The Flute Academy
Flute Q&A #25: How do I play low B on the flute?

Flute Q&A #25: How do I play low B on the flute?

Jun 20, 2022

If you've ever been wondering what an alto flute is, and how it's different to a normal flute, here is your answer, complete with a demonstration!

How do I play low B on the flute?

Here is the video I mentioned for anyone having trouble playing low C on the flute called "Why You Can't Play Low C on the Flute".

Feel free to ask your flute question for an upcoming Flute Q&A by clicking here


Welcome to flute Q and A# 25 with me. I'm Jane Cavanagh. I'm a flute teacher. I love teaching people how to get faster progress on the flute through learning the proper technique of playing. So not just saying how to practice more, but actually how to play properly with the exact technique. Makes a world of difference when you're learning.

How to get a low B to come out on the flute

This question comes from Lance. He asks Hi Jane. I'm a self-taught flute player. Good on your Lance. After using a student flute for the first number of years, I purchased a very nice flute, which encourages me to play more that has a B foot. How do you get the low B note to sound? I can get the low C but never the B.

So this is a really interesting question, Lance, because if you hadn't said the last thing that you said, if you hadn't said I can get the low C, but not the low B, I would've pointed to you towards a video that I did a couple of years ago called Why can't I play low C on the flute?

C foot vs B flute on the flute

And it just generally helps with playing low C so not for you, Lance, but if anyone else is watching this and you can't play your low C, I'll put a link to that video below about why you can't play the low C on the flute, and it will really help you. It's a bit of a troubleshooting video, goes through a couple of reasons. I think three reasons why you can't get low C and it generally fixes it for you.

Okay so to answer your question, Lance, about why you can't get low B. Have a look at my flute everyone. Well, firstly, I have a sticker of a hedgehog on the end, but don't look at that bit. I have a C foot. The reason you know, that I have a C foot is because there's two keys here. If you have a B foot on your flute, which is less common, but not rare, there'll be three keys.

What does a flute B foot look like?

There'll be this one. This one, the flute will be a bit longer or the foot joint will be a bit longer and there'll be a third key. And that's called a B foot. I used to have one on my old flute and I'm kicking myself for getting rid of it because this would've come perfect for this demonstration.

I'm going to try and get a B, I'm going to try and borrow a B foot for future videos because there's been quite a few questions about B foots, but I can still answer your question, Lance.

All right. When you play a C sharp, so I'll play it for you actually. So you just have this one down here, that hole closes. So this hole here closes. When you play low C, you put your flat pinky on both these keys on the low C sharp key and the rolley C key here. So you put your finger on both these keys and it closes both these keys here. So that's really important.

Correct finger position for a low B on the flute

A lot of people just try to play the 10 C rolley key thinking that that is the C and that's the C sharp, but you need to play both now. Excuse me. My hand is in the way of my face. For low B Lance, it's even more important that you have a flat finger on your low C, your low C sharp.

Sorry, <laugh> say that again. Your low C sharp key, your low C, the roller key, and then the low B key. If you don't have a B foot, you won't have a B key here.

I don't have a B key on my flute, but Lance, for you and anyone else who is using a B foot, it's really important that you use all your flat finger on all three keys, C sharp, C and B. If you just try to put your finger on the low B, it won't work because it only closes the end key that I don't have on my flute.

Press all 3 keys for a low B on the flute

So make sure you're pressing all three keys. Lance, I have a feeling that that is going to instantly solve your problem because you can play low C and you have no problem with low C. I have a feeling it's your finger that is not behaving correctly. So try that out.

Another thing, if you would like to improve your tone on the flute, join me for a free minicourse  www.flute.school/free. And I will instantly, literally I will instantly improve your tone. See you there. Bye.

Faster Progress Through Proper Technique ™

Learn how making the right tiny adjustments to your flute playing accelerates your progress.


Come and join Jane in The Flute Academy to transform your flute playing - one clever tweak at a time!

Find out more