Recently I had a fellow flute student tell me that they just have too much spit when playing the flute and it gets in the way of their sound and ability to play.
Is this something you have noticed as well?
It’s hard to play the flute well when you have a river running through it. We want to sound our best all of the time, and having excess spit in our mouth and airstream kind of messes it up. So, how to fix this issue?
Look no further, because you’ve found the right place. In this article I am going to give you some pointers to help you control too much spit when playing the flute.
First, it’s important for you all to know that this is a pretty common problem, especially when you are tonguing hard and fast. And there are many reasons why you could be over-salivating.
Too much spit can really get in the way of playing the flute
Here are some common reasons why this happens:
- You are hungry
- You recently ate or brushed your teeth
- You have been practicing for a long period of time
- You are thirsty
- You may be on medication that causes this also
Now let’s move on to some solutions. How can you fix these problems?
Well, a few of them seem a little obvious but we will talk about them to make sure that you have all the possible solutions to over-salivation in your tool box when you need them.
If you are hungry or thirsty the solution is pretty simple- eat some food or get a drink. Your body is pretty smart and it will tell you when it needs some attention. Over-salivating is one way that your body gets your attention.
When you are thirsty while playing the flute, DRINK WATER! Unless you are ending your practice session right then and putting your flute away, never drink sugary sweet anything if you are going to pick your flute up again and play it in the near future. Sugar will destroy your pads and not be good for your flute.
Many orchestra, band, or symphony players keep a small water bottle next to their chair. Drinking between long playing sessions can actually help control your spit over-flow (and some dryness as well) because your body won’t try to overcompensate. I keep a small water bottle in my bag at all times because of this.
This rule is also true for eating. If you are hungry and need to stop and eat some food, put your flute away and take a break. Be sure that your food (or toothpaste if you just brushed your teeth) is long gone, with no remnants in your mouth, before you pick your flute up to play again. It usually takes me a good hour before I’m able to play my flute again after eating. If I rush it, I get really spitty.
I used to have a flute teacher who was a very good homemaker. My lessons were in her home. When I would visit, the house always smelled so yummy.. like baking bread or pumpkin pie. It was a serious test for me to play the flute there and control the saliva glands. I really did have a lot of spit during my lessons when her home was warm and yummy smelling. I’m not sure if I ever confessed this to her, but I think she probably wondered why I had to stop and swallow so much during our lessons. I never had that problem when I was in my own home.. unless I was hungry of course.
There are also medications that can cause excessive dryness or wetness in the mouth. There’s not a lot you can do about this except try to practice during the best time of day when your mouth is awake and ready to play.
Last but not least: If you have been playing for a long period of time or tonguing lots your mouth will naturally salivate more than usual because it is tired or dry. Some easy solutions to this problem are to simply swallow or have a glass of water.
These simple solutions will help the over-salivators and really help control too much spit when playing the flute.