Open-holes practice

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asoalin
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Open-holes practice

Post by asoalin » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:43 pm

I am trying out a Miyazawa 202 right now; stepping up from my closed-hole Bundy. The Miyazawa has open holes and did not come with plugs, so I'm finally having to learn to play with open holes. I think I'm doing pretty good except for low B and C ("C4"). It seems like when I move my right pinkie finger out so far my other fingers shift off the holes just enough to ruin the note. Pretty frustrating right now, but I will work through it.

The other problem I'm noticing is that I'm pushing my left hand against the flute at the base of my index finger. After playing for an hour that part of my hand is all red. I think in order to cover all the holes I am holding it differently than I did before. Is this the wrong way to hold it?
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etc-etc
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Post by etc-etc » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:43 pm

Open hole flutes are extra un-ergonomic. You may want to look into putting a Dr. Scholl's patch onto the spot where your index finger meets the body of the flute. Alternatively, use the Cobra support (goes onto your index finger), Pinkieport or other contraptions.

On some 20th century German metal flutes, in place of Boehm's crutch there was a raised area on the flute body meeting your index finger. That worked rather well and was part of the manufacturer's design.

You can get Miyazawa plateau 202 as well.

wkzh
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Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:17 am

I would suggest you stop practising for a while and just stare at your hands holding the flute. Keep adjusting it until you got a really really really comfortable position with all the fingers on the holes. This may involve rotating the headjoint or the footjoint, and sometimes I even rotate halfway through playing.

If you still can't get a comfortable grip (or it gets uncomfortable after playing for a while, i.e. strain) then follow etc-etc's advice. I use a medium Bo-pep, but I find that insufficient for my hand size. If the perforated (open-hole) keys are still an issue... that it's advisable you buy some plugs, unless you absolutely use them. (Yes! There are actually a lot of practical uses for perforated keys! But few people use them nowadays...)
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pied_piper
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Post by pied_piper » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:12 am

etc-etc wrote:Open hole flutes are extra un-ergonomic.
Not true. Ergonomically, there is no difference between open or closed holes. The hand and fingers should be in EXACTLY the same position for both key types. The problem is that closed holes are more forgiving of an incorrect hand/finger position. Flutists who normally play an open hole flute have no problem playing on closed holes. Those who normally play on closed holes often experience a period of adjustment when switching to open holes.

@asoalin: A lot of the problems adjusting to open holes can be attributed to the holding position or how you lineup the flute. Jennifer Cluff has an excellent series of online articles related to your issues:

http://www.jennifercluff.com/lineup.htm
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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:24 am

pied_piper wrote:
etc-etc wrote:Open hole flutes are extra un-ergonomic.
@asoalin: A lot of the problems adjusting to open holes can be attributed to the holding position or how you lineup the flute. Jennifer Cluff has an excellent series of online articles related to your issues:

http://www.jennifercluff.com/lineup.htm
pp, thanks for the very informative link. I don't have problems covering the holes (been playing inline-G Open hole flute since 1972), but do notice that my new 14K Brannen wants to tilt backwards due to the extra rods and back connectors of the Brogger mechanism. A friend of mine who tried the flute last week noticed the same thing when he played it. Will experiment with headjoint alignment. Thanks again.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:27 pm

pied_piper wrote:
etc-etc wrote:Open hole flutes are extra un-ergonomic.
Not true. Ergonomically, there is no difference between open or closed holes. The hand and fingers should be in EXACTLY the same position for both key types. The problem is that closed holes are more forgiving of an incorrect hand/finger position. Flutists who normally play an open hole flute have no problem playing on closed holes. Those who normally play on closed holes often experience a period of adjustment when switching to open holes.

@asoalin: A lot of the problems adjusting to open holes can be attributed to the holding position or how you lineup the flute. Jennifer Cluff has an excellent series of online articles related to your issues:

http://www.jennifercluff.com/lineup.htm
I actually disagree with part of that. I feel that open holes ARE contradictory to ergonomic hand positioning. Proper hand position is different for everyone because our hands are all different sizes and shapes. Open holes force everyone into the same mold. Having done a lot of research on this, and written a lot of papers on it, I feel that open holes are one of the big reasons that we (flutists) are in the top 3 musicians to have hand injuries (the other two being piano and violin).

The right hand position is the most natural one. But I do agree that often times people use closed hole flutes with the intention of maintaining poor hand technique by contorting their hands. A lot of players also have key extensions. I have one on my flute and a thumbport as well. Jeanne Baxtresser has them on her flute. Do you want to tell her she is using incorrect hand positioning? I don't think so!

:wink:

wkzh
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Post by wkzh » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:48 am

fg18 wrote:The right hand position is the most natural one.
Nope nope! It's not the most natural one because the middle finger is actually "longer" in a sense than the two adjacent fingers.

I feel that perforated keys are un-ergonomic if you shape your hand to the keys and as such resulting in strain. However if you manage to shape the keys to match the shape of your hand, then it is in no way un-ergonomic.

So the main question we should ask is whether your posture is relaxed or not to minimise strain. If the flute is fashioned to facilitate minimised strain, then it is ergonomic, otherwise it isn't. For things we can't really modify, like having perforated keys, we can try to minimise strain by other means, e.g. using an offset-G rather than an inline-G, or by optimising hand position. So is a platinum flute ergonomic? No, because the weight would put strain on your shoulders. But you may like the "feel" of it, so ergonomics is of no concern. Otherwise, I don't think you'll be willing to pay for an imperceptibly darker timbre and muscle fatigue by the ten-thousands.

Even if you can reach an inline-G without strain, that does NOT mean that it is not un-ergonomic. (Pardon the double-negatives, but it wouldn't make much sense otherwise.) Why so? Because the movement in each finger is not as optimal as it could be, so it is still un-ergonomic. Nobody said you can't play music on an un-ergonomic instrument, it's just... un-ergonomic, that's all. But an un-ergonomic instrument can very well adversely affect performance of music, and even lead to chronic conditions and and and and and, oh you know.

So the most important thing is do drop all notions of elitism, i.e. "the right way, the only way of holding a flute" and realise that this "right way" we're all talking about is the way we think is best for your health and for your music. If it doesn't work for you... that means there's something we missed, e.g. different hand sizes, joint problems, whatever you can think of.

IMHO, I think even plateau-key flutes with key extensions, a curved headjoint and offset-G is still un-ergonomic in this sense. I've a very high standard of ergonomics. The thing is that one has to trade off practicality for ergonomics. If you need perforated keys like I do... well, ergonomics isn't much of an option (like the piano, got a better idea?), but do what you can do attain the most of it, like attaching a Bopep which increases the surface area of the flute in contact with your finger thereby reducing the pressure and relieving the stress placed on the finger tissue.

About pushing your left hand until the finger's red... it might very well that that's your own psychological issue. You may be subconsciously under the impression that perforated keys require more force to cover the tone hole compared to plateau keys. UNTRUE, unless you don't apply even enough force to deform your fingertip to cover the perforation, that's a different case (and nearly impossible unless you aquire massive calluses). But otherwise, the same amount of force is required, so do take note that you aren't ramming your muscles down on the instrument. If you need to do so to croak a sound out... get your flute checked, may be leaks or something nasty like, well, leaks. (Can't think of anything else relevant.)

It's highly likely that you won't know what's actually an "ergonomic" position, so do consult the experts or read up on medical stuff to get some idea. Otherwise, you can just experiment, but that may not work out too well. Jenn Cluff's an excellent source, if you ask me.

And hey,
fg18 wrote:(flutists) are in the top 3 musicians to have hand injuries (the other two being piano and violin).
is that true?? WOW cool and I thought it was the clarinets.
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:02 pm

wkzh wrote:
fg18 wrote:The right hand position is the most natural one.
Nope nope! It's not the most natural one because the middle finger is actually "longer" in a sense than the two adjacent fingers.
Yes, I am aware of that. I still stand by what I said. If you have to plug that hole because your middle finger is missing the hole, then by all means... plug the hole. I however don't need to. My fingers fall almost exactly on the holes in the right hand (even though my middle finger is longer, there isn't a huge difference in length with my specific hand structure). If you really want to get picky, then the most ergonomic flute is actually a vertically held one, and in fact isn't a concert flute at all. It's a Low D Tin Whistle, and you use a 'piper's grip' to play it. :wink:

And YES! It is true. I was doing research for an article I wrote and it was a study in a performance injury journal from the early 90's. The reasons supporting it was that if you combine the technical difficulty of the music with the average technical speed, then add the positioning of the instrument and factor in the level of competition... more injuries. They did a wide survey across all instruments and the results were very clear: piano (first), flute and violin tied for second/third.

asoalin
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Post by asoalin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:31 pm

Well, I found the plugs! They were in a side pocket of the carrying case! Ha! All this commotion for nothing...good info anyway. I guess it's good I didn't find the plugs in the beginning because I probably would've put them in. I've been playing open-holes for several days now, and I pretty much have it figured out. Still some problems with the lowest B and C, but I will get it eventually. Someone on here was saying the immersion is the best way to learn open holes, and now I will have to say I agree :)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." -Sergei Rachmaninoff

etc-etc
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Post by etc-etc » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:53 pm

Asoalin,

If you are ever going to insert and remove the plugs, note what Miyazawa says about the best way to do it - using a needle pin and so on. Otherwise, you risk shifting the pads.

fluteguy18
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Post by fluteguy18 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:12 pm

Learning by immersion: that was me. :) That's how I had to do it. I started flute by renting a really ratty selmer. When I finally bought a flute it was an open hole Selmer (not much better to be honest.... both were old!). It didn't come with plugs, so it was sink or swim!

As for removing the plugs: if you put them in, REMOVE FROM UNDERNEATH, and when you do so... BE CAREFUL! ONLY USE A TOOTHPICK. Anything that is harder than a toothpick can cause damage to the tonehole rims... I know from experience. Trust me. Sending your flute to Miyazawa for a COA because you pushed a plug out the wrong way is really embarrassing... especially after you put a tiny ding in the tonehole rim by using a metal pin to try and push it out the proper way. I had to have the tonehole re-leveled. That was a VERY expensive repair...

asoalin
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Post by asoalin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:15 pm

Ok, you guys scared me into not even messing with plugs. At this point anyway, I don't feel that I need them. It would just be taking a step backward. I'm REALLY glad I didn't find those plugs now! I'm sure I would've done it the wrong way.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." -Sergei Rachmaninoff

wkzh
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Post by wkzh » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:30 pm

fg18 wrote:Yes, I am aware of that. I still stand by what I said. If you have to plug that hole because your middle finger is missing the hole, then by all means... plug the hole. I however don't need to. My fingers fall almost exactly on the holes in the right hand (even though my middle finger is longer, there isn't a huge difference in length with my specific hand structure). If you really want to get picky, then the most ergonomic flute is actually a vertically held one, and in fact isn't a concert flute at all. It's a Low D Tin Whistle, and you use a 'piper's grip' to play it.
Haha mine fall almost exactly on the holes too! But as I said, I have a very very very high expectation for "good ergonomics." One millimetre off is all it takes for me to say, "hey, this ain't good enough." I'd really like a flute that's really comfortable, not just "quite comfortable."

About piper's grip, it's actually not quite as ergonomic because, it's not truly comfortable, even if it requires less force. That being said, I agree, the only way to get a truly ergonomic flute is one is vertical and that rests its weight on the ground. But again, practicality for ergonomics. (And it's just not cool from afar, haha.)
fg18 wrote:Learning by immersion: that was me. That's how I had to do it. I started flute by renting a really ratty selmer. When I finally bought a flute it was an open hole Selmer (not much better to be honest.... both were old!). It didn't come with plugs, so it was sink or swim!
Where I come from... we start on open-hole flutes from the beginning, so tutors had to ensure that they had healthy hand positions from the beginning. Unfortunately due to some administrative mishap, the tutors were on-off, so a whole bunch of the kids didn't get a good foundation education. Our sister school didn't have tutors... so some of the flautists had really horrible hand positions. Imagine: the right palm vertical! I wonder how they play like that! Imagine the strain! And it was open-hole flutes, mind you. With all that running notes and all that... yeah I kinda see why we suffer so much. Well, at least our not-so-enlightened counterparts.
asoalin wrote:Ok, you guys scared me into not even messing with plugs. At this point anyway, I don't feel that I need them. It would just be taking a step backward. I'm REALLY glad I didn't find those plugs now! I'm sure I would've done it the wrong way.
NO IT'S NOT TAKING A STEP BACKWARD. It all depends on your hand shape. Many "high-level players" who play inline-G flutes for the elegance of the mechanism do plug the G key, and I know of this really really short girl with really tiny hands who even has to plug the D key! (I'm sure that's common, but not all of them are short XD)

If you're intending on putting the plugs in as a "stepping stone" then... well, not too advisable, you can just get used to it from scratch. But if you're like the people I mention above, you're probably going to leave the plugs there long-ter- I mean, forever, so you shouldn't need to worry about removing the plugs. And if you ever do, it's probably a timely opportunity to send your flute for maintenance anyway so you can let the technician do it.

I am aware, however, that there are two kinds of plugs: one with a top and the other without. I'm not too sure which one Miyazawa provides. I suppose for the kind without the top is safer, since you can actually remove it by pushing it into the flute, but be careful it doesn't do any harm. In doubt... get a pro. There's this reputed flute teacher in my country who makes her own plugs by cutting out pieces of eraser =/ don't ask me, I don't know much about her. But her students seem content with them. A well crafted eraser plug seems like a rather cute idea, though ;)
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cflutist
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Post by cflutist » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:21 pm

Was wondering why some open hole flutes come with plugs while others don't? My new 14K Brannen and my Haynes did not come with plugs, but my Gemmy camping flute does have plastic plugs?

It shouldn't matter what kind of flute it is, because if a player needs plugs, they need them whether it is a Gemmy or a Nagahara.

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Phineas
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Post by Phineas » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:23 am

Here is my .02 cents...maybe a quarter.

1. In most cases, open holed flute are under utilized. If you do not use the finger holes as a feature, what is the difference whether you plug the holes or not.

2. A good player will sound good on a closed hole flute. If you suck, you will not sound good on any flute. Makes absolutely no difference is you use plugs or not.

3. I have always thought the whole "Open Hole" thing was a marketing gimmick, and an excuse for peers in a flute section to be snobs.

4. I have had more injuries playing the flute than any other instrument I play. Mostly shoulder and wrist injuries. I have gotten swollen muscles playing on closed hole or open hole flutes. Let us be real, the flute is an ergonomic disaster no mater how you slice it!

5. I have experienced no difference in hand stress between an Inline open hole and a offset G open hole. My biggest issues have been the lower registers on the flute. Trying to finger a low B on the foot joint while holding the other fingers on my right hand in place!

6. Every instrument has it's pit falls. all of these can be conquered with practice. An open hole with an inline G and a B Foot is no different.

7. If you are determined to not use plugs, transverse Bamboo/Cane flutes are a good cheap way to get accustomed to playing on flutes with open holes. Practicing on these types of flutes are a good exercise to help you develop a more flexible embouchure.

Simply, if you wind up with a flute you like, and have a hard time keeping your fingers on the holes, just "PLUG AND PLAY!' 99.9% will not be able to tell if you have plugs by just listening anyway!

Have fun, and just Play the D&&N thang!

Peace!
Last edited by Phineas on Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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