Pressing or hitting the keys too hard will not only cause damage to flute pads, but will also result in unnecessary hand pain. According to flutist Sylvia Greenfield, “You should have pianissimo fingers,” meaning your fingers should be close to the keys(23). If your fingers are distanced from the keys, you will need to slap them down with fore to play quickly. Leaks in the pads can often force a flutist to hit the keys harder than needed(24). The pressure that is applied to each finger will be carried up the hand and cause wrist pain(25). This is an example of a forced technique, over time it can result in carpal-tunnel syndrome (discussed later)(26). Resting your right hand fingers on the rods of the flute overtime will cause pain(27).
Over time, curling a pinky below the body of the flute to help hold it up will cause pain. Flutists with poor finger positioning will not use the right-hand pinky, but rely instead on their stronger fingers; this can cause pain in the ring finger. Again, all fingers should be resting just above the keys, not only to prevent pain, but so that the fingers do not need to travel far to hit the keys.
The thumbs should provide the major support when holding the flute. The right thumb can be used to push the flute out away from the body, so the lip plate can reach the mouth if needed. The left thumb should provide the support for the flute(28). Depending on which keys are being used in a passage, the weight of the flute can be shifted from the right thumb to the left thumb. The flutist should be able to support the flutes weight with each hand separately, as well as both together(29).
Flutists with small fingers should look into purchasing a flute with an offset G key(30). A flute with the offset G option has the G key set closer to the flutist, so there is no need to reach for it.
Next Section: Lower Body
This section is part of an article that can be found here: Arm Pain while playing the Flute.