Flute Fingering Basics: What you Need to Know

flute fingering basicsFlutes are the earliest musical instruments of which historians are aware. The first known flute dates back to 43,000 years ago, and was made from punching holes into animal bones. Flutes produce sound by directing air across a hole to create a vibration. Opening and closing holes within the body of the instrument alters the pitch of the sound. To master playing the flute, you will need to start by learning flute fingering and breathing techniques. Each note of music has a unique finger placement. Initially, learning the correct fingering can be difficult, but understanding the basics will provide you with the foundation you need to succeed as a flute player.

This beginner flute class such as this course offered by Udemy can teach you everything you need to know to master the flute.

Music Basics  

The first step you need to take to learn to play the flute is to study music theory basics – this Udemy course is a great place to start. Courses in music theory can teach you how music is created, written, and performed. A comprehensive music theory class will include an introduction to all various things you need to know and understand about music, including harmony, rhythm, melody, form, structure and texture. You will also learn the basic scales and chords, as well as how to read music.

If you do not want to take a course in music theory, you can always take a quick course in learning to read music. This Udemy course can help with that. It will teach you the basics you need to know to read music in order to play it: the keys, scales, and musical alphabet. Once you know how to read the notes on the paper, you will need to learn how to turn those notes into sounds on the flute.

Making a Sound on the Flute 

Most flute lessons begin with simply learning to create a sound on the instrument. Most teachers use just the head joint, which is the part with the mouthpiece, to teach proper breathing techniques. On a flute, you do not breathe into the mouthpiece; rather, you breathe across it. You can practice using the correct breathing technique for making a sound by blowing across the mouthpiece while using your hand to cover the open end of the head joint. You can practice this simple breathing technique until you make a clean sound. Then, it is time to attach the head joint to the rest of the flute and start learning flute fingering techniques. 

Fingering Codes

The flute features keys and levers that work together to create different musical notes. You use both hands to finger the keys and create the different notes. You use nine of your fingers to key, while the right hand thumb typically just balances the flute. The fingering codes will be listed as LH (left hand) or RH (right hand) followed by a number one to four. One corresponds to your index finger, two to the middle finger, three to the ring finger, and four to the pinky. There is also a code TH, which is for the left-hand thumb. Typically, you hold the flute with your left hand on the keys towards the top and the right hand towards the bottom.

The primary thumb key is the B thumb lever, although there is also a B flat lever. The left hand index finger key is C, the middle finger is A, the ring finger is G, and the pinky is the G sharp key. The right hand index finger is F, the middle finger E, and the ring finger is D. The right hand also has trill keys: B flat, C sharp, D and D sharp. These are located above or between the finger keys of the right hand. The pinky keys in the right hand can be the E flat, low C sharp, low C, low B and high C facilitator key. The main keys are represented by circles on most fingering charts, while the levers, trill keys and right pinky keys are represented with other shapes that correspond with how the keys look on the flute. 

Creating the Notes 

Each note has a specific fingering position. To play a note, you will create a combination of pressing and not pressing the keys on the flute. For example, to play Middle Octave C, you press down your right hand index finger and the pinky in your left hand. When you learn to play the flute, you will have a chart that details the fingering for the different keys. The fingering chart will show the keys of the flute to press down with solid shapes representing the keys to press and hollow shapes representing the keys that are raised.

As you learn the fingering for each note, you can practice playing that note until it makes a clean sound. Once you learn a few notes, you can start playing simple songs that combine a few notes. As you become more familiar with the fingering that corresponds with each note, you will be able to play many different songs.

As you progress in your flute playing, you will learn other methods of fingering. For some songs, rather than just depressing the key or leaving it open, you might depress the key ring while leaving the tone hole uncovered, or perform some other combination of depressing part of the key ring and the tone hold. You will also learn breathing techniques that likewise change the tone of the notes you play. 

Learn to Play the Flute Today 

By learning to play the flute, you join a long tradition of famous flute players from throughout history. Although you can play a wide range of songs on the flute, many songs you learn come from the classical music composers. If you want to learn more about these composers and the history of music, you can take Udemy’s Adventures in Classical Music course. Learning the flute can be a fun adventure. At first, it may be difficult to learn the breathing and fingering techniques. However, once you master the basics of creating a sound on the flute, you will be able to play a variety of songs.