Changing the fingering for typing instead of cello

I haven’t written as much as I’ve wanted to lately. I may write less in the next few weeks. My doctor tells me that the tingling in my right hand needs a test, scheduled for Jan. 3.

Most of the time, the tingling is at the end of my right little finger. I noticed the trouble when I started getting more typos in the right-hand keys — stumbling for punctuation, P, Ls, Ms, and neighboring keys.

But I had another metaphor handy besides stumbling (which, I admit, is more a foot-related term). My cello has given me the image of changing the fingering for certain typing moves. (Actually, the tingling affects how I use the bow, but the image fits for cello fingering in my left hand.)

If you watch a cellist on YouTube or PBS, or venture out to a live concert, you’ll see that he doesn’t play just the few notes of three or four fingers on each string, total four or five notes. That’s known as first position — yes, there are more!

But while it’s important to move the whole hand to reach higher notes, sometimes it’s hard to reach particular notes because of the notes around them. Also, the reverberations of the “open strings” (with no fingers pressing down on them) can sound uncomfortably different in a long sequence of smaller reverberations.

To avoid reverberations or to reach things in easier sequences, sometimes cellists have to change the fingering of the passage. (Other string players do, too; I’m just writing about what I know best.) If I can’t reach my whole hand up to a particular note, it can be easier to use a different finger to play the same note on a nearby string. That’s changing the fingering.

I remember speaking to a harpist after a concert at church and comparing (verbal) notes. “How do you remember which of all those strings to play?” I asked him. I explained that I was a cellist, with just four strings to play with.

“How do you remember where to put your fingers?” he retorted.

Our answers worked out to the same thing, getting our fingers to remember where to go. If you’re typing, you probably get the same feeling about where the letters are.

So when your typing fingers hurt, use other fingers — in musical lingo, it’s changing the fingering.

Filed under: Music and language

Comments

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  • 1. Whatever happened to the Dvorak keyboard?
    2. I do some of the same, due to using a laptop on my lap and similar medical issues. If your doctor proposes an EMG, you're in for a shock.

  • In reply to jack:

    For 1., I don't think I've ever heard of it, Dvorak is "our crown" among cello concertos, according to Msitislav Rostropovich, and that is enough to make it one of my longtime favorites. But I don't know it as a keyboard.
    I hope you're punning about the EMG.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    1. Apple was suggesting it in the early years. Some background is here. It was invented by August Dvorak, apparently no relation, I knew some Devores and Devorskis, apparently no relation to Anton, either.
    2. No.

  • In reply to jack:

    1. Thank you for the background.
    2. Drat.

  • Very informative post. I don't think it's anything serious. No pun intended. But, of course, check it out with the Doctor. Good luck.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you. When I was allowed to go home without getting the test right then, I saw your point -- not "that" serious. Doc calls the test "annoying." I think that applies to the wait.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    The way medicine is going these days, Jan. 3 is "real soon."

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes. It happens every December -- I get caught thinking that January is a long time off.

  • I too learned something about playing music and fingering. Thank you! I hope rest will help, and you feel better soon!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you. I'm learning to laugh about new typos.

  • Why were various comments deleted?

  • In reply to Grundoon:

    Thank you for your concern, Grundoon. I can't think of anything I had to delete; I try to save that for spam and other silliness, which hasn't struck this post. Yet.

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