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I have been playing the Soprano recorder for some time now, and also the Alto for a while as well.

The thing is, I never bothered learning the correct fingering for the Alto. That is, the fingering is the same, but only a 5th down.

So whenever I sight read music for the alto, I'm playing in a different key that it was written in.

I realize many instrumentalists do this by tradition, but I would actually like to be able to play in the correct key.

My concern is if I start playing the concert pitch and learn the correct fingerings by heart, is this going to affect my playing the soprano? Will I get confused, and occasionally play a G instead of a C for example? On the other hand I could simply arrange the score and read from the transcribed music, but that seems too complex and expensive...

What do other musicians do who play a transposing instrument?

What do the Pedagogues say about this?

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From my experience as a brass player, you should absolutely learn the alto using the correct pitches and correct fingerings. It takes some time to get used to, but the future benefits far outweigh the struggle it takes to gain fluency.

And yes, there will be moments where you'll make a mistake and slip into the other set of fingerings, but they'll be few and far between and will become less and less common as time goes on.

The human brain is a really impressive thing, and it will compartmentalize the two tasks—soprano versus alto recorder—so that learning one fingering set won't negatively impact the other.

Granted, the best answer to this question ultimately rests in how you'll be playing. Is it just for pleasure? Will you always be reading from a score? Will you ever be improvising? And so on.

But no matter your answers to those questions, I recommend learning the correct pitches and fingerings. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a musical environment where you'll have to think in two different keys with two different sets of fingerings at once. And as someone who has been in that position, trust me: it only leads to mistakes and embarrassment!

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    Good answer. A lot of it comes down to our old friend practice; the more the OP switches between soprano and alto using the correct fingerings for both, the easier it will get. Once the switch is in there, it is remarkably persistent; I've recently returned to playing recorder consorts for the first time in over 10 years, but my subconscious pretty much seamlessly remembered that C on a soprano is that fingering while C on an alto is that fingering. Like so much of music.stackexchange, practice, practice, practice is the answer ... – Steve Mansfield Jul 23 '18 at 10:23
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    An additional benefit is that, once you've learned a second fingering, learning a third, and a fourth (for other instruments) becomes much easier. – Carl Witthoft Jul 23 '18 at 13:38
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Learning multiple fingerings is a hurdle for beginners, but it is necessary to get the most out of playing with others. Yes, mistakes will be made at first, but with practice these will become fewer.

Alto players have the extra challenge/opportunity of reading a treble clef line at pitch (lowest note on the alto, F4, is on the bottom space of a treble clef staff), or at octave up (when you play the C below the treble staff as C5 - T123 fingering for the alto). What you pick depends on how the part is notated and the actual range of the piece. One can learn to read both ways while learning the fingering - T12 is always D, sometimes it will be 2nd line from the top of the staff (at pitch) , sometimes one space below the staff (octave up).

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