Bassoon Home
VCU Music
VCU School of the Arts
VCU main page


Flicking is also sometimes referred to as snipping.

Using the flick keys as part of the normal fingering can be very helpful to beginning bassoonists who are having a difficult time producing a clear tone on these notes.



Flicking is a technique used to aid in producing the following notes, particularly when slurring from the lower register:

By opening an appropriate vent key, the response of these notes can be improved dramatically, especially on low quality student instruments. Below is a diagram of the left thumb keys and the notes that are associated with each.

The proper use of this technique is a controversial topic for some bassoonists. Many believe that the "flick" keys should be used at all times with these notes, in effect, making them part of the regular fingering. This has the advantage of insuring that the response for these notes will be consistent and predictable. The disadvantage is an increased burden on the left thumb and a subsequent complication of the technical challenges already present. Many successful bassoonists have found the advantages to far outweigh the disadvantages and therefore, employ these keys at all times when playing these pitches.

However, many other bassoonists prefer to use the "flick" keys only in certain situations where the response of these notes is particularly troublesome. Some typical examples are shown below:

Generally all slurs from from open f and below, up to our "flicked" notes, will require the use of the appropriate flick key to aid in response. Additionally, slurs down to these notes from high eb and above will require the same treatment.


The technique of flicking is a four stage process. From the low register, begin the note with the whisper key on. Then, lift your thumb, but maintain the pitch you are on. This is important! If the pitch jumps to the higher note prior to flicking then the embouchure/air coordination is incorrect. While holding the original pitch, find the desired "flick" key with your left thumb. Once prepared, the thumb (and other fingers) and embouchure/air will be ready to make a coordinated move to the new pitch. At first, it is easiest to put the flick key down with the new pitch and then release after the pitch has been stabilized. With practice, the thumb will briefly tap the flick key to help the new pitch speak.


Disclaimer |

© 2002 Bruce Hammel. All Rights Reserved.
Site last updated: January 22, 2007

Bruce Hammel
Music Department - VCU
922 Park Ave.
Richmond VA 23227
Phone: (804) 828-4018