Saxophone F# & C – There’s a Time and Place for Every Fingering

This is the second post in a series on saxophone fingering options.

As I discussed in my previous article on saxophone fingering of Bb, I strongly advocate teaching all common fingerings for a particular note at the same time to avoid allowing the student to develop a favorite.  In this article, I’ll cover 2 more instances that apply: fork F sharp and side C.

Fork F Sharp Saxophone Fingering

While the fork fingering is not used nearly as much as the standard fingering, it is important to teach it early on.  Use the fork F sharp fingering when F sharp is adjacent to an F natural.  This keeps you from having to flip your first and second fingers in your right hand.  To use the fork fingering, finger F natural (123 4) and press the fork key with the ring finger in your right hand.  It is important that you press the key with the very tip of your finger.  When explaining to students, I say you’re going to “stab” the key with your ring finger.

Note: If you are in a situation where you would otherwise use the fork fingering, but the F sharp is adjacent to a note that requires your right hand to press a key (D or E Flat), you cannot use the fork fingering.  Your ring finger is not fast enough to lift the fork key and press its normal key in one motion.  Here are two examples where the fork fingering cannot be used even though F Natural and F Sharp are adjacent:
D to F Sharp to F Natural
F to G Flat to E Flat
Use the standard F sharp fingering in these two instances (123 5).

saxophone fingering

Fork F# Fingering

Fingering: Fork F sharp
When to use: F sharp is adjacent to F natural (except when the F sharp is also adjacent to a note requiring your right hand ring finger to press its normal key, such as D or E flat)
Which scales to use: Chromatic, F sharp & D flat Major

saxophone fingering

Standard F# fingering

Fingering: Standard F sharp 
When to use: All other instances
Which scales to use: G, D, A, E, B Major

Here is a link to the website for my book, The Young Saxophonist.  By going to the link and clicking “Fork F# (Page 12)” you can watch a video of me teaching this concept. (scroll down on the page to select the correct option.)
http://www.ntunemusic.com/youngsax.htm

Side C Saxophone Fingering

Just like the fork F Sharp fingering, the side C fingering is not used as much as the standard fingering (second finger).  I would still recommend teaching it at the same time to prevent the development of fingering preferences.  Use the side C Fingering when C is adjacent to B, such as a B to C trill.  This keeps you from having to flip your first and second fingers.

Which scales to use side C:

  • The only scale that I would recommend that you use the Side C fingering for is the Chromatic Scale.  This would involve moving from Side C to C Sharp and vice versa.  There are saxophonists that I respect a great deal who disagree with using the side fingering in the chromatic.  I still recommend it if for no other reason, it gives you a reason to cover it early on with your beginners.  I also know saxophonists who teach their students to use the side fingering going up the chromatic scale and the standard C fingering going down.  I think either is fine.

Note about tuning:

  • Side C WITHOUT the octave key is very flat.  Do not use this fingering in a situation where you need to sustain the note.  Use this fingering for technical purposes only.
  • Side C WITH the octave key is more in tune and has a more resonant sound than the standard fingering.  So, I use side C WITH the octave key in some situations even when it makes no sense from a technical point of view.  I would recommend that you cover this aspect of the fingering with your more advanced students.

Again, here is a link to the website for my book, The Young Saxophonist.  By going to the link and clicking “Side C (Page 18)” you can watch a video of me teaching this concept. (scroll down on the page to select the correct option.)
http://www.ntunemusic.com/youngsax.htm

Dr. Daniel Loudenback is currently Assistant Professor of Woodwinds at The University of Mary in Bismarck, ND.  Before that, he was Fine Arts Director for Ector County ISD in Odessa, TX.  He also taught high school orchestra and middle and high school band in West Texas.  His book, “The Young Saxophonist: A Supplemental Method for Class Instruction” is available through NTune Music and Sound.  Dr. Loudenback is a Yamaha Performing Artist and plays exclusively on Yamaha Saxophones. www.danielloudenback.com

Related Posts:
Band Dice Games
The Clarinet ‘Law of Minimal Motion’
Saxophone Bb – There’s a Time and Place for Every Fingering

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