LFP 049 | To Use the Plugs or Not

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LFP 049 | To Use the Plugs or Not

Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:

In this episode, you will learn how to decide if you should use the plugs or not. 

This is the Learn Flute Podcast Episode 049.


You’ll learn:

What this podcast will be all about

  • Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
  • how to see if you are ready to take plugs out
  • How to take plugs out correctly
  • Why we use plugs
  • What you can look forward to learning from listening

Learn Flute Podcast 049

Press the Play Button to Listen Now:

Welcome Welcome to this episode number forty nine here on the Learn Flute Podcast where we learn everything there is to know about learning to play the flute well. I’m Rebecca Fuller, your host and all things ‘flute’ expert. Today we’ll be talking about a subject I get asked about all the time. To use the plugs or not? Stay tuned to fully understand what I’m talking about and to find out the answer.

Hi- it’s good to have you here today. Let’s learn something else about playing the flute shall we? It’s a good day when we expand our minds just a wee bit more. It gives us a boost and besides that- who doesn’t love getting smarter?

Well today I have looked at a question from a flute student who is asking about those little plugs she has in the keys of her brand new Intermediate flute.

You may know a bit about these plugs, or perhaps you don’t even know what I’m talking about. Let me explain in case you’re kind of clueless right now. The student model flutes almost always come with regular key tops that are solid silver, 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. You’re probably now wondering why in the world we would want holes in our keys?

Well, I’ve actually already done an episode where I talk more about these holes and if they are really necessary or not, but today we’re going to assume you have the holes and are wondering if you should keep them plugged up with the little rubber plugs that came with the flute- or if you should pull them out and just learn to play that way?

I think these are great questions because I’m not sure how else you would even know the answer unless you had a teacher talk to you about it. So, let’s pretend you have just arrived at your lesson here in my studio and your lovely grandma showered a bunch of money on you for your birthday.  You were so excited you purchased yourself a step up flute with the fancy holes in the keys. And, now you’ve arrived not knowing what to do with them.

Here’s how our conversation would go: I would say yay! And then I would look over your flute to be sure it is in good condition and of high quality so that you know you got your money’s worth. And, for the record here, not every brand is created equally. 

If you have any question at all- please ask me! 

Especially if you are one of my premium students, you are entitled to an email from me helping you choose a brand that it going to actually take you somewhere instead of keeping you stuck on a lower level. You can only play as well as your ability and your instrument will let you! Remember that today.

Anyway, after checking over your new flute we’d do an assessment of your finger position. I’m going to put a side note in here and remind you that if you’ve been studying with me since day one that you already probably have impeccable hand position and that you’ll have no issues with what is coming next. Then I’ll have you play a D major scale. With the plugs in.

Then, we’ll take the first plug out. That’s the one that will sit under your second finger of your left hand. It’s a common first plug to remove because it is a normal finger that’s already learned to be in a happy position.  

I guess I should insert a note right here that lets you know that there’s a special way to take out these plugs. If you simply push them through and out through the barrel of the flute you’re going to be sad. They are actually tapered and will stretch the metal on your flute which will cause more issues than we have time to go into right now. So, please note that those plugs must be removed from the back rather than the top. You can use a curved paper clip if you don’t have any other tool that will do it properly- just be sure not to touch the pads as you take care of this. 

It’s really, really, really important that you never ever touch those pads. They’re super sensitive and will be pretty ruined if you poke them with something. Bottom line- your flute will sound terrible if you ruin a pad.

So, back to the idea that you removed the first plug. Now, try that D major scale again. Does it still sound perfect? Any issues on any of the 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 thinking and pondering and 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.

Remember that we want a perfectly natural hand position. I show you this many times in the module videos that are geared towards checking your hand position. Check it often. Practice in front of a mirror. It’ll really help. Have a family member or friend look at you while you play something you know well. 

Are you doing anything funky with your fingers? 

Is your wrist bent funny? 

Your thumbs… where are your thumbs? 

Paying attention to these questions will help you make sure that your fingers learn to lay loosely in the proper position on your keys. This ‘so-called’ proper positioning is what will help your fingers eventually FLY. It’s fun fun fun, and you DO want to be a part of it, just trust me.

Well, that’s probably enough for today. I hope you found value in this episode. I’ve put out forty nine of these now all full of interesting subjects you can really learn from and enhance your musical learning experience here at Learn Flute Online.

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the plugs on your flute. Do you have any? Did you used to have them? I guess I should have mentioned that I still play with my last plug in. I have my reasons, and maybe we’ll get into that another day.

I can’t wait to see you in a lesson this week or today. If you are listening to this and have more questions or comments, I’d sure love to hear from you.

See you again soon!!


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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the flute while this episode helped you decide if you should use the plugs or not.  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.

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