The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111229   Message #2342630
Posted By: JohnInKansas
16-May-08 - 11:46 PM
Thread Name: Help For Beginner at Playing Flute
Subject: RE: Help For Beginner at Playing Flute
Things a beginning flautist should know:

1. Don't eat salty peanuts immediately before or during practice.

2. Don't eat crackers or dry cookies immediately before or during practice.

3. Don't eat peanut butter san'wiches immediately before or during practice.

5. Don't eat sour pickles1 immediately before or during practice.

1 This one may give you a "pucker" that looks like it should work, but believe me - it ain't the best way to get there.

The secret to getting "the note" is very much a matter of control of the air stream. A common "error" is trying to blow harder, rather than straighter. (Beginning fipple players often make the same mistake.)

An "attack" on the note may help at first, using the tongue to stop the air and then withdrawing the tongue so that the airstream has a "sharp beginning." The slight turbulence of the initial airstream may start the first note a little more reliably. Once the correct "mouth" is learned, the sharp attack will be less needed.

Inability to "sustain" a note, for beginners, commonly comes from not having the air aimed "just right" so that more air is required than should be necessary once the "sweet spot" is found. Experimenting is probably the best method of finding the right pucker, since "invisible variations" - including the shape inside the mouth - can have an effect, and an instructor can't really see where the air is going. It's a lot like learning to "whistle like a barefoot boy." Practice - while it's fun - is the best teacher.

Once a reasonable note production and sustain is learned, an instructor likely can be very helpful with posture, breathing, and other details that will ease the learning process.

Be aware that young ladies who play the transverse flute, especially those who begin at a very young age, have a tendency to develop what is known technically as a "flautists' pout" but is called by the boys in the band just "sexy lips." While a more mature student may be less susceptible to this effect, some study of methods of gentle and kind rejection when "hit on" by the boys in the band might be a recommended side study. (At least it was like that in my high school band.)