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 Fingering question
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2018-01-30 07:15

I am a high-level amateur, have been to Interlochen, consistently play 1st part in community bands I have been in, etc. Way back in elementary school when I was first learning the octave key my band director taught us the "alternative middle B and C fingerings (right hand B and left hand C) and told us kids with smaller fingers might find that easier to play. I did, so that is what I have played ever since, through many private teachers, etc. I know both, of course, and will use the normal fingering when I have to, but I don't think it has ever hindered my playing. In fact, since I don't have the alternate Eb key that some of the newer instruments have, I think it makes more sense to play C on the left to easily reach Eb.

Now I am teaching my 10 year old and did the same with him. I showed him both, asked which felt more easy and he chose the same method I use. Now his band director is trying to insist that he play it the "right" way. Before I go to bat with this woman, I wanted to throw it out to the teachers (and others) out there. Does it really matter? Is there a reason that he HAS to play B and C the most common way?

BTW I also taught myself how to play pool left handed, naturally. Maybe it is just my preference (I am normally right handed though)

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-30 08:16

I have taught a few young students who had problems reaching RH C to use the LH fingering as an alternative to telling them they'd have to wait a year to play clarinet. I don't think it did any harm, but my experience with those kids as they got older and their hands grew was, like yours, that they stuck with the initial fingering (LH C, RH B) and never while I taught them made the change to the "standard" primary fingerings.

For me, the mechanism seems more responsive when RH C is used. It's obviously a much shorter key with no linkage, so a more direct transfer of pressure from the finger to the pad and less to go wrong mechanically than the LH alternate. I don't think there's much difference in mechanical efficiency between the two B fingerings, but obviously, using RH C as a primary fingering means a lot more usage for LH B.

I am right-handed, and I always wonder if a person who is left-handed has a different sense of comfort between the two B-C pairs. Most fingerings on the clarinet don't have such clear RH-LH alternatives.

As to the teacher in school, I think it's better that she (and other teachers) show the "standard" RH C/LH B fingerings first for the kids who can reach them easily. I don't think - strictly my opinion - that it's worth her time and the resistance it may create in a student who already has learned the other fingerings first to insist on his changing. There's not enough benefit and, if changing makes crossing the break awkward, will end up just causing frustration.

If, as he gets more advanced, the fingerings he considers secondary make specific passages easier, he'll use them just as the rest of us use LH C to get through specific passages that don't work well with RH C. I wouldn't as a teacher waste any energy on it.


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 Re: Fingering question
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-01-30 14:53

The only advantage of the "normal" (RH C and LH B) fingerings is that they are the only ones available on most other woodwinds and German system and early clarinets. It may perhaps make doubling a little easier if they are ingrained as primary fingerings.

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: gwie 
Date:   2018-01-30 15:16

For years, I preferred the LH C and RH B as the default, and on a well-regulated instrument it really doesn't make much of a difference. I can see the need to use RH C more often if whatever key you are playing in might require a slide over the Eb (and your clarinet doesn't have the auxiliary Eb lever for the LH).

It's important to be able to do both; I write out an exercise for my students to ascend/descend through that physical range of the instrument in both octaves, so that they can go to whichever arrangement is best suited for the musical situations they run into.

I didn't have an auxiliary Eb lever on any clarinet I owned until this past year, so it's been a bit of a learning process to "re-wire" my approach to the pinky fingers. :)

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: JonTheReeds 
Date:   2018-02-05 15:48

I've just had a look and realise I naturally play LH C / RH B

I do play them on the other hands if necessarily but have always found this a bit of a stretch

Also, key signatures with more sharps or flats seem to sit more easily under the fingers with LH C / RH B

The older I get, the better I was

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2018-02-06 02:15

On many student clarinets, and quite a few professional ones too, the design and implementation of the linkage beween LH C and the actual key arm is so poor, usually resulting in an excessive and spongy key action makes the LH C a less desirable fingering.

Proper design and the attention of a good tech can often improve the action significantly, however my vote is to use RH C whenever practicable.

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: D4v1dL1 
Date:   2018-02-06 07:31

I also started out with the LF C in middle school, and stuck with it into high school, when my private teacher made me switch.

Initially there really was no difference, in fact, I found it to be better because the C to Eb skip felt much more natural. Unfortunately, I felt that because the RH C is much more standard, key work for the LF C/F lever is much weaker, and after a year or two of constant use, it had to be repaired.

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 Re: Fingering question
Author: Musikat 
Date:   2018-02-06 08:56

I have never had an issue with the left hand C keywork. I play an R13 and have since high school. The right hand B is more likely to be an issue (usually if something is leaky) than the C ever is, so I had never even thought of that being a problem.

I don't know about my son's clarinet (a student Yamaha) but he doesn't seem to have issues with C or B too much either. His biggest issues are D-G squeaking horribly, which I think is more a factor of small fingers/big holes than anything else.

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