What are considered to be bad habits for flute players?
I think it’s safe to say that most instruments have a little list of ‘bad habits’, but what are they for flutists, and how can we avoid accidentally learning them?
First of all, it’s important to recognize what the habit in question is exactly and then it’s even more imperative to understand what the ‘correct’ way is so that we can adjust it.
These little habits can be avoided right from the get-go.
Here is a short list of problematic skills many flutists learn – whether intentional or not, they do pose issues that hinder nice playing abilities.
- Turning the flute ‘inward’ too much in an attempt to get clearer tone.
- Playing with a sagging flute – pointing down towards the floor
- Machine Gun Vibrato – enough said
- Leaving the first finger down on the second octave D and D#
Just knowing how incredibly difficult it is to move up to the next level when these bad habits are present should be enough to peek your interest in fixing them for yourself, right?
Take a super close look as to if you are wiggling the flute back and forth as you play in an attempt to fix your tone. Turning or pulling your flute towards your face is a huge problem because while you may feel your tone is improving on certain notes, you’ll actually be causing more problems than you even know on all of the other notes. It’s best to leave your head joint nice and level. Always.
Sagging your flute or angling it towards the floor in an attempt to have a more comfortable right hand is another way to invite a host of issues into your flute-life. Neck and back problems are just the first, and I’m positive I cannot go into detail here in this short article about the effects on your embouchure when the flute is pointing down.
I’m sure you’ve all heard someone playing an instrument and they just sound so nervous, like perhaps they have swallowed a nanny-goat. The tone comes out in a shrill, thin ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a. This is not vibrato (as the performer possibly thinks), but this is an issue of not being taught true skill. Real vibrato (instead of the machine gun) sounds open, smooth, intentional.
Lastly here is the infamous (more than famous) first finger. Sigh. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have corrected a student on this exact skill. Try it yourself. Finger a second octave D both with and then without the first finger on. When blown properly it will sound on tune(ish) and open. When the first finger is left down it sounds flat and stifled.
Taking lessons from a properly trained teacher is a super step to learning how to play the flute really well. These little habits can be avoided right from the get-go, and playing will be so much more fun. See you in a lesson module/course here at LearnFluteOnline.com soon!