Holding the Flute

Holding the flute properly is extremely important in the early development of technical ability, speed, and balance. A flutist’s fingers should be slightly arched when placed on the keys to play a note and should remain arched when lifting fingers off a key. The top half of the pads of a flutist’s fingers should be placed on the keys (in the plateau of the key), NOT their fingertips.


Balancing the flute can feel very clumsy at first. There are three points of balance on the flute. First is the lip plate; this will be resting on the chin of the flutist. Second is the flutist’s right thumb, which will be supporting the flute from underneath, directly beneath the keys that are played by the right hand. Third is the right hand pinky, which (for the majority of the time) will be pressing down on the D# key (the first key on the foot joint). These three points provide enough support when other fingers are not being used to keep the flute firmly in the flutist’s hands. Depending on the size of the flutist’s hands, the flute may start being balanced (in addition to the other balance points) in between the flutist’s left hand index finger and thumb at the start of the index finger. This should be discouraged, however may be necessary in some instances.


The figure at the bottom of this article displays where each of the flutist’s fingers should be placed. It should be noted that not all off the fingers are created equal on the flute. While the right hand pinky is nearly always in use, the left hand pinky is rarely used.


Also, the left thumb has access to two different keys. The flutist should be most often using the larger of the two keys (on the right), as this will allow for more consistent fingerings.


As stated before, the right thumb should be placed underneath the flute to help support the flute, especially in fingerings where not very many keys are being used.