How to get back in shape fast

The holidays are over and you might have had some concerts in the beginning, then you decided to take a healthy break from the flute. But now you have to be back on track and fast! This article wishes to help you out with how to get back in shape fast.

how to get back in shape fastDon’t be too hard on yourself!

I know, we hate the first sound we make after a break and start over analyzing and guilt shaming for having been on a break.

The sound is not centered and we have little support. We feel limited in every aspect of flute playing and look for all the things we were able to do just a week ago, then effortlessly. We are our own biggest critics and also obstacles to getting back into shape quickly.

 

But have you ever thought that maybe this is an opportunity?

There are technical aspects for every flutist which were hard even when we were in shape. But that could be because we were not flexible enough to tackle them.

Now we can start doing just that and in no time playing even better than before.

 

Take it Easy and Enjoy!

Don’t try to make a perfectly centered piano sound in the beginning. Start with all the air you can proba

flute practice tips

bly exhale together for a longer time and open the lip whole. Don’t try to center the sound right away. Play with an open mezzo forte sound. Just the joy of getting back to playing the flute.

Express joy and openness with you sound, and play whatever melody comes to your mind or fingers. Long legato phrasings. Start with the lower octave. Try to enjoy that you can find a new and better focus later on, but now you can do exactly what you couldn’t before. Relax and push warm and round sounds to the limit of sound production.

Fountain of Air

flute hacks

Do not attempt to play for hours. In fact take breaks, they are the most important part of getting back in shape fast. If you overload your muscles, they will find a way around the fatigue and adopt less than optimal posture, gesture and airflow. You will get used to it and we have to avoid that.

In my personal experience, chunks of 20min are the best in the beginning. Take a pause every 20min or so. However long you need to feel fit again. Do not play when you feel tired!

Concentrate on focused tension and relaxation. Use only the muscles that help you produce and manipulate the sound. The others should not be in strain.

A good feeling is what my professor told me: imagine a fountain, the water rises under pressure on the inside (air stream) and flows freely on the outside of your body (arms, shoulders and legs). I added to complete this picture for a more precise breathing technique, that the pressure we apply is not upward, but downward. It is the air that wants to come up and we increase the pressure by holding it down.

 

 

 

7 Exercises to get back in shape fast


So what should you actually play and study after a break?

  1. You should start with long notes, lower octave. A good exercise is Marcel Moyse’s “De La Sonorité”. It consists in long legato sounds of the chromatic scale downwards. Use no or little vibrato and anticipate the sound. When you can imagine it, your body can produce it. Add the joy of being able to play again to your imagination and your sound quality will have improved, even after the break! If you have never looked at this cornerstone of flute education, you have to click —————————————————-> here.
    vibrato flute technique
  2. Now you can address the middle octave and add some dynamics. Especially pppp on the same note. In this case start piano but still secure, add vibrato in small amplitudes and enlarge them with the crescendo. Let the air flow continuously and stay relaxed. Play with a lot of resonance (open inner cavities, without rigidity). Re-evaluate your diaphragmatic breathing technique and read more about it —–> here.
  3. Remember to take a break, those exercises are exhausting when done well. What should you do during a break? Anything else, but playing the flute. Very useful would be some stretching exercises. You can read more about them —–> here. Now we are ready to regain security in all registers of the flute. One of the best exercises to do that is still by Marcel Moyse in his “Daily Exercises for the flute”. It uses still the chromatic scale through all intervals in all registers. Try to play them with a calm but steady pulse. Your breath reaching where ever possible. Remember the feeling of inhaling when you are exhaling. Play the scales while imagining inhaling. This provokes an undisturbed homogeneous flow of air which comes with a surprising ease.
    flute vibrato technique
  4. Now you should take a longer break. You could add some muscle training to the afore mentioned stretching. To find out more, continue reading ——> here. We will be getting into tonalities and all diatonic scales, major and minor. A very useful exercise is M.A. Reichert “7 Daily Exercises for the flute” number 1. I learned it by heart and play it to warm up without the previous preparation when I am in shape. Sing when you play. Always. Never just emit a note. All of those tonalities have different characters and the same note in one tonality might need a different intonation in another tonality, depending on the function.
  5. Using a metronome start the previous exercise slowly and staccato. Use the single tongue and shape the sounds like pearls on a never ending silver chain (your air stream). Imagine them with beauty and do not criticize. Try to form a homogeneous Pearl necklace. Play it three times at increasing speed, starting very slowly. Then take a break again. If you are uncertain about which metronome to choose you can read about it in my article          ————>   here.
    flute hacks
  6. To loosen any rigidity in your fingers you can add some trill chains. Where you play a diatonic scale legato and add a trill on every note. As a little workout for the fingers and rest for the tongue.
  7. You can look at the following exercises to improve your sound quality further. But remember to practice from a serene and relaxed place, in awe of what is now possible for you to gain awareness of. Have a glimpse at those two articles —–> hacks             ——-> tips.

Be sure to include adequate muscle training and stretching. You can read about it in those two articles:

————-> muscle training

————-> stretching for flutists

 

Is it possible to even have improved after the break?


Yes it is. After a pause we need to automate movements and groups of protocols again. This is a wonderful opportunity to form them consciously again with the possibility to improve former flawed ones. This is priceless. We can form new and better ways and play even more effortlessly and musical.

flute practice tipsAnother important thing is our attitude to studying, flute playing and our very own performance.

We study to be physically able to execute what we imagine. So when we study our inner critic is always alert and showing us flaws. Give space to also positive remarks and try to quiet it completely at least once in every training session. You also need to train the flow state, to be in the zone and let go of your self. You need to allow the music to flow through you and to let your body produce what it knows best when not examined and stressed. Study this situation. Be sure to link it to something you can easily recreate.

Enrich your imagination with beautiful sounds and images. If you are more of a tactile type imagine beautiful movements, elegant postures and interesting choreography. Create a feeling for each sound and melody that you can evoke when you need it. Some prefer mental pictures or directly the sound they wish to create.

Listen to music, look at beautiful art, feel with friends and in relationships, live more aware and broader. There is no division between music making and life experience.

Get your fundamental books and stick to this cornerstone textbooks of flute practice:

——————-> De La Sonorité

——————-> Moyse Daily Practice

——————-> Reichart Daily Exercise

So study the technique to automate it, set the process in motion and then forget about it and just enjoy!

Feel free to comment and let me know how you start playing again after a pause and what helps you enhance performance.

To creating beautiful unforgettable moments for you and your audience,

Best wishes,

Janie

Topflute

Founder of

flute hacks
www.topflute.com
www.myflutelife.com
www.flyingflutist.com

 

How to produce a good vibrato on the flute – 3 exercises

Following the breathing check-up on diaphragmatic breathing we will now dive deeper into the flute vibrato technique. This is an article on how to produce a good vibrato on the flute.

It is the follow up on the introduction you can read —–> here.

 

Preliminary exercises

 


You can start with a note bending by lowering and rising air pressure, even up to a semi-tone. Check with an electronic tuner. For example, you can download the free Soundcorset tuner and metronome on your phone.

Try to not change anything else, like angle, embouchure, throat, chest. Just the pressure from the diaphragm. How do you do that? You can use a medium air pressure and velocity, a mezzo forte sound. On this sound, without stopping or changing anything you add a blow from below, much like a “ha” sound.

It is not easy to describe and maybe you won’t like the idea, but it is the same movement as pushing out the last bit of everything on the loo….or if you use a mountain bike, it is like going uphill when you wish desperately to stop, you push.

If you do that right, you will have a fascinating insight! To do that, the movement of the diaphragm is not upward, but downward. Like inhaling. This is a secret I learned from my soprano friends and their teacher at the Conservatory of Rome.

It is fascinating. The real support you need for good sound quality and vibrato is a downward motion. It is not abdominal muscles, even though they help. But it is nothing sudden or forced. It is an opening, elongating the air column, so air can gain velocity, thus increase pressure.

You do not like this idea? You can happily turn to the “ha” and produce that on a constant air flow. It will be like a swing. Practice it, be aware of all the inner movement it takes and you will naturally develop vibrato.

Do not judge yourself. Experiment and play! Yes, play with the sounds you produce and memorize the sensation of the body parts involved. Add a picture, an image, an idea, that reminds you of doing the movement you internalized. This picture is faster than telling all your muscles in detail what to do when you wish to use the vibrato. You can picture a place, a color, a feeling, a body part. It doesn’t matter. As long as it brings out the sound quality you look for.

This shaking of pitch in the sound, which comes from the changing

pressure of the air stream should be used to seek elegance, warmth,

seduction, expression and connection between the notes and between the

performer and the audience.

Your judge is your ear. But don’t be too hard on yourself. At first, we need to gain awareness about which muscles to use to change the air pressure and then memorize it.

Its presence adds vitality, a vocal effect that happens naturally, if backed by good breathing and sound production habits.

Those habits form through exercises.

3 Flute vibrato exercises – how to produce a good vibrato on the flute


Flute vibrato exercise 1

At first, we need to wake up the diaphragm. We could produce a difference in a basic sound by laughing in to the flute! Try it, it is quite liberating. On that same one sound (a B for example) try introducing this difference in intensity by pushing a “ha” into the flute using the diaphragm.

Try to keep the sound coming in between the “ha”s, there should be no gaps, so that there

is always air flow, but it varies in its quantity, pressure and velocity by using the diaphragm. At the beginning this is casual so hard to control. This is why we use control from outside, a metronome.

If you do not have one you can download the free Soundcorset tuner and metronome on your phone. Put the clicks per minute to 60 (that would be a second each) and pronounce a “ha” every second for 8. If you manage to do that without any gaps in sound and breathing in between, you are ready to move on to:

Flute vibrato exercise 2

 

mom, I love you

 

With the metronome on 108 MM produce one “ha” on each click and after 4, that have no gaps (air keeps coming in between) you go on to triple the speed, so three “ha”s on every click, for 4 clicks as well. Then change the note in a chromatic way downwards.

You can use sound exercises by Moyse (On Sonority, Art and Technique, Marcel Moyse) or the exercises Trevor Wye’s books.

But it is just chromatically downward. You can do it!

cromatic scale sound exercise

Flute vibrato exercise 3

 

Put the metronome back to 60MM. Starting again from b 2, like Moyse sound quality exercises, you should hold the sound for one click, produce “ha” on the second, two “ha”s on the third, three on the fourth, four on the fifth and six on the sixth for two clicks, then change the note a semitone below still doing six “ha”s on the seventh and eighth’s click.

When you can control the emission of six “ha”s from your diaphragm in the speed of 60 MM, it will turn into a natural vibrato when you let it lose. It already is very much alike.

If you become familiar with this exercise change the metronome speed. Slower for also elongating your airflow, quicker for speeding up the response of your diaphragm.

 

 

Deliberately use vibrato technique on the flute

How to produce a good vibrato on the flute


So now we have explained how to develop your flute vibrato technique, especially on long notes that need to come alive, in between sounds to make the most beautiful legato at the end of a piece varying the speed of the vibrato from a slow one, diminishing the intention of the sound but increasing vibrato speed until the sound disappears. That is a very beautiful way of closing a slow piece of music.

You can use it for dramatic reasons in both slow and fast music, to emphasize certain sounds, crescendo or decrescendo and different sorts of legato, whenever you need more tension or interest to build up.

Beware of not abusing of this vibrato technique for flutists, as it can get tiresome for your listeners and your diaphragm! The best use of it is the most natural one and follow the air stream.

 

www.duofantasie.com

 

Daily practice – how to produce a good vibrato on the flute


Now that you know how to develop vibrato on the flute, without obsessing about it,

try to include a short module of different exercises for the flute vibrato technique every day. Vibrato technique for flutists should be part of every practice session.

 

Vibrato adds intensity, suspense, tension, life if it is very quick and if it is slow it adds warmth, seduction, point of arrival, you can also very on one sound if for example it is both, arriving at a relaxing point and also the beginning of something new.

When you arrive somewhere in a very brilliant and agitated way, of course the vibrato should reflect that and not be relaxed. Vibrato adds life to your music, use it wisely!

I hope you found some value in this advice and if you have any questions or doubts, please contact me in the comment section of my blog!

Also share if you think this could be helpful to your friends and followers!

Janie

founder of

                  topflute.com

and    myflutelife.com

how to tune a piccolo for playing in a symphony orchestra

 

 

 

Flute hacks for beginners and pros – 3 ways to level up

Are you looking for flute hacks for beginners and pros to level up you flute playing?

Topflute has selected two times three ways to step up your game.

Go, get those hacks!

 

Flute hacks for beginners and pros – ways to level up


Other than following fairly simple schemes like the ones I’ve published ——-> here,

what can we do to enhance our skills and musical expression range?

 

flute hacks for beginners and pros

 

 

A three-way street to the same destination – improved flute playing


———-> Street number one

  • We can only express what we have felt or known and therefor we should listen to flute music as much as we can. By doing so we should become conscious of what we feel when we listen and if our emotional range is widening as well.

Knowledge is best acquired through emotions, energy in motion. Playing the flute requires both, energy and motion, we need to feel our body and not be disconnected from its parts and its emotions.

Whenever you link a sound to an emotion you will be able to reproduce it in any whatsoever stressful circumstance. Widen your bodily understanding of flute music.

 

———-> Street number two

  • Whenever you play, sing as well. Never produce a sound without singing it within you (I don’t mean the actual practice we used in practice tips, or in part also further down this artile, of singing and playing simultaneously).

I mean an energetic, active state, where energy flows and vibrates. Every note you produce, every sound needs to come from that place of vibrant beautiful flow, it can caress or overwhelm, take you with it or leave you with a shining glance of its memory.

You can change this way every time you play, just always feel it.

 

———-> Street number three

 

  • Imagine your fingers move in a perfect order on this air stream and produce pearls or different colors of a painting. Visualize what they create and you will easily remember the way the have to move without having to do it in repetition for an hour.

Remember the feeling of them creating an image on the canvas or interweaving a beautiful textile. Link the image to the sound, the sound to a feeling. Remember the feeling and you will play correctly anytime anywhere what you store together with that feeling.

Make sure it is positive and a creation you like. That is actually studying. Make it yours! Or as the singers say “put it into your voice”.

 

 

3 proven flute technique hacks


 

All the following techniques initially complicate our performance and in each we gain a different awareness which will massively contribute to the quality of our performance and your overall security at performing.

Can you lean on what you internalized and jump?

 

flute hacks for beginners and pros

  • Flute harmonics, play the piece with the lowest fingering producing the written sound as a harmonic. In this way you will learn how to produce a sound at the right tune a note with more support, larger opening. When you play with normal fingering again it will seem a walk in the park to you! Not only that, you will be surprised how much the intonation and quality of the sound has improved.

 

  • Fluttering tongue, play the piece using fluttering tongue continuously. In this way you will need to majorly increase your air support and also to link to notes together without stopping airflow or vibrato. Your sound quality will improve and your legato will be awesome. Also, you study a technique for contemporary flute music.

 

  • Sing and play, play the piece while singing harmony notes as a second part to your piece. While it increases hugely the quality of your sound, forcing it through the singing position of the airflow through the vocal chords, it moreover improves your harmonic understanding of the piece. Who says a flutist is a monophonic instrument? Let’s prove them wrong and improve our playing a great deal while learning how to accompany ourselves!

 

Flute loops – an unusual flute exercise in flute hacks for beginners and pros


Another way of getting in the zone, in your flow, your effortless playing and enjoying yourself while improving your overall playing is by creating loops from the most beautiful fragments of melodies that you love.

Wherever they come from, play them by heart and play them as often as you wish. Make them more beautiful every time and only when you feel centered move on to new things.

This is a selection of my favorite Italian flute tunes, that I play to stay in the flow and enter the zone. In the below video it is actually me playing with my pianist. I hope you enjoy.

 

 

Spot on – flute playing


What to do with those tips and tricks?

From all those ideas to make your sound and phrasing match your level of expression, communicative skill and therefore musicianship, choose at least two every day and incorporate them in what you already do when you practice.

Try to vary them once you manage them in a way that satisfies you and when you think you own them.

 

https://youtu.be/eVLt5nZxwJ4

Once you have become familiar with all of them, choose the right one for every piece or situation. Get your inner position in place from where the air stream, the fingers, the posture and energy will be supportive to an overall musical idea.

 

Also read my other articles about practicing  to get a more complete picture.

 

——->                                  flute practice tips

——->                                                               vibrato technique

——->                                                                                    breathing technique

 

 

If you have any questions, doubts, ideas,

please leave them below in the comment section and

I will be more than happy to answer personally.

 

Happy fluting everyone,

Janie

founder of

topflute.com

and myflutelife.com

https://myflutelife.com

 

Flute vibrato technique

what makes a flutist’s sound alive is the flute vibrato technique

How to play the flute beautifully

Produce a nice, rich and clean sound on the flute


 

This blog is about producing a beautiful, vivid and harmonically rich sound with the help of vibrato.

 

We will discuss how to use flute vibrato technique and control of it throughout a musical piece.

 

Did you ever think, wow, this is a beautiful sound, but couldn’t really say why it stuck out?

You thought it was warm, alive, welcoming, seducing even and very elegant?

That is the good and natural use of vibrato, when the rest of the flute technique is covered.

If you play in tune, rhythmically perfect, nice and appropriate phrasing,

dynamics and articulation, and you change your timbre with the use of harmonics,

if you do all of that and somebody else does too, what is it what makes the difference?

Right, the vibrato.


Awareness and adequate use of a flutist’s vibrato technique can make all the difference.

It is very personal and flutists usually develop it from imitating singers.

 

And that is where we start, too. Watch the video link here!

 

https://youtu.be/Osrih13OCWE

 

What is vibrato and how is it developed?

Flute vibrato technique


 

Beware, it comes from the very bottom!

 

May I introduce you to my colleague, the fantastic opera singer from Rome: Federica Raja.

She joined me and my Duo partner, the pianist Monica Calvo in our Duo Fantasie.

We love to talk about how to produce a beautiful sound and the use of our air flow as a singer and as a flutist. Vibrato is an audible symptom of our use of the air stream. It originates and is controlled by our diaphragm.

If you missed out on diaphragmatic breathing please have a look at the post by clicking on the link, to cover your grounds!

 

flute and soprano vibrato

 

 

So how do you play vibrato on a flute, same as singing?

Flute vibrato technique


 

You do not play or do vibrato on a flute.

Vibrato is a form of expression.

It is part of the overall musical and communicative quality of a performer and is an integral part of the produced sound throughout the whole performance.

It’s conscious changes turns it into a means of expression.

Vibrato as part of the sound quality comes from the lower muscles of your breathing apparatus and is known as natural vibrato. It actually means a shaking, trembling or acoustically speaking an oscillation between two very close pitches, or much better two extreme ends of one pitch.

This shaking in the sound is the result of a change in air pressure.

As we are no machines, when we sing or play the flute, the air will have natural changes in its pressure, and this makes the sound feel alive and not artificial.

 

But flute vibrato technique is not


Now, there are some singers, who we will not name, but who exaggerate and sometimes make us hate vibrato all together, because we lose stability of the melody and it sounds more like a Woolf crying to the moon.

That is because singers add a second variable which is the tension of the vocal chords and can get their vibrato to cover large intervals if they can produce those changes fast enough. When the pitch changes to a different sound and it is changing quickly between those two, without any measurement of subdivision, just really fast, we would rather speak of one sort of tremolo then.

For the sake of completeness there is also another way to produce tremolo which is repeating the same note very fast to fill up the entire musical value of that sound, without sub divisional measurement. This is often used by violins and cellos to create suspense or denote that something important is going on and we should pay attention.

Basically, it is also not an embellishment as a trill might be, but an intrinsic part of the quality of your sound. Needless to say that can be used to underline or highlight certain musical expressions, phrasing or articulation.

 

Unfortunately all three, excessive vibrato, tremolo and trills, are often used to hide poor intonation as well


That sad, is sadly true, that if you are not sure about being in tune, by adding a huge vibrato that covers several tunings, your audience won’t say you were out of tune….

BUT they might justly accuse you of poor musical style, using vibrato not for musical phrasing reasons, or even in a piece of music from a period when it was not used at all.

Clear, not shaky, not trembling sounds were preferred, for example in Renaissance music.

From Barcoque Music on vibrato was used to different extends. Instruments however were imitating the human voice. Especially the flute. So sometimes we had moon worshipers also among us in the flute section!

This is why we should be aware of what a vibrato actually is and prepare it carefully.

Here are some practical exercises to create a beautiful natural vibrato,

 

We should try to avoid excessive, uncontrolled use of this substance!

Flute vibrato technique


 

Whenever you feel that in a piece you are playing there is something missing, check if you can improve any of these first:

  • phrasing,
  • sound quality
  • and articulation,
  • dynamics
  • quality of legato

 

flute and soprano

 

If those are all covered and you feel you can’t do any better on those aspects for now,

try to imagine a vibrato choreography.

If you do not know what I mean by that check out my other two articles first

and then go on to create your very own vibrato choreography on your piece.

Pay attention to follow it and control what you are doing. You can study this following the exercises

topflute put together for you——–> here.

You can always change your breathing dance, but you should never go blindly.

That makes the difference between someone we like to listen to, because he or she, playing an instrument, is actually communicating something.

 

 

Duo Fantasie

 

I hope you do relate and have some own ideas to share!

Please do so in the comment section.

Share this post on social media to help me keep up doing this for you!

Janie

founder of

                     topflute.com

and         myflutelife.com

how to tune a piccolo for playing in a symphony orchestra

 

Flute practice tips

Have you ever wondered if there were flute practice tips to study in a more efficient way but in less time? That is why you might need some flute practice tips!

flute practice

Whether you need to study for, let’s say a flute ensemble, whether you are a beginner flutist or a pro, whether you play flute jazz, and other instruments in a band, whether you look for an actual flute job or you need to prepare any other flute genre, you will have asked yourself if there was a more efficient way in a short amount of time to become confident with the sheet music or the Jazz solo.

You will already have created your very own and personalized flute practice with the help of your teacher’s or colleagues’ tips. Whatever flute you play, even the pan flute, which flute tunes you are trying to study or if you are preparing for an audition with orchestral backing and piano accompaniment, you will need to make sure, you don’t waste any time or are even studying in a way that actually diminishes your performance.

So the question is:

What do they really mean when they say “you better go, and study some more at home”?

 

How to study effectively in short time at home                                                             5 flute practice tips


 

You only have 20 min now and then? Make sure you use them wisely. You don’t need your flute for the first two flute practice tips.

 

—-> Flute Practice Tip 1

  • The very first step is to get an idea about how it should sound in the end. In your head, without playing any of it, look at the flute sheet music and turn the flute notes into a sound in your mind.

Breathe with the imagined melody and give it a direction. Is the phrase leaning forward or backward? Would you play it bold or intimate? Do you wish for a clear, warm, mystical, deep, seductive sound or are you just telling a story? Is it narrative or contemplative? Does the phrase consist of a question and an answer? Or just one big feeling?

Try to identify the inner meaning of whatever you are about to study and sing it inside your body. Try to locate the sound. Does it come from your belly, your feet, your back, your elbows, your head? Does it move? If you have trouble imagining any of it, listen to recordings on YouTube.

 

—-> Flute Practice Tip 2

  • Sing it! I know you won’t like it, but you should try to sing whatever you study, in any register or octave, but sing it. This part you can do in the shower, car, elevator or on a walk.

 

—-> Flute Practice Tip 3

  • Now you will probably know why you became a flutist and not a singer, and be thankful that the flute can produce any sound in more than 3 octaves.

While keeping your flute in your hand, go over the sheet music again imagining the flute sound. Then move your fingers on the flute while still playing the piece only in your head.

 

—-> Flute Practice Tip 4

  • At this point you actually put your flute in a playing position, breathe and sing with your flute, yes I mean really sing and play simultaneously. This will get your air support system ready, open your throat and connect what we have done so far with the flute playing.

Don’t skip this step, it is very important to link playing the flute to the things you can do to study flute music without the flute. You will gain deep understanding of the music and intonation.

 

—-> Flute Practice Tip 5

  • Play the piece just once and don’t judge any of the aspects. You will wish to play it again, but I recommend not to. Leave it there and go practice 20 min of scales and arpeggios. Then another twenty minutes of sound quality. Then sing and play again in the third 20-min portion of your time.

And only after that go and play it. You will have played it only twice (without singing) but it will sound like you played it all your life. Because it has phrasing, breathing, direction, meaning and all the musical expressive elements that are available to you at the present moment.

 

Flute yoga – whole body flute practice tip


 

Have you ever noticed that they use flute music for yoga? It’s because it is deeply connected to our air stream, so the basis of our life. Whenever we breathe we express ourselves, we take in and produce a certain type of energy. This happens independently whether you think about it or not.

Actually most people don’t and live in constant reaction to something they can’t seem to control. Whenever we control our breathing, match it to the result we wish, we are in charge, controlling our life. So we flutists actually have a gift. We can use that to calm down others and make them aware, but also for ourselves.

Let us own our choreography of airflow,

flute air flow coreography, controlling your expression by controlling the movement of your air streamlet us decide its velocity, pressure, angle, volume, directness or indirectness. Whether it circles in our mouth before getting out, whether it does that inwardly or outwardly (clockwise or anticlockwise).

Does it resonate in our head and gain harmonics or just leave our body? Or maybe it creates a very direct flute sound?

We can choose whether our inner mouth and neck position matches an “o” or an “i”, where we use a decisive or soft consonant to start the sound and to end it. Whether we use one at all.

We can decide the dance the air performs before leaving our body and the vibration it creates in the flute and surrounding area. If you feel intimidated by all these possibilities, do some more of the 5 steps for effective flute practice and when you get excited about expressing the feeling and sound you now understand try some flute yoga again.

Breathe and be excited of what your air stream does to express your melody. Just observe, don’t judge. Be excited and curious. There is no right or wrong at this moment.

 

Create your personal flute practice routine


Choose your very own practice every day. Look for routine parts and varying parts, make it part of your flute playing every time you play.

For more tips and tricks read also —-> flute hacks

Most important of all, own your playing, the flute is part of you, not the other way around.

Play with joy and a wish to share.

Enjoy every moment of it.

I would love to read what you think and how you feel about my ideas. Maybe you have some more helpful flute practice tips and tricks?

Thank you for reading my blog on flute practice tips and have a wonderful topflute life.

Janie

founder of

Jana Theresa Hildebrandt

                   topflute.com

and      myflutelife.com

 

Diaphragmatic breathing flutists

Have you ever wondered what they actually mean

when they say “use your diaphragm” ?


relaxed diaphragm while exhaling

And once we get what that means, is diaphragmatic breathing really all it takes for flutists?

Or is there more to playing the flute with “good and adequate support”?

Air is our bow, so it is the basis of our sound and playing. And moreover, breathing is the fundamental activity of life.

Playing the flute touches the soul of so many people and can even result seductive, because it is so close to the basic movements of life. So enjoy learning more about it and use it carefully.

Make sure to use the breathing technique that best fits the expression you aim for.

Is chest breathing bad?


Chest breathing is what we use in everyday life. When we are stressed it can become a very limited flat breathing to the uppermost part of our chest.

When we panic we will just stop breathing at all or hyperventilate.

That is all part of chest breathing and life itself.

chest breathing - rips and chest expand in all directions

It is not bad at all, we develop muscles that we train just by living. Our rips are not fixed and can expand outward, the more we train those muscles. It is in fact the way back inwards that we need to control and delay. It is exhaling what is most interesting to a flutist.

But we usually use only the front part and not our back. So it is limited and not useful for playing any instrument just as it is. We need to become conscious of that and also develop our back breathing. We can do so, just by sitting in a chair or in a seat, leaning backwards.

You should try to feel your backbone moving away from the resistance you are leaning on by inhaling. As easy as that. You can train that while traveling, in class or meetings, even in orchestral rehearsals.

Once you are familiar with the feeling of expanding your lungs all around you and not just in front, we can start training delayed and controlled airflow outside, exhaling.

You can use any consonant (s, f , sh) for counting seconds and training to make it at least to 20 sec.

Diaphragmatic breathing – technique and benefits


Now we are ready to take a deep breath, literally. Put a hand on your stomach and tray to breath against it, your tummy moving outwards. It this seems weird, try to lean on anything at your abdominal height (table, the fist of a friend…) and you will immediately feel you abdominal muscles activate to prevent pain from the inward pressure. This activation is what you need to feel. Inhaling is active, and the deeper, the more energy and muscles we need.

abdominal breathing

What happens anatomically is that your diaphragm, a muscle underlying your lungs and preventing your stomach from moving upward, is lying relaxed as a limit between the abdomen and its contents and the lungs and chest. When you inhale your chest will expand forward, and only when you did the previous exercise right, also backwards. But the diaphragm is not moved automatically. We need to breath “into our stomach”, which just means that our lungs expand downwards as well by activating the diaphragm in a downward movement and sucking in the air. The abdominal content need to go somewhere, so the belly expands.

abdominal muscles and diaphragm, inhaling and exhaling

But it doesn’t just move forward, if we do it correctly, and yes, you might have guessed it, it will also move outwards on the back, above our hips. There is plenty of space, and the lungs can expand for many liters of air.

That is inhaling. Exhaling in the anatomical and medical sense is relaxation, the stomach and abdominal content goes back to where it was, the rips go back inside and also the diaphragm turns to its original place.

This technique leaves us with a lot of oxygen, muscle movement and awareness. In itself it is very powerful and can be studied anywhere and at any time. Make sure you use both, chest and abdominal breathing and you become aware of how they work together. This calms you down and anchors you in the present. It prevents anxiety and helps with stressful situations. So actually, we flutists are blessed! We get to study playing the instrument and coping with performance anxiety at the same time!

Improve a flutist’s abdominal diaphragmatic breathing


Ok, but…

So we have covered the inhaling part of breathing. What about exhaling?

not breathing, holding your breath, example of apnea

You are perfectly right. This is what serves us the most when playing the flute. But only if we inhaled consciously and deeply as explained earlier. Otherwise, exhaling is close to playing your flute in apnea, which means not controlling anything, from sound to intonation and phrasing.

So what we need to do is from exhaling like before in the chest breathing section, just for a long time on a consonant, we have to move on to controlling the airflow.

 

This will also lead to a beautiful alive sound with natural vibrato, which will become our business card.

So now we will feel where the control is based in our body by:

  • exhaling on continuous airflow introducing a pulsation with a combination of consonants like ts, ch, tsh…
  • doing the same while kneeling down, elongating the air column by stretching our backbone
  • doing the same while leaning with every part of the pack to a wall, knees bent as much as needed
  • leaning onto a table or friends fist with the lower part of the belly, just atop of the public zone

And there is still more to it. Every time you pronounce a new pulsation with the consonant combination chosen, try to move you belly outward. This and the above exercises stimulate what we need to develop:

 

Active exhaling to play the flute expressively using diaphragmatic breathing technique


 

ACTIVE EXHALINHG is different from what medicine and anatomy teach us.

 

Exhaling is passive to them.

 

 

But we need to activate it to be able to control it and use it in a communicative way. So how do we do that?

What parts of exhaling do we need to train?


  1. angle of the airflow outward your lips : how do we study that? There is a fun way of practicing it, it’s called air football! You simply take a piece of paper and make a light and fist-size ball of it, put it in the middle of a table and on both ends of it, kneeling down, there are two players competing to make goal, all you can use is your breath and you can also only stop the ball with your breath. Goal is the opposite side of the table, where your opponent is kneeling just with his face above the table, like you.
  2. velocity of the airflow is determined with how far the air has to travel, how much air is sent up, how much space it has and how big the pressure is. You can train it with the game above, moving the paper ball a long way at high speed
  3. volume of airflow is determined by your lips opening and your throat just like the connected elements of velocity and pressure. It doesn’t matter if it comes from your chest or abdomen though. It is only important only when you need high volume for a prolonged time to make sure it comes from where there is more (so a complete inhalation).
  4. Pressure this is the product of gaining high speed on a short way up and having a small opening where to pass, it is what you need in table-soccer to make a goal, a lot of pressure, right angle and planning. This is also what you need for the right intonation and expressive playing.

All these aspects are very important for phrasing, intonation, articulation, sound quality and vibrato use.

On the latter aspect please get more insight and help with exercises on my vibrato special.

So in general, how you use those 4 parts (angle, velocity, volume, pressure) of exhaling and your muscles to control and activate them, determines your overall ability to play the flute and the sound quality.

Another way of thinking about controlling exhaling would be to imagine inhaling at the same time. That activates your diaphragm to move downward while actually letting out just as much air as you wish, at the right speed, pressure and volume.

Those are then further refined on the airflow’s way up through your body by encountering limitations, tensions or obstacles. We will speak more about the other three controlling points to your perfect sound in the next articles.

For now there are two more observations I’d like to share with you:

  • the right feeling of controlling your pubic zone, activating the diaphragm in a downward direction even when exhaling, is only when you imagine going to the loo. Yes, that’s right! Imaging controlling your “fluids and solids” way out of your body and you will use the right muscles!! (a horrified student told me, she imagines riding a bike uphill to activate those muscles. this is more horrifying to me ;))
  • only when you train your diaphragmatic breathing right you will develop some strong abdominal muscles. Be sure to relax them now and then, because you need them to be flexible, not just strong!

Breathing is natural and should be used for expressive reasons


 

Whenever you play, you are alive and playing with the very essence of life: air.

Be sure to get acquainted with it and familiar to how it feels in your body. Use it, don’t be afraid of it.

Use it also in your every day life, when talking, thinking or stressing out.

You are in control and you know where it resides. Use it for phrasing. The just length of a phrase is where your breath takes you.

Don’t worry about circular breathing, worry about what you can say in one breath, with words and notes. Do it right, or at least with intention. Don’t waste not even one breath in vain.

Your natural breathing can be enhanced by unblocking your hip and giving it extra power. Train your hip flexors here and boost your energy! ——–> hip flexor training to unblock your potential!

 

Breathing is life, playing the flute is magic and owning life.

 

So be proud and aware, play to add value to the world, study to become conscious. It is a sport, it is life, expression, virtuosity, and so much more. It is what you make of it!

 

You can go on to my practice special or vibrato special and get more insight on those.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you!

I would love to hear what you think.

Happy flute life,

Janie

founder of

            topflute.com

and myflutelife.com

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