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Beginner Low C to Low Eb - Do I need an extra Pinkie?

photoman

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The more I learn about playing the Sax (which, if I say so myself is a fair amount in 3 months) - the more I realise how little I know.

Having moved on from my teacher I found the freedom to move on to more challenging musical tasks - including blues scales, chromatic scales and some interesting tunes.

I am currently try to play "Georgia on my Mind". I have several versions of it, some more like solos, which are very challenging, and in various keys. I can manage the full song version (including the lead in and the verses) in C. But I'm also trying a shorter but bluesier version in Eb. It's not too taxing and I'm enjoying giving the G# key a work out on the tenor, now that it doesn't seem to be as sticky (see another thread).

But there is, for me, a tricky change between low C and low Eb which is confusing me. I get the feeling that that must be a "right" way to play this, rather than lifting the RH pinkie up from the low C touchpiece and then dropping it down again on the one opposite, which when I do it leaves a gap in the notes.

Sliding it across is no better and produces that buh-duh sound that I was getting when trying appegios in C, and low C to E was not working in synch.

The more I play, the more I get those "oh THAT's how they play this, or make that change" moments and so I'm working a lot out for myself. But this is a sticking point (pun intended).

I'm also fairly sure I'm not playing the Bb side key right on the right hand either. :shocked:
 
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Nick Wyver

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Sliding is what you should do. Just work on it.

Side Bb should be played with the side of your index finger.
 

jbtsax

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Keep the RH pinky flat and roll across the rollers to go from low Eb to low C and back. Practice the finger movement alone without playing at first. Start slow and gradually increase the speed. Sometimes it helps to "lubricate" the little finger by rubbing it against the side of the nose first. It just takes some practice. "Body and Soul" on tenor is another tune that requires this change.
 

photoman

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County Limerick Ireland
Keep the RH pinky flat and roll across the rollers to go from low Eb to low C and back. Practice the finger movement alone without playing at first. Start slow and gradually increase the speed. Sometimes it helps to "lubricate" the little finger by rubbing it against the side of the nose first. It just takes some practice. "Body and Soul" on tenor is another tune that requires this change.

Thank you very much for the tip - I'll try it without playing first as you suggest. I'll see if I can get Body and Soul and some others just to get the practice. :thumb:
 

photoman

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Having practiced the tips (thank you both above) for a few minutes only, I'm finding that if I keep the pinkie flat and very close to the roller (touching it) I get a fairly smooth transition if I just roll over from one side to the other, staying close to the roller, rather than going to the middle of the touchpiece.

Although it's working (sort of) it doesn't feel technically "correct" as I'm probably playing the roller more than the keys. But I suppose if it works, it works.

My real sticking point now is the Bb side key. I tend to play with the Sax to one side, rather than right in front of my (fairly round) stomach). But I'm finding that I need to hold the sax out it front to get the best purchase on the side key - while keeping my RH fingers on the usual keys. This is putting a bit of strain on my hand.

Any suggestions on this, too, are very welcome.

Stephen
 

jbtsax

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That's the outside not the inside.

We need to put a bell around your neck to hear you coming. :) Apparently no well intended helpful comment is safe from your acerbic wit.
 

Colin the Bear

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No need to keep your right hand fingers on the buttons when using the side key. The bottom pads aren't being used I tend to pivot on the thumb rest and middle finger and roll the hand sideways. There isn't a right or wrong way for awkward fingerings as everybody's hands are different. As a rule of thumb use as little movement as is practical and comfortable to get the job done.

You can always take it up an octave for a phrase or two. Some songs play better and easier in different keys. We're so used to transposing why not shift it to somewhere more comfortable. It only becomes a problem if you're sitting in or guesting. Some standards have standard keys. But for your own entertainment why struggle. If I have the lead and they want a showcase piece, I pick the key. Body and soul is a lovely tune. It's mostly played in Db (concert) but sounds better to my ears and fits better in Eb on the alto and Bb on the tenor. The rhythm section usualy play from sheets. So I give them new sheets. ;-)
 

muzza

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Wellington, New Zealand
Just keep up the practise, you will find your pinkie gets stronger and you get better control over it. You will go through the same issue when you move on to low Bb, B, C# and G# set of keys.

Apart from side Bb the alternative is the Bis key. It appears most people will prefer one or the other, using the less favoured in certain situations where it is more convenient or enables a faster change. So it is worth getting to grips with both options and working out which works for you.

Finally, have a look around this link, http://www.eugene-rousseau.com/discussions.htm. There are a couple of video lessons on hand position and fingering.
 

kevgermany

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Agree with Colin on the rolling motion. I can usually keep my right index finger on F, so I don't lose position on the D & E, but I've got big hands.

Shouldn't mention it so early in learning the sax, but low D,E,F all close the Bb as well, so you can use any of them as well. Very useful in many places where side Bb and bis Bb are awkward.
 

kevgermany

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We need to put a bell around your neck to hear you coming. :) Apparently no well intended helpful comment is safe from your acerbic wit.

:)))

Did you mean catty comments, by any chance? ;}
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
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708
On relatively rare occasions saxophone fingerings can feel somewhat awkward, but by and large Sax did a great job with the mechanism. Oboists seem to have quite different challenges. My edition of the Ferlings, for example, offers some suggestions on how to take some notes on the oboe. Among them are:

No. 26, bar 4: In a fast tempo the high Eb can be produced by adding the G# key to the high D fingering

No. 41, bar 5: the Eb (double) and Ab keys must be pressed down together with the left little finger

No. 47, bar 25: Start this Eb with the right little finger and then change to the left little finger in order to avoid the awkward sliding from Eb to Db

Just a thought.
 

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