please help improving tone quality?

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please help improving tone quality?

Post by mai »

Does anyone have any essential tips to seriously improve tone quality?
especially the 2nd ocatave notes. I feel that everytime I start my practice my sound isn't clean at all. Further more: everytime I put the flute in my mouth during the practice session (even after a second break) I feel it's a little hard to find the 'hot spot' for the clean tone to come out. I play 1.5 years but started taking private lessons just a while ago. I'd like to get other opinions than my teachers also.
and another thing: I practice in a room that returns alot echo of the sound.
I think it is harder and even annoying to notice the 'real tone' you get out the flute - anyone familiar with this?

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Post by powayflute01 »

From my experience with several different teachers, the key to good tone quality is LONG TONES and lots of them. Unfortunately, they aren't the most interesting exercises in the world and a lot of people neglect to do them.
As far as practicing in a room with a lot of echo...think about it: if you practice in a dead room and get your tone really good in there, imagine how great it will sound in a room with echo!
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Post by MeLizzard »

Hi, Mai!
Certainly get busy with those long-tone type exercises! Aside from just playing them, get lots of input from your teacher about what to listen for and ways to manipulate or improve the tone you hear. The Trevor Wye tone practice book is great for practicing these things, and is available with or without cd. Kind of aim to rest your flute on your chin at the place where you can feel it against the roots of your lower teeth, be sure to keep the tone hole uncovered (about 1/3 covered--control the airstream's direction with your upper lip) and try to create lots of space inside your mouth (drop your lower jaw) while playing... :) There are many variables involved in creating a good tone, and much practice is necessary (months and years). Much patience is required lol :lol: As for the echo factor, I try to play in acoustically "dead" rooms, large rooms, and even outside to be sure not to flatter myself in the tone department. I played a lecture-recital this morning in a very live hall, and I think it sounded kind of cluttered. A deader environment helps us better hear what we need to improve. Good luck! Let us know how you're doing :D

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Post by zephyrr »

hey mai! we're in the same boat!

yeah i've got a problem with tone too.. my tone is rather airy sometimes. esp with low notes. i've tried holding long notes everyday but there seems to be little improvement.

anyway i wouldnt advice playing in an echo-y room bcos it rather gives you the impression that you're loud. try playing at an open space like your school field to improve projection and volume. =)

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Post by Picc_Chick »

Ach! I hated those Trevor Wye tone books! But it did end up helping my tone quality. :roll: Well, Mai, you can also try working w/ you breathing of all things. We have to do this every day in band and I do it on my own when I practice. Take your metronome or use the one online, crank it up as loud as you can get it! Not really unless you want to bug the heck out of your family members lol Okay, stand up and set the speed somewhere around 90. Breath in for four and out for eight. Keep doing that four times before going on to breathing in for one and out for twelve for four times. Then stop b/c you might fall down frm being dizzy. As the days go by, breath in for one and out for eight for the first time and then in for one and out for sixteen. Then you'll find you will not only have a richer sound, but you learn how to use your air wiser. This is not a quick fix to your problem and I don't think there is one, but if you do this each time you warm-up even if its only on your own before your band class, you'll see a world of difference in about three months or so. But KEEP DOING IT if you want to have a great tone quality. :wink: It works, trust me on this one.
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Post by band_geek13 »

LONG TONES STINK...even though theyre very very important, my instructor has me warm up with these excersizes that improve can download them and print them off on James Galways site:

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tone and interval study

Post by kodalyflutist »

band_geek13 wrote:LONG TONES STINK...even though theyre very very important, my instructor has me warm up with these excersizes that improve can download them and print them off on James Galways site:

One note: Galway even says himself "long tones are boring". You'll notice that the exercises he posts are really more like interval studies. Do not feel obligated to play these in the rhythm he has notated; they are not facility studies or rhythm studies. They are tone studies, but they are also interval and intonation studies. On that note: *everything* is a tone study and an interval study if you treat it that way! You can play each tone as long as you like, and play around with rhythm in order to *really* explore what is happening with sound production.

You must take care to play these little melodies in tune. How do you know whether they are in tune? One good way is to use the sound-generating capability of your tuner. You place the tuner on any pitch (preferably one that works well with the first pitch of a particular phrase...perhaps unison or a 5th), and then play the melody exercise, playing particular attention to the difference tones that are produced as a result of your sound interacting with the sound generated by the tuner. The difference tone will change depending on what interval is produced between you and the tuner. This can actually make long tones very interesting and kind of fun! When I do this in my practice, I find that the time goes very quickly. I'm constantly working and bending my pitches to play the different intervals perfectly in tune with the sound generator. This is what we do in ensemble playing, so it is excellent practice. There are some intervals that must be smaller or bigger than they would be on a piano (equal temperament), and if you are playing in an ensemble with no fixed-tuning instruments (piano, for example), then you will use "just" intonation to fine-tune the interval. You can hear this clearly when your sound interacts with another sound. Even when you do play with a piano or keyboard percussion, you may tune certain intervals this way to help the intonation "lock" into place (for example, a final chord).

Trevor Wye has a description of these variations in interval tuning in his Intonation and Vibrato book.

If you spend a mere 15 minutes a day working on intervals in this manner, your tone and intonation will improve greatly, as well as your endurance. Lengthen this session to 30 minutes if you are able. You've gotten some great advice regarding acoustics of your practice space. Save the echo-ey environment for those days when you are a little depressed and need a live acoustic to be motivated to get the flute out and work on tone. This will not scar you for life, but don't rely on this type of acoustic on a daily basis. Always practice as if you are a soloist in a big hall, even when you play pianissimo. Remember to project to the back row; another secret of Galway's success.

Best wishes!

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Post by Caroline_Fluter »

Don't worry too much about it-- you've only been playing for 1.5 years, just keep practicing a LOT and gradually you'll get better accustomed with the instrument.

One thing you might want to try though... try singing and playing at the same time. Some people can do this, others have difficulty though, so if you are unable to do this, just trying singing through your long tone excercises. Aim for a warm, deep sound as you sing. Afterwards, play the excercise on your flute. Try to retain that open feeling in your throat, voice box, and mouth.

Hope this helps!


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Post by wonderflute »

Well, a time to practice long tones could be when you're about to go to bed. NOT always, but sometimes. When I feel really tired, I just lay down on the bed and start playing. Also, if you're watching something on TV that's not quite interesting, or something that it is,(it really doesn't matter) just start playing the notes during the show. You can still enjoy TV AND improve your tone quality simultaneously, yet not have to divide time between the two. :P I don't know if you care or think I'm nuts, but it works for me! 8)

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Re: please help improving tone quality?

Post by Marciebaby »

It's been a really, really long time since this was initially posted, but I wanted to share what I learned in overcoming my own tone issues (and it wasn't LONG TONES!)

1. Breathing-taking VERY deep breaths, feeling the rib cage expand. As I was learning proper breathing technique, sometimes I thought I was breathing deeply, but I wasn't. It took a long time before it became more automatic and I could really access the proper musculature (those intercostals).

2. Play a low C, overblow to the 3rd harmonic (G). It's a hard harmonic to find, so if your can get a great (or even decent) sound on that harmonic, then you've found your sweet spot, and that's a good starting place for a playing embouchure. From there, jump up and play the 4th octave C (or A3 if you can't play all the way to a C), just to make sure your lips are ready to hit those high notes (remember, you can play low notes with a high note embouchure, but you can't play high notes with a low note embouchure). If you can play all the way up and down without having to make any flute or lip adjustments (sometimes we use a lazy low note embouchure and aren't "set up" properly to hit those high ones", then you're good to go.

3. Use good posture and check for any tension you might be carrying, especially in the face and jaw where it might affect your air stream! I didn't realize how far forward I was bringing my jaw to play until I started to show signs of TMJ stress one day. Once I started relaxing it more and not pushing out so much, holy tone color, Batman! Stand against the wall and just relax with your head against it and check how that changes your sound while you play, then try to find out where you might be carrying tension that could be blocking your sound. Neck? Shoulders? Jaw?

4. See a good teacher who can help you. I've had mixed results with teachers who could identify my issues and those who could not. It doesn't mean the ones who couldn't help me were bad teachers. Not every teacher has seen every problem in the world. But keep trying and find someone who can help you.

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