How to play a flute with open holes

How to play a flute with open holes!

Jun 07, 2021

In this video, you're going to learn how to play on an open holed flute. In other words, a flute that has holes in the keys.

Playing an open holed flute is easier than you think!

My name is Jane. I'm a flute teacher, and I love teaching people how to get faster progress with their flute playing through learning proper technique.

Proper technique means making teensy little adjustments to the way that you play to get big improvements and quickly with your playing. For an example, join me here. and I'll show you how to instantly improve your tone. And it's free, which you probably guessed.

Firstly, a bit of background on open holed flutes. An open holed flute is the same as a normal flute, except it has five holes, which you can see here in the keys.

Generally speaking cheaper flutes don't have holes. Generally speaking, more professional flutes tend to have open holes. There's always exceptions, but that's generally the case.

Open holed flute vs closed hole flute

Now there's two main reasons why someone would have an open hole flute versus a normal flute.

Extended flute techniques

One is so that they can do extended techniques. So contemporary flute playing techniques, which is bending the pitch.

I was pulling my fingers off those holes there.

It's not used in classic classical music. It's extended contemporary repertoire that uses that kind of technique.

Improves tone quality of the flute

The second reason why someone would have an open holed flute is that we're told when we buy the flute or I was told anyway, that it improves the tone quality. Now I've done a test. It does, but it's so marginal.

It does improve the tone quality, but not much.

How to truly improve your tone quality on the flute

There is a much better way to improve your tone, quality and that's to do the free course that I just mentioned. 

I will show you how to improve your tone instantly.

Adjusting the flute pitch

Now there is another side effect, like a side benefit of having an open-holed flute. You know how I said, before that you can bend the pitch.

You can actually do this in classical music or in any sort of flute playing where you can't quite get your intonation under control to keep the intonation. So the pitch up. So if you hear yourself going flat and you don't yet have enough control over your embouchure, you can just crack one of these holes.

I'm going to crack this one here. And a D for example, that would be going flat when you're going soft and quiet, you can keep the pitch up. It's a bit of a cheat, but it's a pretty handy cheat.

And you can keep the pitch up. I should say, stop the pitch from going down by just cracking a little hole and you can do it for other notes as well.

Now, the way to play with open holes successfully, like let's just say that you've got a new flute and it's an open holed flute, or you've got a flute that's open hole, but you've got plugs in it.

I'll show you the plugs in a second.

Proper flute hand position

The only way to play successfully with an open hole flute is to make sure you've got proper hand position.

Proper hand position is something that's fairly detailed and I cover it in depth in my flute Academy.

But to get you on the right track now - in a nutshell, make sure your fingers are curved. Kind of like holding a tennis ball and make sure that your right-hand thumb is not too far sticking forward like this because that'll collapse your hands.

Covering the holes of the flute

And it's very difficult to cover the holes.

When you have a collapsed hand, it's also difficult to cover the holes. If you have flat fingers like this, it's also difficult if you're using the absolute tips.

So somewhere in between a nice curved hand.

If you miss the holes, it sounds like this. So I'm going to play a D major scale, which should sound like this.

And if you miss the holes, it's going to sound like this. No kidding. That was just me missing the holes.

So you might be thinking, yeah, that's cool. I can mostly cover my holes. I'm good.

But if you miss one hole slightly in a D major scale, let's choose which hole I'm going to choose... Which one should I do? Okay. I'll choose this one.

What happens if you miss the flute holes

And I'm going to just miss that hole a little bit and everything else will be fine. It's not going to work.

The only note that worked was high D and that was me from only missing one of the holes slightly.

So it's really important that you cover all of the holes best way to do it. Like I said is to have a proper hand position.

Plugs for the holes in an open holed flute

Now, the plugs that I mentioned, these, these are made of cork, but you can also get them made out of plastic.

Five plugs can plug up your holes. Now this is good. If you've just got yourself an open holed flute and you don't have your hand position quite good enough yet - you just plug these up.

All right, let me fast forward this because you really don't need to watch me plugging up my flute.

There we go. Plugged up.

It's basically the same. It is exactly the same as a closed hole flute.

Removing the flute plugs

If you're wondering how to take out the plugs of your open holed flute, when you can't actually cover them properly, go and watch my video on YouTube called "should I remove all the plugs in my flute at once?" That's the name of the video and I give you a pretty good tip in how to actually remove your plugs and stay playing the flute without making too many squeaks.

And of course, if you're wondering how to take out the plugs, all you need is a pen or a pencil, and you just pop them through to the other side, which is why, if you look closely at my flute, there's pen marks in the middle of the plugs and that's because I've been popping them through with a pen.

I don't actually ever apply with plugs. It's more to demonstrate exactly like in this situation, how to play with plugs. So let's go and pop them out.

And then you collect them by tipping your flute up. And there we go. Five plugs.

The Flute Academy

That is how to play with an open hole flute. If you would like more information on my flute Academy, come and have a look at 

That's a paid program and I teach you heaps about proper technique on how to accelerate your progress on the flute.

Instantly improve your flute tone

If you want to do a little freebie, come along and join me at  and I'll show you how to instantly improve your tone by fixing your embouchure. I'll see you in one of those places. See you later.

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