Topic: Oboe finger placement and economy of movement

As an amateur oboist, retiree, I know the necessity/desirability of not only keeping the fingers essentially placed just touching the keys while playing but I also would like to know how important it is to keep the 5th finger also placed just adjacent to the keys.  It is not easy to keep the 5th finger in place without its wandering upward with the movement of the 4th finger.


Re: Oboe finger placement and economy of movement

No self-respecting Vulcan would allow his little finger to move with his ring finger, but as human beings, we can't help it. It has to do with the very physiology of our hands. I think when people talk about keeping your fingers close to the keys, they are talking about everything except the right hand thumb and the pinkies. To worry about this would therefore be "highly illogical".


David Crispin
Crispin's Creations and Accessories
freelance oboist. Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

Re: Oboe finger placement and economy of movement

Not just applicable to Oboe - this principle affects all woodwind and presumably keyed brass instruments.

I don't tax myself with anxiety over small "sympathetic movement" (which occurs with almost any finger for me except pinkies!)

The main focus I apply is to the most economic movement (distance = time) and the desirability of using "formulae" style thinking to "print" whole fingerings discreetly on the keys. (see advice on the fingering chart I posted a few months back).

Always assume that the most "natural" fingering is the one with no keys depressed and fingers almost or just touching the keys, but sufficiently above the open holes (say max 5mm) as to not affect pitch.

All fingers descend from that neutral state to whatever pattern required (and the unused fingers stay in that neutral state) and retun to the neutral state if not required by the next "overprinted" fingering.

Get the thinking right and the action will be right by default.

Sub-comment: bassoonists even apply this to the R hand thumb!

Cheers Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor