The Girl with the Golden Flute

More like the rusted one…


My HH creates a physical problem for my instrument. The sweat is constantly “gunking” up the rods and right hand mechanism, slowing the keys down. I will often bring my flute to the shop to get it taken apart and cleaned.

Unfortunately, my sweat has done a number on the appearance of my instrument as well. It’s only about 4 years old, but I am asked if it’s an antique.


Regardless, I always say how lucky I am to have chosen the flute as my instrument.

Sure, I have problems playing the flute with HH. But when I think about it, I would have a much harder time playing any other instrument.

Of course I didn’t choose the flute because of this reason. I was a kid. I wasn’t thinking about how this choice would effect my future. At that point, I thought I was going to be a hair dresser or professional basketball player or taxi driver (all real ambitions I had as a kid).


When I think about attempting to play other instruments with HH, I realize how difficult they would be.

String instruments would be impossible. My fingers would slide off the strings. My swollen fingers would cause problems with the small spacing of the strings.

I’ve played piano before, and that’s not fun either. You will usually share pianos with people, and I hate leaving wet keys behind.

I played saxophone for three years in high school and had a brief few months with the clarinet. I had a lot of problems attaching the mouthpiece and reeds with my HH. I was always using paper towels to help me place the mouthpiece on the cork. You adjust the mouthpiece to tune your instrument with the band. I had so much trouble with this simple task. If I didn’t use a paper towel, the mouthpiece wouldn’t adjust, and instead, I’d accidentally pop the metal ligature off (how the reed stays on).

Double reed instruments like oboe and bassoon would also be impossible I think. You need to make your own reeds using small intricate tools. Remember when I said I cringed when I saw someone on the subway taking their phone apart because I knew I could never do something like that? I would never be able to use these tools with HH.


So, I am so thankful to have chosen the flute and I really consider myself pretty lucky! No reeds, no strings, no sharing.


Here are some other things I could never do or would be very difficult to do:

1. Lyrical dancing.Usually done with bare feet. I would be a hazard to myself, slipping and sliding on the floor.

2. Be a hair dresser. One of my earliest dreams. I wouldn’t be able to touch people’s hair or style it without making it all oily and gross.

3. Manicurist. Holding people’s hands…enough said.

4. Be a gymnast. I would have loved to be a gymnast. For my hands, I wouldn’t be able to do parallel bars. For my feet, I wouldn’t be able to do balance beam.

5. Be a repair person. Whether using small tools or not.

I could probably do many of these things if I wore gloves, but the feeling of sweating inside gloves is uncomfortable for people with HH. Especially rubber gloves- yuck!


Thanks for reading,

Caryn Joan

2 thoughts on “The Girl with the Golden Flute

  1. I also play the flute and haven’t had too many problems with sweat effecting my playing in the past. Since it was just middle school, i could put my flute down frequently and wipe my hands off. But recently i started marching band for high school and we have to stay at attention and that which means not moving so i cant wipe off my hands. I made sure that i would wipe myflute off after each rehersal to make sure the sweat didnt screw anything up but it still did. I started to notice that keys were getting slow and sticky amd then i took it to the shop and the guy said that the screws and rods were so rusted that he couldn’t even repair it. I was asked we had played in the rain or something recently and i had to explain how my hands get sweaty while playing (embarrassing). Now i have to get a new flute but im just afraid that the same thing will happen again. Is there anything i can do to keep that from happening?

    • Hi Shea! Thank you so much for writing to me. I completely know what you are experiencing. In high school, my flute would have to be taken apart often by my repair person because of the damage my hands caused. Usually, he would take the mechanism off the right hand, and wipe off the internal part of the rod. I suggest taking your flute in more often than usual. This is only to prevent further damage, but it will be cheaper than buying a new flute completely. I am so sorry that you will have to do that. For marching band, I suggest that you try using an anti-antiperspirant hand lotion. The one I am currently recommending is Carpe ( This will dry your hands off for a couple hours. You could keep the lotion with you at school and reapply when needed. I’m happy that you are continuing to play the flute and I hope these suggestions help!!

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