Jaimie Lee Mendoes - flute expert

What is Good Flute Posture?

Learn how to play the flute with the correct posture

In this video, Jaimie talks about flute posture and gives you some basics to start playing the flute on the right foot.

Released on July 6, 2016

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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

Hello, everyone. This is Jaimie Lee Mendoes, the flute expert on virtualsheetmusic.com. I hear a lot of discussions about flute posture online and offline, and I think that's only natural because we want to play the flute in the most efficient way possible, and also we want to prevent any injuries that can occur. And the most popular topic even among flute posture topics, is that whether this or this is correct. That means whether you should play the flute perpendicular to your body or you should play a little bit declined this way.

What do you think about this question? To me, it has less to do with what the flute actually looks like whether it looks like this or this. It has more to do with how much your muscles can handle, your muscles around your neck and shoulders and your arms. So, in order to figure that out because this really varies from person to person, we just gotta maybe talk about how to find a good posture for you, not for anybody else but for you. And let's maybe then talk about how we can do that.

So first of all, you want to stand straight but of course, the first step to actually find the most comfortable posture for you starts with your leg. What I mean by leg is your left leg because when we just stand straight we usually put our feet together, but because flute is not a vertical instrument we play this way. This is a horizontal instrument. That means our left...our upper body should be tilted, should be towards a little to the left. So if you put your left foot a little bit forward, that allows your upper torso, your torso to turn to the left a little bit more easily. So that's why you put your left foot forward first and then stand straight, so this means your torso is already turned towards the left a little bit.

Now then, just put your flute up this way, just in front of you and then try to bring it towards your mouth and as you do that, as you can see me doing it, your head actually turns to the left as well. Of course, we don't wanna turn it all the way, all the way, but we want to turn it just a little bit so that you can meet...your lips can meet the mouthpiece a little more easily. So from here, just turn a little bit, and that's your perfect posture, meaning that you are not unnecessarily extending your arm in order to meet your mouth this way. See, for me, this is a lot of extension.

I don't know if you can tell through the camera. But I'm quite petite, I'm only 4'11" so you can imagine how short arms I must have and so for me, this is already a lot of extending and already, I feel a lot of tension in my arm and that's something you want to absolutely avoid. So from here, of course your left foot already forward and put your flute up just in front of you as if you are taking your profile picture. And then you want to just slowly bring the flute and then also turn your head to the left, and then meet in the middle. And that's your perfect posture.

Now then, see I think for most people if you follow these steps, for most people, the flute will be tilted downward a little bit to the right. The angle would be a little bit different from person to person but it will most likely be somewhere here or here or here. It depends really on the width of your torso and how long of an arm you have and the ratio between the two.

For the past, I don't know how many years it has been exactly. So if you really follow these steps, then you can see how for most people the flute will actually end up somewhere here, somewhere a little bit more declined posture, not really here. I have been playing the flute for quite a long time. I started playing when I was eight, so I would say it's been more than 20 years. But for that amount of time, I really have seen only a few flute players, I mean among the ones that are really famous and the ones that we call great teachers and great performers.

I've only seen a few who place close to perpendicular to their bodies and for them, that was possible because they had exceptionally long arms. See, if you had really long arms or relatively narrower torso, that means you can actually bring up your arms much higher than I can and that won't stress your shoulder muscles at all. But for me, if I were to do that, again, if I were to do this already, I'm feeling it here under my upper arm but also here in my shoulder, and this will inevitably lead to some kind of injury sooner or later.

So, if you think about any flute legends, Marcel Moyse, Taffanel, James Galway, William Bennett, you know the names keep going on. Now, if you look for their videos or photos online, you'll see that none of them plays this way, perpendicular to their bodies. I think this is because this really stresses your shoulder muscles and arm muscles unnecessarily and also there's kind of...there's also limits how freely your fingers can move.

So I hope this was helpful, and I hope you find the most comfortable and the most natural posture just for you, not for anybody else through this video but also through investigating and observing more closely the flute legends videos and pictures. And I hope you have a great July and I will see you in August.
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Hilary Weiner * VSM MEMBER * on July 13, 2016 @2:49 pm PST
This lesson in standing flute posture is helpful, but do you have suggestions for sitting posture? This often arises when playing in an ensemble with two people sharing a music stand.
Jamie - host, on July 15, 2016 @4:08 pm PST
Hi Hilary, I know what you mean. Since the flute is played horizontally, one can feel uncomfortable and crammed when playing surrounded by other players, especially when you have to share a music stand.

The basic posture for sitting down is the same as standing posture. The only thing that needs to change when you are sharing a music stand with someone else is the orientation of the chair. I suggest the two of you to sit in a V shape, placing your chair facing the northeast corner of the room and your partner's chair facing the north west corner of the room. I am assuming you are sitting on the left side.

I wish I could insert a diagram to show you how this exactly would look like! If you want I will touch upon this issue in the next video. Just let me know!
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