Playing piano is all about illusion.
Playing piano with a limb difference is all about illusion and resourcefulness.
If you need to do the work of ten fingers with fewer than ten fingers, it makes sense that each finger will have to play more notes in compensation. Depending on your limb difference, there may be dozens of options for alternative and creative fingering. In this post, I’ll share one of my most useful tricks:
Sliding from key to key with one finger
All of the videos will show an atypical cleft hand (mine), but the principle could be used for pianists with other limb differences.
There are 4 situations where sliding could be useful:
Black Key to White Key
This is the easiest slide and the one I use most frequently. As with any of these slides, practice making the connection legato.
G Scale* **
*I call my thumb 1 and my pinky 2
**I have my own fingerings for each scale. However, they are not always useful. Complete scales are rare, and it is more likely that pieces contain scale fragments. My scale fragments often have different fingerings than my “scale fingerings.”
Black Key to Black Key
This is harder than black to white, but still possible.
White Key to White Key
Slowly lift the first key until you can fall onto the second one.
White Key to Black Key
This combination is the hardest. If you can figure it out, good job!
I use sliding constantly; it is a critical tool for me! When I write in my fingerings, I write 1-1 or 2-2 to indicate the slide. Feel free to ask me questions about alternative piano fingering. I would love to brainstorm with you!
Last Note: I am wholly and forever indebted to my college piano teacher, Arlene Kies, for teaching me how to use sliding. We spent many hours together puzzling over how to create and improve my technique. At least one of those hours was spent going over the types of slides and practicing them in isolation.