3.6. Flute Ergonomics

To find a relaxed and stable base for both standing and sitting positions, go to Exercises 8.1 xxx and 8.2 xxx. In standing position, you can avoid twisting the thoracic spine if you place the left foot in front of the right, and thus achieve a rotation from down in the hips and pelvis. In sitting position, try also to rotate from down in the pelvis. The most important thing is for the shoulders and shoulder blades to be symmetrical.

Change between a horizontal position with the flute, and a position with curvature in the neck to the side; the horizontal position is more demanding for the shoulders, whereas the diagonal position is more of a strain on the neck with its curvature to the side. It is good to be able to vary these positions so that the muscles can recover.

Look in the mirror without unduly straining the neck by moving the chin forwards.
If you are sitting in front of the music stand in an orchestra, where you should maintain good contact with the conductor, rotate your chair so that both the seat itself and your view will comfortably allow you to move between the music and the conductor, with both in the same line of sight.

Try to hold the instrument up with a feeling of the weight being distributed equally in both hands. Try to find balance when holding the instrument, so that the flute finds supporting points on the left index finger’s inner knuckle, the right thumb and against the lips.
The contact with the lower lip is the third point of support when holding up the instrument. Notice how the contact feels between the flute’s mouthpiece and the lips. If the pressure becomes too strong against the lips, this can result in increased tension in the neck muscles to press against it.

Bring the instrument down as often as possible in order to return to a position of rest in the cervical spine. The right thumb is placed comfortably in a position somewhere close to the index finger.

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Illustration 3.6.2. Left illustration. When the thumb’s joints are overstretched, the muscles will need to work considerably more, as well as the thumb joints becoming more compressed and tense.

Illustration 3.6.3. Right illustration. The thumb placed closer to the index finger with relaxed joints in the thumb. The thumb should be placed closer to the hand, somewhere between the index and middle fingers. Try to have the thumb in a relaxed position without overstretched joints.
Look at the position of the wrists. In particular, notice how the fourth and fifth fingers of the left hand function. If your fingers are short, an adaptation of the relevant keys may be required.

 

Make sure the right wrist finds itself in a comfortable position, such as when you lay your hand/forearm on a table in a relaxed way.

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Illustration 3.6.4. Left illustration. Relaxation in the wrist without angling to the side.

Illustration 3.6.5. Right illustration. When the last joint of the flute finds itself in a position with its keys rotated too far back, the result is a more pronounced twisting of the wrist. Occasionally it is necessary to turn the right-hand keys anticlockwise to achieve this.