The Flute Show - flute expert

How to Hold the Flute

Join Robert and Florence Estrin in this exciting video about flute posture

In this video, Florence gives you easy-to-understand instructions to start playing the flute with the correct posture, right from the beginning!

Released on March 5, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Robert: Welcome to the Flute Show on with Florence Estrin! I'm your host, Robert Estrin. Today's subject is very important, how to hold a flute to avoid injury. Now this isn't just about flute, there are so many instruments. My daughter, Jennifer, plays the violin, and if you've ever tried to hold a violin, you know it can take years just to figure out how to hold it. It's very difficult. The flute also presents challenges. We're very lucky being pianists to one of the most ergonomic instruments there is. And on a personal note, Florence had suffered from injury years ago and couldn't play the flute for many years and has figured out many things that are a life saver, that could help many flutists out there. So welcome, Florence, and I'd...

Florence: Thank you.

Robert: to hear about this and I'm sure everybody would be very interested in how to hold a flute to avoid injury.

Florence: Right. Well, the biggest problem is, because you hold the flute this way, it's the stretch of this left arm and many flutists end up with injuries usually over the nerve going over the elbow because of that extreme stretch. Now, there is a way to mitigate that and it's actually very simple. And so I wanna show it to you today. I actually found this out much later in my life, from a British flutist who said, "All you Americans hold the flute so funny, why would you do that?" And when he showed me at first, it was like, "Wow, What is this? I don't even understand it,"but it's so simple and it's so great because if you watch, now say if I'm going to play to an audience and I have my audience out there. Here's where my music stand is. Instead of standing facing the music stand like this, I face to the right. Now watch if I just pick up the flute as if I'm playing to go this way. Look at the stretch of my left arm. Now, I pivot over my left side, facing the music stand and look at the difference in the stretch of the arm. Its so simple. And the same thing, when you're playing sitting, instead of having the chair facing the music stand like this, say sit to the side and play over your left leg or hip. And then you have a much more comfortable position. And that's all there is to it.

Robert: That's brilliant. You know, it's just like I see pianists sometimes and their bench is, like, much too close and they're uncomfortable, or they can be too high or too low. You notice I always play with an adjustable taboret. Very important, because you can do a lot of strain if you're playing like this too high or too low and if your wrists are bent, you know you're doing something wrong on the piano. So sitting properly and holding your instrument properly is imperative on all instruments. Love to hear from all of you, any instrumentalist, any tips or tricks you have to avoid injury and how you hold your instruments. Thanks so much for joining us here. Once again, our flute expert, Florence Estrin. I'm Robert Estrin here at, look forward to seeing you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Maria Davis on June 25, 2017 @8:34 pm PST
Thank you for that lesson. My problems lie with my hands particularly my left hand thumb, it aches once I've stopped playing. I know it's probably difficult for you to diagnosis the problem as you've not seen me hold the flute. I just wondered if you've heard this complaint before.
Florence Estrin - host, on August 3, 2017 @12:00 pm PST
Make sure you are not gripping the flute too tightly. If your flute is out of adjustment and the keys are leaking air you will compensate without realizing it and grip too hard. There are devices called Bo Pep that you can clip on your flute that makes the tube wider for your thumb and index finger. Some people find this device helpful.
Maria Davis on August 3, 2017 @2:11 pm PST
Thank you for your advice. I will observe closely whether I'm pressing too hard or holding too tightly. I will also research the Bo pep device. Once again thank you.
ANIT MCCMULLEN on February 12, 2015 @9:47 am PST
Robert * VSM MEMBER * on February 12, 2015 @1:41 pm PST
Tilt your head to the right and your face slightly left (leaning into the flute a bit). Look in a mirror to make sure the amount you are lowering your flute goes with the tilt of the head. Tilting the head allows you to play with more comfort. Do not tilt into an uncomfortable neck position.
Anne-Marie * VSM MEMBER * on January 7, 2015 @11:17 am PST
Thank you, for this great tip. How do you position/ align the head of the flute to the body of the flute? Any tips? Thank you for your great lessons.
Florence Estrin on January 7, 2015 @1:14 pm PST
In my video "How to put a flute together" you will find my tips.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on January 7, 2015 @4:48 pm PST
Yes Anne-Marie, here is the video Florence has just mentioned:
anita mcmullen on October 28, 2014 @11:47 am PST
hi Florence I watch you on hold th eflute myquestion is when you pivet do youmove your rigt side to thank you
Florence Estrin - host, on October 29, 2014 @1:05 pm PST
Simply turn left from the waist up. Your entire upper body pivots left.
anita mcmullen on June 12, 2014 @3:57 am PST
hi I am learing to play the flute I got a metronome I do not know how to used it when I set the beats do I play the notes when the beats play or do I wait thank you
Vern on May 28, 2014 @2:38 pm PST
Wonderful tip, I think it will greatly improve my small ache while playing my instrument.
anita mcmullen on May 22, 2014 @5:38 am PST
question do you move your neck while playing the flute thankyou
Florence - host, on May 22, 2014 @11:29 am PST
Flutists should tilt their head slightly in order to accommodate a more comfortable position for the arms. Make sure by checking in a mirror that the flute is not sagging more than the tilt of your head creating a gap under the right side of your mouth. Once in position you should keep extraneous movements to a minimum and not jerky.
Carolyn Kono * VSM MEMBER * on March 19, 2014 @2:16 pm PST
Thank you for posting this very helpful information. I actually have ulnar nerve damage that causes my left hand to cramp after a short while of playing. I think this change in positioning will help me immensely. I look forward to more episodes of The Flute Show.
Jan Booth * VSM MEMBER * on March 5, 2014 @2:22 pm PST
i have played the flute for many years and have never heard that simple change. As a community orchestra conductor , I will try this posture with my flute players. Thank you for sharing your experience.
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