Read Flute Music Faster Today!

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Flute Music Faster

Have you ever been playing the flute, reading music, and can’t catch up to the metronome, the piano accompaniment, or to who we may be “dueting” with at the time without mistakes? Then, you think to yourself, “I know I can play better than this!” or “Why can’t I play this faster?” Sometimes, our brains need to think smarter – not just by playing the notes in front of our eyes…

Learning to read ahead a couple notes while playing is key. Sometimes it can be tricky- having your brain see one thing and your fingers playing another. But here’s the thing: our thinking is much faster than our motor skills and therefore, our fingers are naturally slower. The signal has to be processed and sent out to our arms, hands, and then fingers. Whereas our eyes are right next to our brains and can be processed so that it can be sent out to our fingers and mouths.

You’ve already done it and you know what’s going to happen.

Once you’ve got the “looking ahead” part under control, there are things called rests that we need to zone into. Rests are not actual times where you stop playing or focusing on the piece… they are actually quite awesome for preparing for what’s going to come up (i.e. a run or a hard spot). During the rest (however long or short it may be), you can be thinking to yourself what you need to do to make the next “spot” as perfect as it can possibly be. For example. You may have a really long high soft note you need to prepare for. Getting your mouth and lungs ready and full of air so you have the sufficient pressure is ideal during a rest. Practicing the rests in your personal practice time is good because you’re practicing giving your brain the time it needs to tell your body what to do and to do it. When you go to perform, you’ve already done it and you know what’s going to happen!


Please don’t get down on yourself when it still isn’t up to what you believe “par” is. Looking ahead and learning how to read music faster takes time and patience to learn, and you will learn it. I have many students that have “rough days” when it comes to lesson time. One of the first things I always say is “Are you looking ahead?” The next time they play, the passage is usually ten times better! Is it a miracle? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (depending on their practicing). It’s just learning how to think smarter so you can read flute music faster.


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

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

62 thoughts on “Read Flute Music Faster Today!”

  1. HI Rebecca.
    First of all … today is 150 days since I first encountered your smiling face and did some spitting and blowing of paper off my hand! Each day since has brought its triumphs and an occasional frustration but everyday my flute has provided my husband and various neighbours with an interesting mix of scales and exercises and, from pretty early on, a tune or two. I’ve loved participating in extras like Bingo and the Still Still Still ensemble, live lessons and now the Tone Course.
    Because of doing lots of solo singing over the years, I tend to memorise, rather than have music in front of me once I have learnt a piece. After a first full run through I often begin learning the last measure of a new piece and work backwards in blocks adding them together as I go. I find that by doing it this way, when I play the piece in full I relax more when approaching the end because it has had the most practice.
    In note practices for Aura Lee and Minuet in G I definitely need practice reading ahead – something extra to add to the list of ‘tricks of the trade’!
    I have really appreciated the weekly tips you take time to send to us all. So many things to learn!
    I am currently lingering in Modules 16 and 17 which may be the case for some time as I’m going through the Tone Course again each day at the moment. The course discouraged me a little bit at first, as every time I played my flute I could hear dodgy tone and lazy tonguing, but being more aware will, I’m sure, help me in the long run.
    Thanks again for your fabulous lessons Rebecca. I’m loving it!

    1. Hi Narelle,
      I am so glad you found us here and joined our community 150 days ago! What wonderful practice and skills you have developed as you’ve been here. I am so glad that you chose to join the Tone course. It can be discouraging at first to hear the mistakes you make, but take courage! You’re exactly right when you said that being more aware will help you in the long run. As you are are able to point out problems and areas that need work in your playing, you will be able to fix them! Noticing them is the first step. Also the skill to memorize music will not only benefit your playing, but also your brain! I am so proud of all your effort and practicing and I’m sure your husband and neighbors have enjoyed hearing your scales, tunes, and exercises. Keep up the good work! -Rebecca

    1. Rebecca Fuller

      Hi Lisbeth,
      Choose the email you use the most, that will be where I send you all the info regarding flute lessons and current events we are working on as a flute community. Best of luck! -Rebecca

  2. Yup. Reading ahead. I’ve also found that practicing certain “spots” makes for smoother and faster playing.
    Thx for all your instruction,

  3. Hans van der Heiden

    Hi, I’m still on a fife and having problems just getting to play “Brighteyes” after listening to it on utube. What’s the best was to get into it. I play a few songs well. (ie. Annies Song)
    I’m Learning with young kids 30min a week but find I’m ahead and don’t get much tutor time. My age is 71.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Hans, welcome to Learn Flute Online! We’d love to have you come into the member’s area to learn. You’ll learn faster and better than you ever did before. This program is set up for people just like you. We have plenty in just your same age category too. I hope to see you soon- I just performed a beautiful rendition of my own on Annie’s Song a couple of weeks ago for the members in our Open Mic group as well. So, we have your kind of music here for sure. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  4. Love your lesson. You inspire me to try harder when I practice the flute ! Really I can understand how to read note faster now ! Thank for your lesson !

  5. This is such a simple tip and so effective! I tried it with a piece I have been practicing and found not only was I playing faster, it was also easier for me to pay more attention to phrasing and dynamics, so I sounded better. Thanks for a very helpful tip

    1. Great Fances, I’m glad you saw this right when you needed it. It’s a super skill to have. Hope to see you again soon in a lesson here at Learn Flute Online. ~Rebecca

  6. Thanks a lot i needed this …I’m a beginner in flute and your tips have been helped me all the way!

    1. Great Davicia, glad you’re here learning to play the flute with so many good friends. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  7. Rebecca,

    I have a natural vibrato. It arises by itself at long note intervals. I had been wondering if I should try to control this or just let it be. May I have you advice please? – Heather

    1. Hi Heather, a nice natural vibrato is awesome as long as it’s not a tight, throaty, shaky one that can’t be controlled. It’s best to learn true vibrato so you can use ‘all styles’. Great question! ~Rebecca

  8. After reading your ‘looking ahead’ tip, I ran to the flute to try it out. And this is what I found out… I began to discern patterns, repeated phrases, the structure of the melody etc. In general gained more control. And this after ONE attempt. I’ll definitely be putting more effort here. Thanks. Thank you. Rebecca Fuller.

    1. Great! It definitely works. There are so many things to learn here. I”m glad you read this today. See you in a lesson soon! 🙂 ~Rebecca

  9. I knew there was a trick one could apply to ‘better reading’, I’m glad it has fallen into my lap. Thanks to Rebecca. Psst!!! what else do you have up your sleeve? I’ll be devoting the next week to ‘looking ahead’. Watch this space. You’re amazing!!!

    1. Awesome! I have thousands of ‘tricks’ up my sleeves. I’ll teach them all to you. I hope you’re already a member of one of the lesson levels, yes? ~Rebecca

  10. Hi Rebecca,
    Yes I know you’re right about looking ahead from when I ysed to playbthe piano while singing. It’s a very important skill to master.

  11. Hi Rebecca.

    Reading ahead “Yes” I need to be quite familiar with what is coming next, where I am on the scale and if I am going up or down. It seems that the songs are just rolling along the scales. Well that’s easy to say, if I can just get my fingers and brain to follow, some days are better than others.

    See You

    1. You’re right, Don. Some days are better than others. We keep working at it, and our brain somehow just gets a tad smarter each day until we have most of it all put together. Keep it up. 🙂 Rebecca

  12. Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you for the great advice. I remember doing that when I played in the high school band and freshman year in college. I should have never stop playing my flute.

    Have great day!

  13. Thank you Rebecca. It never ceases to amaze me how your ’email tips’ are pretty much spot on to what I happen to be struggling with or curious about. This one is under the ‘struggling’ part. I have to confess something to you. Last month, I had a free lesson from a friend of mine who is a guitar teacher. I asked him to help me with the metronome and timing. A few days after the lesson, another friend (who inspired me to take up the flute this summer) came over to play some duets with me. She also ‘helped’ me with timing. I struggled both times to ‘keep up’ and I felt a pressure to play through mistakes rather than get the notes right. Afterwards, I stopped playing – for almost 4 weeks!!! Rebecca, I LOVE playing and I decided those experiences weren’t going to stop me so I pick up my beloved flute again and played just for me. Play the songs I love – for me. I said to myself, if I never ‘get’ timing so be it but don’t let that stop you!
    So thank you for your article because it gives me hope – again. (I also read your previous email tip about scales… which I am doing much much more now.)

  14. I memorize the piece I am working on. Once memorized I do not look at the sheet music, it is distracting. I also, once memorized, put my instrument down and read the music with the tones in my head or I hum them.

    1. Awesome, John. You are doing so well to make sure and memorize much of what you learn. You’ll get ahead of the ‘class’ because of it. 🙂

  15. Thank you my great teacher. This is just what I needed. I will get to work on my looking ahead skill andand oh what a day of joy it will be when I get it right!
    God bless you Rebecca!

  16. Michael Crawshaw

    I fully subscribe to this, although I am not very good at doing it. I do however practice parts which I find difficult over and over again before putting them into the context of the piece, additionally I find that if I practice a piece to commit it to memory, yet still play off the dots I am aware of when the awkward bit is coming up and so am ready. Rebecca’s insistence that we read through the score and mark the trip hazards is incredibly helpful, strange that our teacher knows better than we do.

    1. Michael Crawshaw

      Jeff, unless you bought is as spares or repairs and it was meant to be in playable condition, it is part of the eBay charter that purchasers are protected against being cheated. contact the seller and if that is not satisfactory contact eBay themselves. Their reputation as a market place is important to them and they will not ignore you.

  17. Daniel Duckworth

    Hi Rebecca, That’s it I was just doing it good bam I got it because I wasn’t thinking ahead. I need work on my motor skills coordination I like it I think I’m smart for playing the flute. I will succeed at it one day. A couple notes ahead is what I need to do. I’m really angry I don’t want to bump my flute. I’ll calm down I’m buying time I’m busy I need patience I did it before it’s personal I’m lucky too. I’d like to learn Greensleeves and the like. Your lessons bring happiness to me. That’s what just happened I was going along and found I wasn’t looking ahead. I remember the rests at the hard spots from before I like it. I think I met you once.

    1. Awesome, Daniel. I’m glad you’re working on everything. We can learn so many things by learning an instrument well. Where did we meet?

  18. Yes! Reading ahead is so helpful! I’ve been working on that. It takes time to coordinate all the things you have to think about when playing the flute. Reading the notes, watching for flats, sharps and other symbols, adjusting your embouchure for high or low notes, controlling you air flow and breath, placing your fingers on the correct keys, maintaining the correct rhythm….that’s a lot to do! It sometimes feels like I may never be good at mastering all of this but then I remind myself it’s all about practice, practice, practice! So be patient with yourself, and just keep on keepin’ on and it WILL happen! We have THE BEST teacher out there too…so all we can to is succeed! Thank you Rebecca!!

    1. I’m SO glad you’re here to learn, Elaine. You’ll do great! I have a large pile of you learning here and ALL (who are working on it consistently) are doing VERY WELL. It’s so fun for me to watch!! 🙂 ~ Rebecca

  19. That’s a useful tip. Thanks Rebecca. I think I try to look ahead while reading and playing, but will be more aware of it now – and maybe more consistent.
    Another area of interest to me. You may be able to help from your study of how to learn and make brain – muscle memory linkages. I know it is best to practice every day and I try to do that, but in the practice session, is it best to practice a lot of one thing repeatedly or to spread your efforts around a number of pieces of music, scales etc?

    1. This is exactly what I wonder about as well. Is it better to repeat one song or scale several times when practicing, or should I just spread the effort (as Pat put it so well) and play different songs, scales etc. each day?
      Thank you!

      1. RebeccaFuller

        Evy, great question. It’s best to keep on the same practice spot until you feel some muscle memory is made. Then, come back to it later and do the repeats again. You’ll do best this way because the muscle memory will be made. When that particular skill or passage is perfect every time then you can move on to focus on something new. 🙂

  20. Nice to hear from you with these kind of tips. As an old musician I have been doing this almost automatically, but it is very good advise. ThankU.

    1. Hi Becca, I’m glad I thought to show this to you. It’s important, (as you can see) and I know you’re going to do so well!! 🙂 Rebecca

  21. Hi Rebecca!

    Thanks a lot for this writing about reading. It really helps me to understand where my focus is.
    I am one of tose who can’t play fluently, still.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Verónica, I am so happy you are here to learn. You can keep practicing and moving through my lesson modules. You’ll do very well! 🙂 Rebecca

  22. I am getting the hang of looking ahead, but I am still having problems with my speed. It seems to be that my motor skills are not as fast as I want them to be. In particular, the ring finger of my right hand is the slowest one of all. He doesn’t want to cooperate and often makes a single note transition sound like two notes unless I play slower. =o(

    1. Hi Tim, we’re glad you have joined us in the human race. haha What I mean is that we all have that same “ring finger”. He/She is a difficult child! It’s totally possible to tame and train though. Just keep at it.. daily practice is the way. 🙂

    2. I am having exactly the same problem Tim – its like the ring finger has a mind of its own!

      The same problem in the previous piece “Bourree”. Im just persevering and hoping it’ll eventually come right.

      1. Hi Marianne, yes that silly ring finger. Slow down and remember to curve those fingers a little. You’ll come out ahead this way! Thanks for being here. ~Rebecca

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