Awhile ago I got a great tip from flutist Laura Pontecorvo to practice playing without the thumb. This was quite a revelation! For me, it trains the hands to relax AND it trains the 4th finger, which is the least independent of all the fingers.
You can do this exercise with both thumbs. (but not both at once!) I'd suggest starting with the left thumb first, as the right thumb is a bit more difficult to train due to the position of the hand in connection with the key. And yes, it'll feel wobbly at first and you might think it's not possible, and your hands may tighten even more as you're afraid the flute will drop....But just keep going, position or prepare yourself so should the flute really drop it'll still be safe (near bed or sofa?) Get used to that "hanging" feeling of the fingers, which is actually really useful. You may notice that you can feel the vibrations of the flute more as you play, which is a good sign. That's how I like to play, when everything is lined up (air column, embouchure, articulation, centered and relaxed) and to feel the sound through the fingers is a wonderful sensation.
As mentioned, this is also a great way to train independency and strength of the 4th finger. This is particularly important when playing in keys like F# minor, where often I recommend using Gb rather than F#, especially if there's an E# around. Any permutation of the notes E#-Gb-G# is a tricky combination, and a conscious, independent 4th finger is the key. Try this practicing technique in an isolated pattern and/or in an actual musical passage (think J.S. Bach's Badinerie from the B minor Orchestral Suite).
Let me know how it goes!👍
ABOUT THE BLOG:
I got inspired to document my own observations in flute-playing and music-making. Also, I thought it's important to pass on the teachings of the great Wilbert Hazelzet, as well as many other mentors who have influenced my artistic visions one way or the other. Enjoy this potpourri of tips, inspirations, and musings.
I'm specialized in coaching historical and modern flutists. CONTACT ME directly to set up a session, in person or online.