Bassoon Lesson 5. BPD #37

<music: Vivaldi's E minor Bassoon Concerto>

Well, welcome back! I really hope that lessons are helpful for you 
advancing as a bassoonist. I hope that you are encouraged, working hard,
and enjoying playing bassoon. I enjoy playing bassoon and I want you to 
as well.

Sometimes I get frustrated playing the bassoon and I've explored a 
whole bunch of blind alleys and difficulties on the instrument that 
I hope that you can avoid. That is why right now I'm trying to give 
you some of these tips so that you can avoid some of the difficulties 
I have had and progress quickly playing bassoon and enjoying what 
you are doing. 

So in this portion right now we are going to discuss some of the 
more difficult fingerings on the bassoon. Particularly the ones that 
come to the young bassoonist, the beginning bassoonist. I am hoping 
that these will help you. 

I want to first start with C sharp 3 or D flat 3.This is a rather 
complicated fingering.

I am going to come up to the camera and show you what happens 
with the thumb. 

First for this fingering you have the front three fingers down.

At the back it becomes quite complex.

You need to have down the whisper key and this key

--the C sharp key, and this key

--the D key. 

So you have to learn to turn your thumb like that. 

You don't want the whisper key to come up: for you to lift up and 
put down these fingers and then come back.

But instead turn [pivot the thumb] like this.

Well, that is quite complicated and it will take you quite a while 
to master that particular fingering and the technique, to slowly and 
accurately move your thumb there.

There is a piece that I play that has a lot of that [C sharps]. You 
may have heard my performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee" before. 

The opening of it has that C sharp or D flat. 


Right in there: 


Right there is from the D to C sharp. 


It is not possible at that speed to pick up my thumb and put it down, 
pick it up, put it down again before and after I play that particular 
note [C sharp]. So you just don't have a choice. So learning the proper 
technique, developing those skills from the beginning, is really going 
to help you. 

Now the other difficult fingering on the bassoon is the forked fingering 
for the E flat.

This involves 1 [first finger] and 3 [third finger] down. This 2 is up, 
which is why they call it forked, there is a  space in between these two 

Most of the other woodwind instruments--the flute, the clarinet, the 
saxophone, and others--all avoid the forked fingerings. The bassoon, 
however, still has many forked fingerings. Attempts to get rid of it have 
been so clumsy that bassoonists have chosen to continue with the forked 

Now the left hand E flat (or D sharp), E flat 3, has 1 and 3 down and 
then again the whisper key.

This is, however, a bit unstable on our instrument. 

<demonstration of instability of E flat 3>

I can place the pitch all over the place. And sometimes it is not very 
stable. So I add fingers and right hand. Some people add the thumb B 
flat and the the first finger in the right hand.

I, however, like the second finger added.

It gives me a more resonant sound. I tend to choose fingerings that 
are more resonant because the bassoon often doesn't project well. So 
that is my choice. I realize this is a very clumsy fingering but if 
you learn it and start mastering it at young age, you can use it very quickly.

When I have very speedy notes, (as I just did in the "Flight of the 
Bumblebee," the opening I just played for you) I only use a left hand 
E flat. However, when I am playing slowly then I do add these other two 
fingers in the right hand. 

Well, you have progressed far enough now that you are ready to start 
notes above open F, what we may call "the break" on the bassoon. These 
notes, F sharp 3, G 3, and Ab 3 all have to use what we call the "half 

The half hole happens with the first finger, the left hand index [finger].  
The half hole motion is not made by sliding the finger, rather it is 
made by rolling the finger.

You can find the proper position of this hole on this finger by pressing 
down your finger very forcefully and then taking a look at the 
[impression of the] hole, where it appears on your finger.

It should appear on the upper portion of your finger.

It should not appear right in the middle. (Again the upper portion.) 
Let me do that again.

I hope that you can see that camera.

By having it on the upper portion you can then roll the finger back 
and forth in order to make very smooth motions. 


That is me going from an A natural to a G sharp. An A natural does 
not need the half hole, but the G sharp does. 


G natural needs it.


To play my G natural in tune I add this little finger key. It makes 
a big difference and lowers the pitch. Here is without it. 

<music: demonstration of adding and subtracting little finger key>

It lowers that pitch and gives a little more resonance to the note. So 
I encourage you do that as well.

And then F sharp.

<music: demonstration F sharp 3>

Now you will notice that just by changing the position of this hole 
[i.e. 1/4 open or 3/4 open] you can also alter the intonation a little 
bit. I have another of another video that talks fingering technique which 
goes into the tuning of those notes a bit. 

But let's not worry about that. Just try to get the half holes out and 
you will learn from experience how much to vent that particular hole. 
Well, those are some of the difficult fingerings on the bassoon you 
need a master at this time. Take your time, learn those fingerings 
very carefully, and you will be well rewarded by the time you put in. 

<music: Vivaldi's Concerto "La Notte">