Keeping Your Hands and Body Healthy
Finger Rests and Support Stands
As we all spend more time inside, the increased practice time seems to have a tradeoff: the hand and arm problems that can come with it. Because of this, we've seen an increase in flutists looking for help over the past few weeks, wanting to keep their hands well-positioned and healthy. We've also heard from low flutists looking for help in keeping the weight of their flutes manageable.
We've included overviews of the various hand positioners and support stands available, below. If you already have these and should be using them, please do so - your hands can't take care of themselves, and there is no shame in using technology to keep yourself in the best possible health. And, if you don't have them or aren't sure where to start (but you know there's an issue), take a look through this guide to get you on the right track.
Solexa Thumbports and Fingerports
The Solexa line of finger guides has the broadest selection available: the Thumbport I and the Thumbport II, the Piccolo thumbports, and the Fingerport. All of them have a gripping rubber coating to prevent slippage and to prevent scratching your flute, and the C flute thumbports are available in a variety of colors.
For a video overview of the thumbports take a look at our video Supporting Your Right Hand with the Solexa Thumbport, or read on:
The thumbports sit right underneath the F key, and they provide a slight ledge for the right thumb to bring the hand back and the wrist up. This serves a dual purpose: it frees up the finger sluggishness caused by collapsing wrists and, sneakily, it prevents the flute from rolling in. The Thumbport II ledge sits slightly lower and further forward than the Thumbport I ledge, making the Thumbport II better for larger hands or larger thumbs.
The Fingerport provides a support for the left hand between the thumb and the first finger. It stops that first knuckle from collapsing, provides a much firmer sense of support when holding the flute, and very firmly prevents the left hand from slipping due to its rubberized coating. Of the left hand supports available from various manufacturers, it is probably the most versatile for different hand sizes and positions.
It can be positioned either up or down, depending on your hand size and whether you have a C# trill key. It can also be used as a pinkie dock - for inline players it can be placed to support the left pinky when the G# key isn't in use.
Bo-Pep Thumb Guide, Finger Rest, and Finger Saddle
The Bo-Pep line of finger guides are a bit more compact than the Solexa; made of black plastic, without a rubber coating, they support the hands without gripping. The Finger Saddle and Finger Rest (pictured above) do much the same as the Solexa Fingerport; they prevent the left hand from collapsing and provide a firmer sense of support. They also have more variation in size than the fingerport; the Finger Saddle, for smaller hands, uses its indent to hold the hand in place, and the Finger Rest, for larger hands, is the largest left hand support commonly available.
The Bo-Pep Thumb Guide is very similar in shape to the Finger Rest, and snaps on to the same place underneath the F key that the Solexa Thumbport fits. The Bo-Pep, unlike the Solexa, doesn't bring the thumb back behind the flute; it instead merely opens up the hand slightly, which is helpful for those with tight grip issues.
Because the Bo-Peps are made of rigid plastic we recommend that you place scotch tape on the flute beneath them to prevent scratching.
The Prima Thumb Rest (also known as the Kooiman rest) is the best choice if you tend to clamp onto the flute with all your might - it opens up the hand more than the other thumb rests, which allows the fingers to relax and move more easily. It's also designed to cup the thumb so that there is absolutely no slippage. However, because it leaves the thumb directly below the flute, it doesn't change wrist angle as much as the Solexa Thumbports - the benefits of which depend on, of course, the individual.
The Prima is also the most time-intensive to initially place on the flute, although the thumb rest portion itself twists off after the initial placement to make things easier.
Hand Positioners and Cushions
If you're comfortable with your hand position without one of the larger finger rests, the smaller positioners and cushions provide a bit more grip and stability without drastic change. They adhere directly to the flute (without being difficult to remove) and come in sets of two; one for each hand.
FluteGels: These are squishy cushions that are best for those who need a bit more padding between their fingers and the hard metal. They have quite a lot of grip; your fingers couldn't slip if they tried!
BG Non-Slip Cushions: These are the best fit for flutists with secure hand position but who experience some slippage.