A single change in position. A month of retraining.

Master Carulli presents a deceptively easy exercise as Esercizi No. 2 in his Metodo Completo per Chiatarra, Vol. 2.

The exercise is nothing more than a Dmaj scale. The single complication (the “exercise”) is a shifting of the fingering position from first to second. An example is the first note, a D. In first position, the D (2nd string), is played with the 3rd finger. This is natural, as the third finger is in the optimal position to play notes on the third fret. However, the fingering provided by the master is the 2nd finger, for the reason of considering the best fingering of the whole piece and not simply the note to be played at that exact moment.

By shifting the fingering position from first position, Master Carulli challenges the beginning student to shift his/her thinking from memorizing positions and fingering charts to beginning to think about the note and what is the optimal fingering pattern to best play a piece.

In the exercise, the D note is followed (as a connected 1/8th note) by an A (3rd string, 2nd fret). Again, the first position fingering dominates the thinking of the beginner who would conclude that the correct finger for this A is the 2nd finger. This is incorrect, as the previous note already utilized the 2nd finger. To play the A note with the second finger would require a lifting of the 2nd finger from D, and shifting it over a string and up a fret to A. This is inefficient (and would disjoint the melody of the connected 1/8th notes). The logical finger is already in position at the 2nd fret. We employ the 1st finger to play this A.

This continues throughout the piece. Master Carulli challenges us to approach the exercise as we would approach an unfingered, new piece of music. We must consider the piece, understand the melody, and seek to maximize our efficiency and effectiveness in playing. This may result in “unorthodox” fingerings as standard practice is challenged by the musical necessity.

Master Carulli, thus, challenges not only our fingers and hands, but our minds, and our choices.