No Holes vs Open Holes: Debating the Best Flute Design

A Flute With No Holes Is Still a Flute

A flute with no holes is still a flute. However, there are some differences that need to be considered.

Open hole flutes encourage a less ergonomic hand position that can cause problems with some students. If a student has trouble with this then it may be better to bung up the G key holes (with plastic bungs provided) and remove them one at a time.


Unlike the recorder (which resorted to half-covering) Boehm’s innovation allowed flute players to play any key without relying on fingering “tricks”. The result was that a single pressed note could be delivered at many different positions along the scale, even those that would have been difficult or impossible with just a single hole.

There is a debate as to whether or not it’s best for kids to have open holes on their student flutes, but it really depends on how well the kid plays. Most kids that have the proper hand positioning and can cover everything without having to do any tricks, don’t notice a difference at all.

In addition, opening up the keys forces a player to fix any mistakes that might otherwise go unnoticed – such as crooked fingers or protruding thumbs. This also allows students to practice the physics of finger placement and the eticate of playing flute, which improves their overall technique and sound as they get older.


A flute’s mouthpiece is a curved piece of metal that the player places their lips over, allowing them to control the flow of air across the embouchure hole. It can be made from a variety of materials, but the most popular is nickel-silver or silver.

It also has a small chamber that receives the player’s breath, called the Slow Air Chamber (SAC). This is an important part of the overall flute because it acts as an air bladder to even out the air pressure as it travels down the flute.

Many acousticians, such as Dayton C. Miller and Arthur Benade, consider the plateau model acoustically superior to its open hole counterparts. They consider the open holes to be a major flaw, ‘the one acoustical crime that has been perpetrated against the Boehm flute,’ in Miller’s words. However, an accomplished flautist can compensate for the sharpening effect of open holes with other techniques such as playing very softly or using certain alternative fingerings.


The rods are long, round metal bars that travel down the body of the flute and mount the keys which rotate to allow them to move up and down. These are what give a flute its range – the energy from the fingers and springs on the keys gets transferred down these rods to the rotary key mechanism.

The ridged top section of the body is called the barrel and usually features the maker’s name and model number. Below that are the smallest sections (usually two on the left and three on the right) and then thirteen holes operated by the keys. These are covered by pads which can be damaged easily and should be checked regularly by a qualified repairer to ensure they remain in good condition.

When holding the body and foot joint together it’s important to avoid the rods and keys as they can bend over time and affect intonation. To help with this, students should hold the foot joint so that it is pointing away from them.


There is still a lot of debate about whether an open or closed hole flute is “better”. This really depends on the type of music the student wants to play and their own personal preference.

Closed hole flutes have no tone holes at the top of the keys and have a more simple fingering. This type of flute tends to be more accurate in the lower octaves because it requires less adjustment. It also encourages students to fix their sloppy technique as they have to put more pressure on the rods and keys to make them function.

An open hole flute has a number of tone holes at the top of the keys. The flute maker cuts the tone hole into the tube of the flute and then solders it to itself. This introduces a small amount of additional metal into the sound wave and may slightly change the resonance. However, this change is very slight and usually not noticeable to the player.

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