Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 366 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Lukasz and he will be visiting us in February so we’re looking forward to it. He is going to try out our St. John’s organ with the very hard key action and he writes now:
You're touching my favorite problem again ;-). I want to share with you my biggest problem with fingerwork.
1. I cannot use someone else's fingerings - it always is uncomfortable for me. I tried and instead of thinking about music - I'm beginning to think about fingers - and this does not lead me anywhere. I know that I make by this my life more difficult in many situations. But I can not. I think this is more psychological barrier than physical, because from the youngest I was taught to seek more my own solutions and ways in music than to copy someone else's. Well, sometimes it means, that I'm breaking already open doors...
2. I am often not able to use my own fingerings from the start of work with the music. At the beginning of it my fingering is often completely different than when I learn more about structure, accents etc of the music. Therefore I never write fingering, except the places that absolutely require it - and I still write at most one or two fingers. Why? Because even after learning of the music and playing it in up-tempo, sometimes - to my great irritation - my hands prefers other fingers! I discovered that playing slow I use other fingers than playing fast. Sometimes I have the impression, that my hands have too much - autonomy ... I have written use third finger - my hand says - No! You will be playing it with the second finger! In this situation, I start to wonder why. Sometimes - very rarely - it turns out that in the next measure, moving from another finger gives a more interesting musical clue. But most often it's a forcing of my hand to make a movement that it does not want at all ... and this is the most annoying part of the practice!
Merry Christmas and All the best... and of course see you in February.
V: So Ausra what are your experiences with fingering? Do you write it at the beginning of studying your music or later. Do you write it at all or not? Do you write it sparingly? What’s your take on this?
A: Well now I don’t write fingering. Only in very, very few spots because I don’t need it because I have a pretty good notion of it. But I think that is really bad thing if you have one fingering written in and you use another fingering. That’s inappropriate.
V: Umm-hmm. It’s better to not have fingering written in than to use a different fingering every time I guess.
A: Because if you a using different fingering every time that you play as Lukasz mentions it means that something is not good with it.
V: With the fingering.
V: Umm-hmm. Maybe I also can share a few things. Like you I also have much experience with playing the organ and don’t need to write in fingering most of the time. Just in a few maybe troublesome places like Ad Patres Sonata by Kutavicius. To facilitate learning process I wrote fingering in one episode, maybe 10 measures, and since this episode is repeated 13 times I copied this fingering 13 times in the score just because it makes the work easier and the time is limited.
A: Interesting then I learned that piece I would just, if you are talking about that episode that repeats itself, I would just clip all those pages together and I would know how many times I have to repeat that thing and then I would just turn all those pages all at once and you would just have to write your fingering once.
V: That’s clever. You are the smarter one in the family.
A: Thank you, I don’t think so but still thank you, it’s a nice thing to say.
V: And you know I sight-read music in a very slow tempo and produce correct fingering right away. I’m thinking about what’s the best way to put my fingers and pedaling too and I record it with my phone, put it on YouTube and then our team of transcribers make transcribed scores with fingering and pedaling from this so I have to be good right away. It’s not easy, it requires lots of work and lots of practice and constant development but they say the first twenty years is difficult, afterwards it’s easier.
V: You have to constantly sight-read new music then it gets easier and fingers somehow become second nature to you. I have to say that early fingering is much easier for me than modern fingering somehow. What about you?
A: Well, actually it really doesn’t matter because I think both are easy for me because before playing organ I played piano for many years so I don’t feel uncomfortable fingering romantic or later music.
V: But there are many more options with modern music.
A: Sure. So you just see what works for you and in general when you are fingering romantic and later music don’t try to write fingers down right away before even playing the piece. That’s what people often do and I think it’s a mistake. You need to play it through at least a few times and to see what works and what not because if you finger your score without playing through then these problems might happen that you write in one fingering and you are using another one.
V: That’s how we were taught actually, our professors in Lithuania at least said practice the piece a few times and get to know it and then write in fingering.
A: Sure. In general I think that you need to be able to play both ways, without fingers and with fingers.
V: And I guess why.
A: Because if you, well… Remember when we studied with Leopoldas Digrys he always forced us to write every single finger.
V: That’s because he did it himself.
A: Yes, for entire life and after playing with him for some time I realized that I cannot play music without fingering written in.
V: Yes, so most of the time for example people sight-read and it doesn’t have fingers written in. What can you do then? You have to guess, you have to…
A: I felt sort of like having a disability. That I am incapable of doing something and then I just dropped writing down every single finger.
V: What about when you improvise?
A: Sure. But of course there is advantage if you have fingered score because it means that you save time and you save trouble fingering yourself and if you go back to the same piece after many years it will be easier for you to recollect it and to play it.
V: I guess it depends on the goals of each individual person, right? If we want to learn the piece inside out and come back to it after a decade or so and still be able to play it more or less in a slow tempo of course then writing in fingering is a good idea but then the amount of music that you are going to learn in your life is greatly diminished, is greatly limited actually, because it’s a slow process, you have to write in every finger or most of the fingers in every score. Obviously it slows down your practice so then you will not be able to sight-read as much music, right? So it depends what you want from life for your organ playing activities.
A: But definitely if you are in the learning process and you are a beginner or intermediate level still the fingering is very important.
V: Umm-hmm. Having great foundation is crucial. Afterwards you have to choose for yourself what suits best your needs.
A: And I think especially this is true with baroque music because very often baroque music didn’t have so much right choice, less than later music and I think that it’s very important to get good advice and play from well-edited scores.
V: Yes, guys, we hope this was helpful to you. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow as an organist and remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
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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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