All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Beginner Discovering Fingering "secrets" - Are there others?

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
In the last few weeks, while playing tunes with notes such as F#, G# and Bb I have struggled to make make clean changes between them. For example, I haven't got a clue about making a clean transition from B to Bb using the the Bis Bb key.

But, the more I play, the more I accidentally discover things that are possible to make changes simpler, but I'm not sure if technically they are a good idea, and if so, why aren't they in the truckload of teachign books I've bought already? :)

For example, today I was playing a simple B, Bb, A, G# run (in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas) and discovered that if I put the Bb side key on when I played the B, it didn't affect the B note, and I could then leave it there when fingering the A (giving a Bb) amd just take it off for the A. This seems (to me) easier than try to put the side key on after the B for the Bb.

I also found that the G# key doesn't do anything when I'm not fingering G, so I can leave it there and move to F#, for example, and take it off later in my own time (which for me a is a Godsend).

This will have some of you yawning, no doubt, but for me (3 1/2 months into playing) it's like discovering some hidden secrets only known to the more experienced players.

If there are others - do tell, and if you know of the book where they are found, I'd also like to know about it. If it's not been written (or the You tube video not made yet) it should be.
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
401
Locality
Wiltshire, UK.
If you search for Saxophone Fingering chart there are many free ones out there, or there might be one in the back of one of your books. You can also do a "long" b flat by using the index fingers of each hand. It's worth practising just the transitions, eventually they become automatic. I don't often use the bis bflat but should make an effort to get it as smooth as the others. There's also some interchangeability between the c# and g# pinky keys.

Check here for a bit more info - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-alternative
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
If you search for Saxophone Fingering chart there are many free ones out there, or there might be one in the back of one of your books. You can also do a "long" b flat by using the index fingers of each hand. It's worth practising just the transitions, eventually they become automatic. I don't often use the bis bflat but should make an effort to get it as smooth as the others. There's also some interchangeability between the c# and g# pinky keys.

Check here for a bit more info - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-alternative

I was just looking at the 3 fingering charts on my study wall (2 of the diagrammatic style and one - from the back of a book - which is photo of both sides of a sax with annotations on it). I actually find most of the black and white dot style charts not especially easy to read or follow, particularly for the side keys etc. But none of them really do what I was asking about and say "when you go from this note to that note, leave that down or use this key rather than that one etc."

But I didn't know about Pete's chart with the addition information, and this get closer to answering my question - so thank you for that and I'll put it on my iPad and give it a good read over the next day or so.

There's some good stuff here. The alternate C# was new to me and it's really useful. THe other videos on this page are also well worth watching:

http://www.eugene-rousseau.com/discussions.htm

Thank you for this Martin - it hits some nails right on the head. I know of Dr Eugene's videos on You Tube, but I haven't seen that one before. I wasn;t aware that you could play Bb with what I call the F# key (it makes it easier for me to remember not to play an F with 3 LH fingers down). This was a revelation in itself. I had to stop watch to do a 4 letter word thing (WORK) and I'll come back to it later.

Thanks again both of you, this is really moving me on. But I still think a book of the secret fingerings could be a seller. :thumb:
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The right hand pearl keys all close the bis key and they also close the G# key. I don't use the bis key with the left hand. I don't like it. Side and long for me. That C# is a new one on me. I would have used the bell key for a trill or released the left hand 123 and thumb. If it's too difficult, "there's an easier way" is my philosophy.
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
401
Locality
Wiltshire, UK.
There is always something new to learn here! Thanks for the video links, Martin.

Glad I could help, Photoman. I use the charts because they suggest other fingerings that I might not be aware of, but understand that's not much use if you don't find them straightforward to read. Have fun trying them all out :)
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
The right hand pearl keys all close the bis key and they also close the G# key.

I thought I understood this, when I first read it, and then realised I didn't, so I tried it with my tuner.

With the G# fingered, I closed the first RH pearl key and got F (nat). With the 2nd RH pearls closed I got F#. This made sense.

With the 3rd RH pearl key closed, I also got F#. This made less sense. Is this a recognised alt. fingering for F# and is it useful?
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
You're overthinking it. Look what actualy happens on the instrument.

The pricipal is that the shorter the tube, the higher the note.

The holes and flaps are just a convenience to shorten and lengthen the tube. With all flaps closed the lowest note sounds. Opening the flaps one at a time in order raises the pitch a semi tone.

All three RH buttons operate the Bis. Never mind the tuner. Look at the mechanism.

When you depress the G# key it releases the mechanism and a spring lifts it. (if it's not stuck). You can push it back down with your finger. RH 123 do the same.

RH 123 all move three pads including the Bis. Look at the mechanism and you can see why RH 2 and RH 3 both give F#.
 

muzza

Member
Messages
109
Locality
Wellington, New Zealand
While learning, I'd strongly recommend using the correct/normal fingering for each note. Experiment with the two Bb options as one I expect will become your preferred fingering. With practise these tricky changes become a non issue.

There is a lot to think about when playing so keeping your fingering consistent is one less decision that’s need.

The alternative key options are good to know. You will learn when they come in handy and introduce them into you playing.
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
While learning, I'd strongly recommend using the correct/normal fingering for each note. Experiment with the two Bb options as one I expect will become your preferred fingering. With practise these tricky changes become a non issue.

There is a lot to think about when playing so keeping your fingering consistent is one less decision that’s need.

The alternative key options are good to know. You will learn when they come in handy and introduce them into you playing.

Thanks for that, and I definitely can see the wisdom in your words.

I have actually just been practicing "Georgia On My Mind" in Eb, and it definitely gives the side Bb and the G# keys a workout - not top mention the low C to low Eb flat key "rollover", which I asked about in another thread a week or so back. I have to admit, I'm still a bit shy of the Bis Bb, but I'll force myself to use it for a while.

And, (all modesty aside) I do feel I've done OK generally, with pushing myself over the last 3 1/2 months since I opened a sax case for the first time.

There's a temptation to play only tunes in C major as a beginner, and I do play those (and ones in G - I like playing F sharp for some reason); but I try to leave them at the end of the practice hour as a reward if I get the tricky stuff right.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
With the 3rd RH pearl key closed, I also got F#. This made less sense. Is this a recognised alt. fingering for F# and is it useful?

There is no instance I can think of where that fingering for F# is useful except perhaps if a flute player is doubling on sax and forgets what instrument he is playing. :) (That's how F# is played on the flute.)
 

aaronrod

Member
Messages
42
... Look what actualy happens on the instrument.


Definitely do this. The more you know about what happens when you press each key and how it realtes to the pitch of the note, the more alternate fingerings and other shortcuts you will find.

The most useful shortcuts I've found are:

1) knowing all of the fingerings for Bb/A# (because they are all useful depending on the situation). You will wind up with a favourite, but it helps to have them all in your fingers.

2) The left-hand pinky cluster. Knowing the G# key is held down when the low C#, B, and Bb (and A on bari) are held.

3) Being able to play the middle C and C# in tune using the octave key and the low Bb/B/C/C# keys - helpful for trills or fast passages that stay in the upper register, but occasionally drop for a single note. For me, it's easier to use my pinky that release all f my fingers and get them back on again quickly and cleanly - especially if it's a C# and you keep the C# pinky key held down.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
In "The Art of Saxophone Playing" by Larry Teal, the chapter on Developing the Technique contains a wealth of information about alternate fingerings not only to solve technical problems but problems with intonation as well.
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
15,435
Locality
St. Mary's
But I didn't know about Pete's chart with the addition information, and this get closer to answering my question - so thank you for that and I'll put it on my iPad and give it a good read over the next day or so.

:thumb:

This is always work in progress so I will be adding more to that page. I don't think I mention about the possibility to hold the side Bb while playing B, I will investigate whether it is actually a good technique. It's not required for a B to Bb till as you'd use the long Bb for that. If it becomes a habit it might just trip you up one day.

I do however go into how it can be good to hold the G# or C# when in a sharp key.
 

Desgranges

New Member
Messages
3
There's some good stuff here. The alternate C# was new to me and it's really useful. THe other videos on this page are also well worth watching:

http://www.eugene-rousseau.com/discussions.htm
Wow, that C# thing really IS useful! I've always wondered whether there's an easier way to alternate D and C# than to open or close all pearl keys at once. Now just moving two fingers makes the transition so much smoother.

Thanks a lot for that video!
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom