Smiling While Playing Flute

I have seen a boat load of lip shapes in my days. And, I haven’t found any yet I can’t teach to play that flute.
Some students start to do funny things with their lips once they begin playing the flute. They will stretch them to one side or the other – or sometimes both hoping to get a better sound. This makes the student have dimples all over and appear as if they are “smiling” while they play. This is actually a completely NOT desired playing position. About that smile…

Some students start to do funny things with their lips.

By stretching the face in a smiling position, the embouchure (whole lip area) is pulling at the apature. Those are big words, so I’ll just explain it in easy English.

1. If you smile while you are playing, the center of your lips will actually be “pulled” off the area it needs to stay on.
2. Also, if your lips are pulled to the sides they don’t have nearly as much control in the middle right where you need it.
3. Your pitch will be sharper than it would be if you were relaxed.
4. If you played with a “smile” for too many days, weeks, months, years, etc. you would indeed end up with a nasty thing called Temporal Mandibular Jaw Disfunction. (TMJ for short) It’s not something you want. It hurts much like a tennis elbow does.

Watch carefully for my best hints and tips on finding your best tone with your best face.

Good Luck!

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

1 thought on “Careful About That Smile”

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    I am currently on a gap year but will be studying a BMUS undergraduate flute course with scholarship in London. Recently my teacher has picked out that I have the “smiley embouchure” and wants me to try to relax. I can do this but because my lips are quite big, I find that the sound ends up not being as good and the air pressure is then harder to maintain. I am finding this quite frustrating and have done lots of research, including watching your YouTube video- I was just wondering if there any tips or advice that you could give me to help shape a better embouchure?

    Thank you!

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