LFP 025 | What To Do With A Bendy Thumb and Flute Playing

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LFP 025 | What To Do With A Bendy Thumb and Flute Playing

Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:

In this episode, we’re going to be discovering what to do if you have one of those famous bendy thumbs. As well as how having a bendy thumb and flute playing will effect you. 

This is the Learn Flute Podcast Episode 025.


You’ll learn:

What this podcast will be all about

  • Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
  • How to find out if you have a bendy thumb
  • Why you need to be careful with how you grip your flute
  • How to prevent carpal tunnel
  • What you can look forward to learning from listening

Learn Flute Podcast 025

Press the Play Button to Listen Now:

It’s time to celebrate- it’s episode twenty five here on the Learn Flute Podcast! Today we’re going to be discovering what to do if you have one of those famous bendy thumbs.

Hi, I’m Rebecca Fuller the expert at Learn Flute Online dot com. and I’d like to welcome you to today’s podcast where we’ll be talking even more things flute related for you budding musicians out there.

Now, I thought I’d give you a little insight as to where I get the ideas for subjects for these podcasts.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by really great people. I have a whole full studio here in Utah where I get to work with some of the most amazing students I could ever ask for. They are dedicated to learning how to play the flute well, and we always become life-long friends. 

Occasionally, I will sit during a lesson and take notes on all of the different points and skills that I see. Then I make sure and pass along the information to my online students as well.

There are many skills that I get very into detail with inside the membership area on the Learn Flute Online dot com website where the video lessons are, and it’s always fun creating a study or exercise that helps illustrate and get the point across for that particular skill.

But, there are also some skills that I can share here on this podcast. Also, I am happy to be in contact with many of you who ask questions and give comments about your own playing. This is what makes Learn Flute Online so great. We can all share and learn from each other.

Playing the flute definitely  is fun, and it’s even better when you have others to share the journey with.

So, let’s get going today with the main subject which is all about bendy thumbs. Haha, you may be wondering what in the world this is. Well, I have noticed over my many years of teaching that there seem to be two types of finger joints out there. 

I like to think mine are the normal kind,.. you know- my fingers are relatively straight and they bend forward in a grasping motion just like you’d think finger should. BUT, I always seem to have a few students who have joints that are just rubbery and bend all over the place. This always makes for interesting conversations during flute lessons.

Try this yourself so you can see if you have what I call ‘normal’ finger joints or if yours have the super-power of being really rubbery and bendy. I think some people call it ‘double jointed’, but I’m not sure if that’s really the term.

So try this; put your thumbs up in front of you with your other fingers in a fist- as if you are hitchhiking somewhere or trying to mimick the ‘thumbs-up’ pictures you see. Ok- what do your thumbs look like? Are they straight? Kinda straight? Is the top part bent? Or is the whole entire finger curved backwards? … some of you may even have them super curved backwards if you just try a little.

Ok – now that we’ve established the idea that these types of thumbs exist, let’s talk about what to do about them;

Your thumbs actually play a very large part in playing the flute. If you think about it you’ll notice that the left hand thumb is the one that is maneuvering the thumb keys back and forth. It has to go on and off a – lot. Especially if you’re trilling or learning to play quickly.

And, the right thumb is all about balancing the flute. Both are super-duper important!

So, why does it even matter if the thumbs are bent or not? Well, I’ll tell you. The muscles that run from the thumb and all the way down into the hand are pretty special. They connect to an important area in your wrist, as actually most of your fingers do. 

This area is the carpal region, and if it’s abused enough times a problematic syndrome is caused called, ‘carpal-tunnel-syndrome’. I’m not sure if you have heard of this before, I talk about this occasionally in different lessons because this is really important and there are certain things you need to know about playing an instrument to help you combat and just stay away from this issue. But I bet you have seen someone with this issue. 

It’s most common in people who work at banks or offices with number machines, or even grocery store workers on the checkout machine.

So, this muscle that runs down the thumb needs to be used in proper hand position or we get a repetitive damage injury that is absolutely no-bueno for playing the flute.

Now, for those of you with normal straight thumbs, this doesn’t mean you are exempt at all from thinking about this today because it’s super common for students learning how to play the flute to grip their flutes super tight – you know, for fear of dropping it. It really is pretty slippery feeling at first I agree.

The problem with this is that even after you get a feel for how to hold the flute, those thumbs tend to stay hanging on for dear life until it’s a habit that is impossible to be broken it seems. Or, possibly you don’t even know that it’s happening.

So, these thumbs are gripping and bending and sitting in crazy positions anyway which is just as damaging.

Those cute little bendy thumbs tend to be bending all the time and not just when they’re gripping… which causes an issue with the alignment of the rest of the fingers.

It seems that bendy thumbs like to be turned over so that the flute is basically sitting right on the squishy pad of the thumb – I’m talking about the right hand thumb here. So visualize this It’s bent backwards also.. so the first second and third fingers sort of lay to the left on top of the keys.

I’m not sure if you are getting a perfect visual of what I’m talking about here, but just know that it’s a problem. I definitely do have some videos about this within the lessons on Learn Flute Online in the membership area for those of you who are going through the lessons in order, you will be really glad that you don’t miss this skill. 

The last thing I want any of you learners to do is unintentionally mess up your hand position. Not only is there a potential for an injury in the future, but having your thumbs set on this crazy angle I’m talking about  really does a number on your ability to play fast.

Yahhhh, it’s true. Fast fingers are fluent and loose feeling, not tight and bend in unnatural positions.

So, with all this being said- I’d like you to examine your thumbs today, and this week… well, how about for the whole month?

These subjects are kind of interesting and fun to talk about.. I’m guessing there aren’t many people with a podcast out there titled “Do you have a bendy thumb” like this one.

Let’s end off today with another great comment from one of you. I stopped to ponder a little bit about this one that came in last week. This person says, “I love the progress you are allowing me to have in my flute studies. Thank you.”

It’s really awesome to hear that there is a lot of progress going on here, but I want to remind you all that actually it’s ‘you’ is doing the work, and I am simply providing the guide and encouragement for you. Now, i’ll agree that it’s a really good guide, so for that you’re very welcome. But, you home-learners are my ( I’ll say it again) super heros. You are self-motivated and dedicated to your dream. I will totally support that!

So, just to remind you- today’s episode is number twenty five. When I started these podcasts I intended (and still do) on making hundreds of them, so I started the numbers at zero zero zero. That’s three digits. It just keeps it all lined up right on the computer and in the feeds.

So, as of right now I have it set up that you can listen to these podcasts on itunes and a few other podcast players as well as the ability to just play them from my website; learn flute online dot com on the podcast page which you can find by clicking on the bonus lesson content in the top menu bar.

Things change occasionally on the website because I’m always trying to make things better. Remember, my expertise is in the area of teaching how to play the flute well, so it takes quite a bit of effort to get the online presentation correct. So, if you have any suggestions or something you think should be there just let me know. I’m definitely interested.

I have the podcasts set up to be easily found with the transcript – this should make it easier for those of you who are translating in your mind as you go. You can find those on the individual podcast pages which can be found (at the time of this recording anyway) by typing in your browser bar: learn flute online dot com forward slash and then the number you’re looking for. For example, this episode is number zero two five because it’s episode twenty five.

Anyway, we don’t need to make it all complicated. I’m just glad you’re here listening and learning.

And if you haven’t had a chance to come over to the website and get started on your flute lessons, remember that I have a whole set of free lessons you can start with first without any commitment. Just get your name and email in the optin box and we’ll get you started.
And with that – this is Rebecca signing off. We will see you next time!


Thank you for Tuning In!

Please consider subscribing and taking a minute to leave a review and rating for the podcast on iTunes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the flute today as we tackle on what to do with a bendy thumb and flute playing. Join us for the next episode.

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

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

4 thoughts on “LFP 025 | What To Do With A Bendy Thumb and Flute Playing”

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    I am a member of your LFO class and really enjoy it. I have a neuromuscular disease that affects my hands and fingers (as well as other extremities). One reason I play the flute is to exercise my fingers; however, at times it’s difficult to hold/balance after a short period. What do you think about thumports to help with this issue?

    1. Hi Phyllis, I think thumb ports can be a really great idea for you. I know they do scratch your flute though, so be careful with that. Update us in a while and tell us your discovery. Thanks! ~Rebecca

      1. Hi Rebecca,
        I listened to your podcast today about “bendy thumbs.” Mine are actually quite straight, but I do have problems with my right hand falling asleep. Your podcast made me research back about the “right hand position.” I found your class on Dec. 18, 2019. I listened and watched carefully. I believe I’ve been gripping my flute too tightly and sliding my right thumb a little bit too far on my flute. I will be watching carefully all week to see what I was doing and try to correct my bad habit. This, I believe, may greatly decrease the sleepiness in my right hand.
        Thank you for your tips and great advice.
        You’re the greatest!
        Kathryn Carlisle

        1. Hi Kathryn, this is great to hear – you’ve identified something you know isn’t probably right (sleeping hand or fingers). It’s something you can address every day in your practice, and as you implement correct hand and arm technique you’ll find a huge difference. Also, make sure you allow you right hand some breaks – you may have a reason you need to remove your right hand from the flute for a second or two every half a page of music or so. Hang your hand down and wiggle your fingers before putting it back up. Keep me posted, I’d like to make sure you’re doing well with this. Good luck! Rebecca

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