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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000009.txt from 2000/07

From: Richard Bush <>
Subj: Re: [kl] extra keys & fingering question
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000 12:24:38 -0400

Dear Jim,

I do not have any of the extra keys that you have mentioned below. However,
as a repairman and a clarinet player for most of my life, I am familiar with

The banana key on the upper joint, between the second and third fingers is
called the D#/A# or the Eb/Bb or some instrument makers call it an auxiliary

You said you never use this key because it is very awkward. There could be
several reasons for that. 1) The key might be positioned just a touch to
high or close to the second finger ring key to be comfortable for your
fingers. You might feel that the third finger has to almost climb onto the
second finger to open this key. You, of course, need enough clearance for
your third finger to close the hole without accidentally bump this key. But
if that key is bent down just a tad, maybe as little as one or two
millimeters, it can make a huge difference in how it feels under your
fingers. 2) You might find it awkward simply because you are not use to it
(and this is probably the biggest reason). We all develop fingering patterns
over extended periods of time. As such, these patterns become deeply
ingrained habits. The logic for using this "banana" or "sliver" key is that,
as an example, when playing a chromatic scale, one would be using the second
and third fingers in tandem when going to or leaving the notes D# (Eb) or
second register A# (Bb). Theoretically, this should be easier to coordinate
than having to synchronize movements by both hands as when using the side
key. 3) You might be avoiding using the banana key because it is sprung too
heavily. Lightening the tension of spring, taking a bit of the bend out of
it, could make using it much more comfortable. And last, 4) The tuning of
this fingering could be out. Maybe it isn't opening enough and causes these
notes to play flat. Subconsciously or consciously, this might be a reason
that you haven't given much thought to.

I always tell my students that there are good reasons why instrument makers
keep putting certain keys on instruments. Either they feel that these keys
are important, or the majority of the buying public considers them important
and would be outraged if deleted.

Any time a player has two, three, or even more options for a given note, it
is the player's advantage to know them all and be equally skilled and
rehearsed in being able to play them all. One can never have too many
"tricks" up one's sleeve. Also, when a person feels comfortable with all
possible fingerings, he or she will be OBJECTIVE in making the fingering
choice. If, on the other hand, a person is "use to just one fingering" and
the other one feels awkward, then that person is not being objective, not
taking advantage of the features on his instrument and is limiting his
technical growth.

Hope this gives food for thought.

jim & joyce wrote:

> All the high end horns are offered with a variety of extra
> keys. The one's I am familiar with are
> seventh ring
> extra trill key played with left hand pinkie
> right hand banana key between first two fingers on right
> hand which
> plays C#/G# [only offered with articulated C#/G#]
> How many people have any of these keys on the clarinet they
> use. If so, do you
> use them.
> And if you have a standard boehm, do you ever use the banana
> key between the second and third fingers of your left hand
> (d#/f#? -- or have I missed the purpose entirely?) I find
> it very awkward to hit and never ever use it.
> jim lande
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