Throat Noise while Flute Playing

How to Easily Remove Throat Noise While Playing Flute

There’s a strange phenomenon that sometimes happens when flutists are playing, and you can actually ‘hear’ a humming or “gk-gk”-ing inside the throat with each note. What to do about this type of throat noise? Here’s the fix:

Throat noise happens when you close off your throat enough that the air bumps against the vocal cords, 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.

  1. Play a simple, slow 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.

This doesn’t always work automatically though. Many times we have to put this exercise into our daily practice. The most important thing is to focus on what is happening. Can you sing and play at the same time? Actually sing the notes along with your blowing. Then, blow the notes without singing. If you can learn to turn it off and on you’ll be on the right path.

  1. If it seems to keep happening, then just take a few days to focus specifically on your breathing and basic support. We will support from our gut, not the throat. Press in from the abdomen area (just below rib cage is perfect) as you blow. This will take the strain off of trying to press from the throat. Remember where the air begins. It begins in our lungs, not in our throat. It exits from our mouth, but definitely begins in our lungs. 

Practice the following and then try some of these ideas: 

*LONG TONES (without vibrato)

*SLOW SCALES

Think of air streaming off of the front of your body, like steam or smoke. Really try to picture the movement of the air. Imagery is a really good tool for flutists. Picturing our sound wafting in front of us as we blow will automatically relax you enough to take the tension off of your throat. 

Throat noise can also be explored by laying on the floor and practicing. Sound fun? Sometimes it’s nice to put a pillow or a couple of books under your neck to support your head, but I find that laying flat works just great. 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. You can actually feel it in your throat and neck muscles especially. Play a little tune. Is the throat noise gone? What did you discover about your sound? Now let’s stand up and try to recreate the feeling.

How to easily remove throat noise while playing flute.. without even holding your flute! 

Use your air and embouchure just like you would when you play, but use only air (put the flute down or just play to the side of the lip plate). 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 when I don’t have any throat noises it clears up my tone even more.

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

The more you trust yourself and learn good skills, the more freedom you will experience when you play the flute. The extra noises that you may have going on isn’t a reason to not enjoy playing the flute, it’s just a new little challenge. When we learn to play our flute free and relaxed, we find we have clearer tone, better vibrations, and a whole lot of effortless fun. I love making music, and I know you do too.

Here at Learn Flute Online, there is a wealth of information set in easy-to-digest bites… hundreds of small videos that are set in perfectly sequential order for you. If you’re still struggling to even get going on your sound. Click the Get Started button so I can give you access to the Silver Level here. I also have quite a few videos resources like this for you to watch and learn from today: https://youtu.be/KHWsi3HxKEI How to Make a Sound on the Flute for Beginners.

So here’s a quick review checklist to help you today so you can learn how to avoid unwanted flute sounds like throat noise:

  1. Notice that the throat noise is there
  2. Notice when the noise happens (with tongue movements probably)
  3. Learn to ‘sing’ with your playing
  4. Learn to ‘stop singing’ with your playing
  5. Lay on the floor and play slow long tones
  6. Learn how to play with good breath support
  7. Use imagery to play with no vocal cord involvement

You really can do it. Removing these types of throat noises is usually just a matter of noticing it and spending some time focusing on where and when it’s happening. 

Have you tried recording yourself? A video recording will really let you know when it’s happening. Some people have been playing for years with this throat noise, and only learned it was there because a friend mentioned it. Oops! No worries, we can help. Follow the tips in this article.. And of course, join in the lessons and members area of Learn Flute Online soon so you can get going on loads of quick progress with your flute.

I hope that you enjoyed this article! If you are still working on your throat noises, you might also consider listening to my podcast: How to Avoid Unwanted Flute Sounds. I talk about this more in depth and give some good tips.

Good luck today. It has been fun exploring how to easily remove throat noise while playing flute with you. 
See you in the next lesson!

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

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

9 thoughts on “How to Easily Remove Throat Noise While Playing Flute”

  1. 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 🙁 but I remember that my mouth became so full of saliva that I blew it into my flute (dirty conversation, isn’t it? 😉 )

    Thanks in advance for your reaction!

    1. 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

  2. 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.

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

  3. 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.

    1. RebeccaFuller

      Exercise and playing an instrument do actually go hand in hand in many ways. Nice observation, Abdu. 🙂

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