Read Flute Music Faster Today!

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…read ahead in flute music

 

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.

What music are you struggling with? Leave a comment below.

Rebecca Fuller Flute TeacherRebecca Fuller

 

 

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56 Comments

  • Sharon

    Reply Reply August 4, 2014

    What about vibrato…I play well, but have never mastered this part. Help!

  • Don Acorn

    Reply Reply September 10, 2014

    Hi Rebecca,
    Yes, thank you. I need to learn to do this.

  • Robert Casler

    Reply Reply September 10, 2014

    Bob Casleer

  • Tim

    Reply Reply September 10, 2014

    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(

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply September 10, 2014

      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. 🙂

    • Marianne Wood

      Reply Reply October 28, 2018

      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.

      • RebeccaFuller

        Reply Reply October 29, 2018

        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

  • Verónica Ituarte

    Reply Reply September 13, 2014

    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!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply September 15, 2014

      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

  • Becca

    Reply Reply September 14, 2014

    Oh, THANK YOU!!! This email is EXACTLY THE THING IS WAS LOOKING FOR !!! Thanks! 😀

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply September 15, 2014

      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

  • ELISHA

    Reply Reply September 27, 2014

    THATS GREAT THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  • Donalfonso

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply October 14, 2014

      I love all the musicians I can get… young, medium, old, or … whatever. Love ALL of you! ~ Rebecca

  • Pat Thorn

    Reply Reply October 15, 2014

    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?

    • Evy Hubner

      Reply Reply May 6, 2015

      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!

      • RebeccaFuller

        Reply Reply May 7, 2015

        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. 🙂

  • Elaine Bailer

    Reply Reply November 20, 2014

    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!!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply December 1, 2014

      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

  • Alexis

    Reply Reply November 24, 2014

    Rebecca I can’t pay for the gold level. What are the nite names. By the way in 11. I treacly need then

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply December 1, 2014

      Hi Alexis, I’m not sure what you mean by “the nite names”. ? Can you clarify?

  • Daniel Duckworth

    Reply Reply January 28, 2015

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply February 2, 2015

      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?

  • Daniel Duckworth

    Reply Reply January 28, 2015

    I did it I played Greensleeves. Not as well as you but completely it has G shark in it. Thanks Bye.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply February 2, 2015

      My advanced students here still call it G shark. It’s just more fun, don’t you think?! Rebecca

  • Jeffery Lane

    Reply Reply April 10, 2015

    I got a used flute off of eBay and it is missing a key. Where could I get a replacement key?

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply April 13, 2015

      Hi Jeffery – a missing key? Are you sure? Send me a picture so we can be sure: rebecca@learnfluteonline.com

    • Michael Crawshaw

      Reply Reply June 24, 2015

      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.

  • Michael Crawshaw

    Reply Reply June 24, 2015

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply June 30, 2015

      Right you are, Michael. 🙂

  • Tope

    Reply Reply August 28, 2015

    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!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply August 31, 2015

      Hi Tope, I’m excited for you. Learning the flute is really fun. 🙂 ~ Rebecca

  • John

    Reply Reply September 2, 2015

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply September 8, 2015

      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. 🙂

  • Myra

    Reply Reply December 23, 2015

    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.)

  • Betty Perkins

    Reply Reply February 3, 2016

    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!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply February 18, 2016

      Perfect, Betty. I’m glad you’re back at it. Doing well! Rebecca

  • Don Archer

    Reply Reply February 17, 2016

    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

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply February 18, 2016

      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

  • Joan Clayton

    Reply Reply July 27, 2016

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply August 1, 2016

      True True, Joan. We just keep getting better!

  • Molefi Manoto

    Reply Reply October 8, 2016

    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!!!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply October 12, 2016

      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

  • Molefi Manoto

    Reply Reply October 8, 2016

    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.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply October 12, 2016

      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

  • Heather Calero

    Reply Reply May 26, 2017

    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

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply May 26, 2017

      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

  • Davicia

    Reply Reply May 27, 2017

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

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply May 31, 2017

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

  • frances

    Reply Reply August 3, 2017

    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

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply August 6, 2017

      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

  • Connie Lee

    Reply Reply November 24, 2017

    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 !

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply November 25, 2017

      You’re welcome, Connie. I”m glad you’re here to learn how to play the flute even better. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  • Hans van der Heiden

    Reply Reply June 24, 2018

    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,
    Hans

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply June 30, 2018

      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

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