The Flute Academy

How to Stand and Hold the Flute Without Hurting Yourself

Sep 21, 2015

How to Stand and Hold the Flute Without Hurting Yourself

Now that you know how to hold your flute and you know how to play the note B, I'm going to show you a few more advanced things which is going to help you not injure yourself as you play. If you play the flute regularly, you're going to put some sort of strain on your body whether it's your shoulders, your hands, your fingers, your neck, or your back. As a musician, you want to keep everything as relaxed and naturally positioned as you can to avoid this sort of "repetitive strain injury". And luckily there are easy ways to avoid hurting yourself... I'll give you a couple of tips right now. I'm just going to tell you now the ones that make a big difference, but there are many things you can do to fine tune your flute-playing posture to avoid injury in the future. The biggest one, I've already told you - avoid stretching your head towards the flute. Bring the flute to your face. Think of your string pulling the middle of your head up tall. Stay straight. Bring the flute up to you, as you know. Another big one is your shoulders. You may feel that you're squeezing your shoulders. You may even be so tense in your shoulders that you can see them rise up, and you don't want to. You want your shoulders to be very relaxed when playing the flute. When you think of the string pulling your head up to the sky, think of your shoulders floating down, and see if you can keep them like that. When you bring the flute up to you, use your arm muscles, not your shoulders, take the weight of the flute. I want you to use your arm muscles to take the flute up to you. (You'd be amazed at the difference this makes to the quality of the sound of more advanced flute students.) Now, it's going to take quite a bit of brain power to do all these things at once. String and straight. Float your shoulders. Use your arm muscles, and play a note B. This is a really, really big and important thing to learn. If you can coordinate yourself to do all of that, you're well on your way to reducing injury, and improving your sound as you because a little more advanced. There is another thing I want to show you. This is pretty advanced, but it's not complicated. It's the sort of thing that not all teachers are going to teach you, and I find it so important. I like my students being able to play pain-free, be able to play well, and of course enjoy their flute playing without having pain bother them. In the video, you'll notice something. If I face directly to you, my shoulders are facing you. My feet are facing you. If I put the flute up, you'll see what happens to my shoulders. They go off to the side which means my body is twisted. My feet are facing forward and my shoulders are facing to the side. To compensate for that, I want to move my feet a little bit to the right. Of course you couldn't see what my feet just did, but you know what I mean. My shoulders are facing a little bit to the right. My feet are facing a little bit to the right, but my flute and my head are facing you. That means my whole body is straight. It's not twisted. If you do that too, and you combine that with your string, relaxed shoulders, arm muscles, and your now straight and untwisted body, you're well on the way to be able to play the flute without injury. At this point, your brain is probably getting a little bit overloaded thinking of all these things to do. As soon as you think of one, you forget what you're doing with the other. Don't worry about that. Do a little of this morning and night for a few days and you will be fine. You will gradually teach your body to do these things automatically, and you'll have brain space to think of other things! I suspect that if you can do all of that, the thing that's feeling uncomfortable at the moment is probably your hands, so let me give you a few points on that. In the video, I show you how a certain part of your left index finger takes a lot of the weight of the flute. Your right thumb takes a little bit of weight under the flute, but there is another place that takes some of the weight or I should say helps the balance of the flute... When you put it up to your mouth, your flute should be pushing strongly against your face. Doing so helps you balance the flute which stops you dropping the flute which we don't want to happen. You should feel pressure on your bottom teeth, and a little bit under your thumb. At those 3 points, you're going to have a really secure hold of the flute. You might find that when you're holding the flute before it's up against your mouth, it's feeling very wobbly. This is normal to feel wobbly. Remember, as soon as you put it up to your mouth, it should no longer feel wobbly. It should feel quite secure. Of course, it's going to feel uncomfortable and unusual, but it should feel secure. It shouldn't feel like you're going to drop it. They were all hints to get you on the way to playing the flute without injury, so if you can do that, and you've got your body straight, your shoulders relaxed, your head up tall, you're going to play even better because you'll be relaxed. It will also let your lungs to breath properly. It will let your fingers move much more quickly than if they were tight. This is the foundation to being able to play the flute well. Now that you know that, I will see you in the next video.

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