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I am an intermediate player of both trumpet and sax - something like 5th grade in the ABRSM system. I played trumpet first (20 years off and on) and sax later (10 years off an on). I have tended to play one or the other at any one time but played the 'off' instrument occasionally enough to double if necessary with a couple of weeks practice.

When I first started playing sax, I noticed that I would drop to trumpet fingering (but in other hand) occasionally when sight reading under pressure in the Bb to C# range where the fingerings sort of overlap:

trumpet Bb = 1 = sax B
trumpet B = 2 = sax C
trumpet C = open = sax C#

That corrected itself as I played more sax and less trumpet. However, for the first time, I am regularly playing both instruments. And I am now having the opposite problem of my brain doing the sax fingering when I am playing trumpet, again particularly when sight reading.

Does anyone who doubles on these have any suggestions on how to fix this? Obviously I need to practice both instruments.

But I am wondering if people who play both do their practice separately or together. That is, would I be better off just playing one instrument for a week then doing the other the following week? Or should I try and play both instruments fairly constantly in the hope that my brain will eventually use other cues to attach the correct fingering to each instrument.

Also, any suggestions on particular drills I could use? For example, are scales or pieces of music better for fixing this?

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    I'd say just keep at it. Back in my clarinet days I transposed Bb-Eb, C-Bb, A-C, and more; as a cellist there's no transposition but there's 3 different clefs in play. At some point, just as bilingual people switch languages, you'll be able to "lock in" the fingerings for the instrument you're playing. – Carl Witthoft Jan 1 '16 at 15:50
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    There's no magic solution to this. Don't over-think it, and continue practicing both instruments every day of course! Taking a week off from one? What an idea! – Laurence Payne Jan 2 '16 at 12:51
  • I don't understand where the problem lies. On trumpet, you use 3 fingers, on sax, all from both hands. Can't see how you'd get mixed up, your fingers will still be touching the valves/keys even on an open note. – Tim Sep 11 '16 at 7:21
  • @Tim Do you play both instruments? I don't actually think about what I am playing - my brain sees the dot on the page and presses fingers. I don't have the problem when I am playing say piano or guitar, just sax/trumpet. – JenB Sep 12 '16 at 9:10
  • On and off, yes, but can't understand the confusion between having all digits needed to play sax compared with three fingers for trumpet. And there's a big embouchure difference, especially trumpet for producing note pitches. – Tim Sep 12 '16 at 9:18
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I would suggest maybe focusing on the hand that is playing. On trumpet the fingering you mentioned is with the right hand, but on sax the fingerings you mentioned are with the left hand. Maybe try and focus on that fact when you are playing trumpet.

Also, what helps me with brass instruments is thinking of the valves in terms of half steps. So the middle valve would actually be 1, the index finger is 2, and the ring finger is 3. This may help you disassociate fingerlings with numbers. When you press the middle valve you are moving a half step down, so from open C you press the middle 1 valve to move down to B. To move down a whole step you press the index finger for 2 half steps to move to Bb. To move down 3 half steps you can press the ring finger or press both index and middle to add up to 3 half steps.

The saxophone doesn't really work that way. The fingerings have more to do with the length of the harmonic of that you are playing. Just keep in mind that the middle finger on both hands is an accidental, usually either C# left hand or F# right hand.

In the you have to keep practicing as others have mentioned.

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Practice. That is the only answer. There are no quick fixes for this problem. Scales on both instruments will help to solidify the fingers to both sets of fingerings. It may help to think of the sax as always having ten fingers, just most open, so you are thinking on the whole instrument. But it will just take more practice.

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