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Dexterity Exercises    Intermediate

Building dexterity in the fingers as well as in articulation is a great way to improve your playing FAST.

We've developed these exercises specifically so that they have a big payoff in terms of being able to play fast runs and ornaments. At first they might look like the boring scales that drove many of us out of music classes, but they are really fun, and you get a big payoff (like in a week or two) with only a few minutes (like two or three minutes) a day.

So give them a try, a bit at a time each day, doing more and more of these exercises as you become facile with them, and tell us how you like them.

Ascending Chord Progression

First, try this finger progression. Start very slowly and evenly with the notes, and don't worry about using any particular articulation between the notes. Take a breath whenever you feel the need.

Ascending Progression

The point is play these finger positions, rather than trying to play a particular melody with specific musical notes or pitches. However, if you on most contemporary Native American flutes, this will play a nice chord progression.

Again, start out slowly and evenly. When you're getting started, it might sound like this:

Dexterity Exercise — Ascending Progression

Clint Goss.

Descending Chord Progression

Once you are comfortable with the ascending chord progression, try this descending version:

Descending Progression

This descending chord progression just takes you back down through the chords. You can hold the last note for 2 beats to make a nice ending.

Playing the ascending and descending chord progressions together, this time with a more speed, might sound like this:

Dexterity Exercise — Ascending and Descending

Clint Goss.


So far we've been playing legato … with no separation or articulation between the notes (other than to take a breath). Try playing the same notes again, but introduce a “Taaa” articulation at the start of each note. You don't make the note itself short … you're just beginning each note with “Taaa”.

It might sound something like this:

Dexterity Exercise — TA Articulation

Clint Goss.

Now try alternating every four notes between legato and articulated using the “Taaa” articulation. Here's the finger diagrams with the legato portions shown with a slur (curved line) over the legato notes:

With legato and articulation

... and here's what it might sound like:

Dexterity Exercise — Legato and TA Articulation

Clint Goss.


This time, try changing all the articulations to sharp, short staccato notes (see Articulation / Staccato). It might sound like this (which is, again, substantially faster than you might be comfortable playing):

Dexterity Exercise — Staccato

Clint Goss.


For a real workout on the tongue, try a variety of double tongue, triple tongue, and rhythmic double tongue articulations. I like to mix them up, so my version sounds like this:

Dexterity Exercise — Various Tonguing articulations

Clint Goss.


And finally, after all this rigorous practice, try a version completely freely, with as much expressiveness as possible, even to the point of overdoing it. Here's my version:

Dexterity Exercise — Expressive version

Clint Goss.

Five Hole Flutes

If you have a five hole flute, and you want to play the same chord pattern as show above for six hole flutes, here are two versions of the fingerings … hopefully one of them will produce a nice chord progression:

Five-Hole Version 1

Chord Progression for Five Hole Flutes - Version A

Five-Hole Version 2

Chord Progression for Five Hole Flutes - Version B


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To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2017_dexterity"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=Finger Dexterity Exercises for the Native American Flute |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/dexterity.htm |date=3 February 2017 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>