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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 5:26 pm 
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Hello everyone. I've played low whistles for years, and so I quite naturally play my keyless flutes with a piper's grip, and my wrists are pretty straight and comfy. As I've been making yet another push toward proficient flutation, I've been debating the acquisition of a keyed flute. You know, for Star Wars.

I do have the option to get a flute with keys customized to accommodate the piper's grip, but otherwise, I'll have to learn the traditional fluter's claw. My primary concern with switching to the fluter's claw is how it makes my left hand and wrist contort, which seems like it'd increase the risk of developing something like carpal tunnel. It also slows down my left index finger and makes half holing very difficult. The piper's grip, on the other hand, feels like the grip a music doctor would switch someone over to when their arthritis or tendinitis prevents them from using the traditional flute hold.

So, if a piper's grip makes it less likely that I'll develop some sort of overuse injury, I'll gladly get some customized key work done on my next flute. However, if there's no risk to my health, and the slowness and awkwardness in my left hand is just due to the learning curve, then I'm thinking it might be better to work on getting comfortable with The Claw. For those who made the switch, was it a horrible experience, and how long did it take for your left hand to work again?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:23 pm 
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So I have actually switched back and forth a few times. Started with piper's grip and have alternated every year or two. Using Silver flute more now so that grip goes now.

Takes less than a week to switch, a little less each time. The hardest part is the flute balance when going back to piper's grip. The hold on the flute is more delicate and the flute wants to spin / rotate.

The piper's grip also moves the end of the left pinky 'down' in relation to G# and long F keys so get key touch placement that could both ways. I think a custom Bb key would be a wise choice for use with piper's grip and right index finger. I had a flute with one a long time ago and like a dolt sold it.

L


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:45 pm 
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I played with the standard classic grip originally, but at one point when I ramped you my practice time significantly I developed wrist and forearm problems that became permanent, forcing me to switch to pipers grip, and give up other things like playing guitar and mandolin :cry: My suggestion would be don’t mess with what’s working. Sure, you’ll probably be fine if you change your grip, but there’s still a slim chance it could cause problems, and I’m evidence the problems can be permanent.

That said, playing pipers grip means having very few options in the used flute market, which really sucks :swear: so there’s that to consider for sure.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:20 pm 
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Loren wrote:
I played with the standard classic grip originally, but at one point when I ramped you my practice time significantly I developed wrist and forearm problems that became permanent, forcing me to switch to pipers grip, and give up other things like playing guitar and mandolin :cry: My suggestion would be don’t mess with what’s working. Sure, you’ll probably be fine if you change your grip, but there’s still a slim chance it could cause problems, and I’m evidence the problems can be permanent.

That said, playing pipers grip means having very few options in the used flute market, which really sucks :swear: so there’s that to consider for sure.


That's exactly the thing I was worried about. Were you certain that your classic grip was optimal? It seems like a thing that could easily put more strain on something if you were a slight bit off. I noticed that when I rotated the head joint that it was suddenly much easier and more comfortable to use the classic hold, since I wasn't trying to roll the flute back so much to get my lips to line up with the embouchure hole.

If I can get to the same level with a modified key configuration, it sounds like that'd be the way to go. It would definitely limit secondhand options, but I only need one good flute, and I'm saving for one right now.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:38 pm 
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AngelicBeaver wrote:

Were you certain that your classic grip was optimal?


As optimal as possible for my hand size and arm length, yes.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:51 pm 
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I found this while I was researching:http://www.hamiltonflutes.com/Flat_Fingered_Pipers.html

It doesn't seem like this would be a bad setup at all. It looks like most of the left hand keys are shifted to the right hand.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:02 pm 
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I agree that flatter fingers like on a vertically-held whistle feel more comfortable. After a long session of playing today, the lowest knuckle of my left fore-finger is a bit sore.

However, I'm not sure that you should worry too much about it. There are physical compromises whichever way you go. And, the cost would be to drastically restrict your flute options.

Right hand isn't a problem, right? Your fingers are relatively flat there.

I just tried to find a position on my flute with flatter fingers on the left hand - and I play from the left side of my mouth, so my arms are less torqued than the typical position. The flute key blocks aren't a problem, but unless I'm mis-understanding you, flat fingers don't work without some weird, un-ergonomic adjustments to my arm. And, then how do you play the Bb key?

I would suggest learning from the beginning the "three point hold" that leaves your thumbs free and floating, as that teaches you to hold the flute with less squeezing and more balance.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:37 pm 
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I think my grip for keyed flute playing is more or less a pipers grip, certainly on the right hand. I was looking at the link for the pipers grip flute and couldn't figure out exactly why the different key configuration was necessary. I have a flat right hand for the most part closing the holes with the part of my finger pad closest to the knuckle rather than the fleshier part of the pad closer to the tip. My right hand is less flat but not the claw I have seen some others use. Most of the keyed players around me also lean towards the flatter hand.

Maybe it is because most of us learned to play flat handed on our keyless flutes, who knows.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of a Wilkes post mounted keyed flute 20 years ago and am spoiled for the space the posts give me on the right hand. But I did have block mounted keyed flutes before and I do have a couple of block mounted keyed flutes now. I find my middle finger bumps into the edge of the block on the long f key, but that seems like the only thing getting in the way of my playing flat handed if I choose. One of the flutes I had back in the day was a 5 keyed Dave Williams flute with no long F so it was also very flat hand friendly. My hands are relatively small compared to most flute players I know so your mileage may vary.

There may be upsides for that piper's grip flute you show us, but it could prove an issue should you chose to change flutes in the future, either by a change in taste, accident or loss of that particular instrument.

A flute with a split body like a Rudall Rose or Nicholson copy allows for more adjustment than a Pratten's flxed line of holes. This may or may not help you keep your wrist where you want as you adjust to key blocks being there.

It is a shame we can''t just go off somewhere and try a bunch of flutes to see what fits best.

I'd consider a post mounted keyed flute if you think the blocks would be a problem. There is at least one pin mounted flute maker out there I think who specializes in them (but I can't remember their name) and Hammy Hamilton makes post mounted keys as well,


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:53 pm 
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Gilles Lehart makes pin-mounted keyed flutes, and I've long admired the sound and look of his flutes. Reasonably priced as well. I'm inquiring about a Piper's grip option, then I might spring for a four or five key next year, though I feel like I need to get to a certain point in my flute playing before I commit to a fancy keyed flute made of wood.

Edit: He does make them in a similar configuration to the Hammy Hamilton 'flat-finger' option I posted. No additional charge, and he said he's made quite a few this way and you can still get six keys if you want them.

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Check out my various whistle comparisons on my YouTube channel:
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Last edited by AngelicBeaver on Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:10 am 
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Back to the OP question and then a few comments based on supporting what others have said.

Switching grips takes about 5 seconds, but getting comfortable, stable, and really fluent takes a while. Relaxation is very important, I notice you describe the classical grip as a claw. I feel the same way sometimes, and it takes a mindful approach to overcome that so that the fingers move fluidly.

It is easier for me to play pipers grip on a wooden block keyed flute because there are physical points of reference for the fingers. The feedback of touch of the RH middle finger resting on the long F block (or post on that style) makes it easy to enforce positional reference. A keyless flute with sculpted holes would accomplish the same result. Having a two-piece flute body allows the rotation of the RH section to lift the right elbow, ala Nicholson. I find this helpful too.

There is a market for high quality flutes with RH Bb, modern makers produce very few so they are hard to find. New ones can be ordered from some makers. It would be interesting to know how many R&R originals have RH Bb. Anybody know?

L


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:49 pm 
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As is often the case with my brain, I realized that I wasn't quite clear when I described my right hand grip. The second finger that touches the second block of the long F hits it ever so lightly while I am closing the holes with the first finger at the first joint which also touches the first block, the second finger behind that joint and the third finger again right at that first joint. So that is basically a flat hand brushing the blocks.

I play with a curved second and first finger on the left hand but even if I were to play it completely flat I would be aware of the key blocks but I'm not sure they'd stop my sealing the holes.

But now that the discussion has drifted past the 7 day mark an we likely passed any relevance. I may be just entertaining myself. :D


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