Returning flute students

Posted by
Erin Nichols
 August 8, 2017

Last week, I went over some great tips from educator and clinician Carolyn Keyes regarding getting flute students started successfully with good techniques and habits. This week, I want to focus on the second part of Carolyn’s article, how to work with returning flute students who just may be a bit rusty. While there are many ways to get students to practice over the summer, some amount of time away from the instrument is likely.

The flute, like other instruments, can produce four or five harmonics by overblowing a single note in the low register. The concept of harmonics are second nature to brass players, but many flute players don’t know just how valuable they can be to developing done! Most flutists include some form of harmonics in their daily practice routine because they are excellent for improving embouchure accuracy and tone quality. There are many different versions of harmonics exercises available. One option combines accurately hitting each harmonic and then matching the tone of the regular fingering for that pitch to the harmonic. Harmonic fingerings are more resonant than the regular fingerings for many notes, but their timbre and pitch make them impractical in most musical contexts. By attempting to match the resonance of the harmonic fingerings while playing the regular fingerings, flutists can develop a more resonant sound overall. Below is an example of this exercise:

Tongueless Attacks
Tongueless attacks, also called breath attacks or ha pulses, are also a staple exercise for many flutists. The goal of these exercises is to produce a quality tone from the very beginning of a note. Too often the embouchure doesn’t focus all the way until slightly after the articulation. By removing the articulation, flutists can hear if their embouchure is in exactly the right spot at the very beginning of the note. It is a good idea to have young students follow up a series of tongueless attacks by playing the same notes with proper articulation, just so they do not accidentally develop a habit of leaving off the articulation. This should not be necessary with advanced students.

A head’s up: Erin is leaving for NFA tomorrow, so watch the blog and Facebook pages for fun stuff!

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