left hand holding the flute

left hand holding the flute

Hey folks,
Looking for some advice/suggestions here. Doing solidly on flute, got a classical teacher getting me set up with a decent tone. She wants me to switch over to silver flute which I am a bit iffy on.
I’m noticing any time I play flute for more than I’d say 5-10 minutes at a time, I get a pain in the big knuckle of my index finger and my thumb, and that general area. The pain even extends down to the knuckle jsut by your fingernail, too. a bit concerning, but hopefully can correct it before I ahve to rework muscle memory.
thanks

Re: left hand holding the flute

is this on silver or wooden flute?

it sounds like you are gripping too tightly downward with your index finger, or taking too much weight between your index and thumb. try and take the weight evenly and let the flute balance/pivot on your right hand, also pay careful attention to the angle you are holding it. it’s very easy to focus too much on grip with your left hand and let the right hand end slide so your left hand takes too much of the weight and is forced to an unnatural angle

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Re: left hand holding the flute

it’s on wooden flute, though I’m technically not playing a wooden instrument :P

Re: left hand holding the flute

Good to know. I’ll work on relaxing as I play.
Thanks 🙂

Re: left hand holding the flute

Conal O’Grada didn’t over-think the problem. All he said was that if it hurt you’re working too hard.

Re: left hand holding the flute

Some flute players use a pipers grip with their left hand.

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Re: left hand holding the flute

Sorry to hear it.
I’m assuming the left is the top hand ?

Try keeping your wrist straight/ straighter ?
And/or bring your left thumb around towards the front of the flute ( away from you ), it and the right hand thumb should be able to support the flute against your chin in the C# position

Hope that helps
Pat

Re: left hand holding the flute

Too true, Ross
I have been going at it pretty hard, primarily because I’m really loving the sound and enjoying the sheer amount of tonal diversity I can get from it. I’ll adjust my grip and see how it goes.
Can I get a description of piper’s grip? I know it uses knuckles instead of pads of fingers, but not much beyond that.
thanks

Re: left hand holding the flute

I wonder if you might customize your flute. See this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhvmw1FQ2T4 for example.


With that video as an inspiration, I’ve added a sort of thick shim to the side of my simple flute just upstream from the first hole. The shim is about 6mm thick and sort of tapering. The side of my index finger (close to the knuckle) rests against that. For me, it adds quite a bit of comfort.

Re: left hand holding the flute

Dou you perhaps play a M&E ebonite flute? I play one and after a long session or practicing for a long time, I definitely notice some uncomfortable feelings in may hand and joints. Although the tone is really nice, it weights quiet a lot and that is definitely a reason for me, to buy a wooden one, as soon as I have the money!

Re: left hand holding the flute

It seems a lot of instruments can put pressure on the nerve at the base of your left index finger, not just the flute. I’m not sure how else you can hold it without dropping it except by using that part of your finger. At least with the violin you can use a shoulder rest and with a mandolin you can use a strap to take pressure off. A lighter flute might help. A wooden flute isn’t necessarily light, although it is a lot lighter than derlin. That finger saddle thing in the video above looked really good. You should definitely look at how it changes the positioning of her fingers. It’s around 7:25 or so.

Re: left hand holding the flute

Can’t your teacher advise on this? Though I guess it’s a heavier flute than a metal Boehm that she may be used to - but lots of people play them.

Could it be ‘superficial’ soreness spreading away from the pressure point? Most flute players have a callous there (most instrument players have callouses somewhere!). For the first year or so I got sore there after a long practice but eventually my hand got used to it and I probably developed a lighter hold.

Re: left hand holding the flute

Relaxing your grip (without dropping the flute!) is good advice. Make sure you’re not pressing the headjoint too tight against your chin. It just needs a light contact under your bottom lip. That’s something I had to train myself away from in the early days of learning to hold a flute. If you’re pressing the headjoint too hard against your underlip/chin with the opposing force of your right-hand thumb, then it will increase the pressure on your left-hand index finger, which is serving as the middle pivot for your flute hold.

Re: left hand holding the flute

Bit of an update/question, I guess.
Teacher wanted me to switch over to classical flute and after thinking about it a bit I realized I could do it in college as well, which saves me money on flute lessons. I’m really enjoying the flute and can see it as an instrument I will stick with. I went ahead and got a classical flute as well. Am splitting my time evenly between the two, but trying to keep them with two different list of tunes/styles of music.
If Anybody is willing, could I skype with somebody to get a look at my left hand on the irish flute? with classical, I have no hand pain after I’m playing, but with the irish, even when I am relaxing as much as I can without dropping the flute, I’m having pain. The pain is now focusing in the first knuckle for the most part.
Much appreciated. Just PM me if anybody is willing to help 🙂