The Inspirational Value of Finger Exercises

Last night I wrote a scene in which my heroine plays finger exercises on the piano (finger exercises tend to be somewhat dull and monotonous – in other words, they’re just perfect for a heroine who feels sad and depressed) (yes, I like torturing my characters, but then you already knew that, didn’t you?). So I dug out my old piano music and studied the book with finger exercises, Hanon’s Der Klaviervirtuose (yes, indeed, I’ve got a WHOLE BOOK of finger exercises – the bright red book of horror). I laughed out aloud when I stumbled across the following note written by my piano teacher: “Please don’t place the fifth finger of your left hand like a fried sausage on the keys!” Needless to say that I just had to use this in my story. 🙂

And here’s the raw scene (note: the cousin is not the hero, and as you’ll see, the poor chap doesn’t have a name yet, though I did try out Edward & decided against it; for now, the cousin is XX):

Susanna sat at the piano and concentrated very hard on the finger exercises she was practicing. The left hand was still too weak, the notes too uneven. Drat that little finger! And the ring finger!

She started again, concentrating even harder.

51213141 – 51213141 – two octaves up, and then all the way down again – 15453525…

“Drat,” she said as her little finger failed to comply. “And again.”

15453 –

The door opened, and her cousin walked into the drawing room.

– 525 – 15453525….

From the corner of her eyes she watched him sit on the sofa in that nonchalant, but elegant sprawl that was so characteristic of [Edward? No, not Edward – we’re not in Twilight for heaven’s sake!]

The fifth finger missed a key.

XX flinched.

Susanna swore softly. Start again, at the top.

15253545 – 15 –

Her little finger hurt, but she only gritted her teeth and continued. If she concentrated hard enough, she would master this, she was sure of it.

– 45352 –

“Are you intent on torturing that piano for the rest of the afternoon?” came her cousin’s somewhat pained voice from across the room.

Susanna clenched her jaw. “Yes,” she forced out. “As long as my little finger lies on the keys like a fried sausage, I will continue with this.”

“Don’t you worry your ears might start to bleed?” he drawled.

Susanna scowled at her fingers. She would not deign this with an answer.

She would not.

My ears might start to bleed,” he said plaintively.