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Is it standard accepted good technique to play with your fingers arched? I have always played with flat fingers. I have been having some issues playing certain passages at higher tempos and tonight I tried arching my fingers. It felt a little weird at first and the thought of doing it made me fumble the fingerings a little at first. once I got more use to it my sound seemed to really clean up. I really noticed a big difference when I would do things like jumping down to the bell keys in the middle of a passage. Kind of like playing your own bass note hits in your phrase and then jumping back up to what ever line you were doing. Think Eddie Harris.

I have been playing with my fingers on the pearls for a long time now but the addition of the finger arch seems to be another link in the chain for me. I wounder if a good classical teacher would have schooled me on that a long time ago?
 

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I have been playing with my fingers on the pearls for a long time now but the addition of the finger arch seems to be another link in the chain for me. I wounder if a good classical teacher would have schooled me on that a long time ago?
I don't know, but it sure seems to help me on clarinet (even though I sometimes have to pound it into my brain), and clarinet is even less forgiving than sax in terms of technique.

Honestly, though, what's probably more likely is that you're paying closer attention to the little things that improve technique. That's step one in making good habits automatic... or so I'm told.
 

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Having your fingers arched is a lot more relaxed and having them flat adds avoidable tension. I teach all my students to have them in a relaxed position, letting the fingertips sort of automatically fall on to the pearl keys.
 

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By "arched" do you mean getting the finger tip to come down vertically )or close to vertically) on the keytouch? This is good in flute and can be on clarinet, but the body is much smaller. On a saxophone I believe this technique may cause strain, well it does for me. However I am not saying toughtenor is necessarily wrong, but I think it could depend on the size of your fingers. I don't think a small child would be able to arch their fingers round a saxophone, especially the right hand.
 

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A slight arch is the best in my opinion. Like when you put your hand flat on a desk and roll the fingers back and forth. If they ae straight you can feel tension. If they are too curved you also feel tension. In the middle of those two extremes is the best for me. Just slightly arched and relaxed. I think it is similar to how I type also.


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Yup. Hold your arm straight out and let your wrist flop down. Then restraighten it. Stay relaxed while you do this. When your wrist is straight, your fingers have a natural curve to them. You want to stay as natural/neutral as possible. Any flattenening or lifting up of the fingers from this position means you're using unnecessary muscles. Depending on what you're doing and how you practice, this may lead to injury, or it may not. Fingers curved is "more efficient." I was taught to play like this and I teach it to my students, but at the end of the day, I don't think it makes a tremendous deal. Just look at Brecker... fingers flat and flapping all over the place. "Terrible" technique... and yet so well executed. LOL If you're proficient at playing with flat fingers and don't feel like changing, I don't think you're missing anything. If you DO like the difference, now you can feel justified!
 

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Technique, allot of the time means nothing, the end result is what matters.
I don't necessarily disagree, but with students, often times they think they are making a "decision" to play with x,y,z technique, but in reality they are only doing what comes easiest. When I studied with Joe Viola he never demanded that you
play how he suggested, but he did want you to show him some proficiency at the technique before deciding if that is your bag or not. Funny part is, you always agreed that the technique was valuable after you worked at it and became good at it.
In regards to curvey-ness of fingerings on sax . . . I can't recall ever having a student have issues as a result of finger arch or even exact placement on the pearls ...
The fact that you are thinking about it suggests to me that you shouldn't worry about it.
 

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Is it standard accepted good technique to play with your fingers arched?...I wounder if a good classical teacher would have schooled me on that a long time ago?
Yes, standard woodwind technique is to naturally arch the fingers. Yes, a classical teacher would have nipped it in the bud about day 3.
 

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Look at Charlie Parker. It looks like he has the horn deep in his fist.

In the end all that matter is what comes out. I watch some of my favorites and it varies. Mark Turner has the arch. Donny Mccaslin seems more flat.

What I like about the arch is it tends to reduce any carpal tunnel issues and help me remain more aware of what is happening.
 

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I think you can achieve a certain type of "articulation" by playing with flat fingers that definitely sounds different to playing with relaxed curved fingers. So to have maximum control of the way you play the saxophone, you should be able to do both.
 

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Not sure I qualify as a 'technique expert' but I can't imagine how you can play the sax with fingers straight (no arch at all). If that's what you mean by flat fingers, I don't see how you do it. I play with fingers curved just enough to touch the pearls with my finger pads, the part where a fingerprint would be taken. I do tend to straighten the fingers out somewhat when playing the right hand side keys, but otherwise they remain curved. I really don't see how you can do it any other way.
 

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whatever the technique you use if you don't get good result out of it, it is all nothing. I would say just go for what you feel is working with you.
 

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I think you can achieve a certain type of "articulation" by playing with flat fingers that definitely sounds different to playing with relaxed curved fingers. So to have maximum control of the way you play the saxophone, you should be able to do both.
I have never heard of this, I don't understand how your fingers could have any effect on the sound.
 

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I have never heard of this, I don't understand how your fingers could have any effect on the sound.
Looking at it from the other end of the spectrum, if you play a descending legato line and close the keys incredibly slowly/softly, your fingers definitely have an effect on the sound (i.e. you'll sound like you're smudging the transition between notes).

So it makes sense to me (in addition to me being able to physically hear a difference) that closing the keys faster/harder should achieve some difference in sound.

Then the next logical step is that you can generate even more "power" to hit down the keys with straight fingers (ala Monk on piano). That said, I'm not necessarily talking about totally flat fingers - obviously you still need to be able to reach the keys...
 

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"if you play a descending legato line and close the keys incredibly slowly/softly..."

Yes, but who ever closes a key incredibly slowly? If they did, this wouldn't be an issue of arched fingers/or not, but of mental capacity.
 

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I'm not saying that you should always play with flat fingers, in the same way that I wouldn't say you should play with your teeth on the reed. BUT you can use these techniques to get different sounds (although I'm not getting much agreement on that...)

@JohnGalt - I was just using that as an extreme example that proves that fingers can have an effect on sound
 
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