Thanks for the feed-back - let's have lot's more!
The challenge is really to have experienced "dyed-in-the-wool" players and teachers get over their conservative attitudes and see the advantage to the new generation of players.
In answer to your questions:
If it is clearly stated that the nomenclature is for "labelling" only then the confusion doesn't exist unless a teacher introduces it by talking about the Bb key or the high C key.
I debated with a graduate student at length over the use of 4a and 4b etc, and again when applying the same reasoning as above, found that as labels it was more consistent to call the geographically closest key for the pinky key, "4" and its alternatives "4a" (G#) and "4b" (F#) in turn. Again think of the beginner who knows no difference and is quite accepting of the labels without confusion or prejudice.
In the case of your own bassoon's keywork, adapt the chart to include such extras as 2b (which would be the third "position" for the 2nd finger).
For the possible confusion where the right hand has no keys, I would be happy enough if people agreed that the string should start with "L" and follow with "R" before each hand respectively.(Note: this chart is still in development and I even added a minor alteration when writing my example fingerings by separating the hands with a colon: thus C# would be rendered as LAab 123 : or LThAab 123 RThØ ØØØ
I personally don't feel the implications of showing null signs is attractive - when do you stop using them - why use them at all when the principle behind the system is to only show positive actions - i.e. the fingers are always off the instrument (by default) and a fingering only indicates fingers "on". This is also part of my strategy to be intuitive and "human based" rather than "instrument based". i.e. use the named finger(s) 1-4 to cover the hole or press the appropriate (finger designated) key - a choice of between one and nine (LTh) but normally just two. As in L1 or 1a; R4 or 4a or 4b;
It also matters not, that some finger are on holes L1 L2 L3 L4(Eb or more correctly D#) R1 R2 while others are on keys R3(G) R4(F).
All this is fine with me - I just hope to make life easier for the next generaton of bassoonists - maybe the old guard will need to make an effort.
Finally remember the chart is intended to be referred to note by note over a period of time under the guidance of a teacher. (e.g. I teach the formula (say for Bb) and also explain that the fingering consists of low A being raised to A# by the RTh key (which most bassoonists incorrectly call the Bb key).
Similarly the RTh F# key does actually raise F to F# but equally flattens G to Gb, whereas the middle F# is only achieved by flattening G to Gb (with R4b on my chart).
It is a minefield but I try to keep it consistent, simple and above all player based not instrument based.
Keep up the debate - I wish this chart to be as user friendly and unambiguous to young /new players as possible.
All of my students are given a copy at their first lesson - you can even roll the sheet of paper into a tube and presto you have the basic key layout of the bassoon with thumbs on one side and fingers on the other. I accompany it with a fingering chart for every basic fingering for the full range. I even reworked the diagrams of the Biggers Contra bassoon book but have not got around to rendering my own diagram yet.
As to copyright - I am happy for the whole bassoon study fraternity to use, modify or copy the principle but forbid commercial publication for profit of this system without appropriate granting of publishing rights. THe IDRS may disseminate it on the same understanding. Please acknowledge my ownership of the copyright in any act of "not for profit" dissemination.
Sincerely Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor