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Finger taming

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Location
Marciac, France
A lot of players seem to suffer from excessive finger movement, certainly I do. I went to see Kenny Garrett recently and could hardly see his fingers move. Came home determined to try and keep my fingers closer to the keys; no point in lifting them off when they only have to go back on again, it's a waste of effort! Little fingers are the worst culprits.
I've tried looking in a mirror while practicing and it helps. I've also found that going through finger routines without blowing helps concentrate the mind on what's happening digitwise. I would attach rubber bands but could only do this to one hand at a time!! Araldite?
Anyone out there got helpful thoughts on this subject?
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
Our very own Pete Thomas sells finger glue, doesn't he...? ;)

I just try to be conscious of it and pay particular attention to the fingers, and it seems to be paying off. You just need to get in to the habit, I think.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,917
Think I'm guilty of this also, as well as the sax I run and find I constantly wiggle my fingers about then to! like you say a waste of effort bit like when you go for a hair cut and the guy does three snips in the air for every one in your hair!
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,939
Location
Manchester, UK
Like with most things, I think the answer is slow practice. Play something (scales, patterns, easy tunes...) slowly enough that you've got time to be conscious of what your fingers are doing. Enough hours of that over a few weeks and you start to form new habits.
 

teebones

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Messages
203
Location
Norfolk UK
A lot of players seem to suffer from excessive finger movement, certainly I do. I went to see Kenny Garrett recently and could hardly see his fingers move. Came home determined to try and keep my fingers closer to the keys; no point in lifting them off when they only have to go back on again, it's a waste of effort! Little fingers are the worst culprits.
I've tried looking in a mirror while practicing and it helps. I've also found that going through finger routines without blowing helps concentrate the mind on what's happening digitwise. I would attach rubber bands but could only do this to one hand at a time!! Araldite?
Anyone out there got helpful thoughts on this subject?


Double Sided Foam Adhesive Tape :w00t: :thumb:
 

TheCureFan

Member
Messages
207
Location
westcountry England
I find I'm worse when learning/playing something new. Think this is probably because I'm concentrating so much on the dots and the rhythm that the fingers do what they want in terms of distance from the keys. Once I'm happy with th dots etc I can then concentrate on the fingers alone. I'm hoping this will get better with time, after all my sax journey is only 4 months old.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,939
Location
Manchester, UK
I find I'm worse when learning/playing something new. Think this is probably because I'm concentrating so much on the dots and the rhythm that the fingers do what they want in terms of distance from the keys. Once I'm happy with th dots etc I can then concentrate on the fingers alone. I'm hoping this will get better with time, after all my sax journey is only 4 months old.
That's where the slow practice helps. You train yourself to the point where what the fingers want to do is stay near the keys without you having to think about it any more.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,214
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
I've been having problems the other way with the clarinet. Being so used to keeping fingers on the buttons of the sax keys to play fast runs I'm holding too close to the holes on the clarinet and affecting intonation. There's always something. I find once you've learned a piece, play it running between the notes in semitones. There's no time for the fingers to wander far.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
I think the action of the horn has something to do with it also. My action happens to be high so I had to adapt.
Without a doubt, slow and deliberate practice is the key with whatever you want to accomplish. I decided no more recording for a long while because I've gone back the basics of using a metronome and playing everything slow and in proper rhythm.
Don't let anyone tell you different, rhythm is the absolute most important issue when playing. You'll find that with consistent metronome practice your fingers will appropriately coordinate themselves. Don't waste time watching your fingers.....Play religiously to a metronome and your finger issue won't be an issue
 

jbtsax

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8,574
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I tell my students to think of their fingers "squooshing" a ripe unpeeled banana when they press the keys of the saxophone. Conceptualizing "squooshing" the keys helps to combat jerking the fingers which leads to excess travel. Practicing scales slowly keeping the fingers in contact with the key pearls is a good exercise to focus attention on the problem, but is quite unrealistic as a way to actually play the saxophone.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,939
Location
Manchester, UK
I tell my students to think of their fingers "squooshing" a ripe unpeeled banana when they press the keys of the saxophone. Conceptualizing "squooshing" the keys helps to combat jerking the fingers which leads to excess travel. Practicing scales slowly keeping the fingers in contact with the key pearls is a good exercise to focus attention on the problem, but is quite unrealistic as a way to actually play the saxophone.
They don't have to be in contact. The idea is to practice playing slowly the way you would like to play at speed. You train yourself into better habits. If it's not realistic, there's no point in practising it.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
They don't have to be in contact. The idea is to practice playing slowly the way you would like to play at speed. You train yourself into better habits. If it's not realistic, there's no point in practising it.

Another way to look at the exercise of keeping finger contact with the keys is that it conditions the fingers to move a shorter distance. In other words it is a goal to work toward rather than to achieve. The same concept is used in keyboard (typing) classes.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
While you're practicing basics slowly, concentrating on keeping your little finger down. If that one stays down the rest will also. Be prepared for it to take months and months, and be worth it.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,578
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
My teacher got me to reduce excess finger movement about 18 months ago, when I was working toward one of my grades that had a particularly fast passage in it. I was unable to finger all the notes then because much of the time was taken up with just lifting fingers and putting them back down from the silly heights that I was lifting to. i now make a real effort to not take my fingers off the key pearls at all.mI wouldn't say I've achieved the holy grail, but I am aware that I now lift my finger far less than I did.
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Location
Marciac, France
While you're practicing basics slowly, concentrating on keeping your little finger down. If that one stays down the rest will also. Be prepared for it to take months and months, and be worth it.
Thanks for that Morgan, really useful idea, train the little pinkies and the rest follow suit.
 

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