A reader who is an adult beginner requested advice on successfully navigating slurs that bridge the register break on the bassoon. That would be any note from open F (F2) or below to any note above open F. This break occurs due to a lack of a true octave key on the bassoon.
Coordinating the movement of many fingers on both hands can make this difficult. Another issue is the half hole used when slurring to F#, G or G# -- also made necessary by the lack of a proper octave key or vent.
A few things to check if slurring to these notes is problematic.
- Reed tip opening needs to be sufficient (1 mm at least at widest point between blades) to accommodate the change in air speed from the primary octave to the overblown (second) octave.
- Reed needs to be strong enough to handle the change in airspeed without closing up. Softer reeds make this difficult.
- Embouchure should remain relaxed while increasing air speed. No biting!
- When removing fingers from the body of the bassoon, keep them as close as possible. Lift them straight off the bassoon just a few millimeters, not at an angle. This way, you have a greater chance of covering the tone holes completely when you return them. Use the mirror to check for excess motion.
- Half hole technique needs to be secure.
To refine the half hole technique:
- Use a mirror to see what your index finger is doing.
- Pretend the tip of your index finger is glued to the tone hole. It can be rotated down towards the E tone hole, but not lifted off because of the "glue".
- Practice half holing with your finger and thumb on a pencil. Rotate the index finger without lifting it.
- Or practice by making the "OK" sign with your thumb and index finger. Rotate the index finger left and right without losing contact with the thumb. Keep the thumb steady and don't let it move.