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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:41 am 
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Per the CCCP, I’m not asking for medical advice, I’ve already talked to doctors. I need flute advice.

When I play flute, I apply outward pressure to the body of the flute which causes the headjoint to apply inward pressure against my teeth and jaw. (This always caused temporary discomfort afterward, but it is also causing larger issues now that I’ve done it regularly for two years. But, I do it to have better tone [or so I believe]).

Theoretically, I need to hold the flute suspended without applying the outward pressure...

Any suggestions for correcting my technique? And have any of you experienced a similar problem?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:12 am 
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I'm not very gifted mechanically and have some trouble understanding your description of where the pressure is coming from. It appears that it is due to right-hand pressure if it is outward pressure. Is that correct? If so, then is it either (1) from your thumb being placed along the side of the flute and pressing outward or (2) from your little finger pressing downwards and outwards. If (1), try placing your thumb underneath the flute, where it can't exert so much pressure, and using (2) to help support the flute. The pressure is much less from (2) (perhaps this is why most, but not all, flute players use (2) rather than (1). For myself, I find that most of the pressure on my jaw comes from my left hand (index finger pressing in and sometimes l.h. thumb pressing out) and am occasionally surprised by how hard I'm pressing. But with 40 years or so of playing, it has never been a problem. The flute can be supported nicely with l.h. index finger, r.h. thumb (under the flute), and r.h. little finger. This leaves the l.h. thumb free for when you need the Bb key (not needed much in trad), but there is no harm in using it for a little support. If you're pressing hard with it, focus on reducing that pressure. There is a nice introduction to holding the (wooden) flute as well as on the embouchure given on youtube by Steph Geremia as one of the free lessons for the OAIM (online academy of Irish music). She makes quite a point of nestling the flute into the shelf made under the lips by the chin. This doesn't work very well for me, but might help you if it does work for you.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:33 am 
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My point of contact with the flute is mostly on the dip above my chin near the roots of my teeth so my lip has the space it needs to form a good embouchure. There is no pressure on my teeth at all. This may differ for others, but If are pushing against your teeth you may not be letting your bottom lip to do its job and using force instead. I don't feel any pressure on my teeth or my jaw when I play. I'm holding the head joint of my loosely enough a friend could knock it away from my face with a flick of their hand. In fact, this goes true for my fingers as well. Often people feel they need to hold their flutes too tightly. Is there any flute teacher near you that could look at what you are doing and break things down for you? This doesn't have to be a trad teacher. A band or orchestra flute teacher could help you with these basics. Balancing rather than "death gripping" for the lips and hands as well may make flute playing easier on your body in the long run.

If you have no one around you could root around youtube. There are lots of flute embouchure tutorials for classical flute which you can adapt to Trad. I particularly enjoyed a master class posting with Sir James Galway, whose technique is no where near what we are looking for when we play trad. But he went through lip placement in a way that helped my tone production. Rolling the lip on to the lip plate in the case of a modern flute... But the technique was adaptable to ours.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:04 am 
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cac wrote:
... For myself, I find that most of the pressure on my jaw comes from my left hand (index finger pressing in and sometimes l.h. thumb pressing out) and am occasionally surprised by how hard I'm pressing. ...


I'm not completely sure the manner in which I am applying pressure either, so it may be better understood to be similar to your description.

Thanks for the feedback.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:21 am 
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Perhaps one remedy is this. Imagine that the flute is floating in front of you, on its own.
You bring it to your face, but address it gently, 'giving it room to sing,' using the minimum pressure on the chin, the left hand fulcrum and the pinky, to keep it floating in front of you. I find this produces better tone for me, and it may relieve the pressure on your chin/teeth. When you find yourself pressing too hard, stop and begin again as before.

Also, and generally, you want to relax your grip and your whole body, identifying where you are tense (my ankles, for instance) and relaxing there. Do this again and again, whenever you find yourself tense. The trick is to play relaxed. Also repeatedly review your grip. Bottom up.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:14 pm 
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Thanks for the feedback so far guys, I will try some of these things.

busterbill wrote:
[...] Is there any flute teacher near you that could look at what you are doing and break things down for you?[...]


This is a good idea, thank you. I will try to play around with it more and I will hunt some down and see what feedback I can get too. Thanks. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:01 pm 
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Also, sit straight and bring the flute to your mouth/chin.
Don't crane your neck forward. If you find yourself doing this while you
are playing,
stop, sit straight, and bring the flute again to your mouth.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:09 am 
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jim stone wrote:
Perhaps one remedy is this. Imagine that the flute is floating in front of you, on its own.
You bring it to your face, but address it gently, 'giving it room to sing,' using the minimum pressure on the chin, the left hand fulcrum and the pinky, to keep it floating in front of you. I find this produces better tone for me, and it may relieve the pressure on your chin/teeth. When you find yourself pressing too hard, stop and begin again as before.

Also, and generally, you want to relax your grip and your whole body, identifying where you are tense (my ankles, for instance) and relaxing there. Do this again and again, whenever you find yourself tense. The trick is to play relaxed. Also repeatedly review your grip. Bottom up.

Also, sit straight and bring the flute to your mouth/chin.
Don't crane your neck forward. If you find yourself doing this while you
are playing, stop, sit straight, and bring the flute again to your mouth.


I appreciate this guidance, Jim. I will try to do these things today. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:53 pm 
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A friend told me that her teacher said "keep your lower jaw relaxed". I found this really helpful, because thinking about this kept may face and lips relaxed and made it easier to keep my upper lip advanced past my lower lip, so the air goes down, and the opening is close to the blowing edge. It's hard to keep if relaxed if you are pushing hard with the base of the left hand n the flute to force it against the jaw, because the jaw automatically tenses up to resist that force. If you start with the relaxed jaw, then you find that you can also dispense with a lot of pressure from the left hand.

I also use an idea similar to the one Jim mentioned, namely to imagine that the flute is suspended in the air and that one isn't holding it up, but bringing it gently to the lips while it floats there.

My other necessary thing for relaxation (and to use the Bb key if there is one) is to play frequently with my left thumb dangling to keep reminding myself of what a relaxed hand feels like. A relaxed top hand isn't forcing the flute into your lower lip

Hugh

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It takes about a decade to sound like you've been playing for 10 years (source unknown).


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:17 pm 
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Jim is right on. Imagine the head floating - only the least amount of pressure. The tendency is to press tightly against the lower lip, and I can see this eventually resulting in teeth movement.

I think it is something that you have to be very conscious about doing, until it is second nature.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:11 pm 
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Yes. In my case the task of making these things second nature never ends.
I second the advice above about practicing sometimes with the left hand thumb
dangling.


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