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Discussion Starter #1
Another quick question - I am currently playing Autumn Leaves and have to two notes in quick sucession that are driving me nuts! - basically I need my little finger to move from a low B to a low C# but for some reason stretching down to press the b note causes it to "lock" so then it wont move over easily down to the low C#.

Que - is this a common problem - or is it a sign of old age!

Thanks Clare
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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That is a tricky technique, using the roller. You need to use strength from the whole hand rather than just the pinky and the sax does need to be in good adjustment or it's hard/impossible.

However, the tune is usually E minor alto (you're playing alto?) Most people would play the whole thing an octave up from where you're playing it. The tune is a lot easier then. It's a good exercise to play it low but those jumps down to low B are going to be hard to keep nice and mellow.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi - yes I am playing alto - and my Teacher has said its tricky but I am finding it at the moment nearly impossible - aside from any other issue my finger just remains locked for a moment before I can move it -problem is that the backing track does not have the same long pause!
 

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Be patient, this sort of thing takes a little time. You're playing a Keilwerth, no? Don't press too hard on the low B. Also, don't play with just the tip of your finger. You may want to try to lay your finger a little bit more flat. That way you can help the finger movement by doing a little twist from the wrist.
 

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What gets stuck, your finger or the key? If the finger, is it actually a joint problem, like in arthritis or is it just that your finger doesn't slide across from one key to the other freely? Actually, as Warp X said, you shouldn't be pressing down on B so much with the tip of the pinky as using the flat meaty part of the last phalange and moving it back towards the C# with a pulling/rocking/sliding motion so it glides across on the roller.

The exact technique will vary depending on your sax, but generally to do this the roller needs to move freely. If the rollers on those keys aren't loose enough it's harder to roll back and forth between them. If that's the problem either loosen the screws up a tad by yourself or go to your tech and have him put some lube inside the rollers. In older horns crud gets in there and often they don't roll very freely.

The other thing that can help is to rub the pinky keys with some oil from your nose or forehead, or even some cork grease, to facilitate sliding around on them. But above all, one needs to practice running patterns with all those low notes enough to improve the technique, something which I find I tend to shy away from more than I should. Tim Price has an exercise for just that purpose and I know that a bit of workout with it every day could really help me a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Jazz - I am afraid it is my finger that gets stuck. I find it a bit of a stretch reaching for the note and then my finger kind of locks before I can move it again............ I can get the B flat sounding roughly of, but cannot quickly move from one note to the other without a lot of swearing! I know it takes practice too, but not sure if I a finger locking problem is a general issue or - at the ripe old age of 48 - I am clearly getting joint issues - ugh!
 

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I'm no doctor, so I can't advise you on that kind of problem. I'd go to a good orthopedic doc and have him examine the finger to see what the cause is, whether joint, tendon, ligament, or whatever. It sort of sounds like it cramps up when you overextend it, which sounds like the kind of mild thing I get when holding a book open in my hand for a length of time. I suspect (but don't want it to be) the beginnings of arthritis, but whether it is or if that is the same as what happens to you I certainly wouldn't know. If I were you I'd take the sax along to show the doctor what happens. Maybe it's just something that needs some PT exercises.
 

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Instead of moving the tip of your finger from the B to the Bb, or C# to Bb, try just rolling your pinky a bit sideways if the size of your hand permits. If the cluster is in good regulation, and with a bit of practice, you should be able to go from B to Bb and back by just a short movement of the hand, rolling the pinky from the B to the Bb along the rollers. Same with the C# to Bb. Just an adjustment with your hand to roll the pinky from C# to Bb and the Bb will close the C# allowing the Bb to sound.

Hope that's as clear as mud! Give it a whirl and see if that doesn't take a little of the stress and strain off the pinky trying to slide it across the keys! Good luck! Cheers!
 
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