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 teaching alternate fingerings
Author: GKF 
Date:   1999-07-29 05:04

When first introducing, for instance, a D Major scale...
Is there a preference for teaching one or the other first?

L.H. B and R.H. C#
OR
R.H. B and L.H. C#

Is there a way that is more beneficial to a young student, or are they interchangeable as long as both are eventually taught?

Thank you for your opinions!  :)

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-07-29 16:18

My own personal opinion is to show absolutely no preference for either fingering strategy. Make it a point to not stress one over the other. Even naming the keys as "alternate" keys tends to skew the young player's opinion of them, and therefore may give the young player a disadvantage in playing the clarinet. I believe that both of the strategies that you mentioned are very important and that they have equal weight. Ditto for all other "alternate" fingerings for the clarinet. A good drill to teach is to have the student play the chromatic scale from low chalemeau E all the way up to as high as he or she can go, and back down. Let the student take the first pass with whatever fingerings they know, and then repeat the drill with lesser known fingerings. I use it as a good warm-up exercise. Plus, it's fun to experiment with all kinds of fingerings in a no stress situation. You will be amazed at seeing some of the other fingerings being used later by your student. As long as the fingering works for the student, encourage it.

Here's what I would do to introduce the subject of "alternate fingerings". Let the student try very hard to get the fingerings with only right hand or only left hand fingerings on purpose. This isn't a bad idea, because it hints at the ability to "slide" to fingerings much later on. Don't force success here, just allow some fun exploration for a little while. Then, introduce the concept of "walking" up and down the clarinet (note that I didn't say "alternate fingerings") to get the notes. Let the student figure out which strategy is easiest for him or her. The vast majority of the time, the student will choose the "walking" strategy over the "sliding" one.

When the student is comfortable with a good fingering strategy to get the notes, encourage a drill that starts with and slightly emphasizes a left hand dominant strategy (for right handed students) and a right hand dominant strategy (for lefties). This will help the young student develop the muscle memory for the weak hand and therefore help the student to automatically reach with whatever hand is available later on.

If, for instance, a student has the extra Ab/Eb key (found on 18 key clarinets) and that student uses the key properly to hit the notes in drills or music, that's okay, too. I have a clarinet that has this key, so my pro tutor didn't force sliding as much on me as he would his other adult intermediate level students who had the standard 17 key clarinet. As far as I can tell, he doesn't even mention sliding to the younger students, mainly because their hands and fingers are not big enough to be efficient with this strategy.

Let us know how the lesson works out.


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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: GKF 
Date:   1999-07-29 17:52

Thanks, Paul... I appreciate your advice. I tend to teach the way I was taught, and I got to wondering if we all taught the same way. :) I teach a lot of beginners, so I'll have to do some experimenting with them.

Thanks again!

GKF

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-07-29 19:37

I teach it both ways and have my students play it both ways the first few weeks. Then i let them chose the way which is most comfortable to them, but remind them that they should keep the other pattern in the pocket for future use in situations.

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings - addendum
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-07-29 19:45

Also, in cases where students hands haven't grown large enough yet, we'll experiment with both methods and see which pattern works best and stick with that one. Then when their hands develope more, they can introduce the other pattern and then pick the more comfortable one, though it will probably be the one they first learned and used regularly.

I had one student who, anytime she tried to play low F or 3rd space C, her pinky would hit the E/B key. So we had to get her switched over to the left hand F/C key.
The only problem i see in most beginners, particularly from one school that i teach at where they are not very well taught nor pay very much attention, is that their low levers are often bent so low E and sometimes even F won't come out due to pads not closing all the way. So i got in the habit of checking over the students' horns as they were putting it together in ever lesson and make sure there were no injuries.

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: Gary Van Cott 
Date:   1999-07-29 21:37

This is an interesting question. I am not an instructor, but I do have kids that play the clarinet so I am aware of the problems they can have with reach.

Personally, I generally would play this with RH B, because as you add sharps to the key signature you will soon need the D#.

It is unfortunate that kids who don't take lessons (and some that do) don't learn the important alternate fingerings like the first space F# with the right first finger or the throat Bb with the same finger.

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-07-30 03:44

Actually, many people with small hands find the so-called alternate fingerings for the mid-staff B and C to be easier and more comfortable for them than the "standard".

When my older daughter was a beginner, I encourage her to use whichever worked better for her but her band director had a 'hissy fit' because it was "backwards." Of course I (tactfully) ignored her and my daughter was 1st chair in the elementary and junior high bands under this same director. She could play rings around the other kids due to my insistance that the various fingerings were equally important and that she practice passages several ways.

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-07-30 19:34

I personally try to play scales in as many different ways as I can, trying to find out the minimum finger/hand movements for each run. Ditto for Baermann III drills. I am beginning to use the trill fingerings (as mentioned above) for some of them, and I am beginning to experiment with keeping the same fingering but changing the embouchure and breath support to hit different notes.

Here's an example that's not totally technically accurate for intonation, but will do if tweaked a bit for each note: left thumb (and register key when needed), left first finger, right first finger. Notes that are playable with embouchure and air support adjustment: high chalemeau Eb (a bit weak and not the greatest intonation), clarion Bb (for my horn, it still needs more air support to speak well), and altissimo G (speaks readily, is pretty much right in tune). Another example, but with the left hand first finger involved: thumb, left hand 1, 2, 3, C# key for chalemeau C#, open up LH 1st finger, press the register key and don't overblow it to hit a passable clarion Bb which comes in very handy at times, then push more air on the same fingering for a decent altissimo F. I like this fingering for runs in the key of Eb and beyond, where the clarion Bb and Ab are right next to each other. In a fast run, no one will notice the slightly weak Bb, but it sure is much easier to hit the Ab right after it with moving only the left first finger down. This sure beats the more popular side key fingering for clarion Bb in this case.

I'm sure this is just the beginning of the discussion of fingering strategies. The true masters of this game are the professional clarinetists. Economy of motion, on-the-mark intonation, lightning fast runs, trills and more trills, all of these benefits can be had if you learn as a second nature reaction a bunch of the fingering strategies available to the clarinet. Dee mentioned that this was one of the keys of success for her daughter. I will put forth the somewhat substantiated claim (based on my pro tutor's helpful hints and from what I can glean from Ridenour's Fingering Book) that this is indeed one of the secrets to success for the clarinet.


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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   1999-08-02 16:00

This is a non-ending subject. Dwight Dailey, in conducting our Tulsa Comm Band, frequently teaches new fingerings to a number of us reasonably-competent cl'ists. When I have the opportunity, via repair/sale, I try to review horn care and, finding out the student's "level", explain at least the little fing. cross-fingering, the two-index-fing. [long]Eb/Bb, the A + trill "non-pinch" Bb, and the "sliver" keys. The usual comment is "Gee, that's easier!". Don

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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-06 03:50



Don Berger wrote:
-------------------------------
This is a non-ending subject. Dwight Dailey, in conducting our Tulsa Comm Band, frequently teaches new fingerings to a number of us reasonably-competent cl'ists. When I have the opportunity, via repair/sale, I try to review horn care and, finding out the student's "level", explain at least the little fing. cross-fingering, the two-index-fing. [long]Eb/Bb, the A + trill "non-pinch" Bb, and the "sliver" keys. The usual comment is "Gee, that's easier!". Don
-------------------------------

I personally consider these particular fingerings to be absolutely vital and of equal stature to the "standard" fingerings once a person is past the raw beginner stage. The little finger alternate keys especially important in sharp keys while the 1+1 Eb/Bb is essential in many fast arpeggios and intervals.



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 RE: teaching alternate fingerings - More
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-08-06 03:59



Dee wrote:
-------------------------------

I personally consider these particular fingerings to be absolutely vital and of equal stature to the "standard" fingerings once a person is past the raw beginner stage. The little finger alternate keys especially important in sharp keys while the 1+1 Eb/Bb is essential in many fast arpeggios and intervals.

-------------------------------

And I would like to add that if you review the hoary old, but tried and true and very effective Rubank Elementary Method, these fingerings (and sliver key fingerings) are introduced and *DRILLED* before the student reaches the end of it. Thus at the end of two years, a student who practiced knew these fairly well. Unfortunately many modern band methods either don't introduce them until much later or fail to drill upon them when introduced.

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