Guitar Fingering Hurts My Brain

As a pianist learning classical guitar, one of the challenges I've had to face is guitar fingering. I think I've written about this before, so I may be repeating myself, but guitar fingering drives me crazy!

Here is the fingering I learned at age 6 and have known all my life:


From thumb being 1 to pinky being 5, piano fingering is what makes sense. I don't have to think about piano fingering when reading music. It's just there and I know it and I move on.

Guitar fingering is all weird:


On the left hand, the forefinger is 1 and the pinky is 4, while the right hand has p, i, m, and a. The left thumb and the right pinky don't have names at all. (The right pinky does, but it's not typically used.)

So when I'm trying to read guitar music and follow the fingering, I'm having to translate: "3 ... okay, that's piano 4. And "m," that's um, 3." I am literally having to translate into another language as I read and play. This is one instance where knowing piano has worked against me with guitar. It's almost like I'm having to unlearn what I've known all my life.

This morning I got tired of translating, so I wrote in piano fingering:


Even having it in parentheses was confusing, so on another piece I just scratched out the guitar fingering:


I don't know if this is a good practice in the long run, or if it matters. Part of me thinks that, in order to be a good classical guitarist, I need to use the classical guitar finger names. But does it matter, beyond the inconvenience of having to write over the available fingerings (which pianists do anyway, all the time, in piano music)?

I don't think it does. But time will tell.

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