Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Naming of Parts

So, what if you can't tell your left from your right? Or up from down on the piano keyboard. It seemed fairly obvious to me that one of my adult learners, Joan, would have to become more dependent than before on fingering marks in the music. But what if you can't tell your one from your five as far as fingers are concerned? I decided to go back to the way I began to learn more than forty years ago. Back then, you could still get piano music and tutor books using what was called English fingering. As opposed to so-called Continental fingering that uses the numbers one to five for the fingers, English fingering used to use a + sign for the thumb and number the other fingers one to four. I say 'used to use' - I expect somebody will tell me they still use it somewhere. It seemed to me a useful system for somebody with the difficulties I'm writing about to have each thumb separately marked and certainly better than having numbers tattooed on your hands - that was the other solution that crossed my mind. I must say, even with Joan, I'm not using the full system of English fingering, so the fingers are numbered + 2, 3, 4, 5. So far, so good. All this reminded me that with Toby, who's only four, I can't talk about left and right, either. We talk about the easy hand and the peasy hand. That has the advantage of letting him think about the hands as of equal difficulty (or should that be equal ease)? In any case, it would clearly be unwise to talk about the easy hand and the difficult hand.

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