Alternative fingerings for flute are also called ‘fake fingerings’. Here’s a short guide that will help you start to know when it could be appropriate to use a fake fingering or not.
This type of information isn’t usually presented to a beginner flutist. It is crucial that you are super solid with all of the traditional fingerings for these notes before even bothering with these notes.
99% of the time, we will use the regular fingering.
This being said, I know of some band teachers who will teach their students the alternative fingerings right in their first year assuming that it will be ‘easier’ for some reason. This is false, false, false. Learn the correct fingerings first, and learn them well.
First, it’s important to know that almost all notes require the ‘real’ fingering to sound correct (pitch and tone both). So, to understand why we are even discussing fake fingerings is because there are a few rare instances when an alternative fingering is actually helpful or even better.
Let’s use the fake F sharp (F#) for an example.
This fingering is:
TXXX | OXOP instead of the ‘real’ fingering of: TXXX | OOXP
(T = Left Hand Thumb; X = pressed key; O = Open key/no press; P = Right Hand Pinky)
99% of the time, we will use the regular fingering, but sometimes when we find a super fast ornament (for example; a triple grace note in 32nd notes) that moves from an D# to an E and then up to an F# and back down again, it’ll be very helpful to be able to use this alternative fingering. This minimizes finger switches, and because it happens so quickly, no one will even notice that it’s not exactly ‘perfect’ as far as pitch and tone go.
Of course, we shouldn’t get overconfident that these alternative fingerings are always the best choice in a fast passage. If you can learn how to play it correctly slowly, then you can practice (a lot) and still do it accurately at the speedy tempo as well.
There’s a whole other world out there in discovering alternative fingerings, and I hope you continue to grow and learn in skill so that you have time to catch them all.
We’ll be talking more about these substitute fingerings in the lesson modules of the Intermediate and Advanced Modules here at LearnFluteOnline.com. See you soon!
2 thoughts on “Alternative Fingerings for Flute”
This is the way I’ve always played F#…so the correct way is my alternative! Your explanation of when to use the fake fingering is dead on.
Of course the flute is not unique in having alternative techniques for playing certain notes. A sax teacher I once knew showed me alternative key combinations that would allow the player to hit notes that were beyond the accepted upper range of the instrument.
Hi William, you’re correct. We also use different fingerings to get ‘harmonics’ on the flute – but no need to even look at those until we have all of our basics and everything all in order first. Keep it up. You’re great!