Extra key questions

One thing that I’ve been playing with ever since I joined the Fleet Forces band and got my new Buffet Prestige Bb is the use of the extra Ab/Eb key. Everyone that I’ve met that has had a clarinet with the extra key says that it’s so hard to use that they don’t even bother with it. What I’m wondering is if the reason that people don’t like it is that we spend so many years with instruments without that key that its hard to start using it. I’ve spent the last few months trying to use it, and it is pretty handy, it just takes some practice to use it!

I’m no expert on using that key by any means, it’s still not natural for my pinky to reach for it (I still have a natural instinct to slide when necessary). But it seems the more I make myself use that key, the more natural it feels.

Just something to think about…

One reply on “Extra key questions”

I agree that the extra E-flat/A-flat is worth learning to use (the “Practical Studies” from the Klose method are good practice). Sometimes beginner students resist learning a new fingering because they already know a fingering for a note, but advancing students and professionals should know better, and should be open to the technical possibilities that an extra allows.

However, in repertoire I tend not to use the left E-flat/A-flat as an equal alternative to the right-hand key–I only use it when it saves me from sliding. I do it this way in case my next clarinet doesn’t have the extra left-hand key, so I won’t get too dependent on it, and because my students mostly don’t have that key and I want to be in the habit of modeling good fingering choices for them.

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