The UK Brass Band I play with is rehearsing a test piece with this passage in it:

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This bar is repeated about 20 times. To finger it conventionally, I'd be pressing valves 1+2, 2, 1, 2 for each four-note group. But I find that awkward and can't sustain it at that tempo for very long. Alternative fingerings I've considered are 3, 2, 1, 2 and 3, 1+3, 1, 1+3

None of these falls under my fingers, especially at the required tempo.

Can someone suggest the best fingering to use for this passage and the best practice strategy for getting it up to speed?

2 Answers 2


One other option would be to finger both B and D as 1+3, and the A as 3. Normally, this fingering is too sharp for both B and D, but you can kick out the first valve slide to correct for this.

Really though, I think that the normal fingering should work just fine. The problem is with the sheer length of the run causing repetitive motion fatigue. The solution is to have multiple players trade off sections of it (And also slap the composer/arranger for writing it in the first place).

  • We followed the standard fingering + split the line between two players suggestion and that did the trick - my band just won a place at the National Finals in London's Albert Hall in October! Mar 20, 2016 at 23:24

I actually feel like that is one of the easier combinations to play. There are far worse ones, for sure. MattPutnam gave you one answer, but I think in a lot of ways it is more difficult than playing it with the standard fingers.

Start out with a metronome, playing it roughly half the required performance tempo. Then gradually increase the tempo by a couple clicks and work on it at that speed until you can play it cleanly. Repeat that up to performance tempo, and by the time you get to the correct speed, you should have it down completely. If it's actually tongued instead of slurred, the way you show it above, the real difficulty may be the coordination of finger movements to the tongue at that tempo. Starting slow and working up will help with that as well.

This is why learning material, like the old Clarke Technical Exercises are so helpful. They put you through finger dexterity exercises in all keys until they just aren't a problem anymore.

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