Topic: Low note fingerings

I am a bassoonist who returned to playing a couple of years ago after so many years that I'm embarrassed to say just how many!  My private lessons of all those years ago are a faint memory, and I have no ability to take lessons again at this point.  So I have had to persevere with the Weissenborn by myself and work myself up to speed on my own.

I have achieved a pretty good level of competence now and play in a couple of groups and a wind ensemble, so I feel good about my technical abilities now, except for the very low notes.  I find my left hand assumes a very awkward position to finger those thumb keys and am wondering what is the current thinking on how the thumb should be placed to finger D, C, B, and Bb.

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Re: Low note fingerings

Hi Nancy:

I think it may be slightly different for different people depending on how their thumb and hand are made.  I can bend my thumb upwards somewhat so I use the "heel" of my thumb for low D and C and then simply bend my thumb down for B and B-flat.  This way everything is in position and I can get to the notes quickly.  I have seen some use the top part (knuckle).  I don't know if that works well.  What are you doing that is awkward?  Can you get to the notes fast enough if you play scales down there or is that your concern?  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Low note fingerings

Hi Nancy

I find that I am selective depending on the general flow of the notes. By that I mean if I am going only as far as low C, I allow a more right-angled position (about 2 o'clock) of thumb across toward the bocal and register keys (I have the supplementary  square C plate). My thumb is applied above the knuckle to the D key, the joint is applied to the square C plate and the pad is able to depress the Bocal or C# key all in one compass. This is good for middle C# as well which I finger as LTh Aab 123 (see my diagram uner Fingering Charts / Codings noting that I do not show the supplementary C pad).

On the other hand (so to speak) if my passage work requires a visit to low B and Bb, I will angle the thumb more acutely (toward the bell between 12 and 1 o'clock). This position would also be required on bassoons not fitted with the supplementary C pad.

It could be debated that having the supplementary pad allows for a degree of laziness and occasional "fixes" where the thumb is badly aligned for some passagework - comments?

Neville

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Low note fingerings

Thanks for the quick replies.  You asked exactly what I'm doing, Kent.  I have been in the habit of playing low C straight on, as it were, which means my left hand tends to make a sort of "tent" out to the side.   Then if I have to get down to B or Bb I have a big hand position change, and I know that's not right, as it means I can't do anything at speed.  It's a bad habit I've gotten into, and I'll have to analyze your two answers to see how to change that habit.

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Re: Low note fingerings

You might make up some 5 note exercises down there and experiment with different thumb/hand positions and see what works best.  (Bb C D Eb F Eb D C Bb, etc, for example)  Good luck Nancy. 

Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Low note fingerings

I do not have a low extension (located below B and Bb keys) but I found that I could improve my technique by placing my thumb knuckle near the bottom right corner of the C key. By placing the thumb there you should be able to cover the D key with the portion of your thumb nearest your palm, the B key with the portion just above the knuckle, and the Bb key (fairly high on the key) with the tip. (similar to what Neville said)
hope that helps.

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