Fifth Bassoon Lesson

Uploaded by tewelltube on 17.06.2008


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
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 [fingers].
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 fingerings.
Now the left hand E flat (or D sharp), E flat 3, has 1 and 3 down and then again the whisper
This is, however, a bit unstable on our instrument.

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 hole."
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
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.

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.

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.