Yeah or Neah

Yeah or Neah

I’m trying to get to the stage where I’m not out of breath when playing a tune on the trad flute, Im playing the flute for the past 12mths, and I’m doing all the necessary practices to bring it on, long notes, etc.Should I call it a day, or should I drive it on. I play woodwind instruments, but this is far more challenging for me.

Re: Yeah or Neah

Drive it on, find a session where you will be accepted and mentored. We, in the NW Midlands, UK, encourage new players and will try to guide you to sympathetic venues.

Re: Yeah or Neah

First of all, have the flute checked by a good flute player/flautist. If its a poor instrument it maybe you are having to use too much air to produce a sound.
Next step is to work on your embrochure, thats the difficult part and can take a good while to master, otherwise you’ll be blowing your brains out trying to play. Twelve months is not a long time, it depends on how much of that twelve months was practice time. When I first started playing flute,it took a lot more than twelve months before I could play continuously without hyperventilating.
Some good info on youtube to get you started, might I suggest(although not folk or Irish)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVWRzO2_r_Q

Certainly DON’T give up.

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Re: Yeah or Neah

There is no insurmountable reason for you to run out of air. A few things come to mind that your stated practice could miss addressing:

1. First and foremost, playing a flute with a conical bore takes a bit of getting used to. After ten years of playing a Boehm flute with a cylindrical bore, I found I got winded playing a conical-bore flute. It is possible you haven’t gotten over the hump.

2. If you are not already a flute player, you are likely wasting a lot of air due to a poor embouchure. You should strive to keep the opening between your lips so small that it actually takes the blowing of air to form an opening. Focus the air more downward, rather than across the flute.

3. Learn to phrase so that you don’t play so much on a single breath. You should not have to gulp for air and breathing should not be audible. Beyond phrasing, you can use ornaments to give you a chance to take in some air. You might even skip some notes as a part of your phrasing to make up for the fact that there are no rests in Irish music. This is all contained in the technique you must master to play these tunes that are not a part of what you are used to playing woodwinds in other styles.

Listen to what other flute players do and get help from someone with experience, if such there be in your area.

Do not call it a day. Call it the beginning of doing what every flute player on this site has had to do. It will come and even become second nature, I promise.

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Re: Yeah or Neah

Time and practice…I’ve been playing a couple years and still get winded on occasion.

I really recommend phrasing work! Its been my mantra for awhile. You sound better and get less winded.

But have patience.

P.S. make me listen to my own advice, please.

Re: Yeah or Neah

Find more spots to breathe.

Re: Yeah or Neah

Or do what I did.. I gave up and started playing the Uilleann pipes

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Re: Yeah or Neah

This was my first time ever posting anything on a site, I never realised people actually took the time to read, and to respond so positivity to my request,for that I’m most grateful
Tommy

Re: Yeah or Neah

Ailin is bang on the money.

I have also been playing 12 months and have similar issues. One tip I read was that beginners like you and I tend to expel air at a high rate just after a breath with a gradual decrease of airflow thereafter, and that inconsistency leads me to have poor tone also, particularly when my breath is almost expelled. I try to focus on not "bolting out of the trap like a greyhound", and it improves things for me.

My breath support is far better in the evening than in the morning. I think it’s because my lungs and diagram have warmed up properly through talking. Stand when you play.

One thing not mentioned above. Flute. Some flutes are a lot harder to fill than others. My Doyle is easy to fill. My Reviol is a lot harder and took a long while to get used to.

Play every day. Even if only for 15 mins. It helps with air support. Stop playing when you are tired, fingerwise or breath wise. Carrying on is counter productive.

Ref giving up? I can’t give up. If you love the sound of the instrument, you just can’t give up. It would be an awful shame. Because in another 3 years everything that causes you grief now won’t then. It’ll just be a different set of things causing you grief!

Re: Yeah or Neah

If you "run out of breath" I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you are having trouble finding the best places to breath. Irish Trad tunes on the flute almost always lend themselves to good places to breath. Listen, really listen, to the good players and you’ll see what I mean. Also I recommend Conal O’Grada’s tutorial as the most succinct explanation of breathing in general and finding the best opportunities for breathing that add to the lift. Breathing, after should "add to" rather than "detract from" a melody. By all means stick with it. The "stick with some holes in it" is a most worthwhile endeavor.