#fingerings

  • Most of us use the FG3 trill that we first learned where we finger F3 and trill with our thumb. That trill is useful in most situations, but has the disadvantage of yielding a flat G3. What if we needed to play that trill in the orchestra in tune with an oboe? 

    Many flute players have requested this fingering repeatedly in the FLUTELIST forum, which I posted a few years ago (2004-09-22).

  • Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) wrote his Symphony No.1 in D major, op. 25, commonly known as Classical in 1916-1917.  Its four movements are 1. Allegro, 2. Larghetto, 3. Gavotte: Non Troppo Allegro and 4. Finale: Molto Vivace.

    Excerpts from this symphony are very often part of the required repertoire for orchestral auditions. In particular, passages from the Finale, due to its fast tempo and technical difficulty. Extracts from the Larghetto are common as well, where rhythmic accuracy, a clear tone and good intonation in the third register are indispensable.

  • Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) started writing Daphnis et Chloé, his ballet in three scenes, in 1909, and it was premiered in 1912. 

    This ballet, and its suites, which are more often performed, are a treat for flutists.

    All four flute parts in this piece (piccolo, first and second flutes, and alto flute) are important audition pieces. One of its most beautiful moments is the alto flute solo, which is often asked for in Associate Principal auditions.

  • Antonín Dvořák's Cello Concerto, op.104 is a favorite among cellists, audiences, and flute players. It features the flute prominently in many solos and dialogues with the soloist.

    At the end of the first movement, in the first flute part, Dvořák writes a high B to high C# trill (B3C#4). Most flutists, including myself, tend to forget how to play that trill since it's seldom used in the flute repertoire. 

  • The following are essential third octave fingerings that every student should know. These fingerings are used to lower the pitch, most commonly in forte passages.

    These fingerings should be taught to our students and memorized as soon as they comprehend in what instances they should be used.

  • One of the most useful ways to utilize harmonics, besides color and pitch changes, is to facilitate fast passages in the third octave of the flute.

    By using harmonics of the octave or fifth (actually twelfth, but for simplification purposes we’ll refer to them as fifth) we can avoid some of the awkward cross-fingerings inherent to the third octave.

    Below let’s examine some passages of the solo and orchestral repertoire where harmonic fingerings come to our help.

  • Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) wrote his Flute Concerto,dedicated to Marcel Moyse, in 1932. 

    In its third movement, Allegro Scherzando, Ibert wrote a series of challenging tremolos. Here are some fingerings for flutes with and without a C#-trill key. 

  • Many times I've been asked by students about the optional keys on the flute, and their pros and cons. Since many companies use different names for the same key, deciding what optional keys to choose when ordering a flute can be pretty daunting.

    Here is a list of the most common optional keys for the flute and some less common ones, as well.

  • In the first movement of Pini di Roma, "I pini di Villa Borghese", Ottorino Respighi writes an F#A3 tremolo in the first flute part.

    This tremolo is awkward to play with regular fingerings, and hard to sound with harmonic fingerings (F#1 & A1) without any modifications.

  • Very often I'm asked by band directors, or see posts on flute forums about which Bb (Bb1 & Bb2) fingering is best to teach first. As frequently, I see passionate responses, as if they were dogma, about what one famous teacher or another said about that subject. I'd like to add my own thoughts, and hopefully present a valid argument to why and when we should use one fingering or another.

  • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) wrote Les Carnaval des Animaux - The Carnival of the Animals, in 1886.

    Of the 14 movements in this piece, 3 require a flute/piccolo: Aquarium, Volière and Final. The 10th movement, Volière (The Aviary), is both beautiful and technically challenging. The quickness of some of the passages call for alternative fingerings, which follow.