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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:36 pm 
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I'm 62. I agree with the post above. Age ain't sh*t unless you make it so.

I'm lucky. I've been a guitar player for about 55 years. My brain thinks in musical terms. I hear... I noodle... I play.

The biggest challenge with the flute for me so far has been breath control and that "deep, dark tone." Still a work in progress. These days it feels like it takes more air to drive my Feadog C than it does my Shannon or Somers. Be patient. Play a little each day. When you play, make some of it fundamentals (scales, fingering, breathing, etc) and make an equal amount fun stuff just for you. You are the one person who will hear you every time you play. Make sure you enjoy it.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:22 pm 
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bradhurley wrote:
Matt Molloy just recorded a solo album at age 70.

Also recall that Matt had TB in 1977, spending 2 months in a sanitorium & 2 years to recover fully.

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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:04 am 
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Lots of well-considered responses. Uncharacteristically, there is a lot of agreement.

I'm on a similar path, starting a little older than you. I had some number of years on whistle (I learned tunes, rolls & decorations, but never became an intuitive musician), then I fell in love with the flute.

Developing a good embouchure will take time, steady work and daily attention to tone quality, but i've found that the flute can be almost as air efficient as a whistle.

My path?

0 - 2 months barely able to shape sounds. Discovered that my mouth shape needed a different position.
2 -12 months finally able to play tunes, but I did experience typical physical issues such as hyperventilating, finger soreness, arms/shoulders/posture issues, Embouchure getting tired fairly quickly
12 - 18 months finally achieved some level of quality in my tone...
18 months buy new flute with less-forgiving (but good) embouchure, start over,
18 - 36 months develop more consistency and much better tone quality and volume. Usually (but not always), I'm able to hit a very rich low register.

After 2 1/2 years, I would say that I have very few physical difficulties such as pain or breath. Embouchure could always be more consistent. Tone, Breath and musicianship is always in need of improvement.

Future Goals?

Consistency in the low register & improved quality in the high register. Tonal quality for soft, medium and loud notes. Breath control without disrupting the flow of the tune,

I definitely feel that long tones, slow scales, sweet airs and O'Carolyn tunes, practice exercises are essential and give me (slow) steady improvement.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 4:16 am 
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Something else I would suggest is to record your progress, say once a month, as you will improve, & it's reassuring to hear yourself getting better. :thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:15 am 
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Oh wow, PB+J

You are exactly the kind of player I enjoy hearing from. Anyone can pick up an instrument in their youth. But life isn't always that simple, is it. And, as you get a bit older, it's more and more important that life is fulfilling.

And I'm so enjoying hearing the encouraging noises from our friends here on C&F. All on your side. Thank you, good people!

Now many years ago, I wrote this stuff on breathing, and maybe, just maybe, there'll be something in there that will talk to you, or will prompt someone smarter to reinterpret. (Feel free, someone smarter!)

Breathing

There is a great temptation, especially among music notation readers, to breathe only at the end of parts of the tune. This usually means that a lot of the tune is played weakly for want of air, that breaths are long and loud and that parts of the tune get lost. Experienced players find smart places to breathe often, and turn the pauses for breath into punctuation. Smart places include long notes, which might otherwise be rolled. So, for example, a long G might be played as G......G, or rolled as GBGF#GGG, or used as a place to breathe as GslurpG. In this way the need to breathe is turned into a virtue and the breath, instead of becoming a hole in the tune, becomes a statement, a rhythmical variation. Varying where the breath is taken can also add variety.

A good tune to try out some of these tricks is The Leitrim Fancy. Keep in mind that jigs should have a happy skipping rhythm (each bar will sound "tick-e-ty, tick-e-ty"). Rendered into "FluteSpeak", the Leitrim Fancy might sound like this:

G roll, F# roll | E slurp B, B cut A B |
G roll, F# roll | D slurp A, A cut F# D |
G roll, F# roll | E slurp B, B cut A B |
G cut B, d B G | A cut B G, F# cut E D |

(repeat first part)

G cut B , d B d | e roll , d B A |
G cut B , d B G | A cut B G , F# cut E D |
G cut B , d B d | E roll , d e f# |
g cut f# e, d B G | A B G , F# cut E D |

(repeat second part)

(Heh heh, I realise, to my embarrassment, that I've completely forgotten to suggest breathing opportunities in the second part! But, let's see if the first part works for PB&J, or if others would like to take over and suggest a better slurping pattern for both parts.)

Now rolls and cuts may mean nothing to you if you're a beginner, but I'm sure you can find out about them on the web (on YouTube hopefully so you get to hear how they sound). But the real point about what I write above is how to sneak little snatches of breath into your playing so that you never get low on oxygen. People have often asked me if I ever breathe. I take that as a compliment!

I'm almost 71, you young whipper snapper! But I did have the benefit of starting in my early twenties. But I reckon that isn't a knockout blow.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:10 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
Oh wow, PB+J

You are exactly the kind of player I enjoy hearing from. Anyone can pick up an instrument in their youth. But life isn't always that simple, is it. And, as you get a bit older, it's more and more important that life is fulfilling.

And I'm so enjoying hearing the encouraging noises from our friends here on C&F. All on your side. Thank you, good people!

Now many years ago, I wrote this stuff on breathing, and maybe, just maybe, there'll be something in there that will talk to you, or will prompt someone smarter to reinterpret. (Feel free, someone smarter!)

Breathing

There is a great temptation, especially among music notation readers, to breathe only at the end of parts of the tune. This usually means that a lot of the tune is played weakly for want of air, that breaths are long and loud and that parts of the tune get lost. Experienced players find smart places to breathe often, and turn the pauses for breath into punctuation. Smart places include long notes, which might otherwise be rolled. So, for example, a long G might be played as G......G, or rolled as GBGF#GGG, or used as a place to breathe as GslurpG. In this way the need to breathe is turned into a virtue and the breath, instead of becoming a hole in the tune, becomes a statement, a rhythmical variation. Varying where the breath is taken can also add variety.

A good tune to try out some of these tricks is The Leitrim Fancy. Keep in mind that jigs should have a happy skipping rhythm (each bar will sound "tick-e-ty, tick-e-ty"). Rendered into "FluteSpeak", the Leitrim Fancy might sound like this:

G roll, F# roll | E slurp B, B cut A B |
G roll, F# roll | D slurp A, A cut F# D |
G roll, F# roll | E slurp B, B cut A B |
G cut B, d B G | A cut B G, F# cut E D |

(repeat first part)


G cut B , d B d | e roll , d B A |
G cut B , d B G | A cut B G , F# cut E D |
G cut B , d B d | E roll , d e f# |
g cut f# e, d B G | A B G , F# cut E D |

(repeat second part)

(Heh heh, I realise, to my embarrassment, that I've completely forgotten to suggest breathing opportunities in the second part! But, let's see if the first part works for PB&J, or if others would like to take over and suggest a better slurping pattern for both parts.)

Now rolls and cuts may mean nothing to you if you're a beginner, but I'm sure you can find out about them on the web (on YouTube hopefully so you get to hear how they sound). But the real point about what I write above is how to sneak little snatches of breath into your playing so that you never get low on oxygen. People have often asked me if I ever breathe. I take that as a compliment!

I'm almost 71, you young whipper snapper! But I did have the benefit of starting in my early twenties. But I reckon that isn't a knockout blow.




Thank you, just want to reiterate that Ive been working quite hard on the whistle and have a large repertoire of cuts and taps that I can deploy tastelessly and to...significant effect. I have got the "using breath as an articulation" thing somewhat worked out.

If I sit down to play "Garrett Barry's jig," one of my favorites, on the low D whistle I can get through the whole A section once, in one breath. On the flute I can't get through the first two measures.

I do notice that if I'm wearing short sleeves (it's cold here right now) I can feel my own breath on my arm as I play the flute, so I'm clearly wasting a lot of air on arm hairs, and as somebody mentioned there should not be THAT big a difference between a low whistle and a flute.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:03 am 
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Charting improvement; I kept this log for my first year of playing flute. Each line represents an hour of play, usually divided into 20 to 30 minutes of practice per day totaling the hour. That I could see improvement was helpful for me to keep me going through the dark times...
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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:51 pm 
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Location: Malua Bay, on the NSW Nature Coast
PB+J wrote:
If I sit down to play "Garrett Barry's jig," one of my favorites, on the low D whistle I can get through the whole A section once, in one breath. On the flute I can't get through the first two measures.

I do notice that if I'm wearing short sleeves (it's cold here right now) I can feel my own breath on my arm as I play the flute, so I'm clearly wasting a lot of air on arm hairs, and as somebody mentioned there should not be THAT big a difference between a low whistle and a flute.


OK, certainly sounds like it's focusing the air that's your problem. Two thoughts:

- try playing slow and easy stuff, eg song tunes that you can probably play without having to think about them too much. And just concentrate on clean tone and getting rid of any noise. Noise is the sound of wasted air - air that never got near enough to the edge to excite oscillation.

- you might find this helpful: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Getting_the ... k_tone.htm
It talks about blowing down more into the flute.

Incidentally, although I can easily get through an A part on a jig and have plenty of reserves, I never would. Lots of little sips rather than a big slurp.

I do find when I go back to the whistle (treble D - I don't have a low D), I sometimes have to spill air!


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:29 am 
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Can't get through two measures; yeah, you'll do better than that.

I can't remember where i heard this, a youtube from a classical flutist, I think. Long tone practice where you keep slowly change the shape of your embouchure: wider, taller; more windy, cleaner; pure-sound, reedy-tone; louder, softer. Start on the G note, work down to D, then work up to C.

Here's a way to monitor progress: week-in, week-out you practice scales, arpeggios, slower tunes, fun tunes. On the first day of each month, you repeat the careful tone exercise the first day of each month. I will bet that each month you will notice progress.

I really like the recommendation to play slower, beautiful tunes, or as I suggested O'Carolan compositions.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:07 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I started playing the flute in 1968, after having played recorders for a number of years, and I can't really remember those early years very well, but I will assume that what others have written is correct and that if you persevere you will develop an embouchure with which your air will be better focussed and you will need less of it. Just two additional points, one of which will be most useful later on (I'm 76). First, if you can obtain Seamus Egan's Mad for Trad flute tutorial, the first section contains a nice selection of simple airs which are ideal for the beginning flute player. Nice music and easy to play. Second, as you age you will have less 'wind' and you may reach a point where some Irish flutes take more wind than you care to expend. If this happens, there are alternatives which take less air (because they have smaller bores and smaller tone holes). For discussion purposes we can call these Pratten, medium hole Rudall and small hole Rudall (there are also large-holed Rudall model flutes). (Rudall and Rose, later Rudall and Carte made flutes throughout the 19th century, which saw a gradual increase in bore size and tone hole size.) I have all of these 3 types of flutes and at my age, find that although in some ways the tone of the Pratten is best for Irish music, it takes more air than I can put out for an extended period of time, say more than 1/2 hour. I'm fine with the other two types of flutes, but I'm sure there will come a time when only the smallest holed and smallest bore flute will work for me. (I know there are other flute players, even some in their 80s, who still play Prattens with no difficulty -- we all have different physiques and capabilities.) (Just to let you know you have some company, I've played the guitar for about 62 years, although nowadays it's mostly flutes that I play.). Chet C.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:01 am 
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Thank you all for this thread. I’m also a near 60 years young guy who just started flute a few months ago. The comments are very enlightening and encouraging.

I come with a background of playing rim blown ancestral Puebloan flutes for several years. (And I clearly remember the days of feeling like I was going to faint.) Two things that I was taught that helped tremendously were practicing long tones (already mentioned) for embouchure development, and belly breathing. On the long tones, we would actually time ourselves. As one went from being able to play a tone from, say 12 seconds to maybe 20, one noted better control of the tone, breath, and the ability to regain the sound if it got “lost”.

On the “belly breathing”, we were taught to breath from the belly rather than the upper chest. I’m wondering if the more seasoned players would chime in on this point for playing the faster tempo ITM that I(we) am attempting to play.
Thanks,
Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:32 am 
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Hi4head wrote:

On the “belly breathing”, we were taught to breath from the belly rather than the upper chest. I’m wondering if the more seasoned players would chime in on this point for playing the faster tempo ITM that I(we) am attempting to play.
Thanks,
Chris


Good addition Chris, but this term “belly breathing” needs replacing as it can lead folks astray: Particularly when well meaning teachers, friends, or internet experts suggest that the test of proper “belly breathing” is to place a hand on your “belly” or “stomach” to feel if it’s moving in and out when you breathe. This is, well.....let’s just say not in alignment with the actual physiology of how we breath. YouTube search for “how the diaphragm works” is probably a good place to start, but the short story is: Your Diaphram moves down to draw air into your lungs and it moves up to expel air. Making your “belly” move in and out is primarily a function of relaxing and contracting certain abdominal muscles, not movement of the diaphragm.

Even the “more proper” term “diaphragmatic breathing” isn’t really accurate because, well, that’s really the only way we can breathe (on our own), it’s not some special woodwind playing technique. That said, most beginners do seem to find ways to inhibit/limit proper (normal) deep breathing as they struggle with the demands of learning a new instrument, so the reminder to breathe deeply and naturally is a good one. Exercises to this end can be helpful as well, but sometimes these take the form of teachers coaching students to try to distend their lower abdomen while inhaling to prove they are “belly breathing, which is hogwash.

Sorry, but as a long time certified personal trainer, and a previously certified EMT, this is one of those things I couldn’t let slide, it drives me nuts :boggle: But again, good call Chris, despite my issues with the particular terminology, which I realize is not your own doing.


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:23 am 
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I queried this business of 'belly breathing' when someone told me about it (please sir, I read on the internet that...)

I got what seemed to be a sensible answer that it was shorthand for using the diaphragm rather than putting a lot of effort into using intercostal muscles to expand the chest, which would be Hi4head's "... belly rather than the upper chest... ".


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 Post subject: Re: Flute and age
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 5:59 pm 
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Well with some hard work this afternoon I was able to get through the first "A" of Garrett Barry's jig without needing a breath. Once. But I could consistently get three measures, whereas before, as mentioned, I could barely get two. So progress!



Steph Geramia is currently walking me through "Tripping To the Well" at the Online Academy of Irish Music. From all the whistle playing I can pick the tune up in no time, but the breathing thing....also sometimes I seem to have what I think is a great tone and other times I sound like flute section of the 5th grade band.

The "Shannon" whistle has this thing where the Low D is very loud and solid but the E and F# are noticeably weaker. This does sometimes throw me, as I end up trying to blow them harder


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