Ive wondered this for the longest time

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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Ive wondered this for the longest time

Post by Claiken »

Does anyone know, does hunger (or should hunger) effect your tone/playing in any way? I find my tone is worse if I play while hungry - is this a common problem?

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Post by MonikaFL »

Hmmm I'm not sure. I know that being too full makes it difficult for me to play though! :lol:
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Post by ick27 »

I have discussed the issue of eating before playing with other flutists. This can be an issue for evening performances, which are fairly common in orchestras. I find that if I eat a big meal, I can't breathe as deeply and I feel a little tired. On the other hand, many flutists tell me that they can't play on an empty stomach because their blood sugar will be low and they won't have enough energy.

I usually eat a snack or a small meal before an evening concert and then eat a real meal afterwards (which can be 9 or 10pm). Many musicians like to go out to eat after a successful concert, so this is also a social thing I suppose.

I do like to brush my teeth in between eating and playing, which means I sometimes have to bring my toothbrush, tooth paste, and floss with me in my flute bag. I feel like playing right after eating (especially sugary foods/drinks) will make your pads stickier/dirtier, but I don't know if this is scientifically proven or not.

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Post by Baz »

Man, I've been so wrapped up woodshedding sometimes that I forget to eat!

In itself hunger will not adversely affect your playing (unless it goes on for long enough and by then you'll be past caring anyway), but how can you concentrate on getting a nice tone if your stomach's rumbling and you're thinking about a nice juicy burger [or whatever] instead? Just apply a little common sense and have something say, a half hour before practicing.

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Post by flutepicc06 »

Baz hit the nail on the head, IMHO. It's not the fact that you're hungry, but the fact that you're probably not focusing as you could be if you weren't thinking about dinner. Ick27 also had an important point, which is that if you eat just before you play, you need to brush your teeth to help avoid developing sticky pads. I find liquids that are sugary (ie sodas and the like) are the most likely to gum up the pads, but any food item can do it, and a repad is extremely expensive if done properly, so it's best to avoid damaging the pads if at all possible.

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Post by Christine »

For my senior solo concert, I avoided eating before my performance. I was the second performer of the evening and I felt that my tone and breathing was better after having held off of food for a while...but I must say that I was very ready for the cookies that followed the concert. hee hee. I find that eating dairy foods before playing (or singing) is the worst possible thing to do because it coats your throat with gunk. EW!

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Re: Ive wondered this for the longest time

Post by woodbourne »

I have the exact same problem!

I had been teaching myself how to play the flute using books and on line videos so I do not have a teacher to guide me. I am a fairly advanced piano player so reading the manuscript and fingering are not difficult for me at all.

My main problem, and source of frustration is that my tone can be absolutely wonderful at times, and at other times, dreadful. I came across a post from someone saying that her tone was very inconsistent, exactly the same as me. I thought it was one of those things that every beginner gets, and if I practice enough, it will become consistent.

It took me a long time to realise that immediately or soon after a meal, it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, my tone is wonderful. A few hours later, even though I do not feel hungry or hypoglycaemic, my tone is dreadful. Therefore, lack of energy and hypoglycaemia is unlikely to be the reason for my inconsistency.

I have come up with these 2 theories: When my stomach is full, it may have 2 effects which improves my tone:

1. The full stomach creates pressure within my abdomen and helps my diaphragm to expel air. I watched a you tube video saying that I should try and expel air at the bottom of my lungs first, as the air is warmer. I don't know whether this is possible, but ever since I used the warm air technique (by pretending to say "Hoo" , similar to what you do when you breath over your glasses with your mouth to get moisture on them to clean them), my tone has improved dramatically, and I can get the whole flute to vibrate all the time to produce a rich tone.

2. Eating diverts blood to the gut, and it warms my abdomen which transfer the warmth upwards across my diaphragm to warm up the air in my lungs and increase this warm air effect.

These are just my theories, I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on these.

Is the "warm air" technique well know amongst flutist? It did wonders to my tone.

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Re: Ive wondered this for the longest time

Post by pied_piper »

The explanation in the YouTube video you watched, well, it's just "hooey". :D

You physically cannot expel the air from the bottom of the lungs first. That is just a poor explanation. In reality, what that person was trying to convey is that the player needs to support the air flow. When you take in a full breath, the diaphragm muscle moves downward which expands the lungs and causes air to fill them. When you breathe out, the diaphragm muscle pushes upward and forces the air out of the lungs. For proper flute playing, there should be a sense of using the diaphragm muscle to squeeze the air out using continual pressure for a steady air stream.

It has NOTHING to do with the air temperature. What the "hoo" technique does is to help you form the proper embouchure.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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