Basic Fingerings

In the following fingering chart we have listed all the basic fingerings for the Boehm-system flute, which are also valid for the other instruments of the family: the piccolo, the alto flute, the bass flute, etc.

A note for Piccoloists

While these basic fingerings work on the piccolo, for many notes alternate fingerings exist that are better suited to be used in particular passages, as they can make it easier to produce a good tone or can be better in tune. We won't list these special fingerings on this page, but if you are interested you can find some of them here.

Low B

The lowest note, the B below the staff (B3), is only playable on flutes with the so-called B foot. This footjoint, which is not usually found on student models, is a bit longer than the classic C foot, and features two rollers instead of one. Besides allowing the production of low B, the B foot also facilitates the emission of some higher notes, most notably of the high C way above the staff (C7). This is possible thanks to the gizmo key, which allows the B tone hole to close without closing the C and C# holes.

A-sharp / B-flat

In the first and second register, there are actually two basic fingerings commonly used to produce these notes. In this fingering chart we have listed both, since they are of equal importance. Here are the main principles you should consider when deciding which fingering to use:

  • The fingering which makes use of the Bb thumb lever (also known as the Briccialdi lever, after Italian flutist Giulio Briccialdi) is best used in passages without any B-natural, as you can keep the thumb lever depressed all the way through without preventing the other notes from coming out. This is often the case in pieces with a key signature that presents one to five flats: if the piece has no chromatic passages, you can keep the thumb lever depressed through the whole piece and play all the Bs without worrying about them being flat.
  • Apart from the B-naturals, there is just one other note whose emission is hindered by the thumb lever: this is the F#6/Gb6 in the high register. In passages featuring this note, you should normally finger A#/Bb using your right index finger.
  • When practicing scales, favor the right index fingering, as it is the most awkward one.

The fingering chart for the Modern Flute follows.

B3 C4 C#4 / Db4 D4 D#4 / Eb4 E4 F4 F#4 / Gb4 G4 G#4 / Ab4

A4 A#4 / Bb4 B4 C5 C#5 / Db5 D5 D#5 / Eb5 E5 F5 F#5 / Gb5

G5 G#5 / Ab5 A5 A#5 / Bb5 B5 C6 C#6 / Db6 D6 D#6 / Eb6 E6

F6 F#6 / Gb6 G6 G#6 / Ab6 A6 A#6 / Bb6 B6 C7 C#7 / Db7 D7

The Fourth Register

Standard orchestral repertoire for the modern flute never goes beyond D7. However, fingerings for higher notes do exist. These higher notes are extremely difficult to obtain, as they take a lot of air support and can sound like the most horrible shrieking noise you've ever heard. On a practical basis, you may never use these flute fingerings, but they certainly prove useful as a learning instrument to help you develop a better breath support.

D#7 / Eb7 E7 F7 F#7 / Gb7 G7