The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Bar-Niv

The Art of Piano Fingering

I have written many times on this blog about the importance of fingering in relation to piano playing. It’s an issue which needs constant addressing and re-addressing, and it plays a crucial role in all genres of piano music. So when I was sent a book focusing solely on this topic, I couldn’t resist taking a look.

Israeli concert pianist and educator, Rami Bar-Niv, has written a veritable manual called The Art of Piano Fingering. There have been books on this topic before, namely François Couperin’s (1668-1733), L’Art de toucher le clavecin (The Art of Harpsichord Playing) which is mentioned in the introduction to this book. However, fingering is sometimes ignored in piano pedagogy and, as Rami points out, it is of vital importance in all levels of piano playing; whether a student, amateur or a professional pianist.

Rami’s book is completely comprehensive; commencing with a short history of piano fingering, including information on early fingering practices specifically the ‘sparing’ use of the thumb. Basic techniques are discussed and evaluated; the five-finger position branches into chapters on basic scale, arpeggio and chordal fingering, much of which is similar to studying for an advanced ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) exam. As the book progresses, so the examples become more thorough and creative; there are chapters on all types of trills, scales in thirds, fourth, fifths, sixths and double octaves, a plethora of double note passagework, as well as everything from glissandi and repeated notes to finger pedalling and note clusters. Nothing escapes Rami’s attention; this is very sound advice from a highly experienced professional, and will benefit the most advanced players.

Plenty of photos demonstrate and support the ideas, and there are copious musical examples with many different suggested fingerings, which is important otherwise the explanations can become rather academic. Rami suggests a myriad of innovative and complicated finger patterns, and I like the sound advice on piano technique in general, which mirrors my own teaching: ‘Any time we have prolonged similar movements it would be good to try and change the sets of muscles involved in the movements as we go along, in order to prevent excess tension build-up and repetitive strain injury. Changing the sets of muscles will occur when we change fingerings, and when we change the technical approach and hand angles. Momentary tension does not pose danger to hands’ health as long as it is released almost immediately.’

This book certainly provides ample fuel for thought on the variety and breadth of fingering possibilities and will be useful to students and professionals as well as the keen amateur, and even those who are just fascinated by the whole process of piano playing. By Rami’s own admission, there isn’t much new information on fingering here, however, it’s easy to forget the defining role it plays in a successful performance and sometimes we all need reminding, whatever our ability.

Rami Bar-Niv

About these ads

About Melanie Spanswick

Classical pianist and writer. I love to Tweet and Blog and I love to play the piano too.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Bar-Niv

  1. Thank you for such a clear review of The Art of Piano Fingering, Melanie. It’s an area of expertise in which I hope to grow and pass along to my students. This article encourages me to add a copy of Rami’s book to my library!

  2. aekohli says:

    Thanks. I have been looking for information on fingering for scales in thirds, in particular, and on fingering in general

  3. Thanks you so much for such a wonderful review. I have added the title to my Must Buy List

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s