|Sit or stand with the back straight, not slumped. When first learning
to play, I recommend being seated, as beginning flutists, no matter how
good their physical condition, are going to become very dizzy while
learning to play.|
|The head should be turned slightly to the left so that you don't cramp
your right shoulder.|
|Don't hold the flute exactly level with the floor; angle it slightly
down for increased comfort and better tone control.|
|The elbows are held well away from the body, with the wrists
essentially straight. The helps both your breathing and helps prevent
pain in your wrists. Remember to breathe with the belly, not the
|The head is held up or angled only slightly downwards.|
|The whole body is in balance; you should not have to grip the
instrument tightly to feel it is well under your control, neither should
any muscles be very tense or feel uncomfortable.|
Note the left hand fingers lie flat against the flute so
that the fleshy pads, and not the tips, seal the tone holes. The wrist is
fairly straight, and the thumb is straight to the wrist, and just rests
against the side of the flute instead of actually holding it up. This frees
up the thumb to work the B-flat key's touch.
The back of the left hand showing the little finger on the
long-F touch. Notice again that the fingers lie flat on the flute. Any
bend is in the proximal joint (closest to the hand) and not the distal
(closest to the end of the finger).
OK, this picture shows the "magic" that lets someone with
arthritis (me) play the flute. The right thumb doesn't rest under the
instrument to hold it up; it pushes forward on the flute from behind. The
right hand fingers are flat on the flute so that the fleshy pad of each
finger seals the tone hole, and the right wrist is straight. The right
thumb is also straight to the wrist.
The flute rests against the side of the first finger left
hand very close to the knuckle and not on the thumb at all. This finger is
a fulcrum and so presses against the side of the flute and not up from
underneath it. The chin presses out, providing the third contact point and
stability without pain.
If you've ever heard someone speak of the "Rockstro grip,"
this is pretty much it.
Here's how it looks with the Gemeinhardt Boehm-system
flute. Note that the right thumb is pressing forward on the flute wall just
underneath the keywork. This allows the fingers to relax so they can be at
their fastest and most accurate.
For any with curiosity of a medical kind, the arthritis I
speak of above is a form of psoriatic arthritis and mainly affects my
right hand and the thumb of my left hand. It also affects my knees, right
shoulder, left elbow, and ankles, but these don't directly affect my ability
to perform and the disease seems milder in these joints than it does in the
hand left hand
For more information on psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis,
please see The
National Psoriasis Foundation website. For personal accounts of
this chronic, non-contagious, incurable skin and joint disorder, please see
Ed Dewke's wonderful site,