

My Soundcloud with many originals:

[70's Songwriter]

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It's blasphemy for some, but I'm not above playing a note or two with the "other" hand if I have to; a single note played by the LH note in an otherwise "RH" can save a shift or a need for a 6th finger, and keep your hand in place for the rest of the run after a turnaround. Of course, that depends on what is otherwise going on with that other hand.

 

 

I do the same thing. I have a little lick that I came up with near the end of "Beer In Mexico" where the lead guitar, fiddle and piano are taking turns. It is playable with the right hand, but at the tempo we're playing very hard to stay in time. It's the root alternating with 5-7, 6-4, 3-5 and 6-4. The problem is that it's sixteenths at about 150 BPM. Much easier to let my left hand play the root and the pairs notes above with the right.

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

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It's blasphemy for some, but I'm not above playing a note or two with the "other" hand if I have to;

 

I'm certainly not above that either. But this is a solo arrangement, so the left hand is busy too. Fortunately it finally worked itself out and I can actually play the line now, so it's all good.

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