Help needed with finger flexibility

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Tubby, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    I have always had trouble with finger flexibility ( semi quaver playing ), I've tried various things from playing scales to using different fingers on the valves.

    When I watch John Fletcher on Youtube playing the Flight of the Bumble bee his flexibility is incredible. Now it may just be that I have a different muscle structure in my hand or the fact that I have broken my knuckles a few times?

    Does anybody have any thoughts or ideas how I can improve my flexibility?
  2. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

  3. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    what a helpful response that is.......... Wonder why I didn't think of that!!!
  4. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Interval studies & semiquaver , broken chords, major / minor / dimished etc from the Arban.

    Start slow, slam the valves down use a metronome... and then increase speed.

    It takes time.
  5. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    I am a little surprised that amongst the excellent soloists at Norwich Citadel, you have not received any help with this problem.

    Whilst not offering a solution, I suspect that you have always been a bass player. In my early days in the SA, bass players were not usually encouraged to improve their dexterity and, as a consequence, many of them were not particularly adept at moving around fast semiquaver passages. My grounding was on euphonium, where it was almost essential to develop certain "techniques", including double and triple tonguing. Transferring to EEb bass later in my career, meant that I also transferred those very same skills. Leslie Condon was the "old school" SA bass player who inspired me ( and I suspect many others, too).

    The situation today is probably much different. There are excellent young bass players up and down the country who obviously received first rate tuition when first introduced to the instrument.

    I do sympathise with you, and wish I could offer some assistance, but perhaps you lacked that all-important guidance when you first picked up an instrument.
  6. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I have to agree. I was not given the needed tuition in semi Quaver finger flexability. Bass players were just thrown in the deep end and expected to work it out. I did get some tuition in my mid 20's and thankfully it has helped. But I still struggle with some intricate parts within some contest music.
  7. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    A couple of points:

    Firstly, make sure that you aim for accuracy and not speed. The mistake most players make is to try and play to fast too early. Make sure your fingers are abosolutely solid before increasing the tempo.

    Second, I always recommend the Allen Vizzuti books for finger flexibilities - the studies in their are excellent.
  8. popmills

    popmills New Member

    Hope this will help. 10 years ago I noticed that my fingers were getting stiff and started taking a one cod liver oil capsule a day. This helped I suspect I was developing early arthritis. Good luck Barry
  9. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    Clarke - Technical Studies for the Cornet
    Arban - Cornet Method
    Vizzutti - Book 1, Technical Studies

    If you make your way methodically through these books, dexterity will be easier to achieve.
    Start each exercise slowly (with a metronome) and gradually increase the tempo you play them at over a few weeks - if you try large increases in tempo you notice the difference, but if you gradually up the speed it increases without you noticing - you eventually find you are considerably quicker than when you started.

    Out of interest, when was the last time you took lessons?
    If you have tried a few different methods to increase your dexterity and found them all to be lacking, it could be something fundamental you are doing wrong - might be worth checking out with a decent teacher.
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Try learning piano. All the basic scales, arpeggios & exercises will help determine whether the problem is physical or not.
  11. Metronome set slow ...... bang the valves down hard. Pick keys that are not easy (say 3 and 4 sharps ( Arbands, Clarke and theres a Vizzuti Finger Study that would be a cracker on EEb. Time and consistency and keep at it. Don't be in a hurry to speed. Make sure you tongue and finger action as well as your blow and embochure focus are all well co ordinated and working together.

    Scale semiquaver type exercises first then arpeggio typ exercises eg Dim 7th in Arbands are good.

    PS: I think we've shared a CO at some stage.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  12. catto09

    catto09 Member

    You need to build up the strength in your fingers. As well as exercises while playing, try focussing on building up the muscles themselves. It's like everything else, you're not going to be able to play efficiently without first building the muscles which you require to do so.

    I reccommend buying one of the following;

    I'm not so sure what the difference between LIGHT and EXTRA LIGHT is. I'm not sure there's much. But I bought XL and the tensions are quite strong.

    The beauty of this is that you can be doing this while walking or driving.

    After this, then move on to the valves. Bang them down, and do lots of scales. Not just straight forward scales, but ones with lots of different sharps and flats. The arban exercises are good for this.
  13. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    You're absolutely right I went on BBb when I was 14 and stayed there until 31 ( 34 now ). Whilst on BBb most of the music played didn't require flexible fingers however since I moved onto EEb things have obviously changed. I have improved in the 3 years I've been on EEb however I want to be better, I can tongue quickly but can't get my fingers to move at the same tempo. Both Richard Woodrow and David Winch have suggested various things to me and using these ideas have really contributed to my improvement.
  14. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    Which CO's to you refer to then?
  15. Derek and Helen
  16. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Finger Exercises

    A further suggestion. There is a SA publication of solos for Eb instruments (it's the one containing, amongst other solos, Celestial Morn, and The Old Rustic Bridge). For a little "light" relief, some of those will certainly get your fingers working!

    I have a copy. It's one I purchased some time ago from Just Brass. If you want it, let me have your address and I will gladly send it to you. THIS IS NOT A PHOTOCOPY.

    By the way; did David Winch play a solo during the ISB's visit, and if so, what was it?


  17. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    Yes David did he played a solo written by Paul Sharman called You Love Me, he played it absolutely beautifully and is playing it when Norwich Citadel Band go on tour to the US and Canada 15th - 25th Oct.

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