Unless we are very secure in our “digital” technique, we may encounter fast, technically difficult passages and experience the nauseating feeling of “digital” overload! If the speed we can manage with confident manual dexterity is exceeded, fingers twitch and dance about as if frantically probing the darkness for a light switch! Our fingers sketch the interval patterns–we’re rolling the dice with the notes on the page. Sure, there’s one chance in 272,160 that we randomly might grab the right fingering for a given note, but that level of accuracy will get us fired! So, how can we gain security with our finger technique and increase our speed limit?
Most everyone knows that consistent slow practice is the key to developing technical superiority. Starting slowly and steadily, we gradually increase our speed while maintaining accuracy. Little by little we painstakingly work to program our fingers with many and multiple combinations–for every possible interval. In fact, if we could smoothly, quickly, and accurately perform every possible interval on the instrument (every single note to every one of the other notes), we could say we have mastered the fingering technique on the instrument. Let’s get started!
We’re using Herbert L. Clarke’s Second Study for our technical workouts this semester. Here is the pattern:Once memorized, this exercise is a great way to work on velocity in all keys. Some of the patterns will feel easy, and some will be quite awkward to start. We’ve been in the habit of playing the pattern the first time at a slow tempo, then picking up the speed on the repeat. In some cases, it’s a good idea to repeat the pattern multiple times at different tempos. As Clarke advised, “REMEMBER that to improve, one must master difficulties each day.”