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GENERAL RULES FOR PLAYING THE SERAPHINE OR MELODEON. 7
1 OF THE POSITION OF THE BODY AND HANDS.
The player should have a seat so elevated, as to enable him to hold his arms horizontal with the keys.
He should sit opposite to the middle of the key-board, at a distance enabling him to finger all the keys with ease, and free from bodily motion. Any such motion is a great defect, which interferes equally with a pure execution and graceful manner, and should be early guarded against by the pupil. During his studies, his body should be immovable without stiffness, and contortions of the face should never accompany any difficulties of execution.
The hand, slightly curved, should be held in an easy and natural position, and the fingers should be apart, so as to rest exactly on the keys.
II. OF THE FINGERS.
Before exercising the fingers, the pupil should be made aware of their mechanical powers, and that they should be used independently of the arm, and even of the wrist. By this ex­ercise alone, grace, freedom, and an agreeable intonation, are acquired.
The pupil should carefully avoid playing with greater force than his fingers allow; a contrary practice weakens them, and deprives them of that vigor which they ultimately require, and renders the execution dull, heavy, and convulsive. Effective playing, as it is called, is suited only to the pupil who has acquired a certain command over his hands; until then, the manner of playing should be simple, and but little varied.
III. OF FINGERlNG
If the Instrument had but ten keys, each finger would nat­urally have its own, on which it could rest, able to strike rapidly, and without a fear of mistake. But, as it is, the fingers having to strike a great number of keys, and their position con­stantly changed, it is necessary to use the hands promptly and freely, in order to meet the requisite extent of distance. It is easy to perceive that, in proportion as the succession of the fingers in playing is natural, and the movements of the hand rare and gradual, the difficulties of playing are diminished. On this principle are based all systems of fingering. The best are those which, while they are true, facilitate to the utmost a passage, and are agreeable to the performer. A well-fingered passage is attractive to the pupil, and promotes a desire for its accomplishment
There are some passages, the fingering of which is subject to fixed rules,—as the major and minor gamuts, etc.; but, in most instances, the character of the piece must be taken into con­sideration. A vigorous passage demands, sometimes, irregular fingering, on account of the preference which should be given to the stronger over the weaker fingers. There is, also, severe music for three or four parts, and that abounding in modulations, which is so complicated as to render a natural succession of fingering impossible.
But not by theories of this kind, more or less extended, can a pupil acquire a style of fingering adequate to all diffi­culties. In this matter, good examples will avail more than general rules, which are often not well suited for application. I have endeavored to afibrd these examples, by writing care-
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III