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 Post subject: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 9:27 pm 
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I've played about sixteen years. I use a classical grip on my left hand
and pipers on my right (the fingers out straight). I've been watching flute
lessons (Boehm) on Youtube advising students to curve the fingers
on the rt hand, not use straight fingers. The teacher says it's faster with curved fingers.
If there is some truth to this I will
try to retrain my right hand (the name of the game is to play as well
as I can). Though I can't say I'm eager to do so.
I do note that the flutes I'm mostly playing are meant to be
played with curved rt-hand fingers. If the fingers are straight they run into
blocks. Somebody back in the day thought this was a good position for players,
evidently. What do you'all think?


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:55 am 
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I use the same "combined" grip on my flutes, especially the ones with big holes. But I have classical "all fingers curved" on my small holed Rudall and French flute.

I just don't manage (I tried a lot) to keep the classical grip on large holed flutes. To be honest I don't really understand why.


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 8:24 am 
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As a classically trained (albeit out of practice) Boehm player making the transition to Irish flute, my teacher (Shannon Heaton) occasionally encouraged me to straighten my fingers out a bit in order to facilitate ornamentation. Nothing overly dramatic - I'm not fundamentally changing my grip - but just enough to make sure the ornaments are sharp. I find that with curved fingers I'm more likely to have the occasional 99% vs 100% hole coverage, which makes the ornaments less crisp. This is not an issue in even fast melody speed, and for the record, I played an open-holed Boehm.

If you think about playing and speed, an extremely fast melody - or even a fast trill for that matter - is a much slower speed than what a sharp ornament usually requires. Assuming that the online Boehm experts are correct that curved fingers allow for faster playing, and assuming my own experience with flat/curved fingers and sharp ornaments isn't completely unique, there might be a trade off here based on your objective.

Finally, I suspect the marginal gain in speed is probably at the higher end of the bpm spectrum than what might be necessary. Given you've played for 16 years and are comfortable with your grip, the gain/pain cost/benefit trade off seems minimal at best, and potentially counter-productive.


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:35 am 
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Thanks to all for these helpful observations. I may play with this
(forgive the pun) and see what happens with straighter fingers. I sure would like
to be able to play faster is why. But what the hey! Nothing ventured...
Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 4:39 pm 
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Interesting thread!

I come from a Boehm flute background and have been playing with curved and close fingers for more than 23 years. Having recently become serious about Irish trad, one of my Irish flute teachers (who also plays both Boehm and simple system) encouraged me to flatten out my right hand position for faster ornamentation, and also that it is ok to let the fingers fly a bit for leverage - a big no no in modern/Boehm flute technique! I find it feels like a much more natural position on the simple system flute, and that I can do ornamentation quicker than if using finger tips. My left hand is essentially the same as Boehm flute, but that hand doesn’t allow the same freedom as the right hand anyway because of the balance point.

Maybe a can of worms, but I feel like whatever feels most natural and doesn’t inhibit facility is fair game. I’ve seen all kinds of techniques (especially with old school Irish flute players) that would be unthinkable in the classical world, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 9:10 am 
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Location: New Hampshire, USA, or Co Clare...
This says it all: "whatever feels most natural and doesn’t inhibit facility is fair game. "

It is always better to work on improving one's embouchure and developing a consistently strong, clear tone, than to worry about such technical things as straight or curved fingers, or bent or straight wrist, all things being equal. Worry about the sound and not about the fiddly bits. Too many players -- especially true of fiddlers -- don't think enough about the quality of the sound they are producing.

There is no point to learning to play tricky ornaments, or cuts or slides, or knowing 500 tunes, if your tone is weak or whispery or airy. You want to be on the beat, in the pocket of the rhythm, which is hard to do if you can't develop a strong, flexible sound that you can control to best phrase the tune.

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Last edited by Julia Delaney on Thu May 10, 2018 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 9:26 am 
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Thanks again to all. much to think about.


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:56 pm 
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Im Not a flute player so take this comment with a pinch of salt , but surely playing with full keys would by its nature require a different technique? Compared to open holes on a simple system.?
Also body ergonomics would require a slight curve and not hyperextension , so straight fingers , I'm a Piper , would be straight but with a slight curve , definitely not hyperextended.
As regards distance , well I favour as close a grip as possible as a Piper ,whistler and fiddler. What exactly that distance is ! Is in my case rather random :-)
Grip wise I play a B chanter Which has quite a stretch and a pastoral chanter which seems even wider!! So pipers grip is essential.
The point I would emphasise is that a natural curve no sharp angles , allows a natural flow of energy , so pipers grip it is, but what exactly IS pipers grip :-) it's about useing the second pad as well as the first , not tips of fingers, a slight angle to allow the stretch of accomadating a wide gap between holes and a relaxed hand .
I imagine that a C simple system flute , would require greater stretch. Are there B flutes?
Anyhow just a few comments from another perspective .
Cheers

Ps speed is a function of relaxation. By that I mean we have 2 groups of muscles, those that bring the fingers down and those that raise them. If both muscle groups are tense.... your going to be slow! So by consciously isolating these muscles and relaxing the opposite muscles you can increase your speed considerably.
So put you hand on your knee and push down with your finger and feel the arm muscles . Turn you hand over and push against your knee with your finger as if lifting them off the flute. So pushing down you will feel tense muscles under the arm and pushing up, on top of the arm.
Try to consciously feel which is which with your brain and relax the opposite muscles. If they are both tense whatever your doing.... your " driving with the brakes on"

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Heres a few tunes round a table, first three sets;

http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/werty
http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/jigs-willie
http://soundcloud.com/fiddlerwill/jigs


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:53 pm 
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fiddlerwill wrote:
... speed is a function of relaxation.

And relaxation is a function of familiarity. In part, anyway.

I've tried a spectrum of grips, and I kept going back to full "piper's". It wasn't for lack of trying. I'm pretty sure it was because of having small hands; the lateral stretch at the finger tips is a lot broader than I can get with the fingers curved, and being determined to play simple-system flute, my anatomy seems to have given me little choice in the matter if I want my hands to keep feeling their best. Other than that I'm not particularly vested in the matter, except to add that I don't think I've suffered any functional disadvantage in terms of Trad music, at least. Crisp, swift, well-timed ornamentation is absolutely possible with straight(ish) fingers.

The only downside for me was that an upper hand "piper's" grip means I can't operate a standard Bb key, and have to crossfinger those. I've kicked myself every day for not having had the foresight to order a double-touch Bb key. Sure, one gets by, and the 2nd 8ve crossfingered Bb is surprisingly great, but it's the principle of the thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 4:29 pm 
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Julia Delaney wrote:
This says it all: "whatever feels most natural and doesn’t inhibit facility is fair game. "

I'm inclined to agree. While perhaps I shouldn't as someone teaching young people to play all sorts of instruments and sometimes struggling to convince them there are good reasons why I ask for something and it's not easier, more fluent or controlled their way, I think the experienced player can also know best (for his/her self). Take my right hand; I've gone more flat-fingered since getting my Copley four-key because low D or Eb to F (with short F key only) is much smoother that way. And forty-odd years of flute playing's enough to tell me I know best (for me on my flute) there. Likewise my left hand position, which (forced by my own physical limitations) might look awkward but works quite nicely for me on flute where it'll always be under more uncomfortable tension on the different geometry and playing position of my smallpipe chanters.

Jim, you've been playing flute long enough to know what works for you. If some change makes things better, then it's probably worth working at the change. If it doesn't, then it's not.

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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 7:57 pm 
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I was told at session this week that I would need to transition away from a piper’s grip on the right hand if I ever upgrade to a keyed flute. I tested this out on my friend’s old Rudall and it did seem to be the case. But I can’t imagine my hands really being able to stretch enough to play with the same part of the finger that I use for whistle playing.


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 12:49 pm 
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As a consequence of thinking about this thread (you folks are immensely helpful to me),
I've been playing with my rt hand fingers curved. At first it was awkward, but I note
that this is rapidly becoming more comfortable and natural. I have largish hands and what
follows is entirely about me. There does seem an advantage, to wit. With fingers curved
I am coming down on the holes with my fingers' first digit, even the ball. As these parts of the
finger are more sensitive (than the second part of the finger) I feel the holes a bit better,
and the part of my fingers that close the holes is more shaped like the holes they close. I
certainly feel the holes when using pipers grip rt hand, but somewhat less well. So I (for now) think this is more precise
(for me), less of a blunt instrument, and that it may actually help make for speed--though this remains
to be seen. Also I've been watching videos of people playing baroque flute, and I find their
position instructive. Emphatically FWIW/YMMV


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 1:58 pm 
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I have struggled with similar issues on the mandolin. There are standard “classical” methods, but the best players vary tremendously in both right and left hand technique. That seems to be the case with ITM flute players, as well. I start looking for efficiency in technique as a guide. One of the best examples I have seen is this video of Harry McGowan. I can’t see much of his right hand, but the overall movement is absolutely minimal.
https://vimeo.com/162391670


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 8:25 am 
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I have a six key flute and play with the piper's grip on my right hand and have no problem with the keys. If I played with a piper's grip on my left hand I would have a problem with some of the keys, I have tried it.

What is strange is that my flute teacher, immensely talented, plays with his finger tips on both hands. I tried to emulate him but it never clicked for me and I still use both grips in my playing.


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 Post subject: Re: Right-hand fingers
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 1:33 am 
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I play my eight key and keyless flutes using "pipers grip", both hands. For me it just seems to be the most natural, and relaxed way to play. So whatever works for you. I don't think there is a right or wrong way. I'm working on improving my tone which I think is most important, as David mentioned.


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