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Old 03-16-2020, 01:55 PM   #1
piobaire76
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Default Flute fingers

I have come across a number of adult pipers, usually people who have played wind instruments in the past, who play the top hand with their finger tips, i.e. with their fingers in a very curved fashion. They don't on the bottom hand because of the size and spacing of the holes.
Any suggestions beyond constantly repeating, "straighten your fingers"?
Whatever successes with correcting such poor finger posture and ingrained bad habits that you have experienced would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-16-2020, 02:34 PM   #2
el gaitero
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Default Re: Flute fingers

“...come back when you’ve learned to straighten your fingers like I’ve shown you....”
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Old 03-17-2020, 09:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Flute fingers

Firstly, it's import to reassure that you understand that it feels counter-intuitive, and that you can clearly explain why the finger position is different.



Make sure they understand they only movement should be from the base knuckle, where the finger joins the palm.



To change behaviour like this doesn't just happen - they need to spend a few minutes every practice consciously working on this one thing, by watching their fingers while they play. A practice diary or checksheet they can use is a good way of keeping students honest.
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Old 03-17-2020, 09:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: Flute fingers

My reminder to students is having relaxed fingers. That tends to have them straighten them more naturally. One way to demonstrate that is to have them hold their fingers up, then drop them relaxed and naturally where they fall.

I also have them think in terms of levers. Most of the 'action' is in the tendons and ligaments in the forearm, rather than the hands.
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Old 03-18-2020, 06:51 AM   #5
el gaitero
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Default Re: Flute fingers

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Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
My reminder to students is having relaxed fingers. .
" no pressure on the thumbs"....is my reminder...hopefully ameliorating white knuckles.
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Old 03-18-2020, 09:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Flute fingers

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Originally Posted by el gaitero View Post
" no pressure on the thumbs"....is my reminder...hopefully ameliorating white knuckles.
Agreed; good advice. I've often had students rest the chanter on a table and keep their right thumb off the chanter. Only helps on the low hand, though. For some reason, I often see the upper hand fingers wanting to curl more often.
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Flute fingers

I'll explain to the student that the bagpipe is different and that the fingers themselves become the valves which need to open and seal the holes, its not a natural function for most people as we tend to grasp things naturally, which means we curl the fingers towards our palms. Pretty much once they understand that they need to learn a different set of motions the Adult students who are dedicated will practice finger lifts on a recurring basis, along with various finger stretching exercises which reinforce the need to open the fingers outward. Still many have the tendency to curl and try to use fingertips, until they have that ah-ha moment of revelation.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: Flute fingers

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Originally Posted by piper Q View Post
I'll explain to the student that the bagpipe is different and that the fingers themselves become the valves which need to open and seal the holes, its not a natural function for most people as we tend to grasp things naturally, which means we curl the fingers towards our palms.
I guess that demonstrates that we're not all that removed from our tree-climbing primate cousins!
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Old 03-30-2020, 10:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Flute fingers

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I guess that demonstrates that we're not all that removed from our tree-climbing primate cousins!
I do tend to resemble a Yeti if I don't shave regularly....
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Old 04-08-2020, 04:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: Flute fingers

For myself, I don't want people to hold their fingers pulled up in an unnatural tight arch, neither do I want their fingers held stiffly straight.

Both extremes show that the fingers are under tension.

I have people shake out their hands and let them fall totally relaxed at their sides and look at how their fingers look when completely relaxed. What is seen is neither straight nor arched but a gentle curve. I tell them that that is the ideal to work towards, having their fingers utterly relaxed.

BTW strongly arched fingers, where the end of the fingers are coming down perpendicularly to the holes, is not correct flute posture. Just like on pipes, flutists must seal the open holes of their French-model Boehm flutes with the fleshy pad on the underside of the finger's joint.

True that on the upper hand, in the ordinary way flutes are held, each finger is different, with the little finger and ring finger straight, the middle finger somewhat arched, and the index finger most arched because the flute rests on the base of the index finger and that finger has to curl around the instrument. Yet, the end-joint of the index finger isn't coming to the hole perpendicularly but at around a 45 degree angle.

BTW there are many fluteplayers, quite good ones, who do keep their fingers as flat as many Highland pipers do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmGsrlZJoQw
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 04-08-2020 at 05:02 AM.
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