421 • The Crazy 88

Chopin's famous fundamental five finger position (e, f#, g#, a#, b) is ingenious for finger independence, especially flat fingers (in PP), but inimical as a fundamental beginning position for the following reason:

We have to practice and perform F and FF quite often in the 21st century - as the repertoire and the instrument evolved (crossed strings, double octaves, metal frame, double thrills!) and thus the advantage of a pentacluster, or scale, including elevated black keys (e.g. starting from e versus c) is eclipsed by the difficulty and awkwardness of positioning the fingers FF with comfort and dependability on the narrow(er) black keys (3 on g#, 4 on a#). In the words of pretty woman (1990): they are "slippery little suckers".

For a dependable starting position use r.h. 12345 on bcdef, third finger on d in the middle, a well balanced pentacluster.

See: The Seven Principles of Highly Effective Piano Practicing

PS: More pianist lore: There are 88 keys on the modern piano, of which 52 are white and 36 are black, a ratio of 13:9 (IMAX).

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