What's happened?

For Anything and Everything to do with Flute Playing and Music

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
lula
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:58 pm

What's happened?

Post by lula »

So I've always been a good and responsible flute player, or so I thought. My band is having a day when high schoolers and middle schoolers combine and we do solos. I picked out a piece from the movie Titanic, Hymn to the Sea. It is a truly beautiful piece and I was proud of myself for knowing how to play it.

Now to the problem at hand: I was practicing today with one of my other flute playing friends who is a genius when it comes to anything musical. I played her my piece. She looked at me and ask why in the world I couldn't count or keep a beat going. I was sorta mad, but realized that she was absolutely right. She played it correctly and it sounded like a totally different song.

I haven't ever really been good at counting and mostly play by ear when it comes to rythms. Now I'm really disappointed in myself and I cannot bear to think that I've been playing flute for five years and I can't even keep a beat! :cry: :cry: :cry: My friend said she would have never guessed that I couldn't count because I play so well. Anyway the song is supposed to be 60 beats per minute; been using a metronome and it's helped some.

So what do you guys think? Am I a total failure at flute and should just give up and quit? Should I hire a private flute teacher?

Thanks in advance for the help.
-Lula
...MUSIC HAS REPLACED HER HEARTBEAT...

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1906
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Post by pied_piper »

You are not a failure, but your friend has pointed out a weakness. Don't be angry about that. Be glad that she has shown you something that can be improved.

Your situation sort of reminds me of situations where some adults never learned to read. They have gone through school but didn't learn to read, yet they were able to carry on with life and many people are surprised to learn that this person cannot read and wonder how they did it. You said your friend was surprised that you had problems with rhythms because she thought you played well. You have adapted for your rhythmic weakness with a good ability to play by rote (by ear) what you hear others play.

You are way ahead because you have a good ear and you can read music notes. You simply need to improve on your ability to read thythms. What you have to do now is associate the rhythms printed on the page with what you hear and play. A private teacher could help you do that. It's never too late to get help and many players study privately. Even very good players will still study with others. As an adult, I have played various instruments for more than 30 years. I have a degree in Music Education and taught music for a number of years, but from time-to-time I still study privately with other professional players who I believe can teach me something new to learn or ways to do things better.

Don't give up. Take this as a challenge and go for it!
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

User avatar
flutepower
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:40 pm
Location: :P

Don't Give Up!!!

Post by flutepower »

Hey lula,

I agree totally with pied_piper - DO NOT QUIT PLAYING!!!
I'm not skilled in flute at all yet, but I know that I would regret
it if I stopped simply because I am not that good in playing at all.
I am currently starting to learn beats myself, and I am still trying to
figure them out. I'm not sure what I am doing :oops:
Just keep practicing for some time every day.
Good Luck,
~Melissa :P

lula
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:58 pm

Post by lula »

Don't get me wrong: I don't want to quit flute. I've invested too much time to waste it all. I'm just discouraged that I don't know things that I should.
...MUSIC HAS REPLACED HER HEARTBEAT...

User avatar
Classitar
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:49 am
Contact:

Post by Classitar »

Hi Lula,

Don't be discouraged :D

Are you using the metronome enough?
Thats a good tool for developing precise rhythms

lula
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:58 pm

Post by lula »

Okay guys. Instead of Hymn to the Sea, I think I may do Colors of the Wind from Pocohontas. It's a really pretty song that I can play well. I think I'll try to get a flute teacher through the summer.

I didn't know that I played by ear, and I feel kind of disapointed in myself because I can't really 'read' music. Thanks for the encouragement; I needed it.

Is it a bad thing that I play mostly by ear? I would like it if I could play things by looking at them instead of having to listen to other people play them and then repeating the same things they do.

-Lula
...MUSIC HAS REPLACED HER HEARTBEAT...

WalterMitty
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:23 am
Location: Canada

Post by WalterMitty »

Unless you want to be a professional, or you want to blend into a JAM session, or your band director wants you to play a new piece of music without any prior practice, I don't think it's absolutely necessary to learn to play very well at the first glance of music sheet you never seen before.

I can read and play slow and/or easy piece that I see for the first time, but not a fast one nor complicated one. To do that, I would need lots of practice of reading and playing, and also to learn different styles of music, more.

I never well developed the skill because I only played in non-professional bands and orchestras that we hardly played something without prior notice/practice. And also because I preferred to play by ear and especially improvisations. (I liked Jazz and some baroque music, for this.)

It's just like reading a book (especially a poem) loud, for the first time, I guess.
If you can get into the mood and emotion, it comes out nearly naturally.
To read the mood and emotion from the score is the part we have to practice. Everything written on the sheet helps us to do that, basically, because the score is written just for that. :)

User avatar
SaxyShanny
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Bradenton, FL
Contact:

Post by SaxyShanny »

Learn to tap your foot too!

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1906
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Post by pied_piper »

Yes, tap your foot - if you want to look amateurish.

Foot tapping is frowned upon among professionals. It's a bad habit to get into and it's difficult to break the habit. It's best not to start it. If you want to at least look professional or look like you know what you are doing, don't tap your foot. If you must tap, do it with your toe only inside your shoe where no one can see the movement.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

User avatar
Classitar
Posts: 347
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:49 am
Contact:

Post by Classitar »

If tapping your foot helps you with your timing give it a try.
I think it can be complementary to see musicians engaged in the rhythms.
You don't need to look like you know what you're doing, you need to sound that way.

User avatar
virginiak
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:23 pm

Post by virginiak »

Rhythm was one of the later things to develop for me, also. I had a strong ear as a youngster, and grew to rely on hearing pieces first and then imitating. That wasn't a bad thing over all, because years later, I consider my good ear a huge strength in learning to blend with chamber and orchestral ensembles. But, like with a language, I found I wanted to be able to read it better too, not just speak and carry on a conversation.

Rhythm can always be improved, just takes practice. One thing you could try is getting an introductory percussion primer book and clap your way through. It's far easier to focus on rhythm when you don't have pitches to worry about! A more expensive but seriously worthwhile investment is an excellent metronome, one that does subdivisions. I have a "Dr. Beat" that I would just be lost without. And my professional-level colleagues ALSO swear by them. Practicing with a metronome isn't something that only amateurs do... pros do it too!

Good luck, and don't be discouraged!
Forewarned is forearmed, and four-armed is half an octopus.

lula
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:58 pm

Post by lula »

Okay, so my school is on spring break and I've been practicing. I'm going to play Colors of the Wind for the soloist night. I've been able to keep a straight beat going. I'm not as discouraged as I was. I might get myself a private teacher this summer to help me to read music better.

:D :D :D Lula
...MUSIC HAS REPLACED HER HEARTBEAT...

Post Reply