Topic: Tongue and finger coordination

I was interested in Neville Forsythe's comments on tongue-finger coordination in the thread on aging and tongue speed from nearly two years ago. Neville, could you expand on the hierarchical time manager idea? It sounds like something that might be useful for me, in my 50's and just at the end of my first year of bassoon studies. I have some perceptual glitches (things just aren't wired the same as in most people's brains), and I am really struggling with keeping my tongue and my fingers together.

Is there any particular way that you approach or explain the time manager thing when working with students? I think that I get the basic idea, but I'm foggy on the particulars of how to get it going.

Thanks,
Bill

Share

Re: Tongue and finger coordination

Hi Bill

In the spirit of sports psychology, I analysed the manner in which coordination between tongue and fingers might be best and most intuitively achieved. It is tied up with the knowedge of fingerings, in that each fingering must be capable of "printing" on the instrument as a discreet "formula". The best way to develop / practise this is to play all fingerings from the "no fingers" note (open F on bassoon) so recognition of a note produces the entire pattern "over-printed" so to speak, regardless of the previous note or notes. i.e. avoid playing a run by simply adding (or subtracting) another finger, or "swapping" fingers etc.

The coordination aspect is premised on the concept of time (beat and sub-divisions) being the highest element in the process.

If the player is "hooked into" a time environment, all actions proceed form there.

At the precise moment decided / dictated, a "time signal" is "fired", the tongue makes an action on the reed and the finger pattern is applied. Both actions are simultaneously carried out on the "fire" command.

Music involves a series of "nows". The principal task is to determine those "nows" and act upon them.

In contrast it is often the case that a player will try to practise repeated tonguing "machine -gun" fashion and then try to match the fingering actions (often by amending previous fingerings by adding, subtracting, etc). The corollary is to practise runs and try to match the tonguing. Both must be avoided.

I use analogies for my students which sometimes help.

Baking cookies!  Instead of assembling cookies from the individual ingredients and (more bizarrely) trying to alter the ingredients to create different flavoured cookies, we nowadays go to the pantry and select the cookie we want - ready-made. There is always an endless supply of cookies in the pantry - and every one is delivered on request fully assembled.

As long as the sense of "moment" remains the priority, the rest should fall into place naturally (and sometimes surprisingly). The aim is to "think right" and leave the rest to well prepared systems to deliver without interference from conscious actions.

Hope this explains my reference.

Best wishes Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Tongue and finger coordination

Neville;

Thank you!

That makes it much clearer to me. I'd been doing exactly what you say not to do, often with frustrating results.

My (most excellent) teacher will be glad too --- I don't really like the open f on my bassoon (to the extent that I subconsciously leave the note out in fast passages, over and over). I tell him that the problem seems to come from the admittedly senseless fact that open f just doesn't seem like a real note to me, and he tells me that open f is not only a real note, but that it's probably THE Note and I need to pay so much more attention to it. Now I have even more impetus to work with it.

The whole idea of being hooked into a time environment and of a series of "nows"  also fits in with work we've been doing with my slowly developing sense of pulse --- the more complex parts of counting have been quite a challenge to me.

Thanks, again,
Bill

Share

Re: Tongue and finger coordination

Hello Neville, could you expand on your first paragraph above, namely, the best way to practice and develop this sense of "now."  Would you, for instance, practice a scale by playing F, C, F, D, F, E, F, G, F, A, etc.?  Or an arpeggio, or whatever?

Share

Re: Tongue and finger coordination

Hi Nancy

I would do exactly that with scales or any sort of sequential (however angular) series of notes. Playing scales in that fashion would reinforce that we are not simply adding and subtracting fingers but "printing" whole fingerings each time.
In a scale /arpeggio situation you would be demonstrating your reflex knowledge of every fingering involved.  What I could also add is that you do not need to actually sound each intervening open F - just release the fingers (involves playing staccato or at least detached so the F doesn't sound).

I also use the analogy of "hot" bassoon - (you can only touch the keys briefly then release them) during this exercise. I found this approach very helpful when dealing with the Eb arpeggio passages in Mozart K191 first Mvt - any "finger-tying" or untidy passage will respond. It is not only useful for coordination of tongue and fingers as the original question posed, but in so many more applications we come across every day in our playing.

Regards Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor