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Thread: 4th Valve with Left Hand

  1. #1

    4th Valve with Left Hand

    In various discussions we have talked about whether it is more or less awkward to use the left hand for the 4th valve than to use the pinky of the right hand. That is a topic related to the very design of most professional 4-valve euphoniums. It also comes up with people playing 4-valves-in-line instruments like the Yamaha 321. On the latter, some people like to reach around with their left hand to operate the 4th valve.

    The little finger is weaker, of course, and is somewhat tied to the 3rd finger (ring finger). But beyond that, I and others have wondered if our preference is simply a matter of what we are used to. When I first switched from my high school King 4v to a Besson in college, it took a while to get used to working 4 with my left hand. But I obviously didn't have a choice on the standard Besson so I got used to it.

    I just ran across some interesting new evidence on Instagram. There was a video of Sergei Nakariav (my hero!) playing Rococo Variations on his 4v flugel. He was using his left hand for the 4th valve. Now keep in mind he was a young prodigy on piano until a back injury made it impractical to sit on the piano bench for hours at a time. One would think his little finger is much more facile and has more strength than any of ours, yet he did not use it for the 4th valve. Interesting, no?

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    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  2. #2
    Back in my college days, when a trumpet major, I owned a Bach 4 valve piccolo and a Getzen 4 valve Eterna flugelhorn. I too, used my left index for the 4th valve. Found it comfortable to use and technique was certainly enhanced as well. My instructor at the time, Natalo Paella found no reason not to.
    Shires Q-40

  3. #3
    Like we say here in the South, "Whatever cranks your tractor." I played on a 4-in-line Conn for decades, and since '12 I've been playing a 3+1 comp. I can go back and forth almost without thinking. Not that I do that much actual thinking anyway.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    My experience
    Until the mid-80s of the last century I played on a 3- cylinder bonbardino ( a real disgrace) owned by the band. After school and military obligations, with the money earned from my first job, I could to buy a proprietary instrument. At the time there was no internet and this forum, I didn't know anything about euphonium brands and so I relied, for my purchase, on the euphonium owned by the best player of the band, a Courtois 165, 4 uncompensated in line pistons. I played with this for 20 years and I had no particular difficulty in operating the 4th with the little finger ( I never thought I could do it with the left hand). When, in 2007, I bought the Besson Prestige, I had to activate the 4th with the index of the left hand. I took me a while to get used to ( the hardest thing was to find the synchronization between the right hand the left hand). Now I have no problems to play indifferently with both configurations.
    Last edited by franz; 11-17-2019 at 08:16 AM.
    Besson Prestige 2052,3D K&G mouthpiece;JP373 baritone,T4C K&G mouthpiece;Bach 42GO trombone,T4C K&G mouthpiece

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Tucson, where tacos are real.
    I realize this is non-doctrinaire, but I have a British(?)-style configuration with the 4th valve separate from the rest, and I play that valve with the little finger of my left hand. I just like gripping the horn a bit higher up. I was a 4 valve tubist for decades, and never considered the little finger as noticeably weaker than the rest.


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