Writing Fingerings in Orchestral Parts
When you have a stand partner, what do you do with fingerings?
1. Write them in the sheet music. It helps with the more difficult passages.
2. Outside player writes them on top of the note, inside player writes them on the bottom of the note.
3. You don't write in fingerings at all. It's rude to your stand partner who finds it distracting with his/her own fingerings. Instead, you practice those passages to remember your own fingerings.
4. Other. Do share! =)
As a start, I used to be #1 in my younger years, now I'm #3, and I'm thinking about being more practical and doing #2 and seeing how that goes.
#2 is correct.
#2 is typical however Nathan cole told a story of how writing in fingerings wasn’t allowed while in Chicago symphony.
#2. Chicago is a weird exception; I don't know if there are any other professional symphonies that have a custom of not writing fingerings into the part.
My teacher said that she was associate CM of a professional chamber group (defunct after the recession) and the CM would not allow her to write any fingerings on the part--above or below. She said that he liked to spontaneously decide his fingerings and felt that any existing marks on the page constrained him. I don't think it was the group's policy to forbid marking fingerings, though.
My personal use of penciling in fingerings is minimal because I prefer to be aware of my position, key signature and "attitude" to be used (Yes, i'm one of those Doflein trained violinists). However, when I persist in making the same mistake I will write on the page.
#2 unless there isn't enough room. Also, stick to the minimum amount of fingerings necessary.
I do somewhere between 2 and 3.
I play viola in three orchestras. In each case I am on the inside of the first stand, which I like because I can hear quite well from there. On the other hand, in each case I am also the more experienced player by substantial margin. So, I suggest fingerings, wait for a positive response, and write my fingerings on top of the staff. If the response is meh, then I write them below.
#2 is the rule I go with.
I normally rub out ALL fingerings in the part.
I agree with Malcolm, and use exactly the same methodology. Another reason is that my fingering won't always coincide with my desk partner's, doubtless due to my tendency to use idiosyncratic fingering on occasion - obviously as long as it works easily. I blame my previous life as a cellist!
As a violinist - #4. I usually try to agree with my stand partner about fingerings, and no matter if I'm sitting in or out, if we ever should disagree, I'll leave the "above the note" position to her. This is because, we try to avoid writing fingerings out as far as possible, and in the trickier parts I tend to rely on what she proposes since she's by far the more experienced player. Only if I'm feeling uncomfortable, I'll add my own variation below.
I don't think the "reaching consensus with standpartner" method is a great idea; what if your hands are different sizes? I have large hands and can make use of extensions that my standpartner with her much smaller hands finds unworkable.
The problem with that is it's difficult for the inside player to see the printed note and quickly associate the number underneath with that note.This becomes irksome especially when the written note is on a leger line.The outside player has no problem with their written-in fingering being right near the note but the inside player has to look down to see their corresponding fingerings underneath.
Mary Ellen, I'm sure that in real life you're absolutely right. In this specific case things seem to work okay, and it's not often that I need specific fingerings.
I agree with Mary Ellen. The professional convention is the top/bottom one, and the expectation that you'll write in the minimum fingerings necessary. There's no great reason to not use that convention in community and youth orchestras also.
BEWARE of this if you are ever called on to play as a "ringer" in an orchestra concert. This happened to me in 1996 when I was called to sit as CM in my previous orchestra some 450 miles from my new home (the current CM's daughter was getting married and she and most of the violinists were gone). The troublesome piece was Tschaikowsky's "1812 Overture," which I had not played before. All we had was the outdoor dress rehearsal in the morning and then the Pops concert around dusk. We played from the asst. CM's part with marked fingerings that totally threw me because they were totally different than I had done (or would ever do) when I ran through it a few times earlier back at home. So even if you don't mark fingerings, their presence can be upsetting - to put it mildly.
Professional conventions? What if you're playing in a non-auditioning community orchestra? Then I think whatever you and your stand partner decide among yourselves ought to be acceptable. A lot of times the piece is one page, or two pages with an easy turn in the middle. In that case you can have two entire copies of the part on your stand, with different fingerings.
I agree with those who believe all of us should follow professional conventions.
As a side note; I make a current copy of my part available via Dropbox , after each rehearsal. But I also try not to change bowings after the initial handout of the music.
Lydia both players not putting in fingerings is also something you get used to.I was Associate CM three seasons ago and the CM and I agreed to no fingerings in the parts.It was a memory challenge for a week or so but it is something you get used to.Yes professional musicians do read ahead but it is agravating to ignore the outside players fingerings and look down to your own.
I disagree with those who aren't writing in fingerings until the last minute - a lot of the fingerings I write in are to counteract my stand partner's fingerings (generic stand partner) - if I see fingerings in the music, my impulse is to play them. Writing them in early in the process (even if they get changed later) lets me put in my own so as not to be distracted.
The big danger of fingerings is - you tend to play them.
It seems to me that a lot of variations of #2 are related to interesting dynamics between stand-partners, which is a topic for another discussion.
I've never tried to coordinate a stand partner's fingerings.
"The one on the D string"?
"No fingerings for Beethoven symphonies." Hmm, there's definitely a "let them eat cake" aspect to this thread.
Well said Scott...
Maybe it is just another example of how far below full-professional skill level I am, or maybe my brain is wired differently, but I cannot fathom the possibility of playing the really hard orchestra parts, things like Hindemith and Prokofiev, without putting some fingerings into my part.
Right on, Joel.
Yes, the perspectives of amateur/community orchestras are important. My stand-partner/CM is a much more experienced orchestral musician and a likely better violinist than I. I write in my own fingering (if needed) in the last minute because I want to benefit from a more experienced musician.
@joel "Visual clutter"
In contrast to David's community orchestra experience, for me the community orchestra setting makes it
This is a great topic. Scott suggests when practicing to make a point of memorizing complex passages. Good idea, if you can and not fall appart during performance. Fingerings are like reference posts, which tell me where I need to go. Perhaps there will come a time where I can make all my fingering decisions on the fly in the span of a nanosecond, but I am a long way from being there, especially in the higher positions. I simply need fingering to guide me. I admire those who can do without, but I am not there... yet.
Scott that is another thing that you can get away with in a low-level community orchestra. When the stage lighting is poor, you run to your case and get your battery-powered LED stand light. In my community orchestra there are a couple of violinists who have "vision issues" and they get their own entire stand. Nobody cares.
I once got a freeway philharmonic orchestra audition copy of Don Juan that had fingerings marked in over almost every single note.
Re: individual stands... one of the odd things I've noticed is that, in all the non-elite community orchestras in this area, hardly anyone shares stands at all -- as in, there are only one or two shared stands in the entire orchestra. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. But I've always shared stands myself.
Whenever possible, I do not share but use my own stand. This is because of age-related eyesight problems. It was the same in my later years as an orchestral cellist, but then it was more awkward for me to use my own stand, and this was one reason of several why I gave up orchestral cello in favour of the violin.
If the musicians are older, there will be some, maybe many, who need it for eyesight reasons. People should share stands if possible, though. Printing the parts in a larger format, and using stand lights, will help.
Most people in my community orchestra don't share stands. I think this is mostly because we often use downsized photocopies, require a lot of anotations and fingerings and often end up with a different stand partner.
#2 for me, generally. But I did get chewed out once by a stand partner new to our semi-pro orchestra who insisted that it was bad manners to write in anything. (She was Juilliard-trained, had been in the New World Symphony, etc.)
Or necessary non-shifts, as it may be. One of the most frequent ways I use fingerings is actually to remind myself
Paul, I'm with you. I write in fingerings to help me should I lose track in the heat of battle. Sometimes it's a reminder of when and where to shift (especially when it's my bugaboo, second position). At other times a passage might be playable in first position, but I'll mark a fingering that shifts me to third position to be ready for the following passage that needs it. The choice between an open string and 4th finger on the next lowest string might be dictated by string crossings that follow. For an amateur player, there's sometimes too much to memorize or to figure out in real time. And my stand partner doesn't seem to care.
Anyone, Juilliard trained or not, who scolds a musician in a semi pro orchestra for writing in fingerings, has very bad manners herself. Plenty of pros throw in the occasional fingering (exception: Chicago Symphony).
I like #2 and I like the authority it has behind it if someone gets persnickety about your fingerings. Last year I was playing in a semi-pro orchestra and my stand partner erased one of my fingerings because it bothered/distracted her so much. It was written in the right place, but she couldn't ignore it, she said. She was a better violinist than I--but that's why I needed the fingerings even if she didn't!
Erasing someone else's fingerings if they're written in the correct place is also extremely rude. Wow.
The inability to ignore one's stand partner's fingerings is a failing of skill on one's own part that one should not take out on the stand partner following proper etiquette.
I wonder if she was not used to sitting inside. I was sitting outside because that's where the conductor put us, not because I was the better player. I'm used to sitting outside in my community groups, so that's where I'm used to looking for fingerings. It would take a bit of retraining for me to get used to looking for my own fingerings underneath, but I think I can do it. In fact I did do so with that same orchestra for the next concert. The first stand partner dropped out and I was sitting inside, up a stand, with a different player for the next concert. Unlike the first one, the second one was very gracious. I told her I needed my fingerings for a tricky passage of arpeggio 16th notes that were in a high position, and she encouraged me to write them in her part (below the staff, of course). I did, and they helped.
That's my excuse: All those distracting mf's and pp's all over the place in my parts!
I forgot to add that when I'm sitting with a colleague who does not like fingerings in their part, and I'm sitting on the inside, I will get a photocopy and mark in as many fingerings as I want.This is done concurrently with committing as much of the music to memory as I can.
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