The fingerings for the upper octave of the flute include what are called vent keys. Theses are keys that are open in the upper octave which are closed to play the lowest octave of the same note.

The vent keys are needed in the upper octave to make the tone sound nice – you can get the upper pitch using the fingering of the lower octave, but it sounds stuffy. The vent key allows the sound to be open in the high register.

The vent keys in the upper octave Eb through G# form an interesting pattern – the vent keys consistently move toward the head joint as the notes get higher. This can help with remembering fingerings.

The illustration below shows the movement of vent keys as the notes progress higher.

  • I have not included the right hand pinky since that key is open for all of these notes – the circle to the farthest right in the illustration is the right hand ring finger (F# key).
  • Purple circles indicate a key that your finger depresses.
  • Grey keys indicate keys that open and close as the keys to which they are connected move.
  • Filled in circles indicate that the key is closed.
  • Empty circles indicate that the key is open.
  • Green empty circles are the vent keys – notice how they move toward the head joint!
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