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Beginner how to - High F# key


New Member
Northern California
I'm not a beginner, but I marked this post as "beginner" because, silly as it sounds, I am new to the high F# key and really have no idea how to use it. In fact the horns I could afford at first didn't even have the front F key so I got used to the altissimo F# while half opening the palm F - which was awkward but I made do. Then I got newer a newer horn with front F and that was a lot easier.

Anyway ... now that I have horns with high F# key I realize I have no idea how to use it and I'm just starting to practice it - and I don't know how I ever got along without one as it really helps certain altissimo notes speak easier (or better intonation) and some riffs should be easier to finger once I figure out the proper technique and get some practice time in with it.

Here is an example:
if I'm fingering a normal (left hand palm keys) high E or F , my right hand has already had to move upwards to reach the side E - and if the next note is high F# it feels really awkward (and sideways) to use pointer finger for the high F# key so I use my middle finger. And depending on what notes preceded the high E, maybe I should be using front F key for the E and then front F plus high F# key?

I welcome any tips/pointers for best use of that new-to-me key :happydance:

I'm guessing the answer is going to be to just try things and find what works best in each situation - but if there are some best practices, I'd like to know about them before I develop any more bad habits as they are much harder to break and re-learn correctly than if I start off doing it correctly.
Palm F fingering plus middle finger high F# key is the standard fingering. If ring finger is easier, do it that way.

However your front E and F fingerings are wrong. Front E is LH 1 2 3 where 1 is on the front F key. Lift LH 3 to get F. Add F# key to that for F# I guess, but I've never done it that way. If I'm playing a front F fingering, I'll just play altissimo F# without the F# key (LH 1 (front F) | RH 1 on tenor), which is easier for me and flows into other altissimo notes more easily. This is coming from a guy who played horns with no F# key for 40+ years. So I rarely, if ever use that key even on my horns that have it, maybe only for an F to F# trill. I never use it in any other altissimo fingerings because not all my horns have that key.
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You may have misunderstood me about front E and F ... my front E and F fingering is same as yours but I was talking about going from front E to F# (or chromatically E-F-F# etc) by lifting third finger and adding the high F# (whilst fingering a normal front F) -- as opposed to the way I've been doing it with standard F# altissimo fingering for 40+ (maybe 50+, I'm getting old Yikes!) same as you described except I usually need to add the side Bb to the RH 1 to get F# in tune though - depending on the tenor. Both ways of fingering that high F# sound and feel a bit different - just trying to give that new-to-me key a chance in case it offers some benefit I'm missing out on.

One of the things I was experimenting with is that the high F# key seems to help the altissimo G speak - but I'm still fumbling around learning what use I can make of that newfangled contraption. I've get a stronger and easier alt G by dropped off the front F and adding the hi F# key (LH 1 + hi F#) and that seems to give an altissimo G that speaks more reliably than just the front F version of alt G .. still fooling around with this one.
You use the F# in addition to the F fingering. It can be either the LH palm keys + F# with the RH, or front F (+3) + F#.
To go from E you have to finger that first using LH D, D# palm keys+ RH E. As your already pressing 2 LH palm keys you may find it easier to press the third (F) in addition and move the RH to the F#.

You can cheat by getting the high E by using the high F key (no D, D#) and then adding the front F(+ 3) and F# key.

As an option, you can play F# without using the F# key by playing front F plus side Bb (maybe with the RH F as well.)
Different fingerings work well at different times so it can be handy to have more than one option.

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