Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:
- Information on this podcast is supplemental to LearnFluteOnline.com
- The importance of having good posture when playing an instrument.
- Similarities between athletics and music playing.
- A new big word for you to apply to your practice sessions.
- Multiple ways to fix your flute posture.
Learn Flute Podcast 121
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Hey all you fluties out there! Today we’re going to enjoy the reasoning behind and some quick posture adjustments that will improve your sound. Are you ready to upgrade your flute playing skills again? Awesome- Let’s roll!
Wow- it’s such a cozy day here at Learn Flute Online, and I’m super happy you’re here. Perhaps you can hear it right now through the microphone, but It’s raining and I’m all tucked in with some good subjects and learning for you. I’m Rebecca Fuller, your host and expert on all things flute! And it’s great to have you here – welcome!
We are a wonderful world-wide bunch of flutists who are actively learning, revising, and improving our musician skills. But, we are also becoming better people, spreading and promoting happiness and well-being. Does that sound like something you’d like to have in your life?
If you haven’t yet, come join us in the members area at Learn Flute Online. There’s so much goodness happening. We just finished up a wonderful large Ensemble project here.. I hope you were able to participate because it was a doozy, and super fun! We’re using our skills to make music and harmonize with eachother all the time.
You might be wondering how we can effectively learn important flute skills just online? Well, I guess you’ll have to come in and see, but know that this program, Learn Flute Online, is highly effective, and every day we see more and more successes within our community.
In fact, some of my favorites lately have been videos of those who are completely thrilled to be achieving their dreams that were thought to be lost or even impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you that ‘you’ve got this’ and I’m here to help you every step of the way.
One of the biggest reasons someone might say that they’re not sure if an online program like this will help them with their flute skills is that they think they need someone to watch over them as they play and help correct them. Well, of course that does help, if it’s done nicely and in a proper sequence. But, I’d like to suggest to you that- okay you’re listening, right?
If you are responsible enough to click, play, and listen, process this episode (and the other things I teach and show in our program), then you are definitely mature enough to listen to what needs to be done and watch for it in your own playing.
Also, you’ll find that the more knowledge you receive from me at Learn Flute Online, the more important details will pop into your head at the proper moment. And it’s so much fun! You can regulate all sorts of things, and basically skip the line. You’ll be so smart, and I love it! I enjoy empowering people to learn and find motivation and wonder in their lives especially through music.
Something you may have skipped over…
So today, I want to continue this thought and talk about some little details you may have skipped over this past little while. It’s good to take some time to focus, and have some focused moments, to check what we’re doing and find little ways to either improve ourselves with small adjustments or to regain I’d say a relaxed state that we have had maybe a few years back or a while back.
Let me explain:
Here’s a picture that I want you to visualize right now: imagine I have a painting in front of me, of say a small group of musicians in performance, the piano player is hard at work bent over the keys, the flutist is staring intently at the floor with their spine curved to the right and down, the string players have squeezed and contorted hands and really kind of pained, stressed looks on their faces. Now, take away their instruments.. And what do you see?
How can these people stay in these positions for hours on end each day? Well this isn’t an unlikely scenario, this picture is actually kind of common. And it surprises me that these musicians can stay in these contorted positions for hours on end each day.. But it is not without consequence. Some will feel and see the effects earlier in life than others, and there are immediate physical effects also.
Using strenuous posture does not serve the best interest of athletes or musicians, and you are both when you play the flute.
So yep. We’re going to talk about good posture today, and how using it will allow your limbs and muscles used for breathing to be free, flexible, and not interfering with what’s going on in music making.
Some musicians get in habits of straining their bodies for various reasons. Usually, it’s just habits that have slowly crept in over time, but some people have watched other musicians who also play with less-than-ideal posture, and somehow they have decided it must just be cool.. So they do it on purpose.
I’m here to shed some light on this subject, we’re also going to have fun with it, and also make sure you leave this episode with some quick posture adjustments that will improve your sound and feel. Now, ALL players want to sound better. It’s just a thing we flutists want. We strive for, for our whole lives. We’re all about it. So let’s get more specific right now.
Head Over Heart
Some instruments require more body movement than others, especially in the torso or shoulders. Think about this though, when we are younger and we’re in our fit little bodies, we walk and stand upright, with the spine naturally aligned. Our head is balanced easily on top of our neck and we don’t even think of changing this.
Well, when musicians gradually slump forward, the neck muscles start to have to work harder to hold up the head.. Because it’s kind of heavy! In fact, the average adult head weighs around eleven pounds- that’s about 5 kilograms for those of you who think in metric!
Imagine taking an eleven pound sack of flour and placing it on your head all day… Just hold it up there, and walk around. Now, shift its position to be at the front by your forehead too much, what happens to your neck? Oh yah.. we’re starting to get strained here.
Now really, next time you pick up something that weighs eleven pounds, like an eleven pound sack of flour or sugar, feel it and think about this. We have around 20 different muscles and 7 vertebrae that are involved in this action of just holding our head up. But if you lean even just fifteen percent farther forward, the head now feels like it weighs twenty seven pounds. And it just continues to get heavier and heavier the farther you are leaned forward.
Recently I started a nice yoga, kind of light stretching routine each morning before I get going for the day. I’ve been following an instructor who is personable and has super easy instructions to follow. One thing I like is when she says in her calm voice, “head over heart”. It reminds me to straighten up, and immediately and I can feel the difference in my spine especially. It’s more comfortable and open feeling.
I’d like to adopt this saying for flute playing – “head over heart” everyone. Feel it, do it now. Is your head directly over your heart? Say this to yourself the next time you go to practice as you bring your flute to the play position. It’ll help you remember to lengthen your neck and keep your spine straight so your head is held directly over your heart. It’s a perfect visual, isn’t it? I like it.
Hunching slightly and moving forward to meet our flute with our chin instead of the other way around – you know, waiting with good body position until our flute is brought all the way there- it’s a way to learn to play with something called a ‘collapsed chest’. Have you ever heard of this?
Visualize it now- you’re standing there all nice and tall, straight, with your flute in your hands hung down at your midsection. Then, it’s time to play and you start to bring your flute up towards your upper body, but you get impatient and instead of waiting there for it to arrive all the way at your chin and lips, you get excited and lean forward, which stops the flutes momentum from coming up and stops the flute on your face. Your head is no longer above your heart, your spine will be curved, and you have the collapsed chest syndrome.
This causes the flute to move down a bit away from the support of the chin which then causes a chain reaction. This makes the left index finger, right thumb, and the pinky work really hard to hold the flute up in a balanced position. This in turn, domino effect, causes tension in the hands and makes playing much more difficult and slow. This also causes issues with embouchure and creates less ease and skill in breathing because of the collapsed chest… and over time, everything just kind of starts to hurt a little bit.
Whoa – all that just because we get impatient when we’re bringing the flute up to play? Yep.
Okay so head over heart is a good easy phrase to remember, but do we need to stand really rigid and straight like a soldier standing guard while we play flute?
No. We don’t.
Being ‘Ergonomically Correct’ while playing
In fact, there are important skills to learn about flute playing that allow us to feel loose and free so that we can move with the music slightly, yet keep every balance point in check. Our weight naturally shifts as we play the flute. Remember this the next time you’re feeling tense and stuck… Hey, when is the last time you thought about being relaxed enough to move anything but your fingers while you played?
Oh, there’s so much good stuff to learn here! In fact, we go through posture, and the reasons for it in the lessons in tiny little details as we move along in the members area at Learn Flute Online. I want you to have the best fighting chance at a long, happy and healthy musical life, so my goal as your instructor is to make sure that you have all the tools to be, what we’ll call ergonomically stable, as you play the flute.
Now, that’s a big word, ergonomically.. In this context this means that we’re striving to position, hold, and play the flute in a way that makes us the most efficient. And really, this is the same way that athletes win in the olympics.
Have you ever heard that swimmers, for example, learn eighty percent of what they need to know to swim fast and well in their first short few years of swimming with a coach- and then they spend literally the rest of their lives attempting to refine and tune the last twenty percent to ergonomic perfection. The closer they get, the sleeker and faster they are in the swim lanes. Add mindset work to it and you have a winning combination athlete.
We’re not really any different here in our flute world. Really. If you ask me, I’ll take good advice that gives me another inch any day. I figure if I’m going to go to all this work and time, I may as well have it go as perfect as possible, right? I think you’re getting the picture.
Now, since I’m not really standing right there next to you as you practice your flute, I’m going to issue you a challenge this month. And it’s to remember at least one thing from this episode. What will it be?
If you had been taking notes, what would you have on your list so far today? Well, it’s been a short episode, but the title of this episode is all about quick posture adjustments that will improve your sound – so what are they?
What comes to mind when I say the following:
“Head over Heart”
“Naturally Shifting Weight”
“Ergonomics for Efficiency and Ease”
Well hey, that was quick and fun. I can’t wait to dive deeper into this subject with you. Remember, we have a full-blown incredibly organized program at Learn Flute Online set for people just like you who want to come and learn, or regain their skills on the instrument flute so that they can play with confidence and enjoy music in their life as a healing tool as well as a happy tool.
Music has done so much for me, and I know it’s done a lot for you as well. In fact, if you have a success story in your life where you have had music especially aid you in a time of need, we would love to hear it. Our minds and our bodies are craving wellness and connection.. Music gives us a full package and promotes well-being for the rest of our lives. You want that? .. Well I want that! So join me.
Come on over to Learn Flute Online and let’s get you started right now, and if you’re listening today and you’re already a member, then you know exactly what I’m talking about, and it’s time to hop on in and join the challenge in progress and the lessons that are all set for you in perfect learning order -right away. In fact your flute is waiting for you!
Now, as usual, I’ll be playing you out today as we leave this subject of quick posture adjustments that will improve your sound… happy to have you here. Toodaloo!
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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about a few quick posture adjustments that will improve your sound. Join us for the next episode!