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 Post subject: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:26 pm 
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I have a feeling that when I play my flute it sounds softer than when some other people play it. I know my flute can be louder if I tried, but it seems I'm not doing something right.

This problem is most noticeable in sessions where there are a lot of instruments, and I feel I am getting drowned out.

What should I do when practicing to increase my volume?


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:21 pm 
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.


Last edited by seanpmoran on Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:00 pm 
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Probably the best way to improve your volume is to improve your
embouchure. You know the garden hose analogy--so one blows a
stream of water through a narrow opening and it goes farther. The
way you improve your embouchure is methodically doing long tones,
overtone exercises. I believe it helps (and is a good idea for several reasons)
to play a higher pitched flute too, something like a bamboo G or Bb or A,
since it is more demanding on your embouchure and strengthens it.
These instruments are worth playing for their own sake.
As always patience is essential.

Another thing is to play the flute 'on edge.' Roll the headjoint in a bit (if
you aren't doing so already) and get an edgy sound. I believe this sounds
louder and projects better.

Of course some flutes are louder than others, so your flute may have a role
in this. I personally find (and others have agreed) that, all other things being equal,
a flute with a lined head joint projects better. Some flutes are just quiet. Others
are honkers.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:14 pm 
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A tight, well-developed embouchure will not only help you play louder, it will give you greater control over your volume in general. They're not quite as fun as playing tunes, but there are exercises that you can and should be doing to help develop your embouchure, including

Long tones going up the scale. See how long you can hold each note as you move up before needing a breath. Keep the volume and pitch exactly even throughout the tone; you'll probably notice a tendency to trail off as you start running out of breath.

Octaves up the scale Play low-high-low going up the scale, and high-low-high down it, making the transition as clean as possible.

One exercise that picked up from a couple lessons from Brendan Mulholland is roll on low E, roll on high e, play f#-e-d then back to low E. Repeat this pattern around F#, G, A, and B. A little hard to explain, but essentially practices rolls and octaves all in one handy little exercise. Try separating each note with a glottal stop to practice that as well.

Now, notice that none of these are necessarily about specifically making the flute louder. That's because, as I used to say when I taught skiing, it's all about control. One you have a strong embouchure, you can play as softly or as loudly as you want (within the confines of your flute, of course- no competing with Metallica on volume!). But just like any other muscle, your lips need training first.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:31 pm 
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Yes, and another helpful exercise is spending some time playing
tunes quite softly.

People who take singing lessons are sometimes told to swim laps,
do abdominal exercises, and so on. Fluting is pretty close to singing,
so aerobic and abdominal fitness can help one's blowing, stamina,
and control. I see fluting as (among other things) an athletic activity,
the sort of thing it makes sense to train to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:19 pm 
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And an embouchure exercise that has been mentioned in the past by Brad Hurley is the one-handed scale.

Best wishes.

Steve

_________________
"[Some flutists] place the flute between the upper lip and the nose, blowing the instrument from below. This position does not prevent good playing, but it does not look graceful."
~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:37 am 
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I agree with everyone that it's about your embouchure, it's not about "blowing harder" but "blowing with more focus." And getting more focus requires training your mouth muscles.

When I think of flute players who have a very penetrating and clear tone -- people like June McCormack, Siobhan Kelly, Hammy Hamilton -- they're not necessarily playing loudly (well, Hammy plays loudly AND clearly), it's more that their tone is so focused that you can hear them through anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:18 am 
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You’ve already got a ton of feedback so I just want to provide clarification:

For information on practicing overtones see Lesl Harkers’s page for a thorough explanation: https://iflute.weebly.com/tips-for-students.html

She also has a nice exercise listed there: http://iflute.weebly.com/uploads/9/7/6/ ... _flute.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:44 pm 
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All of this may come under stuff you already know, but here goes. I agree with all that was said about embouchure development and that is a long journey for me. There is another side to strictly playing louder. I have sat near a flute player that was too loud all the time and after a while it wears thin. (Note to friends, this was not around home.)

If you are trying to 'cut through' a session consider other factors as well. An acoustically bright room may swamp the flute sound. Are you sitting next to a wall, or better in a corner? Maybe there is too much chatter and clinking in the pub anyway.

Other players make a huge difference. Are you sitting next to a pair of fiddles who know each other's playing and spend a lot of time in harmony and pushing on the long notes in the melody? Are you sitting next to a resonator banjo (yikes)?

A session with good players that goes through a tune more than the usual 3 times may have the fiddle, etc players take a break and play low for a cycle. That is your chance to step up.

Are there places in the tune where the flute can put out a nice yelp? I find these in the melody line that contains an upper octave EAAG, GBBA, or DGGF where the middle note can be given an exaggerated cut to produce a flutey sound that goes right over the din. There are other similar places in many tunes where G, A, or B is on the beat and can be given that nice cut. Happy flutiing.
Lewis


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:47 pm 
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I echo everything everyone else said. So I won't repeat technical stuff. I do want to say it is OK to play quietly in a session. We are there to blend with each other.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:46 am 
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Quote:
We are there to blend with each other.
. :thumbsup:

Bob

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Not everything you can count, counts. And not everything that counts, can be counted

The Expert's Mind has few possibilities.
The Beginner's mind has endless possibilities.
Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi


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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 3:16 am 
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Quote:
I feel I am getting drowned out


Have you heard a recording of the session where you think you're drowned out? - I've played in large sessions where I could hardly hear myself yet on a recording taken from the other end of the session it can be heard, the flute often cuts through other instruments. If you are still developing your embouchure then it's probably good that you are not playing so loud, as busterbill said "We are there to blend with each other"


Last edited by Gromit on Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing louder
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:04 pm 
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Location: Ypsilanti, Michigan
Steve Bliven wrote:
And an embouchure exercise that has been mentioned in the past by Brad Hurley is the one-handed scale.


I've been practicing the one handed scale now, and it's been helping a lot! Thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for getting this conversation going!

When I had a lesson with Sean Gavin, he did three things to help my embouchure.

1) Using a mirror, which has already been discussed in this thread.

2) He had me hold the flute with just my left hand while blowing a G (I'm right handed) and hold out my right hand in front of the flute to feel how much air was escaping. Then I'd roll the flute back and forth while blowing, and also narrow and widen my embouchure to see the correlation between amount of air hitting my outstretched hand and the sound produced by the flute. For me, it seemed the less air on my hand, the stronger the sound.

3) He taught me that the high g, a, b didn't need much air to sound, and didn't need to be loud. He narrowed his embouchure to the size of a pin hole and got a clear, quiet, consistent tone. He recommended playing the low GAB, then jumping to the high gab by only narrowing embouchure, and not using any extra breath. Then when I could do that, he recommended playing the high notes clearly, then backing off until it was whisper soft but still with a clear tone.

That really changed my playing a lot. Hope this helps you, too.


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