The Flute Academy
Why to keep your fingers close to the keys

Why to keep your fingers close to the flute keys

Nov 11, 2019

Hello from super smoky (because of the bushfires) Sydney,

Why to keep your fingers close to the flute keys

Today I want to explain the 3 reasons why you will play the flute better if you keep your fingers close to the keys.


The 3rd "reason" is not really a reason at all!

It actually explains why fingers that fly high in the air can be a SIGN of a fundamental problem with your playing. (A problem that can be fixed, of course!)

See you in the 5 minute video!

Jane xx

Keep fingers close to the flute keys

This week, I'm going to answer a question that someone emailed me recently. They said, should I be keeping my fingers close to the keys when I play? So the short answer is yes, you should. But if you've got sticky up fingers, it can be the sign of something else underlying. So I'm about to take you through the reasons why yes, you should keep your fingers close to your keys, but also what it can be a symptom of.

Flute School

So my name is Jane. I am a flute teacher, my business called the Flute Teacher School shows flute players how little tiny changes to their flute playing make a really big difference to how well they play. Today's video is an example of that, instead of just saying, yes, you should keep your fingers close to the keys, I wanna tell you more about a fundamental technique that once you hit the nail on the head with certain little fundamental techniques like this and fix it, it actually makes really gigantic differences to your playing.

Free flute mini course

So we're just gonna touch on that today. Also as a really good example of these tiny little changes, stick around to the end of this video, and I'll show you how to do a free three-day mini training, a minicourse on quickly improving your tone.

Smoother transition between flute notes

So the three reasons you should keep your fingers close to the keys when you play. The first one, if you play with your fingers up here, you are going to end up getting clunky sounds when you play. So instead of having something nice, sounding like this, you will have it sounding like this. See if you can hear the clunks. Oh, this is hard. I don't know if you could hear that, but I certainly felt clunky and I could hear it from where I was sitting as well.

Flappy fingers slows your fingers down

Okay. The second reason why you should have your fingers close to the keys when you play is because if they're up here, this is pure logistics, it slows down your fingers. They have further to travel, to close the keys and you won't be able to play as fast. So here we have fingers close to the keys. Now that didn't feel particularly difficult to play that fast, but now let's try it with my fingers up in the air,  I'm pretty sure this is gonna feel hard. 

Hard to cover all of the open holes 

Oh my gosh, that felt like I was trying to go a hundred miles an hour or kilometres an hour. The other thing is that I wasn't gonna say, but I just thought of it then. If you have an open holed flute, it's actually really hard to get your fingers in the right spot when they're up so high. And when you have an open hold flute, you have to actually close the keys for the flute to work. If you don't, the notes just don't come out.

Tension when playing flute

Okay? And this is the bit that I really want you to know. The third reason and it's not really a reason why you should have your fingers close to the keys. That sounds wrong when I say that, it's not a reason, it's a symptom. If your fingers are up here, it can be a sign that you are holding tension in your hands, but more likely you're holding tension further up your body or in different parts of your body. 

So if you've got fingers that fly around, it's not that you're not trying hard enough. It's not that you're not being good enough a flute player at keeping them close. It can be a sign that something else is going wrong, like more of an underlying issue, which is tension somewhere else. And it's flowing through to your fingers and it's just coming out in your fingers.

Identify tension when playing flute

So the third point is that it can be a symptom of something else that needs to be addressed. And the way to fix this is to figure out where that tension is in your body and why you've got it. This exercise in figuring out, well, I keep honing to my head. I dunno why the tension's probably not in my head, this I'm pointing to a whole body like a body scan. 

The Flute Academy

That kind of in-depth exercise is the kind of exercise that I go through with the students in my flute academy. So shout out to you. If you're in the flute academy.

It's an in-depth process to find something like that out to figure out where your tension is, but once you get it, this is the kind of fundamental thing that I'm talking about is once you figure out where, for example, the tension is, and you can let it go, you don't have to try to keep your fingers close to your keys. It happens because everything is more relaxed and we've found that source of the tension. And the relaxation, for lack of a better word, flows through to your hands. And it's just easy to keep them close.

Free flute mini course

All right. So more now about tiny little techniques that make a big difference. Come along and do a free three-day minicourse,. Sign up for it here at I finally worked out which way to move my hand when I do this. I'd love to come and see you there, where I show you a small technique every day for three days, it's just a five-minute video that I email you. You start implementing it into your embouchure and the way that you're playing and you will instantly sound better. So hopefully see you there. Otherwise, I will see you next week with another video.

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