I play the flute and I don’t know if it’s just me but my cheekbones hurt when I play for more the 30 minutes. I don’t know what it could be, I usually have good posture and practice everyday. I have a class (and get graded) for high school band, so it’s really not optional. What do you think it is?

  • 2
    While we might be able to throw out guesses, that's all we can do for this kind of question. If you have an instructor of some kind, this is a much better question for them than for us - we're not going to be able to diagnose the possible flaws in your playing technique, no matter how well you describe your technique. Plus, maybe it's not technique at all - in that case, maybe it's some kind of medical thing? My point is we welcome questions, but this is likely going to be unanswerable, I'm afraid. (Also, I'm assuming it's high school band? If not, that can be fixed later)
    – user45266
    Jan 29, 2020 at 1:22
  • 1
    Bones don't usually hurt. It'll likely be cheek muscles, due to the shape you make with your embouchure. Maybe you're trying too hard. Your teacher, who can watch what you do, is your best contributor to an answer.
    – Tim
    Jan 29, 2020 at 8:14
  • If you have a class, then you have a teacher. It's a poor teacher that will mark you down for asking how to improve. Go ask!
    – Duston
    Jan 29, 2020 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Sometimes band teachers are busier than a one-armed paper hanger. Maybe a short email would help (for instance Dear (name), do you have some time to help me work on my embouchure? I could come in my lunch period or after school on x, y, z days).

I found a similar question, along with a variety of answers, at The Session, a "community website dedicated to Irish traditional music":

  • All embouchures are unique so it’s not so much that you’re doing something "wrong" it’s more that you’re generating unnecessary tension in your face. For the first couple of months or so, some soreness in the small "kissing" or "smiling" muscles around the mouth is pretty usual but it doesn’t last for very long after you put the flute down. It might be that you’re "grinning" to get your embouchure. While looking in a mirror, you could try experimenting with a more neutral mouth shape i.e. the shape your lips form in repose, and then very gradually shape them until you can produce a note.

    Another possibility, though less likely, is that you’re using your cheeks as air pouches. If so, don’t! It’s worth remembering that with a efficient embouchure a flute needs no more air than a whistle.

  • I would suggest practice for a bit shorter. As soon as it starts to feel painful, quit, but take a note of minutes practiced. And then the next day add on a couple of minutes, maintain that for few days then increase, always keeping an eye on the clock.

  • The embouchure should be tight in the corners but flexible in the middle. Jaw and tongue should be relaxed.

    Try cutting back to 15 min or so as others suggested earlier.

  • Don’t use your cheeks as bellows; building up the muscles, etc., you may also have to investigate how you are forming the cavity inside your mouth. Your throat should be open, that's to say, you should feel like you’re yawning with your mouth closed. If you’re doing this, your cheeks will also be relaxed although it can be infectious (yawning as I type).

    But don’t over do the practice, you can build up your time when the muscles are in a position to cooperate.

  • The flute goes under your lips, not inside your mouth.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.