Issue: April-June 2011
Bandworld Magazine Page


Did You Know?

by Patricia George Bio

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about flute pedagogy and performance.

What can I do to get my flute section to play in tune?

  1. Check the cork of each flutist’s headjoint using the cleaning rod. The line on the rod should be in the center of the embouchure hole.
  2. Pull the headjoint out from the body of the flute about 1/4th  inch. Use a ruler. Mark with a sharpie pen.
  3. Align the center of the right hand keys with the center of the embouchure hole. Mark with a sharpie pen.
  4. Keep the embouchure hole facing up to the ceiling when playing.
  5. Blow. Even air is your friend.

Should the chairs in the rehearsal hall be set up the same for each instrument?
   No. Some instruments are played symmetrically and some are played asymmetrically. The flute is played asymmetrically because it is played off to the right side. Turn the player’s chair 45* to the right. The players left knee should be at 12:00 and the right knee at 3:00. Turn the head to the 12:00 position. The flute should be balanced/positioned parallel to the music stand.

Should the flute be loose or secure to the chin?
   The flute should be placed securely in the chin by the left hand knuckle. In a recent masterclass, one famous flutist offered $100 to anyone who could get her flute off her chin!

My flute section starts out of tune, but the more they play, the more out of tune it becomes. Why?
   The flute is designed to that it is heavier on the back side of the instrument than the front side. Every time a flutist plays a note where the left hand thumb is removed, the flute rolls back. It the student does not correct this rolling back when he replaces the thumb, he will be a little flatter each time the thumb is removed. If the students are taught to balance the flute well to minimize the natural rolling back, the flute section will remain in tune.

All my students have braces now. Before the braces they had good sounds, now they are airy! Why?
   Place from 2 to 5 layers of masking tape, cut in the shape of a half circle on the chin side of the embouchure hole. This will build the flute out to the flutist’s air stream. Each time the braces are adjusted, the flutist will have to retest how many layers it takes to find the air.



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