The Flute Academy
How to Speed Up SLOW FINGERS on the Flute

Instant Fix #4: How to Speed Up SLOW FINGERS on the Flute!

Mar 25, 2019

Yep, there are 7 causes of SLOW FINGERS on the flute. Which means there are 7 ways to SPEED them up!

In this video I'll take you step by step through each of the way to turn your slow, sluggish flute fingers into quick, speedy and agile ones! 


Speed up fingers

In this video, I'm going to show you how to speed up your fingers when you play the flute, lots of people suffer from sluggish fingers, clunky fingers, or just slow fingers. And it can be frustrating. There are seven specific things that you can do to speed up your fingers. And I will take you through each one in just one second.

Flute School

My name is Jane and my business is called The Flute Teacher School. I'm a flute teacher, probably not surprisingly. I live in Sydney in Australia, which you probably guessed from the way I speak. I love teaching the flute specifically I love instant fixes.

Faster progress through proper technique

So working out exactly what somebody needs to know to instantly improve their flute plane. And it's a win-win you get better, really fast, and you probably feel really good when that happens. And I feel good because it's using my expertise to help somebody get better so I like that.

Free tone mini course for flute

Hey, stick around to the end of this video and I'll show you how to get access free access to a short course, a mini-course called How to Quickly Improve your Tone on the Flute, which shows you exactly how to get a clearer sound on the flute. You guessed it almost instantly. Okay, the seven ways to speed up your fingers, by the way, none of these are me saying, you just need to move your fingers faster. It's got nothing to do with your fingers actually.

Tension in fingers when playing flute

Number one, slow fingers come from tension in your fingers, which comes from tension in your hands, the tension in your arms and all from tension in your shoulders. If you can work through your body and remove as much tension as you possibly can, especially your shoulders, you're going to indirectly, but also directly speed up your fingers. You're gonna free up your fingers and speed them up. This is such a big topic.

Lightning Fast Fingers for flute 

I've done a whole course on this. I called it Lightning Fast Fingers. It's a whole course on speeding up your fingers. This video is just the tip of the iceberg. Remove as much tension as you can from the other parts of your body. And that relaxation will flow down to your fingers and speed them up.

The way you hold the flute

The second thing that is going to cause slow fingers is specifically, hand tension. And that comes from the way you hold your flute. So again, this is in that course, Lightning Fast Fingers, cuz there's just too much detail to fit into this short video. But basically, you want weight distributed between this part of your left hand so the squidgy part here, your right hand thumb pushing more forward on the flute than you think. It shouldn't really take too much weight of the flute. And then you want some pressure here.

Proper way to hold your flute

So your right hand pushes forward a little bit, uses this part as a pivot, gets you the pressure here that you need and gives you a solid base of your flute for your fingers to move freely. So we don't want your fingers holding up your flute, gripping the flute to hold it up because that's gonna make them tight and going to make them slow-moving.

Three points of contact on the flute

We want those three points of contact here, here, and your thumb pushing forward to steady the flute so that your fingers can move freely.

Sight reading on the flute

The third thing that can make your fingers seem slow is when you are reading music, I call this brain lag. If you are reading music and you're looking at the note that you're playing, what you really need to do to speed up your reading, which means speeding up your fingers is to read ahead a few notes. 

Fluency in reading flute sheet music 

Like when you're reading a book, a novel, you aren't looking at the word that you're reading. You're looking ahead. And as you got more fluent at reading, as you grew up, now is your time to grow up when you're reading music and push yourself to read ahead. What's really happening here is you're gonna speed up your brain and your fingers will follow.

Flute fingering for B flat

The fourth thing that can speed up your fingers when you are playing is knowing which B flat to play. There are three different ways of playing B flat on the flute, but the most common too, this one with your thumb on the B flat key and the other common one is your thumb on this key with this finger down. I would suggest that if you have a B flat in the key signature, or there are B flats all the way through a piece or a scale that you use this one. So F major scale, which has a B flat in it using that one would look like this.

B flat on the flute

 Using the other B flat, you'll see this finger go down. Now it probably sounded the same. It did sound the same because I'm used to both those fingerings. But if that was to go faster or if the piece was more complicated, I would struggle using that in the same way that I can use this. So try changing to this one. Just a word of caution.

Alternative flute fingering for B flat

If your B flat is next to a B natural use this one, you don't want to go sliding because you just don't have the control - that will slow down your fingers. If you've got B flat next to a B natural in a scale like a chromatic scale or any piece, you do not want to go sliding between B flat and B, playing both those notes next to each other. You wanna be doing B flat and B.

Improvement not perfection on the flute

The fifth thing that slows down people's fingers. This is really common. It's the P word, perfectionism. Getting something accurate is excellent. And you want to strive for this, but not at the expense of not being able to play something as fast as what you could. So if you can play something well, then see if you can sort of throw caution to the wind a bit and just push yourself faster, without aiming for perfection, which leads me straight on to number six. And it's kind of the exact opposite that they both have a place.

Slower practise on the flute

If you make mistakes when you practice, your fingers are going to be learning those mistakes. So you want to practice a section of a piece, let's say a bar or part of a scale, a section that you always have trouble with that you are always playing a mistake and I want you to get it perfect. But just that section. And I want you to get it perfect many times in a row. I play a little game with my students called five in a row, and they have to play something perfectly five times in a row. And if they play any mistakes, they have to go back and start counting again.

Flute practise techniques

The good bit about this, playing it perfect technique is you can go as slowly as you like. Your fingers will remember what they play. If you play mistakes, your fingers will learn those mistakes. If you play it accurately, doesn't matter how slow, how fast your fingers will remember that passage accurately. And that is what you want.

Flute practise routine

So work on certain passages with a perfection attitude, but then every now and then in your practice, like in the last point, throw caution to the wind a bit and just sort of do your best and free yourself up, which frees your fingers up.

Brain tricks for the flute

And the seventh and final point is you can trick your brain into thinking that you can play something faster than what you think you can. For example, that run at the first is a B flat major scale and it's fast. If you think of every single note and you try and get every single note perfectly, you might end up slowing up your brain and slowing up your fingers. So there's a little trick that you can play on yourself. This is just one example of brain tricks.

Scales on the flute

Think of the first note of the scale, the B flat, and think of the top note of the scale, the B flat, and you're gonna start there and you're gonna aim there and then rip through everything in the middle. Of course, you need to actually be able to play this scale to start with, but it's a way of speeding up a fast scale or fast passage to be extra fast. So instead of thinking every note, think of the first one and the top one, and rip up the scale.

Fingers when playing flute 

There you go. They are seven ways to speed up your fingers. Some of those things are gonna be more relevant for you than others because everyone is at a different level of how advanced they are. So that last one is quite an advanced one. But think about the first ones. Think about the tension that I mentioned, especially that is a really, really, really big factor in speeding up your fingers.

Free flute mini course on tone

Okay. That free mini-course. I mentioned How to Quickly Improve your Tone on the Flute. There's a link in the description here, and I hope to see you in that short course.

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