Fingerings are highly personal; they must be adapted to the size and form of the hands of the performer. This is the crux with all musical score editions, for they must find a certain ‘middle standard’ where the fingerings fit for most hands. If pianists and composers like Rachmaninov, Rubinstein or Richter were to write fingerings, the result would probably be unusable for most people—simply because of the immense size of their hands!

Let me elaborate a little more here on the topic of consistent fingerings. The ground rule is namely internal consistency, which is often just not respected by score editors, not even the famous Urtext edition by HENLE, Germany that I am using.

Often what you can observe is that in the two parts of a piece, you have two different fingerings—even in HENLE—for basically the same passage but transposed to a quint higher or lower. Memorizing a piece inter alia depends on the consistency of fingerings across all the parts of a piece.

I take lots of time now to think about the fingerings before I start practicing, for I have not done that in the past with the sad result that for one, I did not reach perfection in rendering a piece, and for two, the piece vanished out of my ‘finger memory.’ Why is that?

The human brain loves nothing more than similarity, to clone patterns, to repeat the same pattern instead of making up a new pattern. That means when you apply the same fingerings to a musical pattern that appears in Part 1 of a piece, and then re-appears in Part 2, your brain will help you memorize the pattern in its two different transpositions if only you apply the same fingerings.

Hence, it really makes sense to think profoundly about the fingerings to use when you start looking at a new piece.

As a result of my lacking attention to this matter in the past, I have had to change fingerings across all my repertoire of Baroque music, both with Bach and with Handel. This was a pure waste of time of course, and I also had to re-practice the pieces then with the new and definite fingerings. So do not do it like I did, but be attentive to the fingerings from the start, and adapt them as is best for the size and ability of your hands!

Good luck!


Johann Sebastian Bach

Little Keyboard Book

—BWV 924 (Moderato)
—BWV 927 (Allegro)
—BWV 928 (Allegro)
—BWV 841 (Minuet)
—BWV 691 (Adagio)
—BWV 924a (Moderato)
—BWV 925 (Moderato)
—BWV 933 (Moderato)
—BWV 934 (Allegretto)
—BWV 935 (Allegro)
—BWV 936 (Allegro)
—BWV 937 (Moderato)
—BWV 938 (Allegro)

Inventions

—BWV 772
—BWV 775
—BWV 779
—BWV 785

French Suites

—BWV 812 (Allemande)
—BWV 813 (Allemande)
—BWV 814 (Allemande)
—BWV 815 (Allemande)
—BWV 816 (Allemande)
—BWV 817 (Allemande)

English Suites

—BWV 808 (Allemande)

Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1/2

—BWV 846 (Praeludium)
—BWV 858 (Praeludium)
—BWV 862 (Praeludium)
—BWV 868 (Praeludium)

Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 2/2

—BWV 871 (Praeludium)
—BWV 881 (Praeludium)
—BWV 884 (Praeludium)
—BWV 887 (Praeludium)
—BWV 893 (Praeludium)

Goldberg Variations

—Variation 1

Partitas

—BWV 825 (Allemande)
—BWV 826 (Allemande)

George Frideric Handel

—Suite 2 (Allegro)
—Suite 3 (Allemande)
—Suite 3 (Variations 1, 2)
—Suite 8 (Allemande)
—Suite 11 (Allemande)
—Suite 12 (Allemande)
—Suite 15 (Allemande)