Today, I was playing Holst's Second Suite in F (Movement 1) on my Flugelhorn. It sounded great, but I feel that some particular sequences are a bit muddy in the fingering. I usually play with the middle of my fingers rather than the fingertips, is that the problem? What would be the proper way to finger these awkward sequences?

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately the design of most piston-valve flugelhorns encourages that kind of playing technique, but it really should be avoided if possible. Actuating the valves with the middle of your fingers actually makes you work a lot harder since the movement of the tip of your finger is amplified as though it were a lever over a fulcrum.

You should try to keep the same posture fundamentals on flugelhorn as you would on any other bell-front valve instrument:

  • Support the weight of the instrument primarily with the left hand
  • Keep the right hand relaxed, with the fingers curved
  • Anchor the right hand with the thumb between the 1st and 2nd valve casings.
  • Center the tip of each finger on the appropriate valve's finger button
  • Keep the fingers curved, the wrist relaxed, and the thumb anchored as you actuate each valve with a short, clean finger motion

This does take a bit of finger strength, and you may have to adjust things for certain hand sizes or instruments, but the basic tenants should stay the same: keep the fingers curved with the fingertips resting on the valve buttons, and don't add unnecessary tension to your posture, grip, or technique.

  • I have tiny hands, but find I play much more expressively with the meat of my fingers rather than the tips.
    – segiddins
    Oct 24, 2012 at 0:41
  • As you become more experienced, you'll find that that's an illusion. It's a fallacy to think that good technique and expression are mutually exclusive. You have more control over your expression when you develop good technique. Not without reason, it is very easy to mistake bad technique for expression in certain musical contexts, which unfortunately gives rise to the misconception detailed above.
    – NReilingh
    Oct 24, 2012 at 3:42
  • Agreed with supporting the instrument with the left hand. The hook for the right pinky should be used only for wah-wah or plunger action. I actually practiced a while with my pinky on top of the hook rather than inside, and a champagne cork in my hand. It has the further advantage of lessening the possibility to press the mouthpiece against the lips :)
    – Gauthier
    Oct 24, 2012 at 13:37
  • But I think the valve flugelhorn rather discourages this technique. The clock being on the right of the valve group, and quite large, your right hand can't get as close to the valves as with a trumpet. Maybe some are tempted to grip the clock tighter than they would a trumpet lead pipe...
    – Gauthier
    Oct 24, 2012 at 13:40
  • 1
    @NReilingh: oh... I am so tired. Klocka is the swedish word for bell. Sorry.
    – Gauthier
    Oct 24, 2012 at 13:59

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