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Thread: Learning correct fingering vs transposing by default when playing a 2nd instrument

  1. #1
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    Default Learning correct fingering vs transposing by default when playing a 2nd instrument

    I have been playing the Soprano recorder for sometime now, and also the Alto for a while as well.

    Thing is, I never bothered learning the correct fingering for the Alto, that is, the fingering is the same, but only a 5th down.

    So whenever I sight read music for the alto, I'm playing in a different key that it was written in.

    I realize many instrumentalists do this by tradition, but I would actually like to be able to play in the correct key.

    My concern is if I start playing the concert pitch and learn the correct fingerings by heart, is this going to affect my playing the soprano? Will I get confused, and occasionally play a G instead of a C for example? On the other hand I could simply arrange the score and read from the transcribed music, but that seems too complex and expensive...

    What do other musicians do who play a transposing instrument?
    What do the Pedagologists say on this?


    Thanks in Advance.

  2. #2
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    I play Eb, CC and BBb tubas. All in bass clef (most bass clef instruments are non-transposing). I don't necessarily think too hard about which fingering to use, I have just learned the fingerings for each tuba. When I play, I don't transpose, but I know which tuba I am holding and I use those fingerings. It's like being (truly) bilingual. One does not translate , one just expresses in the system selected. It also helps each tuba is very different from each other in size and sound.

    Having dabbled lightly in recorders, I did the same thing here. Instead of adding a layer of transformation (ie. transposition), I just "tell myself" that "This is an alto recorder and this is how we play it". I was never fast enough to "transpose" (which goes like this "I see an F which is xxx on the soprano but I am playing an alto so I need to play a fifth lower (or whatever) and that would be a C fingering in the soprano so here goes")

    Granted, practice and a good ear are essential. I think the more one removes calculation and transformational processes ( in the Chomskyan sense) from musical performance, the easier it becomes.

    BTW I also play two row diatonic button accordions, which are like harmonicas. I apply the same method here, as these come in many different keys. My success rate is directly proportional to the amount of time I spend practicing playing in concert pitch on different keyboards.

    I hope this helps

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