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Do you know which fingering of F to use?

Just yesterday I finalized and posted Lesson 3 of my online course Switching to Oboe - a course for band students who are switching to oboe from another instrument!


The longest video I edited for Lesson 3 was about the Eb major scale and the 3 - yes 3! - fingerings for F natural, and that’s what I want to talk about today.


Using the proper fingering for F natural is a huge topic for oboe students to cover with a private teacher because Band Method books usually only give them the one least best option: Forked F. AND, most method books only provide the Forked F fingering with optional pinky Eb key, which is optional to make certain technical passages easier on the fingers.



One of my biggest pet peeves is when students rely only on Forked F. It doesn’t sound as good as Regular or Left F, and is way harder to tune! To help your students be flexible in the F fingering they use, here is the order of fingerings to use, in order from preferred to least preferred.

  1. Regular F

  2. Left F (if you don’t have left F, go on to 3)

  3. Forked F (Remember: Eb key is optional)

I notice time and time again how hard it is to break the habit of only using the Forked-F fingering when I work with students who have been playing for even 6 months without private lessons.

Now, I’ll admit, many oboe students have instruments without the Left F key, in which case they’ll be playing Forked F a lot! Another compounding factor is that most band music is in keys which generally require alternate fingerings of F. But I believe that students should be able to use all the fingerings available to them for their reasonable range (up to at least C5, if not Eb5 by a year or two of playing).


I'm on a mission to help oboe students everywhere use all the fingerings available to them for the appropriate situation, and default to the best in tune and best sounding F (Regular F) when they don't need an alternate fingering.


The rules about when to use which F are:

Use Left F if:

  1. You need to play an F before or after a half-hole note (Eb/D#, D, Db/C#)

  2. You need to play an F before or after any note that uses the third finger of your right hand (Low D and below)

  3. You’re playing scale exercises or arpeggios in the keys of Bb, Eb, and sometimes F major.

Use Forked F if:

  1. If you don’t have a Left F and you need to play an F before or after a half-hole note.

  2. If you don’t have a Left F and you need to play an F before or after a note which uses RH 3 finger

  3. For everyone: In combination with Left Eb. (typically in the keys of Ab, Db, G, B, and sometimes E major)

  4. For everyone: If an F is between a note which uses your L pinky and a note which uses your RH 3 finger.

  5. If you don’t have a Left F and you’re playing in the key of Bb, Eb, and sometimes F major

Ok, I’ll step off my soapbox for now with the hopes that you’ll take these fingering rules and apply them with your students! (No more C or F major scale with forked F!!)


See you next week!

Alli

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