How to Hold the Flute

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how to hold the flute

How to hold the flute is a very common question many flute players have. In fact, it isn’t even a question just for beginners because the farther you move up in level, the more you notice that exactly ‘how you hold the flute’ is extremely important.

I made a special video tutorial just for people who have this question (hosted on this page).

The flute seems so slippery.. especially when you are playing C to D. Those two notes are the trickiest ones for a while.

In this video I turn to the side and show you the four different balance points you need to learn how to hold the flute.

Looking at your left hand you’ll notice that there is a space between the first two keys. This is a very special spot to notice because your flute will rest on your hand between .. or closer to the first key. Many students will make the mistake of trying to balance their left hand under the ‘second’ key- (the first key you actually press). This causes a host of issues for balance and will cause your flute to slip right out of your hands especially as you are shifting from the C to second octave D fingerings.

The most important details when learning how to hold the flute correctly..

Your first finger will actually be coming from the side to reach that first key. If you find that your first finger is coming ‘straight on’ to the first key, you will have found your problem.

In this video I’ll point out that you need to know right where your ‘palm bone’ is. By following my instructions, you’ll find the perfect little spot for your left hand. **This is the most important balance point when learning how to play the flute.**

Learning to play the flute with proper hand position makes you play better, play faster, and gives you the technique you need to become a high level flute player.

There are three other balance points in this video. Watch and learn. Or you can listen to a podcast episode where I discuss some of the same details about holding your slippery flute (and making it easier). I am excited for you to get even better at playing the flute. Learning how to hold the flute is definitely one of theeee most important skills. 🙂

How to hold the flute correctly is something not everyone knows. It’s okay if you are one of these people. There are simple tweaks and fixes that will help you get it right. Playing the flute will feel easy and a lot more fun when your flute isn’t slipping around.

Have you ever seen someone play the flute on a television show? It’s rare that they are actually playing. It’s usually dubbed in music and the person holding the flute has their fingers on the wrong keys. I see this a lot for string players as well. I guess flutists (and actors)  who know how to hold the flute right are a rare breed!

There are other factors that go into helping you hold your flute so it feels easy. Learning what to do with your knuckles is one of them, believe-it-or-not!

Do you have a bendy thumb? No worries… I can show you what to do for that also. There’s a specific technique I can show you that will help the tension in your hands as you try to hold the flute melt right away.

Tension in our hands causes all sorts of issues. I always have to point out when a student has a ‘death grip’ on their instrument. Relaxing is so much easier when you have your balance points in check. This in turn nurtures good technique. Good technique = good flute playing!

Good music in your life fosters good health too. Have you heard the research on this? I geek out on this kind of knowledge because I BELIEVE IT. I’ve experienced it for myself and seen it over and over thousands of times. Music is very good for the body and the soul.

Continue polishing your technique and special balance points as you learn to hold the flute or even re-learn how. We’re getting better every single day around here!


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

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

17 thoughts on “How to Hold the Flute”

  1. Nice review and reminder for me – since i have a bad habit of keeping “stick” fingers with my left hand ring finger and my right hand pinky. Thanks – working on the “holding” sandwich form and still trying to get rid of “bad” habit.
    Great article, video and review

    thanks !!

    1. Hi Lorie,
      I’m so glad you are always going back to review information like this. I am proud of you for recognizing your bad habits-that’s the first step in correcting them. You can do this 🙂

  2. After the Zoom call, I decided to look at some Jean Pierre Rampal videos on YouTube. I notice he ( and another flute performer who he was in concert with) hold their flute down at an angle about 30 degrees below horizontal. Up until now, I have thought you were recommending holding the flute horizontally. Any comments?

    1. Hi Marilyn, Oh this is a good subject. Yes, it’s a different technique and definitely not one suggested for you at this time. We don’t want to slant your aperture or embouchure as you are just learning, but I’ll help you explore more reasons later on for sure. And we’re going to be sure you don’t have neck or back problems from playing also, so stay nice and straight for now. Sound good? So glad you asked. I want to help you sound the best you can and have fun with your instrument. 🙂 -Rebecca

    1. Hi Yoshifumi, thanks for the question here: Balancing the flute is a good skill to perfect. You want to feel a ‘light touch’ on your face and with your hands instead of gripping it hard. Playing the flute well requires much relaxation and balance. Focus on the light touch instead of smashing it on your face and you’ll have the start to a very good foundation. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  3. Hey Rebecca, this is my second year playing the flute and my teacher has asked me to do a demonstration speech, so I decided to do it on: How To Play A Flute. This is a bit hard because I don’t know how to tell someone how to hold the flute. Any advice?

    1. Hi Erica, that’s a fun demonstration speech. I actually used to teach Speech for 6th and 7th graders, and remember giving assignments just like this. The best idea for you is to focus in on just one portion of playing that you can actually tell and demonstrate within the given time limit you have. You can change your speech title to “How to make a sound on a flute head joint”. This will give enough small steps that can be talked about in a bullet list and then demonstrated easily. Think: 1. open the case carefully 2. hold the head joint with the lip plate on the left side and the right hand carefully cupping the right side (etc) 3. hold the head joint so the hole is facing the ceiling 4. etc etc I think you get the point. How fun for you. Let us know how it goes! ~Rebecca

  4. I have trouble with the flute slipping from my mouth position. I make sure that I have no cream or lotion on my face. Any suggestions? Sometimes I have to stop and wipe off chin area while playing… especially in hot weather.

  5. Hi Rebecca – a great refresher – apologies for wasting your time with my last email – I had lost the link to this video. Your explanation for the RH thumb position was exactly what I was looking for – yours in fluting – Martin

    1. You’re fine, Martin. I’m glad you re-watched this video. It’s pretty important to get the positioning right. Glad you’re doing well. 🙂 Rebecca

  6. Good morning Rebecca! Thanks for the information. However, I can’t get the video to play. Do I need to do something else? Thanks!


    1. Hi Ed. I just clicked on it and it played just fine for me. Try refreshing your page and then try again. Let me know if you still have problems. I think parts of Indonesia have troubles playing videos hosted from Vimeo. Everywhere else is always fine. ~Rebecca

  7. Hi Rebecca,
    just the question of the position of the left hand has plagued me for a long time. I am working hard to fix that problem. When whatching this video once more I realized again the following fact.

    I cannot bend my left pointer so far than you can do it. Would it be possible, that in general males cannot strech their hinges as females can. This is espacially known from the elbow hinge. All the girls can overstrech this hinge to more than 180 degrees. Boys can´t do that. At an angle of about 175 degrees no more streching is for a boy achieveable. Getting older the problem gets worse.

    I have looked in the internet for relevant investigations about this problem, but I found nothing. Do you know something?

    So far I try to fix the problem with the help of an Bo-Pep finger saddle. It´s not according to the pure doctrine, but it helps a bit.

    What do you think of that?
    With the best greetings from Germany

    1. Hi Diedrich, thanks for the message here. I have been analyzing my left hand today. It’s not bent that much. I know that I help many people with their left hand by pulling it slightly ‘over’ more towards the top of the flute so that their index finger comes from the side. It shouldn’t be ‘under’ the key at all. This would feel awkward. Resting the flute on top of the palm bone and then reaching the first key from the side is how to do it. Try farther way if your fingers are long, or closer up if they are short. I’ll keep thinking of hints. And, yes the bo-pep can help, but scratches the flute to pieces. Hope all is well with you. Glad to see you here today. 🙂 ~Rebecca

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