Throat Noise while Flute Playing

There’s a strange phenomenon that sometimes happens when flutists are playing, and you can actually ‘hear’ them humming or “gk-gk”-ing inside their throat. Not real pretty. What to do? Here’s the fix:

Throat noise happens when you close off your throat enough that the air bumps against the vocal chords, causing them to vibrate. This happens to most people every once in a while, so here are a couple of suggestions if it happens to you.Got Throat Noise

1. Play a simple phrase on your flute and try to sing while you play. What do you notice? Now play that same phrase concentrating on ‘not’ making any sound in your throat. Often all it takes to stop making throat noise is just to realize what you are doing.

2. If it seems to keep happening, then just take a few days to focus specifically on your breathing and basic support. Practice the following and then try some of these ideas.

*LONG TONES (without vibrato)

*SLOW SCALES

This of air streaming off of the front of your body, like steam or smoke. Really try to picture the movement of the air. It will automatically relax you enough to take the tension off of your throat.

Lay on the floor and practice. Sound fun? Sometimes it’s nice to put a pillow or a couple of books under your neck to support your head. Let all of your weight kind of sink into the floor, like you’ve become weightless. Notice what it feels like to be relaxed like that. Then try to recreate the feeling while standing.

"Practice without the flute."

Use your air and embouchure just like you would when you play, but use only air. Do you notice tension anywhere?

I love to imagine that my throat is shaped just like an empty toilet-paper tube held vertically. When I blow into my flute I like to think that my air needs to come up and out of my ‘tube’ unobstructed or without bouncing off the walls at all. This usually does the trick for me, and clears up my tone even more.

Always remember to try to practice the flute smarter, not harder.

The more you trust yourself, the more freedom you will experience when you play the flute.

Any questions? Leave a comment below.

Rebecca Fuller Flute TeacherRebecca Fuller

 

 

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9 Comments

  • Abdu Gazzar

    Reply Reply May 3, 2015

    That is really good . I like the way you mix a kind of Yoga teaching with how to practice on the flute. its amazing . Love it ..Thank you ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply May 7, 2015

      Exercise and playing an instrument do actually go hand in hand in many ways. Nice observation, Abdu. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • carol thomson

    Reply Reply November 5, 2015

    Hi Rebecca, so glad you posted this, I was looking to ask you why I was sort of humming sometimes when I’m playing. Now I know how to fix this. thank you. carol.

  • Benjamin

    Reply Reply May 10, 2018

    Throat noises are a problem for me so great to have some tips to help this. I’ll try these out when I get back to playing the flute soon.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply May 21, 2018

      Yup! Benjamin, you’ll find it simple to keep an open sound without the throat noises. Thanks for stopping by. ~Rebecca

  • Daphne

    Reply Reply August 22, 2018

    Hi Rebecca,

    And what if I spit too much in my flute? I haven’t played for months now; I’m totally out of discipline ๐Ÿ™ but I remember that my mouth became so full of saliva that I blew it into my flute (dirty conversation, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    Thanks in advance for your reaction!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply August 23, 2018

      Hi Daphne, haha yes we flutists have to talk about spit sometimes. Just remember to swallow. You can keep that spit in check by swallowing when you have a chance. I definitely swallow right before the first note for sure. Good luck! ~Rebecca

  • Mary Beth

    Reply Reply September 13, 2018

    Hi Rebecca,

    Yes, this happens to me, but only on the lower notes. Especially the low D. Thanks for the tips this week!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply September 13, 2018

      You’re welcome, Mary Beth! Yup- relax your throat. Think of the open tube. ~Rebecca

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