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Topic: Playing between black keys in scales  (Read 4865 times)

Offline tysteel

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Playing between black keys in scales
on: September 12, 2003, 08:17:26 AM
Hi,

I have a question about playing in between the black notes when playing scales.  I would really like and appreciate your opinions on this from your own playing experience.  

When I play scales, I usually avoid playing between the black keys.   Maybe it's a habit that is counterproductive.  Now, my fingers can fit in between the black keys (I think I have average sized hands) ; though sometimes the widest finger, the ring finger, slightly rubs against the black notes.

I was instructed the other day that instead of trying to avoid playing between the black keys, especially in major or minor scales that have a lot of black notes, it would be much better to play in between the black keys, or close to the black keys.   To avoid too many front to back shifts.  

I was told that in major scales like C, F, G and their minor scales it may indeed be a good idea to avoid playing between the blacks, but in scales with more sharped/flatted notes it would probably be better to play between the black keys if your fingers can fit in there.   What do you think of this advice?    Or would you avoid as much as possible playing in between the blacks in any scale..regardless of hand size?

Also, have a related question dealing with front to back shifts, and that deals with the little finger, the 5th finger.  I've heard a lot of varying opinions on whether or not the use of the little finger on a black key in a piece of music should be avoided...in the same way many pianists would normally avoid using the thumb on a black key.  What is your opinion of the use of the 5th finger on a black key?   I'm just curious about opinions here, and I know that there may not necessarily be a right or wrong to this.  

I know that many would use the little finger, as they would the thumb, in a chord, broken chord, or sometimes octaves.  But would you avoid the use of the little finger when playing let's say a sharped note in a DESCENDING scale fragment like for example in this  exercise which is to be played over and over..this is played in the upper register of the piano with the right hand...descends from G# and ends on D:

D,E,F,G,G#
1,2,3,4,5

In this situation, you could play the G with the 5th finger, and then play the other notes.  But alas, when you play in the upper registers as opposed to playing in the center of the piano, it become more difficult to use the 5th finger on a sharped note.  So in this case, using the 5th on G# would raise the hand towards the fallboard, lifting many of the other notes between the black keys. This may not be desirable considering that the rest of the notes are on the white keys.   So what would you do personally?  Use another stronger finger on the sharped note (though you'll now have to use a finger crossing to round out the fragment) or you'd just play it with the 5th on the sharped note?

thanks

Offline tysteel

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #1 on: September 12, 2003, 08:59:15 PM
Any thoughts on this?  

NetherMagic

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #2 on: September 14, 2003, 01:55:23 AM
tysteel I'm not sure if my advice is any help or not but my theory about between black keys or not is to see whether you are comfortable with it.  For me, I play between the black keys for let's say broken chords in F# minor because it would cause a lot of unnecessary movement to not play between the black keys.  

And about using pinkies in your piano pieces, I think you still should, because if you keep on avoiding using the pinky you are pretty much pinky-handicapped then.  When I played Fantaisie-Impromptu, I had lotsa trouble with the pinky melody, but of course I couldn't substitute that for a ring finger.  So my advice to that is try to use your pinky, unless it sounds bad and you've tried many many times and you just can't fix it.  After all, we've all got unfixable problems.

Offline tysteel

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #3 on: September 15, 2003, 05:43:02 AM
Thanks for your reply, Nethermagic.  I really appreciate it.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #4 on: September 15, 2003, 07:25:50 PM
I personally never play between the black keys unless absolutely necessary for a couple of reasons. One, your leverage is not at best so it is more difficult to make a constant level of sound. secondly, my fingers tend to get stuck.

boliver

Offline sram

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #5 on: September 20, 2003, 07:31:28 AM
ah..interesting to see different approaches.

I'm constantly between the black keys.
a) i got very long fingers
b) i find i have better contact with my keyboard...almost a sensuous thing. :)

Offline tysteel

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Re: Playing between black keys in scales
Reply #6 on: September 22, 2003, 08:08:53 AM
I wonder how most teachers approach this?  I know that I've seen a lot of books on scales and fingerings, but I never saw a book that mentioned anything about how far back to place the fingers while playing the scales.

While I know that sometimes there is no other way but to play between the black keys,  I wonder how much of that applies to a technical exercise like scales.  Do most people avoid playing between the black keys when playing scales, or if it's actually encouraged that you play between the black keys when playing scales which consist mainly of black notes?  
 

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