Part III Technique

Part three of my routine comprises quite a large area of information but it is all related to developing right hand technique and coordinating the right hand with articulation.  In keeping with the idea of focusing on a minimum number of variables, limit the range of these exercises at first.  Play scales from root to fifth, slurred, as quickly as possible, while maintaining control and accuracy.

scale frag

(The Clark studies work great for this as well.)  Concentrate on good hand posture while repeating the different scale patterns over and over.  This will develop muscle memory to the different finger patterns and eventually alleviate insecurities with the less common keys.  This is also a good place to instill proper first and third valve trigger usage.  The player can gradually add different articulation combinations and multiple tonguing exercises to fully round out their technique.

Here are some points to keep in mind when considering right hand “posture”.

1)      Thumb:  under the lead pipe between 1st and 2nd valve

a)      If you try to quickly grab or pinch something without thinking about it you will notice that your thumb is probably coming together with your index and second finger.  This is the position the hand works most efficiently so keep it the same with your valve work.

2)      Pinky:  NOT in lead pipe hook

a)      The pinky and fourth finger seem to be limited to similar movement as if they were tied together.  I find it best for nasty third valve combinations if my pinky is free to move and shadow my third finger.  If I inhibit my pinky by locking it in the lead pipe hook, I will also inhibit my third finger.  Example: push down valves 1 and 2, lock your pinky in the hook and trill with your third finger.  Then release your pinky keeping everything else the same and trill.  It should feel a little easier with the pinky free.

3)      Fingertips:  always as close to valve caps as possible

a)      Any finger movement that takes place above your valve caps is wasted movement and inefficient.  The only motion that actually changes sound is when the valve is depressing.  Your fingers only need to move ½ an inch rather than flailing 2 or 3 inches to push a valve down.

4)      Knuckles: try to keep your big knuckles (punching knuckles) at the same height as the valve caps

a)      Keeping your knuckles high will force you to push your valve straight down.  If you lower your knuckles down to lead pipe level or lower you will notice that your fingers are pressing the valve down at a 45-degree angle.  This will eventually cause problems with your valves plus it’s inefficient.  An added benefit to keeping your knuckles high is that if you also keep your wrist straight you will move your right elbow out of your ribcage and free up your breathing.

There are countless etude books dealing with technical issues. The player should always try to discover what the composers’ intent was for that particular etude or technical passage.  Usually etudes have a technical ‘theme’ or concept the composer is trying to stress and it is efficient practice for the player to identify and hone in on that particular concept.  Again, this is just being efficient.  The key to good technique is efficiency.  Minimize wasted movement and unnecessary effort!

Other related posts

Warm-Up / Development Routines

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Maintain your Warm-up Mode