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How To Play The Fife

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Fig. 102 shows the range of the fife, from low D to high A,
and shows where you put your fingers to make the notes. The
fife plays only F# and C# (no other sharps or flats) and as a
consequence its music is written in the three keys of C (no
sharps or flats), G (1 sharp), and D (two sharps).

To make low D, all six fingers are down, covering the holes.
To shift to E, the next note higher, you simply raise the right
third finger. For each higher tone, you raise an additional finger
until you get to C#, which is played all open holes with no
fingers down.

D is played with the first finger of the left hand raised, but
the notes up from D to the high C# are fingered the same as
in the lower octave.

The four highest notes, E, F#, G and A, require a little
different fingering. This is clearly shown in Fig. 102.

Playing the Fife

The best way to start playing the fife is to learn to play the
notes up and down the scale. Go up as far as A just above the
staff. Try the higher notes if you want to, but it is just as well
to leave them alone for the first week or two. Play them later
on when your lips get firmer and stronger.

Every day practice playing sustained notes, as this is the best
way to improve your tone quality. Play G, for example, start-
ing softly, making it gradually louder, and then tapering down
to a soft ending.

After a few days of this get a music book containing a lot of
well-known songs. Pick out melodies written in the keys of
C, G (1 sharp) and D (2 sharps), and start to play them. Play
slowly at first, disregarding keeping time, and trying to make
each note come out clear and vibrant. Before long you should
be able to pick up speed and play right along in correct, time.
The fife is really easy.


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