The Importance of Warm-Ups for Flutists

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In this episode, you will learn about the importance of warm-ups for flutists. 

Learn Flute Podcast 124

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Podcast Transcript

Tadaaah are you ready to talk about the first ever-important item on your practice checklist? Great! Let’s learn all about warm-ups for flutists and why they matter so much.

Welcome! Today we have a lot to talk about, and I can’t wait to get in deep with this subject. Everything flutie, right?

I’m Rebecca Fuller, your instructor if we haven’t met yet, and I want to give you a warm welcome and thank you for stopping by.

You know, here at Learn Flute Online we’re a community of like-minded people who are finding and discovering new fun in music every day, week, month, and year.

We’re also working on improving ourselves in other areas, in fact, we’ve learned that improving ourselves in music has big benefits in other aspects of our lives as well.

This is the reason for this podcast. We talk technique and mindset especially, so that we’ll have the proper tools to get and stay motivated and on the right path.
You know the lessons inside the LFO members area are built in an order that sets you up for success and enjoyment.

So again, thanks for being here! I’ve been teaching flute for over three decades, and I have yet to find the bottom of the barrel – there’s more to talk about and learn every time I turn around.

No matter the stage you’re in as a player, you’re going to have some great takeaways from being here today as well as every other episode of this podcast and of course the major content in the members area is just waiting for you.

My purpose is always to inspire you, bring new thoughts to light, and point you again in a positive direction that will give you success over and over again.

There are hundreds and even thousands of you striving for the same goal here, so let’s put away the distractions and tune in right now… well, if you happen to be driving at this moment, go ahead and continue to focus on the road.

You can always come back and take another listen with a pen and paper later today.

So let’s get right to today’s subject, which is all about the warm-ups for flutists. Many people have heard singers bop through their warm-ups because, well it’s always in the movies.. You know, la la la la la la laaaaaaa, la la la la la la laaaaaa – you know, you get the point.

But does this even pertain to flute players? Would it help to go through these same type of warm-ups on our instrument?

Well, I say… yes.

And then I say… well, let me be an even better teacher for you, and show and tell you why, and then I’ll show you how, and where to get the ‘what’ to play in these warm-ups.

And we’ll go into a deeper level here so that you can have the tools to begin all of your practice sessions suitably forever more.

Ahhh doesn’t that sound good?

Today I want to take some time to talk about two different time periods – the first being the time before you pick up your instrument, and then we’re going to talk about after we’re holding it in our hands.

It’s kind of normal for people to just quickly pick up their instrument and start playing the music that’s sitting on the stand.. You know? Sometimes feeling and sounding fuzzy but charging ahead anyway assuming it’ll all work out in a few minutes.. Does that sound familiar? I know you humans.

Okay well, taking a few seconds or minutes to prep our session is going to be the new thought for you today.
In fact, not too long ago I put out a podcast episode all about creating your practice space so that you have everything you need for success.

Your room and your area that you’re physically standing in.

If you have already heard that episode and worked on that, then today is going to be like part two. It’s going to be even more meaningful and usable for you.

I’m going to throw out some good ideas here that hopefully you’ll find useable – everyone is in a little bit of a different place and stage, so listen carefully and decide if you can use any of these hints that will help you be prepared for your practice session.. Remember, we haven’t even started the actual warm-up yet, remember? 

We’re just getting to get there first.

Okay, so let’s start here: if you’re practicing at home (which many and most people do), you can quickly let those who are around or could potentially come around in the next half hour or hour – let them know that you’re not going to be available.

You know, think about this: many exercisers physically get in the car and drive to the gym just for this reason, to get their workout in.

If staying home means distractions and not a prepared space for the exercise, then the solution is to go somewhere like the gym to get it done, right?

Our society has gotten pretty accustomed to this idea. Mom or dad or brother- whoever, is going to the gym for a little bit and then they’ll be back. Everyone learns to respect it.

This is the same idea for prepping your practice time. This is basically, the warm-up before the warm-up.
If you find your home is not able to be organized for time alone with your instrument, then don’t feel guilty ducking over to maybe an older appreciative friend’s home on a regular schedule – you’d be surprised at how many people welcome this idea.

Or asking if you can use a classroom at your church during the week. You might find a good solution that you never even thought about before.

When I was in college especially, for example, I never once practiced at my apartment. First of all, there were 3 young kids who lived above me.. One of them was always needing a nap and I didn’t want to make noise that would wake them.

Second of all, I had a really weird schedule and I was always at school it felt like.. So I had a special practice room rented just for me, during certain hours in the music building. It was a small box of a room but it totally worked. There was nothing in there to distract me at all. There was a music stand and a chair. That’s it.

Nowadays, I have a good habit of putting my phone on airplane mode before I take my instrument out. If I don’t, I’m sure to be interrupted and sent in a new direction before I even begin. It’s just how it goes when you’re a busy mom.

Then, usually as I assemble my instrument, my mind is already swirling with what I’m going to get to play and achieve.

The best focus for me my whole life has been the organizational tool that I’ve created- it’s like a practice guide.

It’s a page that I fill out weekly or at least monthly to help me remember what I’m working on, why, and a place to keep record of what I’ve done and when.

You know, I’ve had such grand success with this page that I have created an ultimate version for Learn Flute Online Members. In fact it’s called “The Ultimate Practice Guide for Flute” and it is available right now for you.

It’s a PDF booklet that outlines what is going onto your practice guide, how to interpret what each section means, and how to keep it organized and going for years – to the point where it becomes a journal of sorts.

You know, I just spent a couple of weeks fishing with a group of friends this year, and one of them showed me his special fishing journal.

I was so impressed!

It was a perfect size, like a small sized blue denim notebook. He said he has a new one for every year he’s considered himself a true fisherman. He has an entire catalog of them, at his home.

He keeps track of the dates he when he goes fishing, the location, the conditions like what the temperature of the air and water are, what flies or lures he uses, which poles, and of course a perfect list of the specimens he catches, keep or release.

I couldn’t help but immediately compare this to my student’s flute journals.

When someone first comes to study with me, the very very first thing I do is provide them with a journal where all of our assignments and organization goes. This is something that is kept for a couple of years or so and then we get a new one of a different color.

You can do this with what I provided you in Learn Flute Online, and I actually have flute journals of my own from many years ago – I have them proudly filed in a neat stack on a shelf of my music room. I love it, I feel so accomplished when I look at them.

So let’s go back to what we’re doing with this practice journal – we’ve already organized a space for ourselves, tuned out distractions, and now we’re checking out what we’re going to play first as we assemble our flute. 

We’re basically licking our chops and we can’t wait to get it together and bring the lip plate to our face – you know what I’m talking about right?

Having a tailor-made game plan is the best way to make sure our next few minutes are not only productive, but ensure consistent improvement for skills and also for relaxation, which is ever-so important for flute players.

So, again, basically what I’m trying to say is that there’s a period of time when we prep ourselves to begin our practice sessions. And that’s the warm-up before the warm-up.

Then, during this actual playing stage we like to focus. I like to help my students learn to focus on the skills that are currently being tweaked or strengthened.

1. Posture

2. Alignment

3. Balance

4. Positioning

5. Relaxation and re-adjusting- all of the above.

If all is well, then the first big breath is kind of like a pinnacle moment of the day.

Filler-up Fill.. I always say.. And then let er rip.

The first note is just that – the first note. It shouldn’t be any more than this.

One single solitary note. The reasons?

If we can focus on all of our skills, and play one note really well with everything in line, then we should be able to play several notes really well, right?

Focus on the first one. Breathe warm and long.

There are official names for this in the flute world. We call it playing our ‘long tones’.

Long and warm.

I like to have my students move downward first chromatically. Again- long and loud. Depending on your skill level and what you’ve been assigned for these long tones you’ll improve your tone on a very consistent basis.

We move into the other tone studies after this which is when we take turns with each special skill involving balance and hand position especially. These moments and little phrases are delicate and extremely important to our over-all playing skill.

We get to navigate between tricky finger patterns and articulation phrases that set our brain up for success in the rest of the practice session.

Again, depending on your level you’ll have new tricks to focus on for a moment or two. Specialized and very focused repeats on these tricks mean that when you next meet them in an upcoming study, exercise, or solo – you’ll be able to soar through without even blinking.

This means it’ll feel really easy for you and you won’t even stop to recognize that you’ve just accomplished something that used to be completely impossible.

Okay, let’s recap for a second:

We’ve talked about organizing our time and space.. Getting ready to get ready is the first thing to do.

We get to go through our checklist of alignment, posture and position.

And do you remember what the most important thing next is? Do you remember what I said?

Yes, it’s the first breath.

Deep and cleansing because then we’re going to inhale and exhale over and over for the remaining duration of our session, right we’re flute players.

The first breath is extremely important to set the tone and to clear out all the old junk in our lungs that we get. It just happens to us right.

Then after this we get to use a set of specially designed notes, long tones, and short phrases to help us with balance, tone, and resonance. The higher level we’re currently on, the more particular and ornate these will be.

Okay okay, now you’re wondering a couple of things: the first being, how long do we go through this ‘warm-up’ phase, and how in the world do we know what to play exactly?

Oh gee whiz I’m so glad you asked because I’m holding the answer for you right now.

At the beginning of each lesson inside the Level module areas here at Learn Flute Online, there are short skills and exercises taught.

These are your tone studies. Keep them. They are important.

Here’s an example: in the early Gold Level we work on three little notes in a certain order: They are B, C, and C sharp.
It’s possible that your level of educated thinking says that once you are able to play these three notes you don’t need to ever play them again in your warm up. Right?

Eeeerh. Actually, we’re going to keep this study for years. Literally years, because there are so many different lessons to be learned from them.

Of course at first it’s to just get them out on a basic level, but after this we spend physical and mental focus perfecting each and every small movement and balance point.

We also learn how hard to blow and all of the aspects that have to do with intonation. We use our emboucher and we use our aperture and well, It’s the difference between playing these notes like this at first where we might be a newer beginner: (demo) and this: (demo)

In the Members Area lessons you’ll find these tone studies and warm-ups for you at the proper moment of development. Keep them on your organized practice guide. The list should get longer and longer, until you have basically a memorized set that you run through each time you warm-up.

Your job is to continue to learn from me what to watch and listen for and then to try and improve yourself each time you play with the tools that I give you.

What I’ve just shared with you is quite possibly one of the most important lessons you can learn as a flutist.

If you’re not sure what it all was, skip back and listen again.

Then come into your lessons here with a ready mind-set to watch for these warm-ups and short exercises. List them on your practice guide and continue to enjoy improving them for years to come.

They’re just short, and it only takes ten to fifteen minutes to get through warm-ups- even when you’re on a higher level, including your set of scales assigned to you as you move through these levels.

It’s the way to do this, and find persistent and consistent improvement.
At first on the beginner levels, it only takes just a couple of minutes.

And we do all of this before anything else each time we practice.
It’s the way folks!

Wow, what a fun subject this has been. I just love talking about music and our flutes, but especially I love dissecting what needs to be learned in order for beautiful music to flow easily from our fingers, and from our mouth, right?

Remember to take time each week and month to get in here and work through your modules. I’ll give you a preview hint that you’re going to hit a point where amazing and even intricate melodies become your fast friends to the point where you’ll go to bed in anticipation of waking up and trying it all again.
Making music is so thrilling, stimulating, and satisfying.

I can’t wait for you to work on your practice guide – remember that the Ultimate Practice Guide for Flute, my PDF workbook is waiting for you in the Toolbox section of the members area and you can write and keep your list weekly and monthly there. The warm-ups for flutists are a perfect focus of your practice session. See you soon for our next fascinating flutie subject. Tah Tah for now


Thank you for Tuning In!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the importance of warm-ups for flutists.  Join us for the next episode.

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

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

4 thoughts on “The Importance of Warm-Ups for Flutists”

  1. I am enjoying my practice journal or the “Ultimate practice Guide for Flute”. My problem is staying focused from day to day and even during the single practice session! This guide and your list in this podcast are so simple, straightforward and common sense. Focus on playing one note really well is or should be easy but isn’t always; the mind drifts or the body tenses up. Your suggestions create a smaller focus on what I should be accomplishing with a single sound. My goals are to get the sound I want while trying to stay relaxed. It is totally possible with what you have demonstrated here, I need to remember to breath and listen. How can one forget the breath playing the flute?? (I can). Sometimes the key points to getting a good tone are forgotten when I am in a hurry or distracted. the results are I get tense because I don’t like the tone or my ability to hold the tone and that creates more tension. which then creates more bad sounds. I just need to breathe, listen and think about my body. I am so thankful you have created this podcast, I will review this over and over again. Thank you!

    1. Aw Suzanne, you’re welcome. I’m glad you listened carefully and allowed yourself to see the full meaning of this podcast. If we have troubles playing ‘one note’ then how can we expect ourselves to be really perfect on many notes? Focusing in is the key. And yes, flute players especially forget to breathe haha, I like to say that flute players are a mixture of a perfectionist and a gambler. Sometimes we just go for it and hope we make it haha. Enjoy the learning and flute fun! I’m so glad you are here. Rebecca

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