Gentle Warm-ups To Start The Day, Coffee Noodle 7.
Coffee Noodle 7 is another exercise focusing on training our fingers for the demands of flute playing, in particular when the music that we are playing, happens to be on the fast side.
In order to establish a solid and smooth finger technique, we need to have strength and independence in all fingers involved. This applies to the downwards or closing movements, which are natural enough, but in particular, also to the less easy to control upwards or opening actions, which require as much, if not more of our attentions.
Hopefully, this is where Coffee Noodle 7 will come in ‘handy’!
With this exercise, fingers are required to lift and return to the keys rather than simply lift (as they would do for example in Taffanel and Gaubert, Daily Exercises, EJ 1). In this way, fingers can be encouraged and trained to change direction rapidly. This should lead to greater agility, bringing about less worry when confronted with technically challenging moments.
This is something that we all pray for, but rarely achieve, because to do so requires hours of dedicated and what some might consider to be, tedious work. Whilst scale practice is a healthy way to improve technique, it doesn’t automatically lead to greater independence in our fingers. Coffee Noodle 7, once regularly practised, will help in putting our fingers on a more positive course of action.
With far greater chromaticism involved, the minor keys are certainly more awkward.
As always, this ‘gym’ exercise is to be played slowly at the start, to encourage fingers, rather than to bully them. With greater confidence and agility, the tempo can be gradually raised.
Whilst this is a technical exercise, it should be played with shape and plenty of ‘hills and valleys’ in the overall phrasing.
You might find it interesting to play Coffee Noodle 7, whilst looking at your fingers in a mirror. You may well be quite surprised to see just how far upwards and away from the keys your fingers travel! Of course, for speed and fluidity, the closer to the keywork we can keep our fingers, the more reliable the results.
To help with this, I will often play a slow melody (such as No. 1 from Moyse, 24 Little Studies) with all fingers touching the metal of the keywork throughout. It is indeed a challenge, but helps to train in the fingers for the long term.
If possible (yet again!), it will be useful to play this exercise with the long fingering for either B flat or A sharp. There are so many issues to consider when we are playing, that to have freedom of choice and confidence in which fingerings we might be using, must surely be a bonus.