Finding the best fingering for music composed after 1800s might often seem like a great burden for many organists. The problem happens when you write fingering considering only isolated notes and not connecting them into passages.
Here is how you can think about fingering for Romantic and Modern organ music:
If the fingering is for a single-voice melody in one hand, remember the scales, arpeggios and chords. This will help you find the best starting point and position.
When you have more than two voices in one hand, in order to maintain a smooth legato, you often have to apply finger substitution and finger glissando. The easiest way to learn to apply them is to practice playing scales in double thirds and later in double sixths.
Obviously, technically they are quite challenging to play so you need to learn basic scales in octaves, thirds, tenths and sixths before that.
In reality, writing in fingering is a simple task, if you have experience with scales, arpeggios and chords (at least T, D7 and VII7). So if you are having trouble in discovering the best fingering for music composed after 1800s, it may mean you need to play more scales, arpeggios and chords in the keys that this music is written in.
Do you want to see a proof of this statement?
Create a simple experiment. Choose a piece that you would like to master but which has (appearently) difficult fingering. Play it once. Count the approximate number of mistakes. The result should be quite messy.
Then learn to play the above mentioned scales, arpeggios and chords fluently in the keys of your piece in the average tempo. The number of keys will be more than one bacause you will most definitely find quite a few modulations within the composition. For some people it may take a week, for some - a month or even more.
But it will be worth it, because a) you really like this piece and want to master it and b) this experiment will show you how scales, arpeggios and chords can help you with your fingering (an with your general technical level).
Don't practice this piece for the time you are learning the scales, arpeggios and chords. Only after you can do it fluently, go back to this composition and try to play it (or write in fingering). If you practiced honestly all this period, the result will surprise you in a good way.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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