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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:57 am
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Location: Milan, Italy
Hello folks!
I'm an adult beginner. Even if I bought my flute in Jan 2019, I've been seriously practicing from the COVID lockdown only, i.e. approx. 2 months.
I'm trying to practice every day, from 20 min til 1 hour/1 hour and a half if possible. Since the improvement is obviously slow, sometimes I feel to be a little bit "lost", without a "program" for practicing.
So I'm asking to you, more expert for sure, some ideas to make my practice more efficient :)

Thanks to all for the advice!
Marish


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 2:27 pm 
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Yes, the flute takes a while to gain proficiency.

Learning the embouchure takes longer than fingers, so it helps to dedicate specific attention to tone. Long-tones, scales and arpeggios. Play in the low register; play in the high register - even into the third register as that builds strength and focus that shows up in improved low-register.

I've found that O'Carolan tunes are beneficial because they are slower and very beautiful. You can concentrate on getting the beautiful tone you want when you aren't struggling with fast reels or jigs.


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 7:10 pm 
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In addition to tstermitz's suggestions, harmonics and short tones. Play a low D, without moving the flute or your fingers just by adjusting your embouchure, play the second-octave D and A, and the third octave D and eventually F#. Do this for different notes, although you're not likely to get the fifth harmonic, and less likely to get the fourth the higher up the scale you go. For short tones, bring the flute to your lips and just puff very briefly to play a note. Do about five very short bursts and repeat. The short notes and long notes are different sides of the same coin -- I think the long tones are more to find the sweet spot, and the short tones are to develop the muscle memory.

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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 8:13 pm 
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Everybody feels lost at the beginning. Patience. Also good advice in this thread.


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 7:36 am 
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Thanks! And what about the breathing? Have you examples for practicing on this? Apart from playing playing playing...
:-?


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 9:02 am 
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As a beginner, concentrate on getting a good embouchure, then the breathing, which will be mainly from the stomach/diaphram area. The long notes as above will help develop your breath control, then as you progress, you will find the best places to inhale/exhale, along with the phrasing of the music. :)

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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 9:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2002 6:00 pm
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Marish wrote:
Thanks! And what about the breathing? Have you examples for practicing on this? Apart from playing playing playing...
:-?


A useful exercise is to practice taking a normal breath and holding a steady tone on the flute for as long as you can. With practice you should eventually be able to hold a steady tone for 30 seconds or longer. You should eventually be able to get two times through the A part or B part of a tune without having to take a breath. Not that you have to play that way; it's normal to take much more frequent breaths, but having the ability to go a longer time between breaths gives you more options in terms of phrasing. And your tone will be steadier and better supported. Be sure not to let any air escape through your nose, save it all for the flute!

The secret to breath control is to use your abdominal muscles to provide constant pressure as you exhale: your belly should move inward as you exhale and outward as you inhale. Some people incorrectly refer to this as using your diaphragm, but all breathing is done with the diaphragm; breath support is provided mainly by the abdominal muscles, which contract as you breathe out.

It's a similar process to playing a bagpipe where all the air is forced through a narrow opening (the reed) and the bagpiper's arm provides constant pressure on the bag, as the bag empties out, to maintain a steady tone. In the case of the flute, the narrow opening is your embouchure (the small space through which air is escaping between your lips), the "bag" is your lungs, and the force exerting steady pressure on your lungs is your abdominal muscles.


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 10:17 am 
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What Brad said. Also I think it's a good idea to do some moderately vigorous aerobic activity
at least one half hour a day. Walking, jogging, swimming.....The point is to really exercise the muscles used in blowing flute. This is also indicated to maintain physical health in general. Singers sometimes swim laps. You can build stamina and strength for blowing. While striding along, sometimes take deep breaths, purse the lips, and exhale blowing as on a flute. Flooting is an athletic activity, getting in shape to play flute helps a lot, IMO.

Once again these things take time, especially at the beginning. Patience. Once you get the fundamental skill set online, you can improve for the rest of your life.

Another help is to get hold of a higher pitched flute, e.g. in Bb or A or.... These are more demanding of the embouchure, strengthen it, and improve it on the D flute. And you can play whole tunes, such instruments are beautiful and relatively inexpensive. In general, when you get a demanding flute from a good maker, you accept the challenge and rise to it.


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 12:36 pm 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dfkM5AubCU


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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 4:49 am 
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There are only 2 rules to remember when learning and practicing every instrument:

1. Watch your body posture. Be careful, be relaxed, and study your movements. This is like going to gym, and being an adult makes everything worse. ALWAYS warm your arms, shoulders, jaws and neck before playing, and strecth after your practice session. ALWAYS. Relax/move you arms after you finish a tune, and take a break every 45 minutes. Blood irrigation slows down after this period of time in arms, so tendons/joints will suffer.

As an adult learner when I was 20, I learnt about this the bad way, and believe me, it´s frustrating and will keep you away from playing for months or even years... I had to quit my Arts studies for a year and couldn´t play for years because a very severe tendonitis caused by bad posture holding the flute, too much playing, typing and exercising my fingers and not doing what I just told. I´m much better now, of course, I play flute and pipes reasonably well, but I´m 41 and pain is still with me, both arms.

2. Play real SLOW. ALWAYS. Know the tune, the possibilities, alter the possibilities of nuances and articulation... all this needs to be studied this way first.

I think that you should pay attention to my 2 points first and, after that, follow the excellent tips given by the members here :)
Enjoy.


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