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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 12:19 am 
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Location: Milan, Italy
Hello everyone,
I've just approached ITM with my NcNeela irish flute and would need some advices for improving the length of my blow. I'd like to finish a phrase without risking to become blue :lol: And I'm sure that you experts have some good ideas :)
Dedicated exercises that I could make even when I don't have so much time to make practice (with 2 children of 4 and 9 years old is not always simple).

Many thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 12:28 am 
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Marish wrote:
Hello everyone,
I've just approached ITM with my NcNeela irish flute and would need some advices for improving the length of my blow. I'd like to finish a phrase without risking to become blue :lol: And I'm sure that you experts have some good ideas :)
Dedicated exercises that I could make even when I don't have so much time to make practice (with 2 children of 4 and 9 years old is not always simple).

Many thanks!



I'm a beginner on the flute too.

Using the timer on your phone, time yourself playing low D, E, D. Then low D, F#, D. continue that way, timing how long you can go. I bought a timer app for my phone that starts the timer after a 3 second delay, so I can be ready to go when the count begins., Doing that I managed to extend the time I could hold a note quite a bit.

Try to break up the phrasing of the tunes in ways that allow taking a breath. Omit a note if you have to. Find a way to make the pause add drama. If I do this, I can play musical versions of a tune-not as good as if I had more breath, but better than trying to get the whole tune out and ending up gasping. I made a post like yours a few months ago: in my case my concern is that I;m not a young man and flute is physically demanding. I got some excellent advice: http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=107764.

I've gotten a lot better since then!

PS it's helped me to focus on playing quietly or gently, especially in the second octave. Playing quietly with good tone promotes economy of breath, I think


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 2:06 am 
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It comes with practice, but as above, will help you get started.

Practice long steady notes, & when playing a tune, look for the end of musical phrases, so that you can take a breath without interrupting the flow of the music. Finding your embouchure will also take some time, we all have to develop it over time.

Most of all, enjoy the journey. :)

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 2:28 am 
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Quote:
look for the end of musical phrases, so that you can take a breath without interrupting the flow of the music.


Yes.

But..

Along side that, the advice would be to not always breath at the end of each phrase or breath in the same spots each time. The flow of the music is perhaps served well by continuing on, connecting the end of one phrase with the start of the next. Chopping the tune up in equal sized chunks doesn't really serve the flow. Do learn to identify spots to breath, leaving out the odd passing note or cutting short a long note to breath is as good a way of doing this as the next thing. Avoid too formulaic approaches. Vary.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 3:18 am 
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Also, learn to take in enough air when you do breath - deeply inhaling with the diaphragm - feels like breathing into your belly...

And when playing music (as opposed to breathing/tone exercises) try to make sure that you are never really more than about half empty when you take a breath. i.e. breathe before you absolutely have to and breathe to fill yourself up.

Where you take breaths is a very important aspect of interpretation and worthy of much study, but for now an easy way to start is to try singing the tune with nonsense syllables and see where you breath naturally (lilting) . Then transfer that to playing the tune on the flute.

The other aspect of air management is efficiency - how much air you need to produce a tone - and there, I would say concentrate first on the quality of the tone before trying too much to be stingy with your air. No one likes to hear a strangled, thin tone. Strangely, working on the quality of the tone also improves the air consumption, since wasted air sounds bad too.

So, long tones. Then long tones spread over mini scales or triplets, e.g. D-E-D or D-E-F-G-F-E-D, later, D-E-D-E-F-E-F-G-F-E-F-E-D-E-D-DDDDDD---- Stand 1m in front of a reflecting surface - e.g. mirror or smooth undecorated wall - and listen to the sound you hear from the wall, not the sound you think you hear coming from your flute or your lips. It is quite easy to distinguish the two separate sources of sound.

It is also important to practice hitting the first note after a breath cleanly. For this, play a long tone on the note and then breathe and concentrate on getting the note after the breath to come out immediately and as cleanly and strongly as the note you were playing when you stopped before the breath. Do not tongue, glottal or finger articulate while doing this. A further development of this is to do the exercise but with removing the flute from your lips while breathing and then replacing it to play the next note. A few mm separation is enough, so that you learn to put your flute back where it needs to be without thinking about it.

Have fun with all this.

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19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 5:32 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
.... the advice would be to not always breath at the end of each phrase or breath in the same spots each time. The flow of the music is perhaps served well by continuing on, connecting the end of one phrase with the start of the next. Chopping the tune up in equal sized chunks doesn't really serve the flow. Do learn to identify spots to breath, leaving out the odd passing note or cutting short a long note to breath is as good a way of doing this as the next thing. Avoid too formulaic approaches. Vary.


Yes, I wasn't meaning to take a breath at every end of phrase, but to know where they occur, so that you can replenish the lungs, when needed. :)

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 10:19 am 
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Good advice above, I just wanted to add a couple things that may help:

When learning a new tune, most of us start at a slower tempo to get the notes under our fingers, and then we gradually work it up to full session speed/dance tempo. The places where you take a breath in the tune will change, as the tune gets faster and more notes are played for each breath you take. If you "lock in" your breathing points too early when you're playing slower, you'll be taking too many breaths by the time it's up to full tempo. Took me a while to realize how that worked.

So, I don't spend too much time thinking about where I want to breathe when learning a new tune. I might breathe in places that are "wrong" like at the point between phrases or sections. After I have it up to tempo, I'll start analyzing what I'm doing, maybe shifting the breath points and dropped notes to make sure I'm blowing across the change between phrases, and I'm maintaining the pulse of the tune. Which is everything.

One other thing -- I've never been a fan of using a metronome when practicing (I know, I know). I played kit drums in bands for years when I was younger, and I think my ability to hold a steady rhythm is pretty decent. But I've noticed that when working on breathing, I might cheat the tempo a little if I'm not taking a breath fast enough. That breaks the rhythm, a big no-no. So lately I've started using a metronome to make sure I'm not cheating. It forces me to shorten or drop notes to get enough air and stay on tempo.


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 10:37 am 
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Excellent insightful post by Chris above.

He highlights the aspect that I'm continually trying to improve - grabbing sufficient air when I do breathe. This is slowly improving.

You mention 'turning blue'; if you have that 'out of air' feeling toward the end of phrases your air supply hasn't been sufficiently 'topped up' previous to that. I like to think of it as an air reservoir that we need to maintain above a minimum level. With practice we do become more efficient at expending our available air. But, as Chris said, sufficient intake even in the early stages of playing comes from pulling-in air from our diaphragm instead of a shallow upper chest in-breath, and also maybe allowing for more breaths than a more air-efficient experienced player.


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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 4:06 am 
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Learning a tune slowly with lots of breathing places (since it all takes so long that you need air more often...) means that when you take it up to tempo, you have more possible breathing spots than you need - varying which you take each time through the tune automatically gives you a first level of phrasing variations.

As always, making a virtue out of a necessity is the best way.

By the way, very little that I am saying is my own idea - I owe to a number of excellent teachers during my time.

_________________
19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 4:08 am 
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My number one problem today is breaking the rhythm when breathing by making the breath pause too long. Exactly as conical describes. Playing along to rhythmically solid recordings is the best tool that I know to fix this.

_________________
19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 9:04 am 
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Excellent advice on when to breathe etc. For an exercise, you could try this and see if it helps... it did for me, and was recommended by others. Try lying on your back, and playing long tones... as long as you can. You will feel what is happening in your diaphragm. Also, try playing long tones going from as quiet as you can, to loud, and back down again. Not terribly exciting, but it was important for me when I started playing, and I felt I was never going to be able to play a phrase without running out of air.

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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 5:31 pm 
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I practice by running up stairs while doing abdominal breathing (rather than breathing from the chest), in the days before I'm playing for a long period of time. Also, playing for lengthy dances helps, as quitting is not an option. Just a few thoughts on it. Alberta


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