LFP 033 | Can I Play The Flute With Cold Hands?

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LFP 033 | Can I Play The Flute With Cold Hands?

Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:

In this episode, you will learn the answer to the question, “Can I play the flute with cold hands?”.

This is the Learn Flute Podcast Episode 033.

So excited!

You’ll learn:

What this podcast will be all about

  • Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
  • What can happen to your flute if you play in really cold conditions
  • How you can warm your hands up before playing the flute
  • A time when Rebecca played in the opening of the winter olympics
  • What you can look forward to learning from listening

Learn Flute Podcast 033

Press the Play Button to Listen Now:

Can I play the flute when my hands are frozen? This is the question today. I’m Rebecca Fuller the expert and instructor here at LearnFluteOnline.com -let’s get started!

Well I’m really happy to see you here eager to learn something new again all about the subject of learning to play the flute. As you already know I not only think this is one of the greatest instruments ever, but I’ve made it my mission to help the good people of this world who are interested in playing the flute. I help you learn how to play in an easy, organized, positive, and extremely convenient fashion here online.

I have had years and years of training from some of the greatest flute teachers in the world, and lucky for you that I am here to pass the information on to you!

So with that note let’s have a  quick discussion about playing the flute when our hands are frozen.

Now if you know this about me, I live at the very top of Utah which is a very cold part of the United States. In fact the year we built our house here the temperatures were down 30 degrees below zero. This is 30 degrees below zero fahrenheit. It’s true! In fact I think it was closer to 40 degrees below and that is some of the very coldest temperatures in the state.

The plus side of all this is that we have a lot of snow and I get to ski a lot and ice skate, and my kids really like to play hockey and basically we have found a plethora of winter sports that make it extremely fun to live here.

On the downside,  there are certain things we just can not do in the winter. That entails about 6 months of the year. One of them is playing our instruments outside. Especially the flute.

Now I have to tell you a quick story about when I was booked to play with my Irish band at a celebration for the opening of The Winter Olympics in the year 2002 here in Utah, well down in Salt Lake City.

We arrived at the designated place to find that the temperatures had dipped to twenty degrees below zero fahrenheit, and that the venue was outdoors. Oh goodness! I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with my flute! Some instruments lend themselves to being okay outside in these types of temperatures, but the flute is not one of them.

So, if you can imagine something for me for a minute think about this: if you take a metal tube and freeze it below zero (like way below)  and then suddenly below hot moist air into it- guess what happens? Yep it could crack! That’s not really a fun thing to think about for your beautiful instrument that you know you’ve spent a lot of time and money on. So,  this posed a lot of challenges for us for sure.

We had to get a whole bunch of outdoor heating elements and put them directly over our  places where we were going to stand in our band where we were playing to keep the temperature above 0. We were going to be on TV and they were recording it and it just felt crazy. I also had to wear gloves to keep my hands from getting frostbite. 

So, in order to get my fingers over the holes on my flute keys and also on my Irish whistle I had to cut little slits in the tips of the fingers of the gloves so that my skin could barely poke through. Surprisingly enough I played pretty great! I just had to get kind of creative.

Now this little story just illustrates what would happen if you had to play your instrument outdoors in these types of temperatures. Well I really don’t suggest if it at all can be helped, but what happens when your hands are just freezing even indoors and you have to play your flute? Let’s talk about that.

I have found a few different techniques that really have helped me a ton. Now, the first thing I do when my hands are cold, you know they feel creaky or achey, is that I run them under tap water like tap warm water. I turn it on, let it get warm, or even close to hot for a couple of minutes at least. And this is probably the very best and common technique for warming up some hands before you have to play your instrument.

This just gets those muscles warm and you know it happens pretty quickly you can do it pretty well. It may not stay unless you keep it under the water for a longer amount of time and if you wiggle your joints and knuckles while you are running your hands under the water then you will find that the squeaky creakies start going away and it will be easier to start playing your instrument.

If it’s not possible to get to a tap of warm water then you will have to get really creative. Of course you can sit on your hands (I do that often). I personally benefit from crossing my arms (I’m doing it right now just as I’m talking to you, you can picture this) crossing my arms and folding them across each other and putting my fingertips or even my whole hands under my armpits. 

If you’re in a performance type situation it’s probably pretty warm under there and it will do the trick within, well it will probably take at least 10 minutes or so, before you can play your flute really well without feeling like you’re being hindered by creaky, achy, freezing fingers.

Now, I don’t blow into my hands with breath when I need to get them warm before playing the flute because the moisture in my breath gets on my fingers and makes them kind of sticky which doesn’t work very well for playing the flute quickly. That is when the notes are really, they have to be played very fast and so I personally like to have dry fingers.

Haha oh goodness the funny things we have to talk about when we play the flute!

If you have a technique that works quickly and really well for warming your hands before playing your instrument you really should leave a comment here on this episode and help us all out! I know we people will do anything in a pinch of a situation.

It really helps to have all of you flute friends and we should learn to put our heads together and come up with solutions that can benefit everyone.

I hope you have had time this week to come to the LearnFluteOnline.com website and take a lesson inside either the Silver Level, the Gold Level, or the Intermediate Level. Perhaps some of you are starting to get ready to go into an advanced level as well! How exciting!

If you have any questions or comments leave them here along with of writing to let me know how you like this podcast. I’m doing this for you so any and all feedback is definitely definitely welcome!

Well, that’s it for today. I hope you have a beautiful week and can bless either your life or someone else’s with the gift of music. Bye now!


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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the flute today now that you know the answer to the question, “Can I play the flute with cold hands?”. 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.

2 thoughts on “LFP 033 | Can I Play The Flute With Cold Hands?”

  1. William Lawyer

    I just happened across your Podcast 029, the one about playing with cold fingers. I’ve never taken my flute outside in winter, but I’ve played my guitar outside numerous times over the years.

    Most guitar strings are steel, or a steel core wrapped with bronze. Let’s assume it’s late fall, and late in the afternoon. You get your guitar tuned and start playing. But as you play the temperature drops ten or fifteen degrees. Guess what? The strings contract with the falling temperature and your instrument goes out of tune. I’ve not noticed this so much with rising summer temps. ???

    I assume this would happen with a flute – especially a silver one. So do you ever have to adjust the head joint to compensate?

    1. Hi William, yes yes the flute’s intonation is definitely different depending on the temperature. The warmer the flute is the ‘sharper’ the sound. The colder it is, the ‘flatter’. So, usually the longer you play the warmer the head joint gets- you have to pull it out more the longer your practice session goes. Glad for your comment here! ~Rebecca

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