The Flute Academy
Why High E is So Hard to Play on the Flute

Why High E is So Hard to Play on the Flute

Aug 20, 2019

Today I'm going to try some mind reading!

Why High E is So Hard to Play on the Flute

I'm going to guess that your high E is hard to play.

If you thought "No, my high E is fine", well then I would bet a million dollars that your high F# is hard to play!

How do I know?

There are 2 reasons why these I know these notes are hard to play.

  • One is the way the flute is built (ie the acoustics of it).
  • And the other is because of the way that many flute players try to play their high notes.

I made you a 5-minute video to demonstrate this, and to show you the 5 (not-so-good) things that happen if you just blow really hard to get out your high notes!

Jane xx

PS. The FREE Masterclasses that I mentioned in the video can be joined here: (I'm rather excited to show you LIVE how to get a clearer sound and easier high notes, yay!)

High E tricky on flute

Have you ever wondered why high E this one or a high F sharp are harder than other notes on the flute? If you have never wondered that, pause this video and go and experiment, and I will bet you that one of those will be harder than other notes on the flute for you. So I'm going to show you in this video, why they are harder.

Flute School

I am Jane my business, the Flute Teacher School is built upon the fact that I love showing people tiny little techniques that dramatically change their flute, playing dramatically, changing it for the better and making it dramatically easier as well.

Faster flute progress

Stick around to the end of this video and I'm going to show you that I'm running masterclasses. They are free. You can come along, they're online and you're gonna learn about quickly improving your tone and quickly making high notes easier.

Proper way to play flute high notes

So high E and high F sharp. So let's say you're playing along and you try and play a high E and it actually comes out like this. You might be someone that goes, oh, no, E is fine. It's F sharp, that's the problem. You want this to happen but you actually get, it before you get the high note.

Flute embouchure control

There are two parts to why this happens. One is that if you've been learning with me online, you know that I teach the proper way to play high notes. And it's about embouchure control. That is what you need to be able to get these two notes to come out way more easily than what they do. I'll tell you more about that at the end.

Split E mechanism on the flute

Now, the reason they're hard to play in the first place, it's because of the acoustics of the flute. And now you're probably wondering, or at least I'm excited to tell you the reason why it's either E or F sharp, and generally not both. Some flutes and they tend to be cheaper flutes or older flutes do not have a little device called a split E mechanism. I'll show you what that is. But a split E mechanism makes the high ease a breeze. You know, you've got a split E mechanism when you look at this spot here and there's that little bar there. And in addition to that, you have this extra rod here. That's how you know, you have a split E mechanism.

Flute keys work independently 

What it actually does is on the flute, without this little mechanism, these two keys are joined and they go down at the same time, always. So when you push this one, that one goes with it. But you'll see that when I push that one, this split, that's why it's called a split E. So when you play high E, this hole is closed on my flute with a split E mechanism. Which makes high E easier to come out. If you don't have a split E, that hole does not close and it makes E harder to come out. It's just the acoustics of the flute.

Flute F sharp harder from split E mechanism

Now, if you have a split E mechanism, what happens is it makes E easy. And then it makes F sharp noticeably hard. It's not harder than on flutes without a split E, it's just that you notice it. So if you're going up the flute and you get to an E and you've got a split E, you think E's great, and you think you're technique is wonderful.

And then you get to F sharp and you think what's wrong with my flute? But it's just that the mechanics of the flute has made E easier for you. It's sort of hiding your not great technique. And then your not great technique is coming out on the F sharp instead, which is what I think it's funny. It's kind of like delaying the inevitable.

Proper flute embouchure technique

Now, when I say your technique's not great, I don't mean that you are not great. That's not what I mean. It's that, to be able to play high notes, and I'm talking notes from here, this is E up. So anything from that up, you need to start using a particular technique that gives you control over your high notes. Then we get to those really high notes. So that E in the F sharp that we were just talking about, you really need to have this proper technique that gives you control over your embouchure so that all high notes are a breeze.

Highest note on the flute

Playing the highest note on the flute is fun, although be aware that it's not the best measure of your ability as a flute player! The true way to play flute high notes properly and easily is to be able to play them effortlessly, and with a sweet sound.

Blowing harder on the flute

Now you can cover up not knowing this way of playing by blowing harder. And it totally works until you get to that high E or F sharp and the facade tumbles down, and you realize that you actually don't really have that much control over your embouchure. Blowing harder for high notes, it's not the end of the world. 

Fluffy sound blowing harder on the flute

It's not like the world's worst flute playing tragedy, but these five things will happen. You'll run out of air quicker. You might get dizzy. You're going to have a fluffy sound. You're going to be sharp up high. And you're going to have very little control over manoeuvring between high and low notes.

Free flute mini course

That leads me beautifully to what I wanted to tell you about the free masterclass. In that masterclass, I tell you about instantly improving your tone, but I also talked to you about the beginnings of this technique that I'm talking about. That gives you control over your high notes. So go to And if you want to join me in one of those master classes come along and you would be most welcome to join in. See you there.


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