Elbow pain for flute players is actually not as uncommon as you would think. But I can tell you that it is completely preventable with this one tip.
This causes a condition very similar to elbow tendonitis!
Have you ever seen a flutist who plays like the image on this page? Notice how the elbow is raised high and possibly she thinks this is a ‘proper’ and formal-looking position?
We see this positioning often in marching band players who have been improperly advised and forced to hold their flutes and piccolos in this manner. Oops!
Well, I can tell you from over 32 years of experience that it is not okay to play the flute like this. The reason is that the muscles running from the fingers and hand all the way through the end of the elbow are being kinked at an unusual angle. This angle isn’t what our bodies were designed to do hours on end.
This ‘chicken wing elbow’ (as I call it) causes a condition very similar to elbow tendonitis or tennis elbow. Yes, it’s possible to get tennis elbow from not playing tennis at all!
Here’s the fix. It’s quite simple actually. Lower the right elbow so that it comes naturally down from the shoulder. I have to remind my students who are ‘over trying’ to please drop their elbow often.
By doing this, it creates a natural line from the fingers down through the wrist and ending at the elbow. Voila! The strain is gone.
Sometimes this pain doesn’t show up within the first few weeks, months or even years of playing the flute, but with time and much repetition of the improper position it shows up slowly. Or, even possibly it can arrive at your door one day completely unannounced. It is uncomfortable and quite painful.
We love our musical hobbies, and with some good education and prevention (aka: learning how to play the flute with proper technique and positioning) we can play until we are one hundred years old! Assuming we can keep our lips from shaking at that age! Lol that’s another subject for another day.
Happy Flute-Playing, let’s all remember “Elbows Down”. 🙂