Robert Rønnes has written a great method book called Twelve Virtuoso Studies. I have been working with this book for over a year now and it has been an asset for my technique. This has been especially helpful on contrabassoon and contraforte for down slurs. Excerpts like Elektra have large down slurs that need to be clean AND sound like it’s easy. So the first exercise “Warming Up” is all middle and low range, which isolates large interval slurs. Running through this every day on contra has made a noticeable difference in my playing.
The little finger whisper key, or french whisper key; should become a standard key on the bassoon. It adds an extra option besides the whisper key lock and reduces fatigue in the repeated transition from low note thumb position to the flick key thumb position. The first example comes from Robert Rønnes book “12 Virtouso Studies” in the first study “Warming Up” This passage is a good example of the low register to middle register thumb shift. The left thumb need to shift from the low C key across to the whisper key. However with the little finger whisper key, you can hold down the whisper key for the entire measure. This allows the left thumb to stay in the low register position and play low C as it comes. By using the french whisper key there is the option of quickly removing it, unlike the whisper key lock. It can be added or removed during a fast passage without a reach or shifting.
The next example comes from Simon Kovar’s “24 Daily Exercises” and is a more common issue on the bassoon, the shift from the whisper key to flick keys. The usual technique is to leave the whisper key slightly early in order to get to the flick key in time. With a french whisper key a passage like this takes minimal energy with greater accuracy.