Everybody is different in how they memorize or perform, but taking care of distractions while performing on the flute can help a lot when trying to play things memorized. It’s especially fun when you can just take your flute and go play. Sometimes, though, we have some pretty crazy distractions that keep us from having fun.
Most common distractions to flutists:
1. Sweaty Hands. Don’t freak out but you may drop your flute with this one. A couple things that help me to not have sweaty hands, is to wash them as late as you can before you perform. Yep. Washing your hands will get rid of the excess oils and dirt on them that holds onto the moisture. Another way is to, once my hands are washed, hold onto my flute in its cleaning cloth. This will protect your flute as well from any excess oils that could potentially transfer from your hands. Having a towel nearby could help as well.
We’ve all been there!
2. Dry/Wet Mouth Syndrome. We’ve all been there! I have had both a dry and excessively wet mouth. When you have a wet mouth you constantly spit out spit and it can make your song sound unpolished. The only advice I have for you is to swallow where you can. Don’t deliberately try to spit it out because this will cause spit wads in your flute which could cause more problems (keys sticking, fingers getting wet, mouth sliding, etc.) with your performance and make you feel more nervous.
Having a super dry mouth isn’t what we want either. Brush your teeth before you perform. This will allow for a clean surface and stimulated saliva glands (from the toothpaste flavor). You may want to try sipping water just before you perform to give you a little extra “pow!” to your playing.
3. That Kid On The Front Row Picking His Nose: Okay. So Maybe it’s not that EXACT distraction. It could be a baby crying, or a your mother taking a picture of you with the flash even though there is supposed to be “No Flash Photography”. It could be the door opening and closing, the pianist playing a wrong note, a cell phone going off, etc. You need to go into a bubble and block everything out and just play. Zone into the accompaniment and play the best you can!
There is a game we play in my studio for “group lessons” that is like going into a bubble. One person at a time goes to the front of the room and begins to play. Everyone else tries to distract them by clapping, screaming, getting super close to them, saying weird letter notes to distract them from the ones they are playing – you get the idea. If they can make it through the entire song, they get a treat and I know that they are ready to perform. It’s kinda fun 🙂 Try it with your siblings, children, etc.
There are many other distractions while performing on the flute and each one can be personal to the performer. Get to know yourself, your flute, your weaknesses, and try to tackle them. When you can make it through a whole flute piece without getting distracted, that means success and you are one step closer to being an “All Star” flute player that can play anything and perform anywhere.