Why do I need to lift my first finger left hand for D on the flute?

Flute Q&A #24: Why do I need to lift my first finger left hand for D on the flute?

Jun 07, 2022

Welcome to Flute Q&A #24. Elis asks "Why do I need to lift my first finger left hand for D on the flute?" which is a good question, with a very straight-forward answer! 

Why do I need to lift my first finger left hand for D 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&A number 24. My name is Jane. I'm a flute teacher. And I'm going to answer this question from Eli asks, why is it necessary to lift the first finger on the left hand when playing a middle C?

The future of Flute Q&As

Now that's a very meaty question. Firstly, I wanna tell you something about the Q and A's. Did you notice that? I said we've only got one question today. The reason for that, these questions that I've been getting for these Q and A's and answering three or five or 10, or even in some cases, 20 questions in one Q and A, they are such good questions.

And I just realised these questions are worthy of one video. Uh, one question per video, they're worthy of a video for just that question. So it's because of your amazing questions that you've all been asking me that were going to change these Q and A's into one question per video, and it's gonna make them shorter videos and much easier to watch more digestible, I guess you could say.

Okay. So Eli, your meaty question. I'm wondering when you said, why do you need to put your left hand first finger up for middle C? I'm wondering whether you actually mean D like this...

Why to put your index finger up for the note D on the flute

Where you have this finger up. I'm going to answer this question as if you meant, why do you have your finger up for this D Because it doesn't make sense for a C cuz C obviously has that finger down. Now the answer is one word stability, stability of the note, which is four words, but kind of one word stability.

So when you play this D if you had this top finger down, You can still get the same note, but you have the risk of getting the lower note, the lower D instead.

Forces the right note to come out

So putting this finger up, forces the flute from an acoustics point of view, it forces it to only get this note and not have the chance of getting the low note. And when I say forces, I mean, in an acoustic sense where you've got harmonics, it forces that higher harmonic, which is this one.

To dominate what you're playing. So don't worry if the harmonic bit didn't make sense, but if that answers your question about that D and that top finger up, that's really good. I hope it does. Now, another thing that you could have meant, but I don't think so. Technically in the world of music, middle C, not in the flute sense of music, but in music, um, in music in general, middle C is this one.

Low vs middle C on the flute

So if you go and play the lowest, that's the lowest note on the flute, but C if you go and play that note on the piano, it's smack bang in the middle of the piano, and it's called middle C in flute. We don't normally refer that as middle C cuz it doesn't really make sense on the flute because it, I, we tend to call it low C uh, but I think your question probably didn't refer to that either because you definitely need your top finger down on your left hand for that low C as well.

So hopefully that answered your question, Eli and I will see you all in the next Q and A, by the way, did I say that this is Q and a number 24? Because it is <laugh>. I dunno whether I said that before, see you later.

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