I was wondering if I can exclude pressing the left hand pinky key down on the flute for most notes except for the ones that are necessary to play such as the Eb. I don't think it changes much in pitch, maybe a few hertz flatter but nothing too noticeable. My pink feels like it's dying if I do press it down and I even bought the Thumbport to ease the center of gravity.
If your pinky is hurting from hitting your Eb key make sure the spring tension is right. Bring your flute in to a good repair person and get it checked out. It's not a very good habit to not press the Eb key on notes...
The spring was the problem. I compared the stiffness of the Eb key with the rest and it was really hard to press down. No wonder my pinky was sooo sore. I adjusted the spring myself and it's about 2x less stiff. Thanks so much Canadian, you solved a life long problem that was only getting worse:D
I find that the left hand pinky (G# key) can also be sprung a bit too tight. Mine is OK, but my friend had a looooooooong tremolo, F# to G#, in 'Pines of Rome', and complained terribly about her poor pinky. So she had her tech lighten the spring up.
One more thing: yes-the RH pinky needs to be down on most notes.
It isn't only a matter of tuning and a few hertz, the tone of the notes suffers as well as the slight tuning issue.
Try playing both ways on notes, with your eyes closed, and listen for the differnce in tone.