Flapping fingers

DrJohn

New Member
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Nearly 2 years ago, when quite drunk, I had a bet with another guy on a jazz course on who could get Grade 8 jazz saxophone first. This was probably a bit silly particularly as I had no teacher. Well, it took me over year to finally find someone who I wanted to play like AND would take me on. Its turned out to be a real leveller and one of the many problems my teacher has uncovered is that, when not pressing the keys, my fingers are all over the place - hence limiting the speed at which I can play. As an engineer, I do appreciate the mechanical benefits of keeping you fingers close to the keys, but I guess I have been in denial - mainly as a result of watching YouTube videos of some great sax players whose fingers seem to be a law unto themselves. Anyway, I have promised my teacher (and myself) I would work on this, but I must confess I am really finding it hard to break the habit. I have resolved to think about every note and not play it until my fingers are resting on the keys, no matter how long it takes. This has slowed up my playing by a factor of 10 - not that it was that fast before. I haven't yet got to Pete Thomas's suggestion of gluing my fingers to the keys, but I may have to resort to this. Anybody have any recommendations on glue? I was thinking of Araldite but it may be a problem getting my sax in the oven.
 

Mamos

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Falmouth Cornwall
Welcome to the site Dr John

That sounds like a real problem.

What about double sided sticky tape or how about engineering some sort of framework around the outside of the key-work that hold a live wasp just above each finger so if you lift that finger off the key you will get stung.

Or electric shocks or red hot needles or little stirrups that go over each finger to keep it on the key or velcro fingertips

I need a coffee

mamos
 

jonf

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Betelgeuse
Welcome Dr John - Drunken bet? Never done that:blush:

Just relax, play a piece you like a lot and know well, slowly. An easy but melodic piece is best for this. Concentrate hard on keeping your fingers close to the keys - it'll be OK playing slowly. Gradually increase the speed, trying to keep your fingers close in. Because you're playing a piece you know well you should be able to manage as you gradually up the tempo. If it was a new or challenging piece you'd have to concentrate on too much other stuff. It's all about just trying to focus on the one thing you're trying to change. Do this for ten minutes a day, and it'll come to you.

Grade 8, eh. Quite a challenge. 'Specially for someone who walks on gilded splinters and finds himself in the right place at the wrong time. Iko Iko:w00t:

Jon
 

Justin Chune

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The Athens of The North
There used to be, and maybe still is, a glue for sticking fingers to the keys advertised on this site. I think that it was called Sax-O.Glue or something. Or, you could observe your fingers by practicing in front of a mirror.

I can remember once seeing a clarinet player on T.V. He had the worst finger action I have ever seen. His fingers flew up and away from his instrument as if they were hinged. But he could still play like Benny Goodman.

Jim.
 
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D

DrJohn

New Member
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2
Engineering solution

Thanks for all your input. I wish there was an equivalent of Mavis Beacon's Typing tutor.

Anyway, in the absence of that I think I have worked out a solution. An elastic band looped round the little finger of each hand anchored via a tie-wrap to an appropriate part of the left and right hand table keys. The band is fixed to the little finger as you would put a bit of string on a label (see photo). Unlike the glue, this method allows the little fingers to move around but still keeps them in close proximity to the table keys. I find if I can keep my little fingers down, the other fingers are less likely to flap. It remains to seen if this does the trick. I am slightly concerned I will only ever be able to play with this strange looking setup, but that wouldn't be the end of the world. If it works I'll patent it.
 

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Mamos

Member
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691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
I think you may be better following JonF's advice really. Relying on elastic bands and wasps will only make you dependant on them.

Take it slow and you will overcome this affliction:)

Good luck

mamos
 

ManEast

Member
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214
Location
Southsea .Portsmouth
Thanks for all your input. I wish there was an equivalent of Mavis Beacon's Typing tutor.

Anyway, in the absence of that I think I have worked out a solution. An elastic band looped round the little finger of each hand anchored via a tie-wrap to an appropriate part of the left and right hand table keys. The band is fixed to the little finger as you would put a bit of string on a label (see photo). Unlike the glue, this method allows the little fingers to move around but still keeps them in close proximity to the table keys. I find if I can keep my little fingers down, the other fingers are less likely to flap. It remains to seen if this does the trick. I am slightly concerned I will only ever be able to play with this strange looking setup, but that wouldn't be the end of the world. If it works I'll patent it.

Hi to ya Dr John
Now I am going to pretend that this is not an April fool thing, along with the glue.

To tame the fingers, is part of gaining basic technique. you have no need to waist good practice time in trying to solve your problem by using your engineering skills... on something that is totally phyisiological.

(IMHO) Always have a Mirror in your practice room.
Get in front of the mirror and put on a C.D copy of Jamey Abersold Vol 24 Major and Minor.
Once you have C major under your belt double time...Play it like this-(Basic Scale Pattern.)
cdef-defg-efga-fgab-gabc and so on...then in reverse back down.

First one note every two beats , then on the beat, then double time.

Then do it all again for all 12 keys.

To play them double time (in time) demands that your fingers work more efficiently.

Good luck with all.

My kind Regards,

ManEast.

P.S. I think Pete has some Scale Patterns on this site. I would also recommend a copy of Arnie Berle's Patterns For Jazz.
 
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Pete Thomas

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There used to be, and maybe still is, a glue for sticking fingers to the keys advertised on this site. I think that it was called Sax-O.Glue or something.
It's still there at the bottom of the page from time to time.

Double sided tape is probaly the best solution. NOT araldite or Superglue.
 

Pete C

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Exeter
5 note torture

For the flapping finger problem I recommend the "5-note torture" exercise. Take any scale major, minor, diminished or whatever and play up the first 5 notes and back down 3 so in C major this would be: CDEFGFED, loop it: CDEFGFEDCDEFGFEDCDEFGFED etc. Play evenly at whatever tempo you are comfortable and when it is slick, gradually increase the tempo until you are playing it as fast as possible without mistakes. Then move on to the same pattern starting on D, then on E etc etc, then the other 11 major scales, minor scales etc etc. This exercise feels like torture at first, hence the name, but if you perservere it has a big effect on the speed and agility of your fingering - a by product is that, unconciously, your fingers also learn to to stay close to the keys. Cheers Pete
 

visionari1

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Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
Coming in late on this post.
Pete Canter, that's a great exercise, and will come into it's own with Minor, D7 etc.
I've spent a bit of time watching my fingers in a mirror, it really feels.....ahem.....more sensual with the fingers as close as possible, not that I'm into speed, but enjoyment yes that's what I'm into!

Ciao
Jimu
 
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