Music Tip #16: Open Hole vs. Closed Hole Flutes

I played flute and know everything in the world as a result. 

OK, no.  Buuuuuuuut.

I can help you as someone who’s played both types of flutes! 

The official answer you know must be true because I found this online is:

”The open-hole key flute is known for its ability to perform a wide range of special effects that is required for contemporary and Avant Gard music. Open-hole keys allow “pitch shading,” multiphonics (sounding two or more pitches at the same time), reaching the fourth octave, and glissandos (rapid slide through tones, one pitch to another), all of which are standard effects for contemporary music.“

On this same website, the info says teachers recommend closed hole flutes for learning. Young people have tiny fingers! Oh, wow, they never met me, Miss Man Hands. I probably could’ve punched a guy in the jaw with my pro boxer hands when I had my first flute.  Ignore all of this. I am about to let you in on the secrets. The real real they don’t tell you in dark alleys outside flute shops.....

None of this is true. 

Anyone can learn on any type of flute. I happened to when I was younger, and now for that matter, find the open hole flute setup really cool. Because I viewed it as cool, I played flute a lot better on it. When I had my closed hole flute at the start or on days when I rested my sexy, grown up flute, I felt less confident.

On my open holed flute, I went out of my way to cover the open holes perfectly. I won first chair in my flute section. I did this weird thing called practicing my music homework. Doing what I should’ve done at private lessons! Learning. Who willingly learns!?!? 

The notes you play don’t matter much. Most composers, myself included, don’t want to write screechy high material for the flutes. Your flute will indeed sound like a dying rodent. No, really. I had a músic teacher once tell me when I messed up the high notes it sounded like a dying rodent struck by a car going down the Autobahn. In private lessons I took from a girl who could win an Olympic flute model if such a thing were real, my tutor poured her energy into helping me nail the crazy high notes. You don’t know how hard it is playing the flute until you try the notes so high above the music notes you’re used to seeing. You understand the very reason why composers typically don’t write for those nótes. Do NOT buy a flute to hit them. They’re like kind of useless. Like Friends reruns to toddlers who think Rachel’s hair looks like a wedding cake. Truth. Kids speak the truth. Do NOT get a Rachel cut. Do NOT get a Rachel hairdo and a new flute for high notes together or you’re doubly insane. Your closed hole flute won’t be sexy. It will do the job.

For the Bizzare Punk Rawk Flute Quartet where you regularly as a band open your act with Metallica on super high flute notes, work that open holed flute. For the fourth grader who doesn’t know if he or she likes music at all, try both at a shop. Get a feel for what you like most. You, not your parents, have to have rhis flute daily at school.

The sound might be a bit more solid on a closed hole flute because you don’t have  any chances of your fingers slipping. The danger in this is the keys get really sticky. Your closed hole flute keys get beaten up faster than the open hole flute. My mom always had my flute repaired over this.