Absolute beginner at the flute

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings

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Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by caters »

I can get an A with the head joint alone or with the whole flute(both cases, no keys pressed) and since my flute is a C flute, that is a good thing. But my A is often airy and it also often sounds like a piccolo. Not often is it crisp and my crisp A's once again usually sound like a piccolo.

In other words with A in first octave fingering(no keys pressed), I get most often A in the second octave. So yeah, an octave higher than it should be.

My embouchure is often just a millimeter wide with my lips in almost a kissing position(I can feel the cheek muscles stretching to bring my lips closer together when I get ready to blow).

I often blow softly, not only to play my flute quieter but also so that I can make the most of 1 breath.

But the truth is, blowing softly doesn't seem to be working for quieter dynamics, at least not yet(even when I blow softly, the note is at mezzo-forte and not piano).

Here is how my routine generally goes:

Open the flute case
Put together the flute
Deep breath and embouchure
Blow and adjust embouchure and flute position until I get an A(only stopping to take another deep breath)
Rhythmic blowing
Moistening and drying my lips
Keep doing long blows to establish a tone and rhythmic blows until I am done
Take apart the flute(sometimes the foot joint gets stuck and I have to spend 5-10 minutes getting it unstuck)
Put the flute away

But yeah few of my A's are crisp and few of those crisp A's are actually in the first octave that I am aiming for(I should get A in the first octave with no keys pressed if Middle C is all keys pressed).

Am I doing anything wrong? I don't think I am. Should I blow harder, change my embouchure, or what?

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Re: Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by pied_piper »

First, do yourself a favor and find a flute teacher to help you get started properly. With no keys depressed, the flute will produce a C# (C sharp). An A is produced by using your left index and middle fingers to close the first two keys. Do you have a beginner method book or a fingering chart? That will help with the fingers.

For the "piccolo" sound, there are a few possibilities that could cause the sound to jump to the second octave or a harmonic.
- blowing too hard
- the airstream is aimed too high with the lips
- the headjoint may be positioned incorrectly or rolled in so the airstream is hitting the embouchure hole at the wrong angle.
- based upon your description, you may be forming sort of a smile which is not the ideal lip position. This may stretch the lips too thin.

Again, a professional flute teacher could help you progress much quicker and also help prevent you from learning bad habits that are difficult to undo...
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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Re: Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by caters »

Maybe it would help but I figured I could teach myself how to play the flute and my momma was once a flutist(though her flute was an F flute and not a C flute).

I mean, after 2 years with a piano teacher, I stopped going to piano lessons because my piano teacher was getting rude. I don't know why though. Maybe because I was always wanting to pull ahead of the average pianist. But whatever the reason, I stopped piano lessons. From then on, I have been self taught on the piano.

I taught myself how to knit as well.

So I figured with a momma who was a flutist and flute videos online, I could teach myself how to play the flute instead of taking flute lessons(and also, I am a bit afraid of taking flute lessons because I don't want the same thing to happen when I take flute lessons if I do that happened when I took piano lessons(teacher getting rude at me))

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Location: KC metro

Re: Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by SylvreKat »

I absolutely second piper's advice. Get a teacher to start you right.

I started in 4th grade band with a legitimate band teacher (who also luckily was a flutist). She moved to the new middle school in my 5th grade, and we made do with the vocal teacher (who I doubt had any actual band training). The girl who started flute with her never was taught correct embouchure, nor how to properly tongue, to "ta"--she just sort of huffed into her flute. Spent an entire year playing like that. Got to 6th grade and back to the real band teacher, who tried everything she could think of to break this bad habit. The girl still could never get her head around not huffing into her flute.

Needless to say, she quit after the next year.

There is no continuing enjoyment from poorly playing an instrument incorrectly. Whereas there is life-long pleasure once you've mastered the basics of good, proper playing. The Civic Band I now play in, our oldest player (92 years old) just retired due to some health issues that recently came up. He maybe wasn't our best trombonist, but that never lessened his enjoyment of playing.

Please PLEASE find a teacher to get you started on correct methods. After that, if you just want to play for personal pleasure, use methods books to self-teach. If you want to play more seriously, then continue your lessons. Trust me, you won't regret the expense!

Flutes:1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel;1982 Armstrong 80;2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P;1982 Gemeinhardt 4S;1980s? Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199
Treble:2009 Guo New Voice

+ many flute-cousins

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Re: Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by new2flute »

I'm a brand new player and even if you can't find a teacher locally there are a ton of resources available (books, videos) to help get you started. When I purchased my student flute I also purchased to books, Flute 101: Mastering the Basics and Trevor Wye Practice books 1 ~ 6 (got the TW book new in England for $35 which included shipping). There are a mind boggling number of videos on YouTube and while you can get some conflicting information when you hear the same things from just about every teacher you can has some confidence that at least in those areas the information is solid. I was also fortunately that I had my granddaughter (she's been playing for eight years) to at least play my flute and insure there weren't any fundamental problems with the flute itself that would hold me back, at least in this beginner stage.

All of that said, and while there is a lot you can do without an teacher, not having a teacher to provide feedback as you play and tweak weak point is a hindrance. Even if due to time, distance and finances you can only see a teacher once a month I think there would be tremendous benefit in doing that if you're self-motivate to practice.

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Re: Absolute beginner at the flute

Post by christielea »

Hey there to the 'absolute beginners'!!,

You are right! There are tons of free resources out there but it can be really difficult to search through the web/ Youtube and quickly find a packaged series of videos, that takes you through step by step. You can really spend hours searching for what you need. I'm creating a flute site for the absolute beginner with lots of information about the flute and flute playing. It's still a work in progress but there is a regular blog, as well as free learning resources available. I'm adding more and more all the time.

My heart is that this will be a community of players that genuinely love learning and playing flute, and encouraging and helping others to do the same!

Depending where you are at on your flute playing journey, there are a few FREE resources that might be useful to you...

1. 5-part video series that will take the absolute beginner through the basics of the flute, and have you playing your first notes in the first hour

2. A fingering chart for note learning with a bonus step-by-step video explaining how to use it. Essential for every flute player!

3. My 'Momentum Series' which teaches you 7 simple flute tunes in 7 days. Each tune introduces a new critical aspect of flute playing. I coach you through these tunes, provide links to the sheet music and also demonstrate playing the tunes at several speeds myself!

Head to these links to learn more. I really hope they are useful in your flute playing journey! All the best, Christie

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