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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:28 pm 
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Hello. I'm 34 and always wanted to play the flute (I played clarinet and violin when I was in school) so I have been taking private flute lessons for about 3 weeks. In my last lesson, my flute instructor told me that I "push out" my embouchure just a little to much when playing notes in the 2nd octave (before that, I was able to play the higher notes without much effort). I'm guessing my flute moves too much when playing in the higher octave. Ever since she told me that, I've been struggling to play the higher notes. I practice in a mirror and I try not to push out too much, but now I am really self-conscious about it.

My question is how does your embouchure change when playing in the higher octaves?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: embouchure
PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:18 am 
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Tighten your embouchure to make the air stream a bit more condensed, and blow slightly harder. Also practice overtones; for instance play a low D and see how to change only your lips and strength of airstream to reach the next octave ... don't move the flute).

Jef Kearns
Soul Flute


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:34 pm 
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Location: Washington, DC
I wouldn't use the word "tighten". Instead, just make the embouchure hole smaller. Also, make sure to support your breath.

It sounds like you might be pushing out your lip too much. Any changes to the embouchure should be very small.

I would continue working with your teacher (who can actually hear and see what you are doing) and ask him/her for suggestsions.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:18 pm 
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Thanks for your suggestions! I've been working on it and it seems to "come and go". I believe I know how to do it, but it seems the problems stems from me not being consistent with my approach. For example, I may forget to use a faster air stream. But it's coming along (I guess...lol). I am very impatient, and I feel that I should be playing like a person that have been playing for 10 years...lol. Sometimes I think I got too late of a start (being 34).


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:18 am 
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atoriphile has some very good advice. Tightening (or pinching) the embouchure will not help the problem, but will add to the frustration with constricted air flow. Be sure to support the air (all the time, not just in the high register), this will help maintain that fast air stream.

Patience is not an easy thing to ask of adult players. I strongly believe that the reasons why teaching young children is generally much easier are that children are willing to take things one step at a time and often have very little preconceived notions about what they should sound like at certain stages. Just remember that taking things too fast can be very detrimental to your playing. I'm not saying that you should slow down or spend a tremendous amount of time on something you can do, but be sure that you are able to do something correctly before adding another skill.

I love working with adult beginners. I often find these students more rewarding because they are the ones who are in some ways fulfilling dreams rather than trying to outplay someone else. I have an adult beginner who is in her late 50's. She has now been with me for about a year and is a very accomplished intermediate player. You are certainly not too old! Good luck and enjoy this stage of playing.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:57 am 
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Location: belgium
Don't tighten your embrouchure.

Yes, it helpes to get to the high notes, but is sounds bad. (your tone becomes false)
My flute teacher says that you have to support your breathing more, and don't make your lips tighter.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:46 pm 
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Hi there! I'm new here and have been reading threads on embouchure for second octave. I just want to offer encouragement to my fellow "mature" students. I am "well over forty" and just started learning to play the flute about 3 months ago. I absolutely love it even though I do struggle with the second octave (God knows what will happen when I try to go even higher!) I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful teacher, whose lessons are not even that expensive ($40 per hour). I know that it will all come with time, and I am so happy to have found this site.


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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 3:59 pm 
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I think, the best is to experiment a few minutes per day, playing long notes until you obtain at least the same sound quality as the last time. It is basically about the direction, speed and size of the air stream. Listen carefully how the sound changes with different blowing styles. Your first objective should not be the perfect sound, but a good control over the sound.

You need more air for lower notes.
The air stream points up slightly on lower notes, down on higher notes.
The air stream is controlled by your lips, not by rotating the flute.
You can practise the control of the air flow by blowing against the palm of one of your hands.

My teacher also pointed out, that I should never ever use the left thumb to stabilise the flute (of course I did at first). Instead, the flute should rest against the chin or a bit higher (depending on your flute and face size). Otherwise it is very easy to notice that the flute moves when operating the b or b-flat key. Even when moving another finger of the left hand, the thumb will always counteract if it supports the flute. And anyway, you need to hold the flute while playing c or c-sharp without the thumb.

Also the start of the note is important. Your teacher probably told you to pronounce the letter "t" or "d" to trigger a note. This letter can vary form a very soft "d" to a real sharp "t". This depends on pitch and volume of the note.

Well, this is in short, what I learned so far. My sound control is not perfect nor is it completely free of wind sound, but when I started practising with the above knowledge, it was extremely rewarding. Perhaps this will help you too.


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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 5:30 pm 
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Thank you for your suggestion. The bit about the air going upward for the higher notes is very helpful. I know I have too large an opening in general and am working on my muscle control to get it smaller. But I am seeing progress all the time.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 10:39 am 
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2011 12:13 am
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I just downloaded Pahud talking about the embouchure among many other things from a site called www.playwithapro.com
It´s quite extaordinary- a lot of tips and tricks- and in what they call Flute Fundamentals- one of the chapters is about the embouchure- just for your information- it actually made some points for me. I´m a glad amateur- and even though these videos seem to be for professionals- you can find some inspiration at least :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 6:22 am 
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flutiegirl gives great advice. it`s all about patience.----not about age. 3 weeks is no time at all to expect results. you have to develop your lip muscles in order to develop tone, move comfortably between registers etc.
then it will be time to start experimenting as to what will work best for you re: type of embouchure, direction of air flow amount of breath required etc.
check jennifer cluffs great website. she believes in experimenting rather than hard and fast rules.
patience and long notes.
good luck
sonny


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:50 am 
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2011 12:13 am
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There is a free download of pahud talking about breathing and blowing on www.playwithapro.com
Has anybody tried downloading it?? Is it worth it? At least it´s free :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:38 pm 
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Hi all,

I just read through this topic, because I'm experiencing a much related problem. I need to learn playing through self study (can't afford a teacher), so maybe some of you can help me out.

Last week I obtained a chromatic tuner. I am happy about that, as I know I produced some oddities in the range C-E from the first to the second octave. Reading off the pitch I produce, I am quite shocked to see that hitherto I played the second octave as much as 50 cent (a quarter note!) higher that the first.

From what I read here and elsewhere, I infer there is a tendency to play the second and third octaves higher than the first. Can other players confirm that the difference is indeed so big?

And is it correct that the player needs to make up for this difference by blowing more over the flute on the first octave and more into the flute on the second, as pointed out by Mindermast? -- The difference I need to overcome is HUGHE! (I've been working on this for a few days now, and I just want to make sure I'm on the right way...)

Also, is it correct that the position of the lower lip on the mouthpiece is fixed, and that the airstream is changed by the size/width of the opening between the player's lips, and the position of the upper lip?

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:07 pm
Posts: 50
Queenren -

have you looked up the James Galway masterclass embouchure youtube clips?

These are the clearest demonstration which I can find, of the practice of 'pushing your lower lip out to reach the higher octaves'.

Sally Adams in her basic flute book describes this as 'trying to blow a bluebottle off your nose'.

Both techniques, literally force the air upstream, rather than cross-stream, against your blow hole. There is a very subtle embouchure shift throughout the octave shifts, and it is easier to follow this principle, of blowing 'upstream' by whichever method works for you, until you acquire more embouchure control and can refine it. You shouldn't be splitting octave notes by this method of blowing upstream: if you are - you are not blowing 'up' enough. If you are getting overtones from the octave above, then you are blowing upstream too much! Then, it's about practicing to get the higher octave consistently.

If you read the classic Quantz 'On playing the flute', he demonstrates in his first chapter, how tight the embouchure control must be, with octave progression. Now this tight control does not equate to 'tight embouchure' - if you find that you are tightening up your embouchure, then you need to stop, because this is going to set you down the wrong path for learning.

I have a generally relaxed embouchure (I play alto flute more than C concert flute - it is a larger embouchure). At times, I still get 'fuzziness' on the C Boehm flute which is due to poor embouchure control on my part. It gets better as your embouchure muscles develop and you learn to recognise the correct embouchure position. As it is - trying to find the 'sweet spot', and using something like the Trevor Wye books on Intonation and Tone Control, are useful exercises to start off with.

Hope that helps.

Ambidexter wrote:
Hi all,

I just read through this topic, because I'm experiencing a much related problem. I need to learn playing through self study (can't afford a teacher), so maybe some of you can help me out.

Last week I obtained a chromatic tuner. I am happy about that, as I know I produced some oddities in the range C-E from the first to the second octave. Reading off the pitch I produce, I am quite shocked to see that hitherto I played the second octave as much as 50 cent (a quarter note!) higher that the first.


Could be lots of things Ambi -

if your flute is poorly made, it won't be true across octave jumps.

Generally, we use the tuning tenon and slide the head joint out, so that you get the best balance between the octaves. Try playing low D, and the middle octave D - and move your head joint out until you get a good balance between the two. Some people move their headjoint cork too, but that's really fussy and difficult!

It's always harder if you're learning on your own: so you need to be confident in your instrument, that it isn't a cheapo terrible out of octave flute. If you are confident in your instrument, then you know it is down to learning better embouchure control. You may have to move your lips over the lip plate towards as much as half-covering it, in order to sharpen the octave. If you're finding it's too sharp, then back off a few millimetres, and rotate the headjoint out by this much when going for the second octave, and refine the rest of the embouchure control.

If you're not confident your instrument is perfectly in tune, then you could be heading for a needle in a haystack approach, and no one's advice will be of help. This is the fudge method of self-learning, and if it doesn't make you give up , it will later. It is wayyyy more enjoyable learning flute playing by yourself, knowing that your instrument is perfectly set up!

Quote:
From what I read here and elsewhere, I infer there is a tendency to play the second and third octaves higher than the first. Can other players confirm that the difference is indeed so big?

Ummm...I haven't noticed. Then again, I'm not a public performer. I just play because I enjoy playing, but I'd be able to hear a 50% difference and I would be really upset! That would sound badly out of tune for me! Sounds like your headjoint needs pulling a good centimetre or so, and then fine-tuned, to stop it sounding so 'out'.

Quote:
And is it correct that the player needs to make up for this difference by blowing more over the flute on the first octave and more into the flute on the second, as pointed out by Mindermast? -- The difference I need to overcome is HUGHE! (I've been working on this for a few days now, and I just want to make sure I'm on the right way...)


The Quantz book I mentioned above references this phenomenon. When you say 'blowing more over the flute on the first octave', Quantz is more precise in specifying that you need to blow INTO the embouchure hole much more, by controlling the embouchure, to target the narrowing sweetspot. Some flutists do this by rolling the lower lip over the embouchure, ever so slightly more, than on the fundamental octave. The Quantz book is the clearest chapter I've read which explains the mechanics of the second/third octave production for me. It costs money, but it's well worth it, and the style it's written in, produces a few giggles.


Quote:
Also, is it correct that the position of the lower lip on the mouthpiece is fixed, and that the airstream is changed by the size/width of the opening between the player's lips, and the position of the upper lip?

Thanks!


I'm not sure what others would say, but I would be inclined to disregard this kind of practice. Embouchure control has to be systematic: that is - you use all of the lips; the position of upper and lower; the size of theaperture formed, and the shape of the aperture, as well as the position of the tongue behind the teeth. The embouchure should be flexible, and agile, so that it doesn't require fixed 'locking' of the lower lip on to the embouchure plate, to remember where the embouchure is. If this is the case, then it is indeed a case of needing more consistent practice, and maybe some tuition.

For instance - James Galway teaches that it is easier, to jut out your lower jaw, and bring your lower lip forward to protrude more than the upper lip, in order to make the octave shift.

It's not easy explaining embouchure control on the internet, and there are way better authoritative sources. There is a huge variety of embouchure techniques: so you could get really really confused, asking lots of people on the internet. So again - I'd say - do a youtube search for the James Galway masterclass embouchure clips!

Boehm flute embouchure control, is completely different to romantic (irish) flute embouchure, which again, is completely different to chinese dizi flute embouchure, or indian bansuri embouchure etc. There is a hole, and you can just blow and succeed in making sounds, and maybe 3 octaves - but that's not technique. It's fun learning on your own, as long as you are confident in your instrument, and you know it's only you who needs to improve - not the instrument :)

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:36 am 
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Hi James_Alto,

Thanks for your elaborate answers :) With all your information, I see I have much to work on. I will look up James' masterclass too, thank you for the suggestion.


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