Picked up a flute.

Picked up a flute.

Picked up one of those Tony Dixon three piece flutes for traveling/learning to play on. So far I can get a semi decent sound out of it, but it’s very iffy depending on the angle. So far I’m enjoying making sound on it and running through scales. It’s not as piercing as a tinwhistle either which is good for my ears.
Anybody willing to offer helpful advice or experience on getting my lips in to right shape/any types of things i should practice and work on?

Re: Picked up a flute.

Try to learn some tunes with Shannon Heaton tutorials!
https://www.youtube.com/user/ShannonHeatonMusic
I think her playing, especially while playing the tunes really slow for teaching (and her comments in between), can give you a good feeling for a nice fat flute sound. For the start, I think it is good, not to play too fast, even when you can move your finger fast enough.
You will get so much more out of it, if you concentrate on the fat tone as a fundament, before playing in session tempo and with ornamentations.

Re: Picked up a flute.

The main advice I’d offer is not to get too discouraged if it takes a while to build up your embouchure. It took me something like two years before I was starting to get reasonably happy with my tone in both octaves. Some people will get there faster, but I think this is something a flute player is always working to improve and maintain.

The advice above about practicing long tones is good. The Online Academy of Irish Music has some introductory lessons that are free and don’t require signing up, you might want to check those out: https://www.oaim.ie/

Re: Picked up a flute.

I’d also recommend the Steph Geremia tutorial for beginners on https://www.oaim.ie/ - there’s a couple of free ones also available on youtube & the Shannon Heaton tutorials.

Re: Picked up a flute.

Watch this 3:32 minute video on youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXJzZ-SOErc


Whilst the end product might not be what you’re after as an ITM flutist, the process described is bang on the money and applicable for any traverse flute.

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Re: Picked up a flute.

I agree with the two years. Achieving tone quality and consistency just takes time.

The best suggestion I can make is to have an in-person private lesson once a month or so just to work on embouchure and tone quality. A boehm flute teacher would be fine for this.

The other best suggestion is the one about long tones. Every time I pay extra attention to long tones, let’s say a week of daily long-tones, I notice a big jump in my tone quality.

Re: Picked up a flute.

Let your ears be your guide. Listen to the tutorials above and listen to a few good players, if you can in person. After that, you’ll just have to experiment with how you hold it and shape the notes to get that solid tone. The flute is quite a physical instrument to play, requires more of the body that some other instruments.

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Re: Picked up a flute.

My fingers and lips have already noticed that…. never thought hand would cramp that badly from an instrument.
Will post some dropbox recordings when I can sort some out.

Re: Picked up a flute.

A lesson or two would also help guide you on how to hold the thing so that the asymetric body posture doesn’t make things harder.

Things like how much you turn your head, how close to horizontal the flute is, how high your elbows are can influence how your hands feel and how you breath.

Re: Picked up a flute.

Once more into the breach.

Get an instructor. Skype if you must, but get one. Breathing and embouchure (including body position, that’s part of it too) are far too important to leave to your meanderings. You can’t just pick up a flute and fool around until you "get it". You will, with emphasis on will, teach yourself things that will haunt you for years. After that I highly recommend Shannon Heaton’s tutorial, right beside Conal O’Grada’s. That said they are no substitute for a one on one teacher. BlindBard I speak from experience and it’s experience I wish I never had.

Also, I’m assuming your flute is the 3 piece, conical bore, Dixon, a serviceable instrument, and not the cheap plastic, tubular toy.

Re: Picked up a flute.

You assumed correctly, Ross. I may have a few skype lessons set up in near future.
Any opinion on cork vs windings for flute? I’ve ahd a lot of corks split on me in this heat.

Re: Picked up a flute.

BB, good for you. I’m not knocking youtube type lessons offhand. I just think that with a good teacher you’ll be able to get more from them. For my wooden flutes I prefer windings. For the delrin variety I’ve both and as long as I keep ‘em greased ( I use a vaseline/beeswax mix made in the microwave) cork seems to work just as well. I’m down to 3 flutes now and one of my 2 delrin flutes has cork with no issues yet. We live in similar climates.

And…yes bwat, not bad at all. I do suspect that this guy could do, and probably does, much better, in terms of effort and tone, with even a modest conical bore. Thanks for sharing this.

Re: Picked up a flute.

I’m a piper mostly these days, so I inherently prefer threaded joints. Haha. That being said as long as the cork is taken care of, like not letting the flute sit assembled after playing regularly, the cork should survive. Both of my old Chieftain whistles have destroyed cork because at the time I didn’t think to store them unassembled.

Re: Picked up a flute.

On threaded vs. cork, I’m a fan of threaded tenons and have that on both of my wooden "Irish" flutes. I like being able to make fine adjustments on the tenon fit with waxed thread. Although, that’s more in theory than in practice, because the threaded tenons on the flute I’ve had the longest (a blackwood keyless Windward) are very stable. I haven’t had to make any adjustments aside from applying a little more wax to the threads, when they feel like they’re drying out. I’m in a fairly mild climate up here in the Pacific Northwest, and maybe flutes shift more if you’re not able to maintain reasonable temps and humidity.

Terry McGee has done some studies on "strangled" tenons due to thread tension. This may be more of a concern for antique flutes and the softer tonewoods. More info about this on his web site, along with a ton of other general and historical info linked here: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/

Re: Picked up a flute.

Could anybody describe how to shape your lips for the embouchre? Some videos help but am having trouble making it consistant.

Re: Picked up a flute.

> Could anybody describe how to shape your lips for the embouchre?

Imagine holding a single grain of rice in the centre of your mouth. That’s roughly the shape you want to keep and to blow air through.

> am having trouble making it consistant.

Sounds like what you got there is a flute.

That’s how it feels for the first year or ten. After that, it gets better.

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Re: Picked up a flute.

What Calum said. It is very easy, when trying hard to get sounds out, to tighten your lips into something like a smile. That isn’t what to do. With a grain of rice your lips are off your teeth.

Flutemaker Terry McGeee has a detailed description of how to get an ‘Irish’ tone. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Getting_the_hard_dark_tone.htm

James Galway doesn’t play trad, but unlike in a lot of other classical experts, he blows the flute close to how a trad player does - blowing down into the flute and not smiling. Two videos from him are sometimes recommended by trad players : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcXRzZZv1mE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQg0vScnQ8E

Re: Picked up a flute.

Is this particular flute tunable? There is a piece on the end up by the embouchre hole but idk if is supposed to move.

Re: Picked up a flute.

Tunable flutes have a barrel and sleeve at the end of the headjoint, where it connects to the next body section. Flutes without a tuning sleeve (like yours, I think?) can usually be flattened in pitch by pulling out the tenon very slightly, but don’t go too far and expose too much of the cork.

The piece at the end of the headjoint (left of the embouchure hole for a right-handed player) holds the internal stopper, and is set by the maker at the best position. In some situations it might be adjusted to balance the upper octave, but normally you don’t mess with it. Especially at the beginner level, where you’re still working on developing your embouchure.

Re: Picked up a flute.

Wasn’t going to fiddle around with it, just was curious. Good to know though 🙂

Re: Picked up a flute.

Some of the end caps on the headjoint of a flute do nothing, and are NOT connected to the head cork. They just plug up the end. The internal head cork is meant to be moved in such instances with a dowel. It’s yer fancy ones that usually have a threaded post through them that are an actual "cork position adjusting end cap".

Re: Picked up a flute.

Any tips for the second octave? I can do the second octave D jsut fine with either fingering of it, but notes beyond the second octave D are eluding me. I start out with the note fine but it reverts back to first octave notes.
Thanks

Re: Picked up a flute.

Whilst blowing, alternate between tensing your stomach muscles like you were doing a sit-up and relaxing. Does that do anything for you?

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Re: Picked up a flute.

Also some questions to get you thinking and experimenting so you find out what works for you:

Is your throat open (like you’re yawning)? Strangely enough you want to relax the throat to get more air flowing.

Say "taw", "too", then "tee" and note how your tounge moves forward reducing the space for air and increasing the air flow with each new word. What is your tounge doing when you blow into the flute?

Is the hole created by your lips getting smaller as you go up the scale?

Is the flute rotating with the embouchure hole coming closer to your mouth as you go up the scale?

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Re: Picked up a flute.

I’ve been building up my flute embouchure again recently. Below are the main tips I’ve read about the second octave and what has been helping me to keep in mind. Check out the James Galway videos above, because he more or less demonstrates these tips.
- Think about blowing more across the hole, where the first octave is more down. I’ve read of players either rotating the flute or moving the jaw. For me I tend to move my bottom jaw forward slightly as I close the air stream a little.
- The second octave requires a more focused air stream, so think about making the hole between your lips smaller.

When I first tried the flute a decade ago, I made the mistake of learning in a vacuum. The second octave came to me by blowing harder, and I didn’t read up on the proper way to play the flute. While blowing harder is indeed a way to get the second octave, it should really be more about a focused air stream than more air.