The Five Finger Position and What It Implies

Finger numbers for playing piano

Before we discuss the five finger position, let's review the finger numbers:

On both the left and right hands, the thumbs are #1, index fingers are #2, the middle fingers are #3, the ring fingers are #4, and the pinky fingers are #5.

What The Finger Numbers Imply

The finger numbers in a piece of music tell you
1. What finger is playing a particular note.
2. What five-finger position your hand will be in.

For example, if the music says to put your right hand first finger (thumb) on "A", then from that it is implied that your second finger is on "B," your third finger is on "C," your fourth finger is on "D," and your fifth finger will play "E."

The key signature must be taken into consideration. If in the previous example, the music is the key of "Bb," then your right hand second finger would play "Bb" instead of "B," and your fifth finger would play "Eb" instead of "E."

Sometimes the music requires you to change hand positions. For example, you may be in the "A" five finger position as stated above, but a musical phrase has the note "F" below that "A." If the phrase works best starting with the first finger on the "F," (because the notes move up) then often times no number will be given; because it is the most obvious choice for fingering. The same works for reaching up to a higher note outside of the position, and the fifth finger is the obvious choice (because the notes move down).

The C Major Five Finger Position

C Major Five Finger Position on Keys Diagram

This is the position that most beginning pianists start in. In The C major five-finger position, both hands will play notes C, D, E, F and G. Right hand #1 (thumb) is on "C", and #5 ("pinky") is on "G." Left hand is the opposite: left hand #1 (thumb) is on "G", and #5 ("pinky") is on "C."

Here's how it looks on the staff:

C Major Five Finger Position on Staff Diagram

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