Help with high F#

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:43 am
Location: Florida panhandle

Post by kodalyflutist » Sun Jun 10, 2007 1:49 pm

I think that we might agree that high F# is not the same with the two fingerings used most frequently - either RH6 or RH5. Perhaps my differing perception of the note with RH6 (in comparison with others here) has more to do with pitch level/timbre differences. The difference between the RH6 fingering and the RH5 fingering is slight, but very discernable to me. For my purposes as a principal orchestral flutist, I find the RH6 fingering to be useful and preferable only in certain circumstances - generally at the softer dynamics, and when F# needs to be favored on the higher side depending on which section I'm playing with or which chord function the pitch performs. It certainly is possible that a leak contributes to my preference for the RH5 fingering. It also could be that my need to project as a principal causes a greater need for the RH5 fingering. I find this is true whether I'm playing on my flute with split E or one of my other flutes. But I can definitely tell a difference between the with- and without-split E systems in the stability of that pitch with RH6. That leads me to conclude that the split E mechanism is causing the pitch to react differently in some way. I think with all due respect it may be hard to tell on this forum whether it is a player's sensitivity issue or truly an issue with the function of the instrument and the split E mechanism.

"Music belongs to everyone." ~ Zoltán Kodály

Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Post by fluteguy18 » Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:27 pm

That is very likely. It could just be a sensitivity issue.

User avatar
Posts: 1353
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 11:34 pm

Post by flutepicc06 » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:05 am

I stumbled on this thread quite by accident, and I apologize for pulling an ancient thread up (I usually avoid this), but it brings up an interesting point, and I have something new to contribute.

One of the major problem notes on the flute is High E, and the other is F#3. They both can be quite difficult to produce, but E3 can be made to respond more easily by adding a Split E mechanism, or otherwise reducing the venting at the G toneholes with a donut or even some plasticene. This helps with E3, but by making it so much easier, F#3 sticks out as being particularly difficult, and I think that may be the phenomenon (which is actually pretty common) being described by Kodalyflutist above. By making E3 so much easier, F#3 is the lone note that doesn't seem to respond like it should...This is merely a perception of the player, though, and has no connection to the Split E mechanism (ie, the note does not actually become more difficult to play or control, but in comparison to the rest of the range, it can give the impression that it is). The Split E's only purpose is to close the lower G key when High E is fingered, and as Fluteguy pointed out, this key should already be closed with standard F# fingerings. Assuming the mechanism and pads are in good order, whether or not a flute has a Split E will not affect how F#3 responds.

On a separate note, if you are at the level that you're shopping for a custom made flute, a far less prevalent option than the Split E (but one that serves a nearly identical purpose) is the Brossa F#. These are generally custom orders, and not every maker offers them, but if F#3 is a particularly difficult note (though hopefully you've overcome this before shelling out for a top of the line instrument), this can be a good solution.

Posts: 183
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:20 am

Re: Help with high F#

Post by sinebar » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:18 pm

avins wrote:Hi everyone , as we all know, hard work pays at the end ,, I can play quite fluently upto high A3 , no problem with G and F but its more kind of hit and miss wiht the F# , is it a generally more difficult note or just me , or is there an alternative, I play with fingers 1 , 3 and back c -left hand , and fingers 2 or 3 -right hand and open D# of course , any help on this one will be greatly appreciated
I've been playing 10 months, (still very much a beginner), and that darn F# still gives me problems sometimes when my embouchure is tired.

Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:30 am

Re: Help with high F#

Post by dddiam » Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:48 pm

There is a flute fingering Android app that I use, which I find indispensable. The app shows 18 different flute fingerings for F#6, plus trill fingerings. For each respective fingering, it tells you whether that fingering is loud or soft, or slightly sharp or slightly flat.

Search the Play Store for “complete fingerings for the flute” by

Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:30 am

Re: Help with high F# - EXERCISE that might help

Post by dddiam » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:14 pm

I did not realize that playing F#6 was difficult until I read this message thread. What I figured out is that playing F#6 is not difficult if you play it perfectly. It simply does not have a lot of latitude or forgiveness.

So I developed an exercise that might help you get a clear high F#.

I don't have time to go into great detail right now (others can chime in if they like).

By playing F#6 perfectly, I mean having the flute level, having the flute rolled to the optimum angle for the note, and having the embouchure perfect (correct amount of smile and tension, and correct size and angle of lip opening).

Having the flute level is just a matter of awareness; don't let the footjoint end sag. (If your head is cocked, then level means parallel to your lips).

A good exercise for developing embouchure is to play harmonics. For example, while fingering a D4 note, you should be able to play D4, D5, A5, D6 and F#6. You do this by changing your embouchure as described above. Trevor Wye has some exercises for harmonics in his Tone book.

Now here is my exercise for developing a clear F#6:

Play a B4 note with standard fingering: 1 T - - - / - - - 4 (those are your LH / RH finger numbers). It should be fairly easy for you to get a clear, strong B4 note.

Now, play B4 with this alternate fingering: 1 T - 3 - / - 2 - 4 (you just added two more non-essential fingers). Try playing the B4 note with each of these two fingerings, alternately.

Experiment with the factors described earlier until the two fingerings yield the same pitch, volume and timbre. You are now playing your B4 note perfectly. Normally, B4 does not require perfection, because it has a very wide latitude.

Notice that the second fingering is also the F#6 fingering. Without changing anything but your embouchure smile, tension and lip opening size, play the note and its harmonics: B4, B5 and F#6. Voila! You should now have a clear, strong F#6.

Try it out, and please post whether or not this works for you.

David D.


Post Reply