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In school and having to change everything

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MissyHPhoenix
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In school and having to change everything

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:25 pm

Hey y'all. I am officially back in school now, have been for two months now, and loving every minute of it. I discovered that I adore Music Theory even tho I have a hard time in the musicianship part with hearing the chords .... working on that, but the Counterpoint is soooo much fun!

Anyway. My flute prof has completely changed around my embouchure and right hand position. I did expect it, after reading experiences written about here, and the changes do make sense and I can see progress ..... But it is HARD!!!! :shock: It took me a full month just to get the hang of the embouchure positioning that she wants me to use and I still go "off and on" with it every day. I know now when I'm right because the sound is sooooo much better, but I have days when I absolutely can't find the right placement and nothing sounds good! I've been suffering with this for another month now.

I know I will get it eventually. I'd just like very much if some of the rest of you would share your embouchure experiences with me so that I don't feel like such an idiot. Intellectually I know that it will simply take whatever amount of time it takes to build the new embouchure ..... emotionally, AGHHH! I keep thinking that I "should" have more control of it by now and that "everybody else" can do it so much better than me. Ya know what I mean??? My teacher wants me to perform at the Master Class but I still don't have enough control to get through an entire solo piece without my embouchure collapsing on me. Please assure me that it is normal to take so long to develop! (embouchure, that is ..... )

:mrgreen:
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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Classitar
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby Classitar » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:47 pm

Good luck Missy!

I can't offer any technical advise but hopefully perseverance pays off :D

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Fox
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby Fox » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:40 pm

I'm going through the exact same thing right now. I just changed my embouchure positioning slightly and some days I sound amazing, but on other days it's horrible.
As for control I'm still working on that too. I'm learning the upper third octave at first it was quite bad, but with practice I've gotten much more control and I am up being able to play most of the time up to B. It doesn't bother me now cause I realize it's just a matter of practice to strengthen ones embouchure.

Good luck!

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:34 pm

Thanks guys! Appreciate your support.
Missy

Why Be Normal????

fluteguy18
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby fluteguy18 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:45 am

I had to change my embouchure three different times (once with each teacher and then I did it the last time). If you count adjusting my jaw position as an embouchure change, make it four main times (with a lot of tweaking in between). But the end result was worth it. I ended up with a huge, gutsy, gorgeous sound (IMO), that blows the socks off the 2nd flute player and carries to the back of the hall with ease.

Keep at it. It takes patience and dedication, and a LOT of time looking in a mirror.
Repair blog: http://www.aclassicaljourney.blogspot.com
"FEAR has two meanings. 1: Forget Everything And Run or 2: Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours."
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

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Bo
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby Bo » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:10 pm

I changed my embouchure too in the course of time.
I am sure you'll be fine. It is just the beginning of a more advanced phase of your flute playing! :)

lianeandflute
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby lianeandflute » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:01 am

Hey! It took me about 2 years to change my embouchure. It was generally a frustrating experience!! Even now it takes me a bare minimum of 30 minutes of long notes and harmonics etc before I feel like I can actually control my embouchure. And also some days my tone is just rubbish and embarrassing, but then on other days it will be just what I want and so satisfying. But I can say it's worth it in the long run, I can feel that gradually I'm getting better at control and my tone has a lot more core to it and depth to it, also I am much more flexible, in terms of intonation, colours and dynamics, than I used to be.
"It's happening inside you; not in the flute!" - Emmanuel Pahud (At a masterclass in Sydney, Nov. 2010)

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:21 pm

Thanks all for your encouraging comments. That is exactly what I needed to hear!
Missy

Why Be Normal????

fluteguy18
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby fluteguy18 » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:05 pm

I definitely feel your pain! Make it FIVE times I've had to restructure my embouchure. I've been getting back in practice for about a month now and I've realized that I need to restructure again. In the past year I've lost 85lbs and losing that much weight changes everything: your posture (went from an 18.5 dress shirt to a 15.5 slim fitted), your breathing, your arms/hands (lost 3.75 ring sizes! 12.75 to a 9!), your feet (down half a shoe size!), and also your face. My face is WAY thinner than it used to be and now my embouchure doesn't work the way it used to. My lips and cheeks are less full so the angle has to be different. I have to pull my lips forward a lot more and angle my air further downward than I used to in order to get a solid tone. I thought for the longest time it was just my time away from playing but I finally realized it's my weight loss.

My finger technique hasn't ever been easier though! Thinner fingers make faster fingers!

So I'm right in there with you. Messaged two of my old teachers for advice and they gave some great tips. But I'm teaching myself right now with a mirror and an audio recorder. Thankfully years and years of lessons and playing has given me all the tools I need to keep progressing on my own. :)
Repair blog: http://www.aclassicaljourney.blogspot.com
"FEAR has two meanings. 1: Forget Everything And Run or 2: Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours."
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

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pied_piper
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby pied_piper » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:30 pm

FG18 - Good to see you back on the board! Congrats on trimming down. Also good to see that you're getting back to the flute again. Keep us posted on your progress and also on what you are up to...
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

fluteguy18
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby fluteguy18 » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:13 pm

Thanks. Currently I'm playing about 3 days a week trying to gradually get back to where I was. I am preparing (slowly) for a performance I'm giving in January at a Flute Festival. I am also presenting a clinic at the same festival about flute extensions/non-permanent alterations to make a flute more ergonomic as a non surgical method for performance injury treatment.

It's exciting but nerve wracking at the same time. I'm worried that my playing will be poor and that I will embarrass myself. After all of that time off I listened to my old recordings and realized that I was actually pretty good. I just had a skewed perspective. :oops:
Repair blog: http://www.aclassicaljourney.blogspot.com
"FEAR has two meanings. 1: Forget Everything And Run or 2: Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours."
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

wkzh
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby wkzh » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:55 am

fg18 - Yay another advocate of ergonomic alterations! whoohoo!

Back to the topic... I had to relearn my embouchure once only, thankfully. My first few teachers never said much about embouchure, usually just on more of how to get the sound out, and they tutored in groups in the school band programme so they didn't have time to pay attention to me. I didn't have any lessons for about three years. I was in one of the music programmes in my school (I'm from Singapore so it'd be a bit lengthy to explain it) and it was required that I recieved regular instrumental lessons. Having stopped piano lessons and swapped my primary instrument to flute, I went to get a flute teacher.

The first thing my teacher did was to correct posture and embouchure. He taught me an extremely relaxed embouchure, which allowed me to develop embouchure flexibility. With that, I could manipulate my embouchure in any way I wanted to, so effectively, I can use any viable embouchure with proper practice, i.e. getting the desired timbre, focusing the tone and developing endurance is another matter altogether.

It took me a while to master using a relaxed embouchure, though, say, half a year of daily intensive practice and a lot of frustration and pain. Some nights, I'd spend half an hour developing the tone of just one or two notes, playing just that and nothing else, and without much results. I was thinking about it, and I figured that flute playing is very much like body building: you may not see immediate improvement, but under that layer of skin, your muscles are developing. So don't worry if it takes a while! it's all part of the process.

I heard that all flautists suffer these "bad embouchure days". I recently heard a pro practising and she somehow couldn't squeeze the low notes out AT ALL! Robert Dick offers his "throat tuning" as one solution to such problems, but sometimes it's just that our chops are too tired or still in a groggy state.

Also, try to avoid "cursed spots" where the acoustics of the surroundings make you sound bad; it is really very depressing to suddenly "lose your sound" for no apparent reason. If you're feeling down about your sound (for some apparent reason), perhaps you could just play in some ridiculously echoey place, e.g. a stairwell, to make yourself feel better :)
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:23 pm

:lol:

Thanks everybody! that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear to cheer me up!

It sounds to me that embouchure is an on-going and ever-changing process that we have to endure to get anywhere near the level of playing that we want. If even the professionals are frustrated at times, then I guess I have nothing to hang my head about. I'm seeing results in my playing on a weekly basis now, which makes me very happy; but also still have those bad-flute days when nothing seems to go right. Very happily, the good days are beginning to outnumber the bad days!

As Phineas says ..... practice, practice, practice!
Missy

Why Be Normal????

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:00 am

FG18 -- You mentioned ergonomic flute extensions .... do you have a particular extension that you are giving the clinic about, or just general extensions? Do you make these yourself or do you know of someone who does? And, is there an extension to help the right-hand pinkie finger stretch for the low C and C#? Are there extensions for alto flute, also?

Thanks!
Missy

Why Be Normal????

fluteguy18
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Re: In school and having to change everything

Postby fluteguy18 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:05 pm

In terms of alterations I'm mostly presenting easy do-it-yourself varieties that would generally only cost $2-3 a piece. It's also a presentation about different commercially produced products like the Thumbport and Bopep attachments. It's also about little things that don't serve as extensions but make the flute a lot more comfortable to use and to hold.

As for extensions for the low keys I don't have any ideas at the moment. When I had trouble with those keys at first I practiced playing low Eb-D-Db/C# in rapid succession. When I would go to play the Db/C# I wouldn't press the spatula key but would actually over extend my pinky OVER the key and depress the KEY CUP itself (instead of the little lever). That gradually stretches the tendons in your hands and helps you gain the flexibility and strength that you need.
Repair blog: http://www.aclassicaljourney.blogspot.com
"FEAR has two meanings. 1: Forget Everything And Run or 2: Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours."
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."


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