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Finger Heights

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#1
I was watching Leah, the director of the community band I'm in, playing flute with a professional wind symphony. She was the only flutist with the instrument to her mouth and playing a very demanding solo. But I couldn't see her fingers moving. What in the world, was she using only overtones?

Suzy was there with me and she said that Leah was the master of no wasted movement in playing. Indeed, I had to look around to figure out who the flute soloist was. And parts of the solo were so high I thought it might be a pic playing. It was really a tour de force for the proponents of controlling those flying fingers for any instrument performance. And while I seem to sway and move a lot when I solo, Leah was as still as a church mouse under a cat's gaze.

Just for contrast, here is James Galway, a noted flute professional who's flying fingers don't seem to affect his playing of the always difficult Flight of the Bumblebee.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#2
I'm a moderate fan of the No Finger Left Behind initiative. :cool:

I learned it the - somewhat - hard way when I was given funny licks for bass clarinet (beyond Um-pah-pah) and had to leave the right hand down and always cover as many holes as possible, and only move as few fingers as necessary. Else I'd squeak or miss a note etc. Maybe I was just compensating my lack of dexterity.

Yes, it allows for faster playing, at least with instruments of monstrous dimensions, and I also enjoy the benefits of economical finger movement on soprano. But I'd say "whatever rocks your boat", I think everyone's a different mover.
 
#3
It's not just economy of movement and faster speed. When I am not concentrating on keeping my fingers close to the keys I begin to pound the keys and it can get to the point where I can hear the keys slamming onto the flute.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#4
I'm also a proponent of minimal finger movement. I was taught this back in my high school days with my private sax teacher. Mr Couf from time to time would mention it too .. and my high school director .. and my clarinet teacher.

after all. no matter how fast your fingers move, if mine move the same speed i still have less vertical movement. As to some people when i read about finger movement speeding up ... well .. it's at a stop and it's not instantaneously at speed .. so it speeds up.

When I got to college that was another thing the professor that emphasized .. and he liked my movement. I can't recall the professor name off the top of my head but it was a shock since he usually hated everything.

But on clarinet (and rarely flute) i always test how high/low my fingers can go before the tone is affected. and in jazz band, i have a flute part now .. yikes. Come to think of it i sold my Armstrong 303 OB flute and have only my Armstong model 80 closed hole flute .. so NO PROBLEM !!

In practicing certain skills .. like making buttery transitions on sax ... having the fingers at the lowest position on sax to create slow movement seems to be another benefit

but then .. in the end if you can play the music to your satisfaction then it's totally fine.
 
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Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#5
One of the things that I was very impressed with while watching Phil Woods is that his hands have no extra or wasted movement.

My fingers tend to fly away a bit more than I would like but I'm trying to become more efficient.
 
#6
My sax teacher said that his teacher had him install rubber bands on the sax under which his fingers were positioned to play. The rubber bands reminded him not to let his fingers fly away from the keys. Now he plays with minimal finger movement.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#7
My sax teacher said that his teacher had him install rubber bands on the sax under which his fingers were positioned to play. The rubber bands reminded him not to let his fingers fly away from the keys. Now he plays with minimal finger movement.
I've heard different versions of this but have never seen pictures.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#8
Also one area which I see alot of finger movement is on the table keys. I tend to keep my pinky at all times touching one of the touches, depending upon the music. My pinky movement is also minimal. From C#/B just moving between the rollers and not to the extremes - one reason the big table keys of the VII don't really bug me too much. But I do not like the tilting Bb (everything now) as with a regular Bb (Couf, vintage Buffets) it's just there and works.
 
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