Long Ring Fingers

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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KJF_pdx
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Long Ring Fingers

Post by KJF_pdx » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:45 pm

Hello all:

My ring fingers are longer than my index fingers. That makes it easy to cover the G with my left hand ring finger, but I struggle getting my right hand ring finger to cover the holds when reaching for low C and B with my pinky. If I keep my right hand ring finger curved then my thumb doesn’t really reach. I’ve tried a lot of things to remedy but I still struggle.

Has anyone else experienced this? How did you overcome it?

Chanting Flutist
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by Chanting Flutist » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:56 pm

Hello, KJF. I also have ring fingers longer than pointer fingers plus a congenital in-curving of both my ring and pinkie fingers on both hands. I have found that I must plug the F# key--there is just no way around it. I use a silicone plug that is as thin as possible and make sure that it does not hang down below the level of the edge of the wall of the key; in fact, on the outside of the key I have found that having it stick up a little above the top of the opening keeps me from trying to cover the hole, just push the key down, which reduces tension in the hand overall. I find no difference in the sound with that one key plugged.

Patricia

frugal flutist
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by frugal flutist » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:58 am

Hi, I think everyone has longer ring fingers than Index fingers. No I haven't studied this, I just think it's true. Is it possible you have shortish thumbs? I saw a Youtube video that mentioned a "thumb port" to add a ledge for the thumb. It is shown near the end. Such a device might help your situation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhvmw1FQ2T4

Play on!

Chanting Flutist
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by Chanting Flutist » Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:30 pm

I forgot to mention that I use both a Thumbport and a Fingerport to help hold the flute without cramping my hands. My most comfortable right thumb position is splayed out to the left, as if I were playing piano/organ (which I do). My Thumbport is turned with the ledge at about 4 o'clock (looking down the body from the headjoint) and my thumb rests in the angle between the ledge and the rounded part of the Thumbport that is around the flute.

The pointer-versus-ring-finger length is variable, often genetically linked. Apparently (from reading old piano pedagogy books) originally it was one way for men and the other way for women.

I have been cogitating for the last few weeks on why no flute maker has made a more ergonomic foot joint and would certainly love to hear about it if someone has been. I know that Brannen-Cooper does a lot of custom fitting (my university flute teacher played a Brannen, and she was missing some joints on her right hand fingers).

Patricia

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pied_piper
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by pied_piper » Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:56 pm

I'd be curious to know if your university flute instructor ever commented on your RH thumb position. Generally speaking, the RH thumb should not be "splayed" and pointed toward the head joint as you described. If you are having hand cramps, it is likely because of your hand/thumb position. The natural hand/thumb position can be easily demonstrated: Place a pencil on a table and pick it up with your right hand. That is the natural hand/thumb position for playing flute.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

Chanting Flutist
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by Chanting Flutist » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:34 pm

Actually, when I pick up a pencil, my thumb is already splayed to the left (or to the right on my left hand) and that is the most relaxed position for my thumbs (my thumbs are quite short, and the thumb and pointer do not line up vertically pad-to-pad but are perpendicular to each other; my son has the same thumb/forefinger structure). My university flute teacher also had congenital problems with her hands and was very good at figuring out the most ergonomic position for each of her students. She and my voice teacher were an inspiration for my studying Alexander Technique in graduate school.

My physicians believe that the pain and occasional cramping are due to those two fingers having broken in an automobile accident two years ago and the beginning of arthritis in the right hand and wrist (wrist was also broken a long time ago and twinges at changes of weather :-). As I approach the end of my sixth decade, I am not surprised, just working on what will give me the greatest longevity in playing.

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pied_piper
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by pied_piper » Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:09 pm

Great. I only commented because I have seen some flute students trying to play with thumbs in a position that would be the envy of the best hitchhikers. But, everybody's physiology is different. That's why I mentioned the pencil test. It tends to reveal the best position. It sounds like you have explored the best paths to getting a good hand position.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

frugal flutist
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by frugal flutist » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:33 am

OMG, I went looking for real info on index finger verses ring finger length :( and went down an internet rabbit hole . This is called the 2D:4D ratio.
After much searching I learned that on average men have shorter index fingers than ring fingers. Women on average tend to have equal length ring and index fingers. Apparently in both men and women the 2D:4D ratio is affected by sex hormones in the first trimester :roll: I read page after page that predicted many things based on the 2D:4D ratio, math skills, athletic ability, language skills, personality, manliness and femininity. Now I think they could add ease of open hole flute playing, to there finger length fortune telling. :wink:

P.S. Most of the predictions based on my 2D:4D ratio were spot on, but not all. Your millage and ratio's will vary!

KJF_pdx
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by KJF_pdx » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:54 am

Thank you everyone for your comments 🌝

I do have a thumb port. I used it a lot earlier this year with Ye Olde Gemeinhardt but not too much with the new flute. People tell me I have long fingers. Maybe I do have short thumbs?

I’ve come a long way in the last 12 months, having returned to music after a 40+ year break. I must remember that. I feel like this ring finger thing will be a break through once I conquer it.

I tend to flatten my right hand ring finger and keep the pinky straight. I’m constantly working on keeping my wrist curved up and keeping the fingers curved. I relapse if I don’t focus. With flat fingers I cannot play low C/B without my right hand fingers shifting off their keys and opening the holes. I’ll keep working on it.

If anyone has any other advice or feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Cheers 🌝🖖

KJF_pdx
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Re: Long Ring Fingers - Update!

Post by KJF_pdx » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:43 pm

I had a breakthrough.

I spent about 2 weeks staring at my right hand fingers, watching how they moved, noting that the ring and pinky move in unison, noting how when the pinky curves, the ring finger follows, etc. Of course my teacher has been telling me this for a year, but sometimes it takes old dogs longer to pick up on new tricks.

I also focused a lot of energy on playing middle D and E-Flat. These were problem notes for me in covering the holes. I focused intently on keeping curved fingers and curved pinky, developing the "muscle" memory.

Lastly, I read something on line (a Dr. Kate blog perhaps?) about adjusting the foot joint so your pinky can depress the low B key without reaching and sliding off the holes.

Then something magical happened! Suddenly I could play my problem middle D and E-Flat with a full and clear tone, not that hideous airy tone I'd come to dread every time I played. And I could play low C and B, which I could never previously play without the finger plugs.

I am now making a point to play something -- anything --at least once a day. More if I can. Sometimes it's just low register C scale and low B variations. A little practice is better than none at all.

So thanks everyone for your suggestions. And for those who are struggling, remember:

Persistence. Patience. Practice.
If what you are doing isn't working, try something different.
Don't give up. You can do this!

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pied_piper
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Re: Long Ring Fingers

Post by pied_piper » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:10 pm

Glad to hear you are making progress.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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