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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000080.txt from 2001/04

From: Neil Leupold <>
Subj: Re: [kl] fingering options for beginners with small hands
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 05:30:27 -0400

>> Now for the life of me I can't see any logical reason why this should
>> be a suboptimal way to get used to fingering the clarinet.

Who told you it was?

>> It even makes a few things easier in the long run.

Indeed it does.

>> I suspect that this fingering pattern slows their technique

Based on what you wrote above, with which I agree -- that it even
makes a few things easier in the long run -- whether or not this
fingering pattern slows their technique depends very much on the
passage in question, yes? In some cases, it will make their tech-
nique appreciably faster and smoother than if they used the other
sequence of fingerings for these notes.

>> I am unable to convince myself from a logical standpoint that it's an
>> inferior fingering choice for their everyday playing

Go with that logic, because it is correct.

>> I'm equally unable to settle in and work with these fingerings.

That's more your weakness than theirs, in truth. I'll get to why
in a moment.

>> I want to change them, but then I think, "If it ain't broke, don't
>> fix it."

Quite right. Here's why: it's not a matter of whether their default
fingering pattern is "right" or "wrong." Ultimately, the goal of every
clarinet player, when it comes to finger technique, is to develop equal
fluidity and comfortability with every possible combination of finger-
ings on the instrument. This enables a player to play any given pass-
age in the easiest manner possible, barring compromises that must be
made in the context of other notes in that passage. Even with those
frequent compromises, the goal remains to serve the music while allow-
ing technical issues to be evident as little as possible.

Rather than consider your students' current habits in terms of cor-
rectness, consider them in terms of technical balance. If they are
completely uncomfortable with using the right-hand pinky for f/c",
then one of your many missions as their teacher is to introduce
them to this possibility and require them to use it on occasion
in order to begin the process of developing comfortability. This
should be in addition to -- rather than at the expense of -- the
facility they currently possess with the fingering they currently
use. If you have a personal hang-up with using your left-hand pinky
for f/c", refrain from projecting that onto your students, because
it strongly suggests that you have the same technical imbalance that
they do, except you happen to favor the fingering that they don't.
You may want to slowly begin to use that other fingering in your own
practice in order to develop your own comfortability with it.

In the music your students play, opportunities doubtless abound for
you to demonstrate the greater ease they would experience if they used
their right-hand pinkies for f/c". Be persistent in pointing out those
opportunities. Students -- kids and adults alike -- require a great
deal of repetition, both to grow out of old habits and to acquire
new/desirable ones.

Hope this helps.

~ Neil

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