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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:25 pm 
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I began playing my Windward flute a month ago. I am learning easy tunes suggested like the Irish Rover, The Foggy Dew, Southwind and a few others. I have taken some online lessons by a local player. I have to say that I find trying to learn this Flute is a humbling experience! Some days I surprise myself and produce a lovely tone on a few notes and other days the flute sounds nicer in it’s case! I am a persevering type of person and at least trying to enjoy the journey.
I am learning these tunes on my mandolin which is my main axe!
It was suggested that I purchased Larsen’s book and find it somewhat helpful. At what point in time should I begin trying out some of the Ornamentations? If you all could imagine yourselves as beginners again how would you recommend setting up an efficient practice session or routine? Doable Tunes? Length of time practicing? Or whatever?
Any suggestions would be most welcome!
Barry


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 3:51 pm 
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At the beginning stages of learning to play, there are so many other things to deal with -- your embouchure, your breathing, your flute hold -- that I wouldn't recommend trying to learn ornaments. First, you need to get comfortable forming clear notes in both octaves, figuring out where to breathe, and learning an embouchure where you're not wasting air.

That's plenty to work on in the first year or two. I don't think I tried incorporating ornaments until somewhere around 2 years in. After a while, they start to become automatic and you don't think about it. You'll add a cut between two consecutive notes at the same pitch by instinct, you might do a roll on a quarter note that stands alone in a tune. But get the basics down first.

Stick with it! It's a steep learning curve, but the view is wonderful when that hill starts to level out.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:06 pm 
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Larsen's tome is quite detailed, isn't it? I like it because of the precision and completeness, but it might not be the best beginner book.

Have you checked out Brother Steve's website? He does a concise, yet complete discussion of techniques that is very accessible for newcomers to whistle or flute:
https://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/

Note that Larsen calls cuts, taps and rolls "articulations" not "ornaments". The point would be that you should choose whether to articulate notes using a legato, tongued, cut or tapped method.

In any case, I would recommend playing all legato (no tonguing) at first in order to learn how to flow from note to note, and to gain crisp finger changes.

To solve the problem of adjacent same-notes, try using cuts.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:31 am 
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I've been playing flute a bit over a year and a half, and I'm not very good, but for what it's worth I can offer another beginner's perspective.

It's a steep hill. When I started out I could not play four bars without needing to breathe. I got dizzy. Playing a whole tune seemed like lifting 1000 pounds: impossible! Now I can get through tunes without strain. In my experience, and again not a great player by any means, It's partly about breath control and stamina, but overwhelmingly about focusing the embouchure. Just practicing steady tones helps a lot--just whole notes. Play whole note scales and concentrate on getting a good tone. It's like "slow bowing" with a violin. I've also benefited from trying to play at different volumes, especially trying to play the second octave more quietly.I still need a lot of work there.

As I get better I pay more attention to using breath pauses as an effect rather than a necessity, and on timing and ornaments and variation. But overwhelmingly it's all about getting control of the embouchure. Everything flows from that. I also bought a low Bb flute and the difference between playing that and playing a D flute made the D flute feel less intimidating.

The quarantine has been good for my playing in that almost every day I go out on the front porch and play tunes for the neighbors for twenty minutes or so. They tell me they really like it, that it's a peaceful and pastoral sound echoing over the hills, and the advantage for me is I think about each song as a performance that I MUST get through, rather than practice, and so rather than playing, coming to a mistake and stopping, I play through the mistakes. In my experience with the other instruments i actually play well performance is the best teacher, because you have to learn to make it work. Anyone who knows Irish Dance music will hear my playing and know what's wrong with it. But the neighbors know nothing at all about Irish dance music and so they applaud.

The thing I'm working on now is "breath pulse," trying to blow in a way that shapes the rhythm of the tune rather than just blowing a steady stream of air.

I'll be at this for the rest of my life!


Last edited by PB+J on Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:09 am 
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Location: Surrey/Hants border, England
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I'll be at this for the rest of my life!


Won't we all...... :D

....as another beginner, what is said above is true, whilst I don't play ITM, the embouchure is the key to flute playing. :)

_________________
Keith.
Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:01 am 
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Thank you all for your responses and suggestions. It’s comforting to hear that it isn’t only me that sees this steep slope! I’ll concentrate on improving and maintaining consistent and steady long tones.
Are there any common easy tunes you could propose?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:37 am 
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Bcoopmando wrote:
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions. It’s comforting to hear that it isn’t only me that sees this steep slope! I’ll concentrate on improving and maintaining consistent and steady long tones.
Are there any common easy tunes you could propose?


If you like the Irish traditional music genre, the first tune I learned was "rolling on [or "in"] the Ryegrass. I"m still trying to play it better, but It's a pretty straightforward and easy tune to get under your fingers. You can find lots of examples of it and sheet music or letter notation.

This guy breaks it down nice and slow: https://youtu.be/7IRduRDZ338


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 11:13 am 
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PB+J wrote:
Bcoopmando wrote:
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions. It’s comforting to hear that it isn’t only me that sees this steep slope! I’ll concentrate on improving and maintaining consistent and steady long tones.
Are there any common easy tunes you could propose?


If you like the Irish traditional music genre, the first tune I learned was "rolling on [or "in"] the Ryegrass. I"m still trying to play it better, but It's a pretty straightforward and easy tune to get under your fingers. You can find lots of examples of it and sheet music or letter notation.

This guy breaks it down nice and slow: https://youtu.be/7IRduRDZ338


It's a great tune :)

My favourite version of it is on Music at Matt Molloy's. The wee barks and chuffs are the best

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86NC_1MaBO8


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:23 pm 
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Alan Lomax recorded paddy taylor playing a version that blows me away but it's way too hard to start out with, like the Molloy version. Great but climb hills before mountains!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:47 pm 
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Bcoopmando wrote:
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions. It’s comforting to hear that it isn’t only me that sees this steep slope! I’ll concentrate on improving and maintaining consistent and steady long tones.
Are there any common easy tunes you could propose?


Jigs and hornpipes are more straightforward than reels, which can be rhythmically complex.

O'Carolan tunes when you are tired of long tones.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:49 pm 
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Location: Somerset, England
Bcoopmando wrote:
It was suggested that I purchased Larsen’s book and find it somewhat helpful. At what point in time should I begin trying out some of the Ornamentations? If you all could imagine yourselves as beginners again how would you recommend setting up an efficient practice session or routine? Doable Tunes? Length of time practicing? Or whatever?
Any suggestions would be most welcome!
Barry


As others have said, I wouldn't rush it. Early practice time is much better spent developing a solid foundation of flute hold, embouchure, breathing and a pleasant and consistent tone. The more familiar and automatic these aspects become the more relaxed you become when playing. I found it helped to be relatively relaxed when starting to look at ornaments.

I think I'd been playing for about 18 months before I started properly looking at adding ornaments. It felt like a 'space' opened up as I got more automatic with some other aspects of the basics and that enabled me to consciously think about adding and monitoring cuts and taps at first and then combining the two into rolls and then also slides.

My practice sessions in those first 18 months were held long notes to start especially low D to improve tone, low to high to low octave notes all the way up the flute, and repetitive practice of the A or B part and/or chunked phrases of the tune my teacher had given me that week, focus and concentration on breathing points, and then repertoire; keeping up with the full tunes that I had already learned. I also made good use of a mirror.

A key aspect is listening - constantly - to flute players whose sound you like. I can't over-emphasise the importance of this. To my mind it is essential to internalise the sound and pulse you are seeking to express. We need a sound space to enter and absorb; you will emerge from that space through your own playing in time. Like the transition from pupae to butterfly.

Personally I found breath control by far my biggest challenge. Still do. And remember there is no point where we dust our hands off and say to ourselves we're 'done'. Practice and development is a lifelong journey not a destination.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:47 pm 
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mendipman wrote:
Personally I found breath control by far my biggest challenge. Still do.

Same here. I no longer run out of breath in the general sense, but I need to keep working on where to breathe so it doesn't break tempo. And of course that's different for every tune.

One thing it took me a while to realize, was that the ideal place to take a breath doesn't stay the same when I first learn a tune at a slower tempo, and then when I finally have it up to dance tempos. The need for air doesn't change, but there are more notes between breaths at full tempo. So that means a shift in where the breath takes place.

What I'm doing now is not worrying too much about breathing when first learning a tune, just focusing on getting the fingering down at a slower tempo. I start to pay more attention to where I'm breathing when I have it closer to full tempo. Trying to figure out my breathing points too early at a slower tempo, is just wasted effort.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 5:04 pm 
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Should I have marked points in a tune where I practice that phrase? I realize with experience and practice I will be more efficient and be able to play longer phrases which will not use these reference “markers”! When I listen to the professional players their breath patterns are quite amazing.
I am trying to set up separate phrases in the simple tunes I am learning which I feel I could handle our grow into. I understand at the moment I should stick to simplistic ideas. Oh boy! The adult mind!!,,,, :-? :-?
Thanks for all your support.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:03 pm 
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Bcoopmando wrote:
Should I have marked points in a tune where I practice that phrase? I realize with experience and practice I will be more efficient and be able to play longer phrases which will not use these reference “markers”! When I listen to the professional players their breath patterns are quite amazing.
I am trying to set up separate phrases in the simple tunes I am learning which I feel I could handle our grow into. I understand at the moment I should stick to simplistic ideas. Oh boy! The adult mind!!,,,, :-? :-?
Thanks for all your support.


I found it very helpful when breath point were marked. I don't need that any more: I can get throgh tunes, but I still find it useful and valuable to see where other people placed a breath

Conal O'Grada's flute tutor is particularly good on this, with lots of thoughtful insights about breath. He's a striking and distinctive player with a very well thought out approach.

My favorite remains Mike Rafferty, who tends to take thing at moderate tempos and uses relatively less ornamentation, but still manages a powerful sense of swing, drive and musicality.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:49 pm 
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Either a new or used flute can serve you well as a beginner. I echo what has been said, "get the best flute you can afford, within reason." I worked my way through a number of flutes when I first started--Olwell bamboo, Hoza, PVC by someone, antique student flute, Casey Burns, and a wonderful Copley. The best experience for me as a beginner was with a Casey Burns (not sure of the model--it was likely a standard hole version). The embouchure allowed me to get a good tone as a beginner, and so, I played more often. I've recently purchased a CB Folk flute for camping and travel and as many on this forum will attest, they are a fantastic value. The Delrin Copley I had early on (used and not expensive) was a great instrument and enjoyable to play. I miss the Copley and the Burns. I don't think I paid more than $400 for any of those first flutes (2005 era dollars).

It takes time to build up strength of embouchure (lips and such) in order to find more efficient air stream and tone. Efficiency leads to easier breathing--more notes between breaths and such. Practice is the key--time playing.

Such a wonderful journey. I'm still working on all facets of playing my flute and always will be trying to improve. AND, so many wonderful instruments out there by skilled makers.

Just a note: I still have and regularly play the Olwell bamboo. it plays differently than a conical bore, but, is an AMAZING instrument.


Last edited by BKWeid on Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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