Many of my younger students hear me say “No piggy back fingers!” when they are beginning. The finger spread with oboe is bigger than flute or clarinet (I’m guessing bassoon is bigger, although I’ve never played the instrument), and when students aren’t pressing the keys down they tend to allow lower fingers in the right hand to “piggy back” on top of upper ones. One of my younger students is catching on now, but he allowed me to have him demonstrate what he used to do so you can see what I’m talking about. Look at the lower hand. Don’t let your fingers do this!

That being said, I’m still working on his left hand! As he knows, I want the index finger to be lurking closer — even over — the side octave key. The way he has it now he has to move a bit too much to activate that octave key. But he’s gradually getting there! While my right had is fairly perpendicular to the oboe, the left is at a bit of an angle, fingers aiming slightly downward. Some might disagree with that — I’m open to discussion. But I probably won’t change my mind. ;-)

Thank you, Darin, for letting me use you as my hand model!


  1. I like to have the student play low C, F#, C#, F#, D, F#, C#, F#, C, and repeat as necessary ti reinforce the hand position.

    If you find a LH position where the 1st finger rocking forward opens the half-hole while fingering a G and rocking back opens the octave key while raising the G&A fingers the rest of the hand position should follow. It’s really a matter of pivoting the whole hand around the 1st finger.

    There are several great views of this in that wonderful video you posted of the Beethoven Mozart variations trio you posted a while back:

    Watch the 1st player’s left hand shift around 4:40 and the 2nd at 6:14 and particularly at 7:10 and 8:15 for good examples.

  2. Take a look at Carlo Romano starting at about 1:04 in this video:

    If he’s not piggybacking the fingers of his left hand, then they’re not exactly hovering over the keys, either!