A lot of embrochure frustration

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DivaricationOfMind
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A lot of embrochure frustration

Post by DivaricationOfMind » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:23 pm

So, I can't seem to keep my embrochure consistent. Until recently I would have what I would call "bad-embrochure days" every once in a while. During one of these spells of bad embrochure I lose fullness of sound, I lose clearness in articulation, I lose color and my lower register is basically gone.

On good days almost none of these issues are present.

Now, what has happened recently is...I'm having these problems...daily. In fact, every time I play.

I'll pick up my flute to practice and though the first few minutes will lead me to believe my embrochure is fine, soon enough I lose my embrochure completely and sometimes can't even practice because I can barely play.

Most of the time I feel like I'm doing the same thing with my embrochure, but, I really can't imagine I really am if I'm having problems like these.

I know that prior to these issues flaring up daily I had been having some very intense practice sessions and with that in mind I thought perhaps I just need to rest my embrochure. However, taking time off flute hasn't helped.

Any thoughts on what exactly is going on here?

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Zevang
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Post by Zevang » Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:00 pm

Good new is that it seems to happen to all of us, flutists. One day or another the embouchure just doesn't work.

Let me ask you something. Do you get flute classes? Would you have someone like a teacher to supervise your practice? Think that's what you need right now.

But, as a starting point, try to relax. I mean really relaxing by doing exercises and stretching. We can get tension at various locations of our body. You might having something going on at your face or mouth.

Just don't give up nor desperate. Patience is the key now.

Zevang

DivaricationOfMind
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Post by DivaricationOfMind » Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:01 pm

A much delayed response and update:

so, I am still having this problem and it is really concerning me.


I do take weekly flute lessons and have consulted my teacher. But, allow me to give you a little more background.

I've played for about nine years now and am currently a music performance major. Up until fall 2009 I hadn't had these issues to this extent. It was always the occasionally bad-embouchure day. Since I posted this topic I have had very little progress. :{

When I mentioned it to my teacher she told me to use more air and relax my embouchure, but, that she thought I sounded fine.

Even though she consistently tells me I sound fine (which is a combination of coincidence that my playing is half-decent that day and the fact that I'm sure I do sound okay to the listener), the biggest issue is how it all feels to me. Playing now feels so terribly labored! It used to be so much fun to play and now at this point I'm seriously considering whether I should drop my major before I invest more time and money into my schooling, but, there is nothing else I love like music and flute!

The days that my embouchure is functioning how I feel it should, always remind me not to give up. On those days I can feel where every octave is and utilize such a wide spectrum of colors and sometimes I'll have a good week where it will be consistently satisfying. But, otherwise I truly feel I'm playing at only 50% of my potential and though I hate to sound dramatic, I'm truly in agony over it. I feel like I can't count on my playing to ever truly be at it's fullest potential.

What I've done to try to fix this is at LEAST an hour of long tones, just about everyday for the past semester. I've done them every which way and sometimes it helps tremendously, but all that progress can just disappear in a few days or a minute. I've taken entire days to do nothing but long tones for entire 4 to 5 hour practice sessions and I'm still unable to get a consistent sound.



any ideas? :(

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Zevang
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Post by Zevang » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:02 pm

Well, maybe some different ideas here.

First of all, is your body properly hydrated? It's very important, because our lips suffer a lot if you get dry.

Other important thing is that you must do SMALL long tone sessions. Half an hour maximum. Why's that? Because the muscles get tired easily and then you begin to get bad habits when forcing to play. There must be a balance in all aspects of practice. Long tones, scales, musical passages, orchestral, etc...

Once again, it's a metter of being pacient and giving yourself the time needed to accomplish the challenge. Take time and the results will sure come.

MISHUGINA
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Post by MISHUGINA » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:24 am

An hour long tone? Wow friend, I used to do that but that will never work! Our lip muscles will get tense very easily and it will be counterproductive the harder you force yourself to blow. When you feel tense or stressed up or having "bad embouchure day" - stop and do something else! Study the score, play other instruments, go relax etc. You'll be surprised how effortless your tone will sound when you have proper rest "gaps", like a 24 hr period where you don't touch your flute at all. Smart practice is the key.

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Zevang
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Post by Zevang » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:31 pm

I agree completely. Playing long tones for one hour a day is way too much. The idea must be quality not quantity. The resulting fatigue could give you a worse and worse embouchure.
The progress is slow, therefore the long tones should be done for about 20 minutes a day maximum.

Benjahmin
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Post by Benjahmin » Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:31 am

@Zevang

I have been following Your Postings and advice through this forum, especially concerning embouchoure, ....and by this occasion , I want to say "Thank You ".

You have stated my Autodidactical experience here and there to be correct ( without knowing it Yourself ;-) ) and You have also given advice that I have read and found very useful.

Keep up Your work here !!
And again: Thanks a lot !

Benjahmin

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virginiak
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Post by virginiak » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:51 pm

I just wanted to say I feel your pain about the embouchure inconsistencies and occasionally struggles. In the past year I've gone through some major embouchure transformations after finding a permanent teacher. (I am an adult amateur... I majored in music in college 15+ years ago, but had a bad experience and just really started playing again a few years ago). I find that for me, 15 minute blocks of practice with 5 minute breaks in between works best. I can do an hour or two hour practice session that way and feel productive and refreshed through all of it, rather than slogging through 45 minutes without a break, and I feel like my tone improves much more week to week in this fashion. The more relaxed my body is, the more beautiful the sound, even if I feel like my lips aren't forming an optimal shape on a given day.

Also I would like to add a thank you to Zevang for consistent encouraging and helpful posts!
Forewarned is forearmed, and four-armed is half an octopus.

numptie
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Post by numptie » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:35 pm

After reading all the recommendations about finding a teacher, I found one and was hoping to learn better embouchure.

I deliberately had a 'bad embouchure day' where I couldn't even get the flute to sound, to see if he would clarify and teach me to show me what I was doing wrong.

He didn't. All he did, was tell me to say 'tut' when I was blowing to increase the attack speed. He didn't go into any detail at all about embouchure, and I spent most of the time playing non-classical music I really couldn't care for. Plus it was the most expensive music lesson I have ever had (I did do theory and piano and never paid this much!).

I was really disappointed and think that with the money I wasted on the lesson, I could have had a year's free subscription to You tube for DIY learning or buy video CD books.

My first breakthrough, was remembering to carry a small tin of Vaseline to moisturise my lips whilst playing. The second, was using the James Galway flute to lip placement video method on Youtube, to position the flute accurately. 95% of the time, I'm getting a note first go when positioning the flute alone, compared to about 50% previously using the smiley embouchure "Smiley embouchure does not work" says Galway sternly.


I'd hope my experience from paying about $50 for a lesson was a one off (bad experience) rather than being universal. These days my embouchure is much better when I use more diaphragm support and focus on the position of the flute in my hands, and my body positioning, and relaxing my embouchure. The other thing which has probably changed my embouchure dramatically is hiring an alto flute for a week. The embouchure is very different and I really enjoyed playing alto flute with its more relaxed embouchure. Moving between C concert and alto flute, I found it made more sense - grasping the principles behind embouchure for two different instruments of the same family.

The breakthrough for pianissimo 2nd and 3rd octave notes hasn't happened yet but I guess that is because I am still relatively new to flute learning. I am pushing to get there, because I know that my embouchure must *still* be very imprecise because I can't get it by redirecting airflow upwards, instead of downwards for the higher octaves. It's my fourth week learning flute alone now but I am really enjoying learning on my own, playing Vivaldi, Blavet, Cuchner, Bach, Gluck, even Quantz and Pares even if it has been marred by 2 sheer weeks of frustration just trying to make any sound from the flute. I'm far from performance standards but who cares. I play for me :lol:

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virginiak
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Post by virginiak » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:54 pm

I am sorry that the teacher you found didn't click for you. You might have to search and try out a few people before you find someone you can work well with. Many teachers will offer a trial lesson for free to see if you're a student-teacher match.
Forewarned is forearmed, and four-armed is half an octopus.

numptie
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Post by numptie » Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:14 pm

Thanks for the encouragement.

It is a geographical thing really. Friends in the city pay around $30 per hour for lessons. That's reasonable imho.

The only flute tutor around here charges $50 per hour.

I've decided to struggle alone and annoy everyone on the forum with my numptie forum questions. At least I will be able to afford a proper alto flute by the end of the year, even if I wont' be technically very good at playing it lol.

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