Recently I received a question from a flute student who asked, “Should I keep the plugs in my open-holed flute?” You may know a bit about these plugs mostly found in Intermediate level flutes, or perhaps you don’t even know what I’m talking about. No worries, let me explain in case you’re kind of clueless right now.
The student model flutes almost always come with regular (closed-hole) key tops that are solid metal (no holes), but when you move up a level suddenly each key on the top of your flute that a finger presses has a hole in it! Yup, a little hole that is about the size of a the back of the pencil end eraser. It’s just the right size for the fat pads of your finger tops to fit right in. All of these higher level flutes with open-holes usually come with little plugs that fit inside of the holes.
Does it still sound perfect?
You’re probably wondering if those little holes are supposed to be plugged or if you should take them out. Let me answer your question.
If you were to come to my studio for a flute lesson with a brand new open-holed flute, we would do a little test to figure out whether or not you are ready to take the plugs out.
The test would go something like this:
- Play the D scale with all of the plugs in.
- Next we would take out the first plug and have you play it again. The first plug is the one that will sit under your second finger of your left hand. It’s a common first plug to remove because it is usually the finger that’s already learned to easily be in a that happy position.
- Does it still sound perfect? Any issues on any of the other notes? If not- then you’re good to remove the next plug. And so on and so on until you get to the end.
What we’re doing here is testing to see if any of your fingers naturally – or unnaturally lay in the wrong position that will create a leak of air in that key. If that happens, then you know that you have an issue. It’s okay- just put the plug back in (remembering not to push it too far in) and start practicing daily focusing on fixing your finger position.
Let me mention now that it’s totally okay to leave the plugs in- even forever if you want. But, the idea is that you use these holes to help you create a beautiful, natural hand position so that you maximize what your body can do and learn as far as speed and fluency goes on your flute.
So now you’re ready to try this test on your own!
As always if you have any questions or comments leave it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.
Also to answer the question of “Should I keep the plugs in on my open-holed flute?” Click here to watch my quick video explanation: