Flute Punch

Archive for the ‘Technique & Fingerings’ Category

It’s been ages since I updated Flute Punch! I have missed it…

I’ve been contemplating the placement of my right thumb as of late. It’s always been a bit too far to the left, instead of under the fingers where it is reportedly supposed to go. I’ve never thought much of it. Until today.

After struggling for some time with smoothing out and speeding up some fast passages, I felt frustrated. Seriously – how long have I been playing these notes, and my technique is still sloppy, despite my efforts? Argh. On a whim, I moved my left thumb about 3/4 inch to the right, so it was more under the index and middle fingers of my right hand. And suddenly I could play it all.

It’s slightly uncomfortable. Hopefully I won’t get neck strain or some such thing. But it is making my practice time much more efficient – so much so that I have stopped stressing over whether I’ll be prepared for this upcoming concert. And less stress is always a good thing. 🙂

I’m discovering right now that my fingers are not as close to the keys as they should be, which means my technique is not as efficient as it should be. By efficient, I mean fast and clean. In particular, my right index finger wants to fly up a bit, which means that Bb fingering is sloppy. Seems a bit silly, since we all learned that fingering in the first few weeks of beginning band!

To build awareness, I’m practicing slow enough to be conscious of whether or not I can feel my finger pads touching the keys at all. I’m aiming for just the slightest feeling that they are touching. This reminds me of the years I spent in non-contact tae kwon-do: By the time we reached black belt level, we were expected to be able to hit the uniform but not the body of our opponent.

I also notice with my students and myself that sloppy technique is frequently a roadblock to being able to double tongue a passage. Tension is probably the biggest inhibitor of fingers lying loose and low to the keys; the more tense a person is, the more the fingers want to fly up. Beginners often have tension because they are assimilating so much new information, so I think it is important, as a teacher, to be aware of tension from the very beginning, and move the student away from tense positions in the early stages of learning.

Speaking specifically of finger position, I think I will become more aware of the significant role it really does play in being able to advance one’s technique.


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