New here, help with tone!

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Fluteplayer03
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:42 pm

New here, help with tone!

Post by Fluteplayer03 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:54 pm

Hi everybody! I've been lurking around and decided to ask a question on how to improve my tone.

Backround information

I've been playing the flute since 6th grade now i'm in 8th. Something that is constantly bothering me is my tone! It's quite unpredictable, at school my tone might sound good but at home it sounds bad. My notes sound airy, and covered especially on the b flat and c. I want a full,clear tone. I started long tones today but don't know how to go about it. I did have issues with my embouchure, i used to play on the side of my mouth, But now with the help of a teacher we corrected it.

So how should i go about getting a good tone? Is it my embouchure or something else?

Thank you!

Rossweisse
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:02 am

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Rossweisse » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:17 pm

Hi Fluteplayer03,

It's rather difficult to assess without seeing you play. Do you still have a teacher to help? How long have you been playing? Things to look at are, yes, your embouchure and positioning at the lip plate and how you breathe/blow and how you tongue (too slow makes muddiness) and body posture. Other considerations are, if you play an open hole flute, whether the holes are totally closed and, regardless of open or not, condition of your pads (could be time for a COA).

This is going to sound sort of weird, but try practicing in a bathroom. All that tile produces echoes so you can better hear yourself. Maybe where you play at home includes carpet and upholstered furniture and other sound absorbing objects?

Rossie // Good luck!
Q: How many oboists does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: Only one but she'll need to try 40 or 50 light-bulbs to find the best one.

Fluteplayer03
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:42 pm

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Fluteplayer03 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:16 pm

I'll upload a video then so you can hear me! What should i play?

Rossweisse
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:02 am

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Rossweisse » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:15 pm

Whatever you have been working on would be a good sample. Do you have a particular warm up routine, such as progressive scales? If so, that would also be useful.
Q: How many oboists does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: Only one but she'll need to try 40 or 50 light-bulbs to find the best one.

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Zevang
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Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Zevang » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:17 am

Fluteplayer, I think it's right what have been discussed so far. But let me add something to this. Have you considered taking your flute to a good technician for a complete revision? It might be that it's not you, but the flute is the reason. Or maybe it's a conjunction of both.

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flutego12
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Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by flutego12 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:54 am

Hi! Trevor Wye's has a great book with Tone Exercises or if you like you may purchase the Omnibus Edition that contains all 5 books in one including the one on Tone. Its replete with exercises and great notations. If you can get the Omnibus Edition with the CD - there he gives audio samples for self calibration.

Sound like you're on the right track of doing Long Tones. Then do relative tones to try and achieve homogeneity of sound.

Most of what is taught is an EXPANSION on Marcel Moyse's Classic De La Sonorite. Good luck! I am also practising my tone. The high registers are still squeaky sometimes and spluttery.

Hang in there! It's amazing how the brain catches on and zens it for you after a while.

PS Wye's book on "Proper Flute Playing" helps one get a footing.

Fluteplayer03
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:42 pm

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Fluteplayer03 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:13 pm

Should i upload a video of my long tones? With or without vibrato?

and i have a question, when i get to the higher notes, like b,c,d,e flat and so one, should my embouchure get tighter?

eloisebandlady
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:55 pm

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by eloisebandlady » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:14 pm

Hi there, I'm thrilled that you want to improve your tone. I have two things...one is to play overtones...ALL THE TIME! Finger low C, Get a good sound, then blow a teeny bit harder and get the overtone above it. Keep going until you get as high as your lips will let you. At first it won't be too high. Do it daily, you'll notice pretty soon, the next highest note will pop out. Always go in reverse also, that's VERY important. This really increases your lip strength.

When at a workshop with James Galway, someone asked him about how to get good tone. His response, "Pick a beautiful song and make it sound beautiful...you Americans always want an easy fix...just make it sound as beautiful as you can". I did that, and it's great, but I've always continued to teach my students the overtones. Good luck and keep up the good work!!!

Treemotan
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:29 pm

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Treemotan » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:02 pm

I too used to have issues with my tone. One contributing factor was, indeed, my old flute. I'd have it looked at and maintained fairly regularly. Depending on how old it is and how long since it's last been taken in for maintenance or repairs, you could have several things contributing to tone deterioration. Your pads could be worn down, or screws and/or springs could be loose or wearing out.

Another major aspect of good tone is good, strong breath support. Long tones are a fantastic way to help improve this, so you're already on the right track. Meditation and general breathing exercises can help as well- one rather odd exercise that worked surprisingly well for me and a few other musicians I know is to lay on your back on the floor and sing.

How you're tonguing can be affecting it as well. When I was in 8th grade, most of the flutes (myself included) had formed a rather bad habit of tonguing too far forward in our mouths; basically, too close to the teeth. In addition, it wasn't uncommon for peoples' tongues to be too "pointy", if that make any sense. Both factors tend to slow down your tonguing and make it muddier, which affects your overall tone. Maybe try moving your tongue back a bit when you tongue and relax the end of your tongue a bit. It's a little hard to explain and a bit awkward to get used to, but tonguing well can solve a lot of issues in one swoop.

Fluteplayer03
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:42 pm

Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Fluteplayer03 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:44 am

So I've been practicing my long tones, and i must say i feel like my tone has gotten a lot better!

I have question, when i get to the higher notes like d, e flat, f and so on should my embouchure get tighter?

And, i noticed on my b flat and c, my vibrato sounds more airy on these notes then others. How do i get rid of this?

Thank you everybody for all your help!

Mandera3
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:41 pm
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Re: New here, help with tone!

Post by Mandera3 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:59 pm

Its most likely the angle of the air-stream and where it is hitting the edge. From my experience as a teacher and a performer, you probably need to get above the flute more. That it, approach the head joint from above. You need to be careful that you aren't blowing the air too far out, or too far down. I usually tell my students to think of an arch shape and to picture the flute being about an arms length away at a diagonal. Try experimenting blowing the air at several different angles until you find what works best. Also, make sure there are no obstructions in your air-stream (ex. lips, teeth) I sometimes put the lip-plate up, then stretch my lips out wide and then let them release (with the lip-plate touching) to create a flat, smooth surface.

Hope that helped a little! :)
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