It takes a while to get really good at coming up with the right fingers to use in playing a piece of repertoire on a stringed instrument.
Luckily enough, when it comes to the standard repertoire, we can build on the previous discoveries of generations of other violinists, violists and cellists. For something like the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, for example, there are numerous editions, made by famous violinists past and present, that can point us in the right direction.
In addition, teachers can be a great source of help. Often the first step, when a student starts a new piece, is to copy his or her teacher's fingerings into their part. This usually gives the student some good, educated ideas about what fingerings to use.
As a student matures, he or she will likely start coming up with his or her own fingerings. This week, Penny Kruse posted a wonderful article that outlines some guidelines that are helpful when choosing one's own fingerings.
For me, I relied for many years on my teachers' fingerings, and I continued to use many of those long after graduating from those teachers. In more recent years, I've been more aggressive about making fingerings fit my own hands; as none of my teachers had the same-size hands as me.
In the end, it doesn't matter the source: the best fingering is the one that works for you, while preserving the kind of sound for the music that you are playing. What is your current best source of good fingerings? While it is likely to be a combination of things, please pick the answer you feel best reflects the fingerings you tend to follow currently, and then tell us all about it.
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