arpeggios : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I need some help with arpeggios. For a RH arpeggio, depending on the inversion, the fingering will be 1 3 5 1 3 5, etc, or 1 4 5. My thumb always seems to "clunk." Is there something I can do to play these smooth and legato without the pedal to connect the note of the thumb-under motion? I read somewhere something about an "over and uner" circular motion of the wrist, but I don't quite understand how to do that. I know that my wrist needs to move laterally, but should there also be an "up and down" motion of the wrist? Anything special with the elbow? Thanks.

-- michelle (, September 09, 2003


If you mean a RH arpeggio starting on C,G,D,A,E,BorF,with the thumb crossing under, the fingering would be 1 2 3 1 2 3 etc. I can't think of any arpeggio with 1 4 5 fingering, so maybe I don't understand your question. But, I'll try an explanation anyway: Try a C Major arpeggio. Play thumb on C, 2nd finger on E, 3rd finger on G. The third finger is the tallest, so if it is nice and curved like piano teachers tell you to do, your hand/wrist will naturally be a little higher than when you played the thumb, leaving room for the thumb to tuck under. As you tuck the thumb under, the wrist will move to the side a little, and you can let the thumb touch the surface of the next C. Then, gently ease the thumb down into the next C by lowering your hand/wrist downward. Keep the rounded hand- shape, and don't let the knuckles collapse or the thumb and first finger make a "v" shape. Yes, there will a slight bobbing up and down with the wrist--don't "make" it bob up and down though, just "let" it happen--it's the easing into the key that prevents the clunk. The elbow doesn't need to do anything--it should just dangle there. Some people "lead" with the elbow, but I just let the elbow "follow," and let it be where it wants to be because my arms and shoulders are quite relaxed.

-- anon (, September 10, 2003.

OOPS! Sorry, I was at a computer (of course) rather than a piano, and for some reason I said all the wrong finger numbers! Boy, it would be hard THAT way! Yes, for C argeggio (among others) I should have said 123 for root position, and 124 for 1st or 2nd inversion. Boy do I feel stupid. Oh well. :o) Now, could you please explain a little more what you meant about not making a v with the thumb and finger? Did you basically mean to maintain the curve, rather than flat fingers that would cause a v- shape between thumb and finger 2? Also, should I practice these without pedal to force my fingers to play a better legato, or do most people practice these with pedal, so that little "gaps" when passing the thumb under won't be audible?

-- michelle (, September 10, 2003.

Well, that explains that! :) Yes, I think you understood exactly what I meant about the "v" shape--it's more of a "c" shape you want. I always practice arpeggios without pedal, very slowly and gradually building speed, so I can listen for any little glitches that might creep in. Of course in actual pieces of music they're usually pedalled.

-- anon (, September 11, 2003.

For a smooth sounding arpeggio, wrists move opposite: Ascending, RH moves in a slight u shape, LH moves in a slight arc, and vice versa on the way down. Practise this slowly and it will become habitual. It will also help with the thumb clunking. Also try playing the note before the thumb loudly, and exaggerate the quietness with the thumb note. Try playing the arpeggio with different rhythms. If you are playing the arpeggios quickly, use relatively little wrist movement as it will only slow you down. Elbows out!

-- Zoe (, December 07, 2004.

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