The Advantages of Having an Open Hole Flute

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In this episode, you will learn the advantages of having an open hole flute. 

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Podcast Transcript

It’s been eight years since I talked us through this subject on the podcast, so today is the day folks.. We’re going to discover the pros and cons and answer the question of what is the advantage of having an open-hole flute? 

Well hello there! I’m so happy you stopped by and are here to participate and learn even more about the subject flute… which is one of my favorites as you know. 

I’m guessing you’re a flute player, and it’s possible you are already one of the members of our Learn Flute Online community where we are working towards the same goal of lifelong, beautiful musicianship and especially using this gorgeous instrument flute. 

It’s shiny, it’s versatile, and of course, it’s a tool that we use to enjoy our life and continue to grow as people.

In case you haven’t been here before, I’d like to introduce myself: I’m Rebecca Fuller, professional flutist and the instructor, creator, and expert at which is a learning platform on the internet where we have a perfect and sequential program that is all set up and ready for you to come and participate in from the comfort of your own home, on your own level, and on your own schedule.

I can tell you in a nutshell how it works and then we will get right into our subject for today. 

So, the program at Learn Flute Online is super easy to use and truly convenient. 

All of the material is organized into learning modules that consist of everything you need for them including learning videos that are broken down into small progressive skills in these small steps that are easy to understand and achieve, there are PDF sheet music, mp3 audios, checklists for helping you make sure that you’re implementing what is being taught. 

It’s really just so easy, you just check the little box and it crosses out for you – keeps you visibly seeing that you’re on track. 

Also, there are progress sheets in there to help you with lesson organization as well as an overall tracking system to help you see which lessons you have actually been through and already accomplished. 

It’s really great, and is the perfect learning system. I invented it because it’s what I, myself wish that I had when I was just getting started out and studying many years ago. 

Now, I hope this doesn’t give you the idea that this is only a program for beginners because that isn’t true. I did start by creating and organizing for beginners, but I have not stopped creating in over ten years, and there’s a level for everyone here from the first day of flute playing through the intermediate level and all the way up into the advanced level. 

You have the opportunity also to have me help you implement this program so you don’t have to course correct on your own. It’s a system that is making waves, and making beautiful flute players who don’t have to wait until they are a hundred years old to be able to play beautifully.

I like to make sure you always have the next steps. 

I like variety, and I know you do also so there is something fun around every corner here. 

Also, a tiny bit about my background is that I began myself, hiding in my closet with my sister’s flute that I would steal when she wasn’t home. 

I tried to learn on my own, and then I found a flute that I feel was hidden by angels in my grandpa’s potato cellar in his early-century home. 

I worked on it a bit myself for a while and then participated and played in the school band where the director was an angry, angry man – he used to throw his baton and chalkboard erasers at the drummers daily, but being a flute player and about eighteen inches away from this man every day durning class (because flutists sit on the front row in a school band setting), I had to be perfect or I might also be the brunt of his rath. 

Well, I perfected being perfect and despite being a chatty person, I didn’t get in too much trouble, and I did learn to really love music and the progression of learning it. I also made some really great friends who inspired me to continue on. 

Does this story sound a little bit familiar to you? Well, there are many adult flutists out there who know this story, and they know it well. 

I will be telling you more about my own story as we move along this year, but for today I felt it important to give you the beginning and let you know that it doesn’t matter if you’ve started with a potato cellar flute – look at me! I’ve been a professional flutist and advanced instructor with literally decades of pedagogy expertise under my belt for thirty-five years now, and I am here to help you succeed and mature in this subject as well. 

You are welcome to my knowledge. As I said, I am here for you.

As I grew and learned, my desire to learn even more grew stronger and stronger, but as a teen and a child, I lived in a farm literally a zillion miles away from anyone (it felt this way anyways), because back in the seventies and eighties, it was a different world, you know we didn’t just jump in the car and go to town every day.. In fact, we didn’t go every week. We went about once a month as far as I could remember. I had many siblings, and it wasn’t a cool thing to take my mom and dad’s money for my own desires. 

I played student model flutes and did my best to continue on with trumpet player instructors for more than 5 years. 

Wow, is all I can say – if you’ve had a start to flute playing without a real flute instructor, let me tell you that you are in for a treat here. You can now consider me your instructor, your teacher, and friend. I will not lead you astray, and I’ll help give and show you new opportunities in learning and fun that you may never have known about before.

So as I just mentioned, I played student model flutes for my first few years of learning and once I had a whole new world of learning and development opened up to me, I did switch to an upper-level flute model. I didn’t know anything about these before, and over the past thirty-five years of now teaching, studying, and presenting, I know what I didn’t know back then.. And today, I’m going to give this bit of knowledge to you so that it might help you on your own journey.

The first thing I learned about moving from a junky student model flute was that number one, they cost more money. You’d think I would have known that, but it really is the first thing I had my attention drawn to. Quality flutes don’t just drop out of the sky… silly me.

I also learned that instead of just picking one from a catalog, I needed to actually TRY playing them. Not just one, and not just two. 

There’s a short list to getting the process of choosing a new higher-level flute right. I’ve helped thousands of satisfied and happy flutists get into their dream instrument, and today we’ll be going through a bit of information you need to take a first little step in knowing more because you’ve probably noticed a few different features on upper-level flutes that might have you a bit confused. 

The first and biggest thing people notice is that there are flutes with regular round keys on the tops of them, on the flutes, and there are keys that have little round open holes on the tops of those keys.
Hmm, what is the difference and what are they for? This is why we’re now going to go through a list of items to know about as we discover the advantage of having an open-hole flute. 

Although, there are some people who might say that we could also spend an episode checking out some of the maybe disadvantages of them also. There are some opinions out there. So, let me lay it out for you now – it’ll be interesting and fun!

 So why do some flutes have closed holes and some have open holes?

Well, let’s take a little walk back in history and notice that the concert flute or the Western Concert flute or even we could call it the Modern Western Concert Flute, as we see it now days- it’s now the same flute that it was in past history. 

In fact, flutes were originally made of bones or reed, or wood. There are still many traditional flutes around the world that are like this: They’re made of bamboo or pipe, or even some are made of plastic or tin.  

A man named Theobald Boehm, a German inventor and virtuoso flutist himself back in the eighteen hundreds, is responsible for inventing and tweaking, until we have what we have now: Which is a long tube made of different metals with a series of holes in the tube that are covered more easily with keys. 

These keys are set by a precision system of what we call the flute’s “mechanism” and consist of springs, rods, and some other fancy words.

Well, there was a point in time when in France it was determined that the flutists needed a way to control certain things that would have the benefits of speed and accuracy as they played. So, the idea of opening smaller holes on the tops of the keys was born. 

Almost all upper-level flutes began being made with these open holes from then on.

So, why open the holes? I mentioned speed and accuracy just a second ago, but what I want you to understand is that just because a flute has the open holes, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to play faster and more accurately on it. What it means is that it was an attempt at helping players use better hand position by forcing their fingers on the tops of the keys, right in the center of them.  

If you’ve ever seen someone play flute with wildly crooked hands and fingers, and their arm and their wrist kinked at every spot, you could hopefully assume that they could enhance their playing abilities by having a few things fixed. Well, the open holes were something that really did draw a lot of attention to this detail in playing. 

So, today I’m going to go through a list of advantages that one could find by using a flute with open holes, and then we’re going to quickly give more information that will help you further with this idea and hopefully dispel some myths you may have heard or learned in the past. 

The first thing I want to mention is that another main reason the flutes have these open holes is that helping teach a player to play with their fingers, pressing from the perfect middle of each key, actually helps the flute itself stay in great condition for a longer period of time- it’s an advantage to the instrument.

It actually helps your instrument for many years, because pressing the flute keys down from the side, or the back, or from the fronts of the keys does some gradual damage to them by bending them, it bends the keys in unnatural ways other than mechanically intended. 

So, basically, I’m saying that if you play with poor, and skeewampy hand position, it won’t take long before your flute will start coming down with leaks and other mechanical issues. You won’t be able to fix them yourself, and you’ll spend a lot extra money to have them fixed, and it will happen often..As well as having to spend a lot of downtime away from your instrument.

So, this is one main reason other than the first that I talked about as the open holes helping you with your hand position.. Which not only keeps your body and muscles feeling good, but it also makes speed and other accuracies possible, and it helps our instrument stay mechanically sound.  

Now, I’d think that these things would be enough for you to realize that, hey, maybe an open-hole flute is kind of a cool idea… but there are actually a few other things that I want to mention here that you’ll find pretty interesting. 

Playing on traditional flutes that don’t have keys, they have the advantage of being able to feel the pitch vibrations through your fingers. 

You know, it’s something not something everyone is in-tune with so it may not matter to everyone, but the open holes in a concert flute actually do allow players who like it to feel those vibrations as they play. I personally do like it… a lot.

They make it all the way into my heart and soul as I play… mmm feels good to me.


Another reason the open holes in a concert flute can be an advantage is to players in this new day and age where there are more interesting and new techniques to playing and creating sounds other than the traditional pitches we may have been used to. 

What I mean is that there are players who are just getting really creative nowadays and discovering ways that their flute can be used to do all sorts of fun things like bending pitches, creating new timbre and tones, as well as using it as a percussive accompaniment while also playing sounds and notes, pitches, all at the same time.

Have you ever heard someone beat-box on their flute? Yah, it’s a thing. In fact, it’s becoming more and more popular and fun. And these things are just a bit easier with a flute that has open holes.


If you’re interested in watching a good example of a very creative soul and someone who uses all sorts of interesting alternatives to traditional flute playing, check out Ian Clarke’s performance at the link that I’ve placed for you here in the description. If you’re listening somewhere other than the Learn Flute Online website, you’ll want to get on over there to the podcast page and get the link so you can check it out.

I’ll show you how to use both closed-hole and open-hole flutes here at Learn Flute Online though, so no worries. There are a few extended techniques that I especially think are easier on an open-hole flute, like sliding and some multiphonics, but I’ll also say that you can still learn absoultely learn these things on a closed-hole flute as well. 

So, let’s recap here. We’ve discovered some of the playing advantages of having an open-hole flute, like hand and body positioning as well as instrument health and being able to play some extended fancy techniques on our flute. But what are some non-playing advantages? 

Well, there’s really one big reason that perhaps you have arthritic hands that are slightly crooked or even super duper small hands, some people just have smaller hands- really small hands. 

Assuming you cannot play an open-hole flute is kind of false though because if you have these issues, there are little rubbery plugs that actually come with the flute that you can just place in those open holes and keep them there forever if you want. It’s really not a problem, and in fact, you don’t want to ever throw these away, because if you ever cut your finger, and have a bandaid on for a few days, it’ll be a problem to play with your open-hole flute unless you have your plug put in the key. 

And let me help you know how to remove them safely (this is important) because you don’t want to damage your flute. Here’s a video showing you how to do it from home without any special tools: it’s my link to removing plugs.

Yep! Things to think about. If you have a naturally bent finger (like some people do), for example, you’ll want to keep the plugs in the keys in question because playing with a position repetitively that forces your natural hand position in a new way can cause some little muscle tears and damage that will be hard for you to recover from. 

So, basically, I’m saying let’s see that the open holes in a flute are a big advantage, and if you have a flute with the open holes and you’re not quite ready for them.. (or have the technique to play with them open) correctly, no worries- let me help you. 

Let’s get you into the program and moving through the lessons properly. You’ll be able to have my eyes on your playing, and that will make a huge difference and help you in the lane of progressing steadily.

Almost ALL higher-level flutes come with open holes nowadays, but this is not the absolute rule. You can order high-level flute models with closed holes as well.. They are more rare, but they are out there.

So you may have the question of since higher-level flutes most likely come with these open holes already on them as a feature, can anyone learn on an open-hole flute to start with? 

What if you’re a beginner? 

Can you use an open-hole flute?

Well, the answer is.. You betcha. That means yes. 

You can totally learn on a flute that has open holes. In fact, there are some student model flutes that are also being made with open holes.. So now it’s really not an absolute standard that you’d only find this feature on higher-level models. 

And I know that this is all probably sparking even more questions from you, and I’m actually going to encourage you to leave a comment or send me your questions about these things because I like to make the content you want here at Learn Flute Online. 

I like to be sure you’re moving along and progressing at a nice pace, which is kind of light speed compared to how I had to learn at first.. Sitting in my sister’s closet underneath all of our dresses and clothes, trying to decipher what all the keys and buttons were for. I know that having a space conducive to learning and positivity is the best way to make the most of your time.

So a positive nod to the history of our instrument flute and what has become a consistent tweaking-in-progress. We’re always trying to gain more efficiency and find more growth in musical beauty.

I’d also like to thank you for being here today, there’s never a dumb question in learning, and I’m thrilled you’re here to enjoy more musicianship and also to enhance your life. 

If you have a specific question about our instrument flute, I encourage you to place it in the comment section, which I do monitor and reply to myself, or you can even email me. [email protected] 

I’m here for you and I encourage you to jump on into our learning area so you can start enjoying the rapid benefits of being part of a program that is set up for maximum learning in the most efficient way.. We’re doing it all online, and it works! We have students playing all over the planet and moving towards their own goals more effortlessly because of what’s going on here at Learn Flute Online.

I’d like to play you out now and remind you that you. Are. awesome. 

Again, my name is Rebecca Fuller, and I can’t wait to see you back here next time to enjoy another discussion all about the flute,.. and like today where we found the advantage of having an open-hole flute, we’ll see what we can do to enhance our lives, and our playing, yet again. 

See you then!

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 about the advantages of having an open hole flute. 

Links Used During the Show:

Ian Clarke:

How to remove plugs in an open hole flute:

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

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

6 thoughts on “The Advantages of Having an Open Hole Flute”

  1. I have one question I haven’t seen addressed here…I want to remove my plugs, but in the event I need to replace one or more temporarily, what is the correct process to insert a plug (I’m sure there’s a method to protect the flute from damage). Thanks!

    1. Rebecca Fuller

      Hi Darlene, great question. I show you how in this video: – also we talk more about it, and how to be sure not to damage your flute in the member’s area. Use the search feature and you’ll find the lessons I’ve given on it. Glad you asked! Rebecca

    1. Hi Sylke, if you go to your search feature inside the member’s area (looks like a little magnifying glass) you’ll be able to type in “open hole” and you’ll find all sorts of lessons and places where I’ve talked about this (in live classes especially). Also, feel free to email me if you have a specific question. If you’re ready to purchase a new upper model flute, email me and let me help you get a good one from the right place so it will last you forever and sound so beautiful. Rebecca

      1. Hi Rebecca,
        thanks for your information. First I will read and listen to everything behind the magnifying glass 😉 I would like to purchase a new upper model flute this year. When I’m ready I will email you. Thanks for your help! Sylke

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