As a flute teacher, I get to see all walks of life as well as all styles of playing the flute if you’ve been taught before (band, self taught, beginner, etc.) This article will briefly say some of the myths or misconceptions about playing the flute and what to do to correct them. You’ll catch even another glimpse into how we’re going to take your flute playing to a whole new level.
Not tonguing but instead saying “hoo” for each note
As a flute teacher I teach the forward tonguing method. By doing this method you get a) sharper attack- not a fuzzy sound or an unclear note. Instead, you get a good sound right from the beginning with a better tone. b) Your tongue gets it’s exercise and develops muscles it needs to tongue better staccato notes, and even better, better double tongued notes when you get to that level along with other skills you will learn with each piece.
Overhanging the keys with flattened fingers
There are several reasons not to do this. I can understand why students do this (improper teaching or knowledge of the consequences, laziness, etc.) and it can be very hard to correct. Piano teachers and keyboarding teachers are who to look for. It’s very correct to place the curved finger fingertips on the middle of the key. This will prevent leaks in the future as well as being able to play songs faster.
Playing high notes or soft notes with a pinched/tight embouchure
I get this all the time. This is completely false. While you do need to make your mouth hole smaller for softer notes, you don’t need to change your whole embouchure. You just want to make your mouth hole smaller, push your lips forward, and blow faster to get the sound out. For playing higher notes, you want to direct your air more towards the floor with faster airspeed. You do not need to change your mouth hole or embouchure for this. However, if you want to play a high, softer note push lips forward, create a smaller hole, faster airspeed and direct air more towards the floor.
Washing flute – or parts of flute- in the dishwasher/water
This is a big, BIG no – no. Doing this causes the silver to tarnish much faster, the cork to loosen (even if you take it out), ruins the keys and pads, causes rust… the list could go on and on. In short, just don’t do it.
Sticky keys and using paper or dollar bills
I’ve written an article about this before, but a quick recap I think is in order. Lots of students are educated from Band teachers in certain areas and seem to think that a dirty old dollar bill is the best thing to clean a sticky pad with. The best thing to “blot” your sticky pads with is some sort of paper that doesn’t give off fibers. It’s true that money bills are made to last longer but here’s the problem: money bills are DIRTY. And we don’t want to clean our flute pads with something that could make our nice flute dirtier. Here is the solution. Use cigarette paper from your local consumer store. One pack will last for years!
Playing with Flute pointed at the floor
There are so many reasons that this is a bad idea. Tone, posture, aches and pains are just a few. When you put your flute sideways, slanted, tilted – however you want to say it – you automatically twerk your body to fit your flute instead of the other way around. Your tone can go fuzzy, your embouchure can be forced to play only in that specific position and then you’ll have a hurting mouth because the muscles aren’t being used right. You’ll also have hurting wrists, arms, shoulders, net, and back. This position can also result because your stand is too low forcing you to look down at it. So, instead when you play, raise your stand, stand up straight and bring your flute to your mouth while taking a step with your left foot forward and to the left while turning your right foot out a little bit (or stepping towards the back and sideways with your right foot leaving your left foot stationary). This will create a sturdy base for you to play in. You can do these things. You are the boss 🙂
I hope you’ll apply these six things to your own flute playing so you can progress even faster!