One of the most fun parts of learning to play the flute is when your level becomes advanced enough to start inserting ornaments such as trills and grace notes. So, what is a grace note for flute anyway?
My way to describe the grace note is like a ‘pre-thought’ or a quick embellishment just before the main note in a melody.
A quick little note that is placed at the last possible moment
It’s possible that throughout your musical studies/journey you may find some grace notes written out directly before a note in tiny little font and tied to the note with a slur. This is common to see it this way, but not necessary. There are many styles and intentions for grace notes, and the more you learn the more you’ll know about when/what is appropriate.
Also, I guess I should mention here that just as I live in Utah and have a very ‘Utah-American accent’, if you visited a different part of the country you’d hear someone say the same word very differently. Kind of like the song, “I say tomato- you say tomahto”. Haha, it all still varies within styles and musicianship.
But, for the purposes of this quick article, I think it’s safe to say that a grace note for flute is a quick little note that is placed at the last possible moment and slurred to the main note in any music. Also, if you’re playing a piece from the baroque time period (1600-1750-ish), you’ll want to note that this rule changes even though it appears on paper to look the same or very similar to a grace note
The musicians back during the baroque time period had a very distinct style. These grace notes were actually ‘leaned on’ quite a bit more and were played directly on the beat instead of before it. They are called ‘appoggiaturas’ when played in this manner. Although, I’ll admit that most/many publishers place them on the page very similarly to a traditional grace note. There are a couple of little secrets you’ll need to know to get it ‘right’. I’ll show you all about this as you continue through your studies here at LearnFluteOnline.com in the lesson modules.
I really like ornaments, trills, and anything that embellishes a melody. But, much like a well thought out, tasteful painting these little grace notes need to be used appropriately so as to not distract from the original music.
It just becomes common sense. Those little grace notes become little tid-bits of fun for you in your flute pieces. Enjoy!