Using the Alternate F Sharp Key on the Bassoon

Terry B. Ewell demonstrates the use of the alternate F sharp key.

Bassoon Digital Professor video #63,

<music: "Flight of the Bumblebee">

Welcome, this is Terry Ewell and this short video I will be presenting the alternate F sharp 
key on the bassoon.

This is a key that is often neglected by beginners but really is quite useful particularly for 
intermediate to advanced player.

There are three reasons for using this alternate F sharp key. The first is to smoothly transition 
from F sharp 2 (F#2) or F sharp 3 (F#3) to an other note that uses the right hand thumb for the fingering.

In addition, it is absolutely essential for speed of motion between notes using F sharp and the 
right hand thumb, An last of all, many players use the alternate F sharp to tune the F#3, that is the 
F sharp above open F, because this note tends to be little sharp, The alternate F sharp fingering is 
one that is just slightly lower pitch.

Let's talk about proper use of the key. First off, this is the alternate F sharp key. It's that key that is 
set above the F key here. I ask you to get out your bassoon and test this out for yourself.

If you press down on the key here--further up--it is really quite difficult to depress the key.

If you press, however, at the edge here, it's much easier. This is a lever.

Obviously at the end of a lever it's going to require less effort to move the key. So this one of the 
keys for using it. Many beginners have the wrong impression that they need to put their little finger 
way up here, and they find it consequently very hard to activate the key.

Instead you only need to get just the edge of a key to activate the F sharp key. 

Let's give a few examples in music so you can understand the use of the alternate F sharp key.

This first example is from the Orefici Melodic Studies number 2. 

You can see one note where I have an upside down A over that note. The upside down A is the 
symbol that I use in music to represent an alternate fingering. In this case the alternate F sharp fingering. 

In this case I am going to use that alternate F sharp fingering because I go from an F sharp to an A 
sharp. Here's a demonstration of that measure. 


Now in this case I could have leaped the right hand thumb and gone from F sharp to A sharp.

But you can see there's a wide distance in this leap. If I had a slur this it would be impossible to 
do that without some sort of grace note. 


But if I do this with little finger: <music> I can make it very smooth. In fact I can have a lot of speed. 


I couldn't possibly do that with the right hand thumb.


This is about as fast as I can move with the right hand thumb. 
So it's quite essential to work this into your technique. In fact as you are practicing your arpeggios, 
the F sharp major arpeggio will need to use is fingering and you should regularly work that into 
your technique.

The next example of interest for us comes from Orefici Melodic Studies number 3.

This is unusual because we have two areas, two parts of the music, where we need to give the technique 
for moving from F key to then the F sharp key.

The first one an is approach from G flat.


If you notice for the high G flat I'm using this fingering. Then for the G flat I just rock my little finger.

I don't slide my little finger. I just rock it, catching the end of this F sharp key to activated it. 


From there I then go on to the B flat.

We also have approaches to this from low F or even the lower octave. This is the next example found in 
Orefici number 3. 

<music> I didn't do it well that time.

You can see how to start on low F and then move up. 

Well, I hope this video has been helpful for you. Not only do you need to use this little 
finger for F sharp (or the G flat key) for approaches to B flat but you might also need you set for 
an approach to E flat if you use the right hand thumb, or for any other fingerings that require the right
hand thumb. Thank you. God bless. 

<music: "Flight of the Bumblebee">