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27/09/2017

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Tricks to Remember Major Scale Fingerings.

Getting the right fingering is essential for executing scales proficiently and fluently - here are a few tricks to help.

Getting the right fingering is essential for executing scales proficiently and fluently - here are a few tricks to help.

Getting the right fingering is essential for executing scales proficiently and fluently, but I'm sure you, like many of my students, find remembering the fingerings a little daunting, especially considering the sheer number that you need to learn for the higher grades. In this post, I will be sharing a few tricks which might help and by the way, if you have any tricks that I don't mention, feel free to add them to the comments below to help other readers. 

Let's first consider the basic scales C, G, D, A and E majors. I'm sure you are all aware that these follow a basic "3 - 4 - 3" finger pattern and when you came across the first three in Grade 1, you probably had little problem learning these. One of the greatest challenges for students between Grades 1 and 2, is putting these scales hands together. I like to point out to them, that "3's are always together", so if you are using a third finger in one hand, you should be doing the same in the other hand at the same time. Then, I like to liken the hands together scales to a couple dancing, where the man leads. On the way up the right hand is the man, that is to say that it will do the changes of "3 - 4 - 3" just before the left hand and on the way down, the roles are reversed where the left hand leads  the 3 - 4 - 3 pattern. The mistake that many students make is to think that any fingering will do as long as they play the right notes. This is not true. OK, sometimes you get away with it, but invariably mistakes happen just after the fingering goes off course. Make sure you start slowly to ingrain the correct fingering into your muscle memory.

Next let's go onto the flat scales, that is, B flat, E flat, A flat and D flat majors. These all follow one pattern. In the right hand ascending and  the left hand descending for all these scales, the thumb always goes after the black note or group of black notes if there are more than one consecutively.
The right hand  descending always puts 4th on B flat, and the left hand ascending,  always uses 4th for the first cross over.

Finally that leaves F major, B major and F sharp major. To be honest, B major despite its many sharps, is one of the easiest scales, because there are only certain places where the thumb can go and that's where you put it. Interestingly, in all three of these scales thumbs are always together in both hands, except for the very first and last note in the case of F major. If you want to see these principles in action here is a video for all major scales clearly showing the correct fingering below. 




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