How to Know Which Size of Flute You Should Use

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How to Know Which Size of Flute You Should Use

How to Know Which Size of Flute You Should Use

Please watch the video below and read the article included.  Good luck!

I recently had a nice dad email me over the choice of flutes for his young daughter.  They are going to be learning online from me.  We were lucky enough to be able to meet since they were in my area on vacation.

This young girl is 8 years old very petite.  Learning on a flute that is too big would be a big mistake, so we are sizing her very carefully.

For younger learners the curved head flute is the best option because of arm length.  Until these kids grow enough this type of flute offers the best of both worlds.  They are actually still playing on a full-size flute as far as fingers go.  The lip plate is the exact same size as on a straight head.  A curved-head flute in great condition plays just as well as a straight one.

There is a great way to decide if a student needs a curved-head flute or not. Without having both a straight flute and a curved flute in your possession to try, how can this be determined?

There is a great way to decide if a student needs a curved-head flute or not.


Take a yard stick or a measuring tape and place the 0 end under the exact middle of the lips.  Next pull the tape measure or yard stick to the right of the student (as if it were to be the flute).

Have the student then place their right hand index finger on the measurement 16″.

Look closely at the angle of their right arm.  The elbow is bent at a possible 90 degrees, more or less.

If the angle of the right arm with the elbow being the point is LESS than 90 degrees, the child can use a straight flute.

If the arm angle is MORE than 90 degrees, the child is reaching too far and it will be too difficult for them to play a straight flute.  This young student needs a curved-head flute.

*Note, if the child is very young (3, 4, 5 yrs.) there is a real possibility that the student needs even a smaller flute.  There is one brand available as far as I know.  I have been using them for 14 years.  It is a Jupiter Prodigy 313S.  I do not recommend learning solely online if your child is this young.  Seek a good Suzuki Flute teacher who is accustomed to teaching students this young and working with their parents.  I do this in my studio, but do you live close enough?

My absolute favorite curved-head flute is the Jupiter 515S Deluxe Standard Flute.  It is very durable and has an amazing big sound.  It is also available for a very reasonable price from an online catalog instrument store.  It also includes a curved and straight head so the student can move to the straight flute when they are tall enough and ready.  All pieces are kept in the same flute case.

Here is a link to the exact flute I am talking about: Rebecca’s Recommendation Jupiter 515S

Here’s the final difference.  I just went and measured a straight flute vs. this curved-head flute.  The distance between the middle of the lip to the right index finger on a straight flute is 16″.  The distance on a curved-head flute is 10″.  That’s 6″ that we have to play around with.

Need to Skype to be sure?

Ask a question or leave a comment below and we’ll schedule a quick skype or facetime.

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

23 thoughts on “How to Know Which Size of Flute You Should Use”

  1. Question . Why can’t a beginner start with a Professional model if money is not a factor ? Please let me know . and I have short fingers do pro models offer closer holes ? Also what’s the difference between open and closed holes ? Steve G.

    1. Hi Steve, beginners can definitely start on any model they like. Most start on student models, but this is not the rule. I encourage my students to get the flute that fits them the best (I can show you how to know and hook you up with the finest flute dealer/tech). Shorter fingers aren’t really a factor since even an 8 year old can play a regular flute. There is no difference in sound on a closed or open hole flute. It’s most common that higher level flutes will have open holes (it’s kind of standard), but you can order and find more rarely high level models that have closed holes. Let me help you with your flute selection so you get what is best for you. Sending you an email. Fun! Rebecca

    1. Rebecca Fuller

      Hi, I’m so glad you’re getting ready to play the flute! The Western Concert flute that I teach here at Learn Flute Online is typically about 26 inches, and has special places that are easy for your fingers to use. The bansuri is a different instrument and the spacing of the holes makes the difference on how your hands and fingers feel when you’re playing. I hope you find a bansuri expert to help you. Thanks so much! Come take a lesson soon – Rebecca

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I want to by a flute for beginner he is 22yr old.. and I don’t have any knowledge about flutes so could you please suggest me which flute to buy and of what size..

  3. Hi! I was wondering if you think its a bad idea to buy a curved head flute used. I have a bunch of siblings/cousins who want me to teach them the flute, but are too young. what o you think would be a reasonable price?

    1. Hi Clarebugg, I have lots of curved head flutes in my studio. We keep them in really great shape, so it’s easy to pass them from student to student. I also send them to my flute technician (he’s great!) before moving them to another student. He gets everything all perfect again, and they last for years and years.
      Remember that the actual brand and condition make the difference. This is my favorite curved head flute of all time: I have tried them all…. there are some that a super, super bad- so I won’t recommend them.
      I think you should be able to get a new one of these for around $500+ and a used one (please only buy in perfect condition) for about $350.
      I hope this helps answer your question. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  4. Hi Rebecca, I have played flute for 7 year and I am about ready to retire my student flute and move up to a pro model. I fit a full length flute just fine but I have small hands, span about 6in from thumb to pinky. I have noticed I have a little trouble switching from D to E and I am also worked about the holes. I know they have plugs but I want to get the most of the flute I buy, what would you suggest.

    1. Hi Shelb, thanks for asking. I’m glad you’re ready for a new flute. I’m not sure what level you play on, but you would love a solid intermediate flute. Here is a great one that I use a lot for students in my studio. It has been a very reliable and beautiful sounding flute for years for me. It’s a Pearl 665RBE Check it out. 🙂 Rebecca

  5. I have a simple question. I am about to get a professional model, and I find the change to be almost….. traumatizing because the fingers seem to have to be in direct contact with the holes all of the time or it won’t work. Might you have any tips for dealing with that, or is it something I just have to get used to?

    1. Hi Dom, this is a really great question. I remember when I switched from a student model to an intermediate/advanced model flute. I was excited and daunted both because of those holes. There is good news for you. You only need to seal the hole with your finger-top when you need that key closed. It really is best to learn to keep your fingers close, but the flute will still work just fine even if they aren’t. You can keep the plugs in the holes while you transition into a perfect hand position.. then take them out one at a time as you find each finger ready. Thanks – look forward to hearing more from you. 🙂 Rebecca

  6. Gwynne Trivelpiece

    HI,Rebecca,I am very excited about taking lessons from you! I am experiencing technical difficulties. My Kindle doesn’t support Flash drive.I am able to see your lessons on YouTube but, I don’t know if they are a complete series? Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be able to resolve this issue.In the meantime, I am reading your e-mails about choosing a flute and hope to get to our one and only music store soon.I live in Grand Canyon National Park & the closest town is 80 miles away. I am so impressed with your thoroughness and teaching style.Learning to play the flute has been a life long dream. Thanks so much, Gwynne

    1. Hi Gwynne, – I’m not aware you need flash to view my videos. I watch them on all of my devices, and you’re the first to mention this… and I LOVE that you’re studying from me from the Grand Canyon. That’s FUN. I’ll totally love to be a part of your life-long dream. 🙂

    1. Hi Dileep, I’m sorry but this is not the right learning program for the bamboo flute. Maybe in the future I will have a segment on this site for the Indian flutes.

  7. Hi Rebecca its me Dixie and I have another email and I will email you with it but I was figuring with skype we can work together and I can learn other songs cause I’m on my fourth day of working with you’re videos and mabey we can be better with skype. So whats your skyoe name?

  8. Christopher Santos

    Hi again Rebecca,I had a silver flute already about 3 years now its brand name is Global. Im glad i found one of your videos after searching for so long. I had question about the kinds of flute I am talking about.They say some flutes had its on measurements in length.I am not sure if you have heard about soprano flute.If you know other kinds and their lengths, please tell me so I could know if what kind I had

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