Doctor Flute Blog

Musings on Flute Music

Improve Your Tone by Opening Your Sinuses

Try this out for me. Pick up your flute and play a scale. While you are playing, analyze what the back of your throat is doing. Is your throat open? What about the back of your throat, going up to your sinuses? Is the back of your tongue down so that your throat can...

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Piccolo Embouchure Placement

It is a common belief that we flutists can play piccolo just because of the nature of the flute and piccolo are from the same family. This usually occurs in high school where the band director needs someone on piccolo, and points to you. So, you just pick up the...

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Practice with Me Low Register Tonguing

Today's practice with me is Low Register Tonguing. We all have trouble getting our low notes to come out with a very short tongue. If you have to triple tongue or double tongue in your low register, it often comes out as big puffs of air. Even when you use a short...

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Approaching a New Solo

It is always fun to get a new solo. I love when an order comes from Flute World or Sheet Music Plus. I like to take the music out of the package and feel the newness of the pages. New music smells differently too. These sensory feelings are all part of the pleasure of...

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How to Practice Triplet Scales

Today's practice is on triplet scales. Technique practice is one of the most fun parts of practicing. I could practice technique all day. It really suits me to work on agility and speed. One of the best methods for scale practice is triplet scales. Let me teach you...

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New Years Goals

We all set personal goals in the new year, right? But do you have flute goals? What are your flute goals for 2018? What are you dreaming about doing, performing, achieving? My Flute Goals: Fill in my performance schedule. You have to work at scheduling gigs. They...

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The Left Hand Position

Let's talk about a couple of little issues with the left hand. First let's clarify an aspect of the flute that will affect your left hand position [it's not open/closed hole]: In-line G Offset G Half Offset G I don’t believe that open/closed hole makes a difference on...

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Right Hand Position

Do you know if your right hand is properly placed on your flute for optimal performance & health? The right hand should be comfortable when on your flute. When playing, you want your wrist to have no tension and in order to do that, you need to have a good hand...

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Quiet Breath

I’ve heard competition judges at the NFA convention discuss with the audience how competitors need to learn how to take quieter breaths. Their estimation of the competitor went down simply because the breath was too loud and distracting. It especially took away from...

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Practicing Technique

If you're not doing a steady diet of practicing your technique for a good part of your practice time, you need to start now. You need to add as much variety as you can in your technical practice, such as: Taffanel one, Taffanel two, four, and five. I like to combine...

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Is it time to upgrade?

That is quite a question isn't it? Really, when is it time? Is there ever an "absolutely must" time or is it only an "I really want it" time? Then again when you have decided that it is time to upgrade, what flute do you get and how much do you spend? Here are my...

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So Much to Do So Little Time

Are you busy? Really, that is a silly question because who is not busy. Schedules today, both our own and our kids are so full that having copious amounts of practice time is an ideal thing of the past. Today it’s about how to get the most out of the little bit of ==>...

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Embouchure Placement

Embouchure placement is not a sure thing. If you have grown up, and you've taken lessons, and you've played for a long time, yet you're still not happy with the sound that you're getting, think about your embouchure and its relationship to your lip. I thought for so...

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A New Program Is Like Christmas

It's that time of year (well past really) where I put together a new recital program and in these parts that's nigh unto Christmas, right? I mean who doesn't get totally excited when new music arrives in the mail. It's Christmas ! ! ! ! ! !     I absolutely love...

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Finger Positions

Do you keep your fingers on the flute when you play? Are you letting gravity pull them down? If not, you should be. Your fingers need to be staying on the keys when you play. They move much better. They're more efficient. They're faster. And they're less noisy when...

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Flutes Through the Years

I've had two new flutes in my professional career. Both were monumental in my life. When I began flute lessons at school in 4th grade, my Dad was the high school band director. He got me a Gemeinhardt from the schools assortment of instruments. I called it my...

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Your B Thumb

It's important that when you are playing flute that your fingers are as natural and as relaxed as possible. And that goes for your thumb too. This is talking about your B thumb. I see so many students that play with the tip of their thumb. I used to play with my thumb...

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How Do You Rate Your Practice?

On a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the best, how would rate your practice time? Do you feel you get a lot accomplished with real quality time? Maybe? Maybe you are thinking "I wonder if my practice time is a 3?" Anyone right there? I believe you are not alone. In my...

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Performance Movement

Have you ever watched yourself play? Do you wiggle a lot when you perform? Are you moving all over the stage? Well, you're probably not walking around, but moving your body all over when you perform? Sometimes, that’s very distracting from the audience's perspective....

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Two-Timing

Are you a two-timer? My professor at Eastman told me about her time at college and how her teacher once called her two-timing Bonnie. That means you begin a piece then stop because you made a mistake. Then you begin again and finish flawlessly. I heard Trevor Wye...

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Practicing Your Etudes

Are you practicing your etudes? Do you do them diligently every day and treat them as if they are solos? If not, you're missing out. Etudes are an amazing way to build technique, to build stamina, to build concentration. Being able to play an etude perfectly from the...

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Slow to Fast

Slow gets you fast faster. Say it again. Slow gets you fast faster. That will cure every technical ill you have. Do it! I'm doing it too! Doctor...

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Practicing Octave Slurs

When you practice octave slurs, you need to think about the tone you're getting when you go up the octave. Are you actually blowing harder, or are you using your airstream and raising the airstream in order to get that upper octave? If you struggle to get the upper...

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Low Register Tonguing

Who has difficulty tonguing short articulations in the low register? Do you? Or you? Tonguing in the low register is a bear. It takes a lot of work to get that low register working at optimal levels, especially if it's short articulations. Hello Cantabile et Presto....

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Bruce Stark

Are you looking for a new piece to perform?  Look no further, I have the piece for you: Bruce Stark, American Suite for flute and piano I truly don't know why this piece hasn't gotten more air time. This fine piece is not for the amateur. Both the flute part and the...

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Concentrate on Long Tones

Does your mind wander while you play long tones? Long tones are an essential part of your practice time. And I hope that you’re doing these as part of your practice time. But what you have to make sure you do is concentrate on what you’re doing. Because they’re LONG...

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Practice Yet Today?

Hey, are you practicing yet? The day is wastin' away and it's high time to get going. You might say "well, why are you on the blog writing and not practicing?" You might be right about that!  I've had my excuses such as: My daughter has dance in 20 minutes and so I...

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Support – Ribcage Air

We all know that when you breathe for the flute, you need to breathe from your stomach. But what do you do with your ribcage? Have you learned to breathe and expand your ribcage at the same time? Some teachers call that back breathing. You want to breathe from your...

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5 Techniques to Improve Your Tone

How is your tone? Do you feel like it is always improving or are you stuck in a rut? Are you unsure of where to go next for tonal improvement? Tone, it is an unsung hero in our flute lives. At some point in our career, usually our college and grad school days, we work...

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Relaxed Embouchure Improves Tone

Look at your embouchure in the mirror. Do you look relaxed? Are you pulling your corners back or down? Are you tight in the cheeks? Is there tension in your mouth? Those are all factors that are going to influence your tone. Now there’s many different embouchures in...

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The Gig Bag

Do you have a gig bag?  Is it your constant companion? My gig bag is my friend. It has been with me a long time. It was with me before children came along. In fact it was with me before I met my husband. Actually it was with me long before I met my husband. And he's...

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Teeth Spacing

If you’re playing, and you take a look in the mirror, can you tell how far apart your teeth are? Or can you feel with your tongue how far apart your teeth are when you play? Well, your teeth should float between being more open to being a little less open as you go up...

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Intonation & Air Stream

Do you adjust your intonation by raising and lowering your air stream? You don't want to adjust intonation by rolling in or rolling out. A better way to adjust your intonation is with your mouth by changing the direction of your air stream. I’ve certainly seen...

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Vibrato Part 2

The proverbial stage is now set. Vibrato can begin. Frankly, when I teach vibrato for the first time, I give a demonstration of what vibrato sounds like in tone and then tell the student to go home and see if they can figure it out. I would say that more then 50% of...

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Intonation & Embouchure Hole Coverage

How much embouchure hole do you cover when you play? If you cover too much embouchure hole, you’re going to compromise your sound, and of course, you’ll be flat. If you cover too little of your embouchure hole, you will be sharp. And of course, your tone is also...

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Intonation & Lip Pressure

Did you know that you can use your lip pressure to change your intonation? When you’re playing, you want to check the pressure that the lip plate puts on your lip. You’ll play flat less often when you lighten the pressure. Now when I was in college I played with a lot...

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Finger Touch

When you’re playing, you want your fingers to be very light on the keys. If you’re using too much pressure, the keys make too much noise when you’re playing. And in the flute world, that’s just not acceptable. Because, well we can fix that. And if we can, then we...

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Veebrrrrraaaato or Vibrato Part I

Anyone here have trouble developing vibrato or developing vibrato in your students? It is one sticky wicket. As a teacher, I can't see into my student's throat to actually see what's going on. But, there's no single exercise that creates a no-fail vibrato. All we...

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So Lets Talk Technique

What do you do to improve your technique? Do you play the plethora of scale exercises? Technique books - there's a myriad of them too. So How do you know which ones to use? Every teacher you have ever had, has a different favorite. Is one better then the other? And so...

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Tonguing Problems – Noisy Tongue

One of the problems that I hear with my students is a flapping or thunking sound when they’re tonguing a piece. This occurs even with my college students. It comes out very clearly when they’re double-tonguing a piece. That thunking flapping sound is clear to me. But...

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Fixing First Finger Problems

Why is the lowly first finger a problem? Because often that first finger is down for our D and our Eb, and it shouldn’t be. The only time your first finger is down for D is when it’s below the staff, low register and Eb. When you’re on the 4th line D, or Eb on the 4th...

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Support Part 2

The most monumental concept that I learned about support is when I finally understood this one thing: Support = Pressure It is an equation that I could understand. When put into those few words, it all made sense to me. Now some of you will say "of course, that's what...

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Double-Tonguing: How to Practice

I’m just going to give you a little tip about how to begin practicing double-tonguing. The 2nd movement of Bach’s C Major Flute Sonata is all double-tonguing. It’s a lot of fun! Double-tonguing properly all starts with where you put the tip of your tongue. You place...

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What the heck is support?

SUPPORT. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. I've heard about support my whole life and it was many years into my flute playing life when I figured out what it was all on my own. Too many teachers don't have a clue how to teach this concept. They use the term support...

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Articulation: Tonguing Too Far Back

Many people tongue too far back on the roof of their mouths. You want your tongue to be as far forward as you can get it without being on your teeth.  Feel with your tongue on the roof of your mouth. There’s a knob that’s right in between the two front teeth. Then...

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What About Fingers?

How do you put your fingers on the keys? Do you keep them low or do you allow them to be above the keys? How about that G# pinky finger? Does that one stay on the key or does it hang below? We all can agree that fingers that stay close to the keys are more efficient....

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When bad flute days are here…again

As I have written about before, bad days come. They are unwanted, unlooked for and, lets face it, depressing. I have never gotten a "get out of jail free card" when it comes to bad days. Believe me, I've had my share. The worst is when I put my flute to my lips and I...

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Routine – Etude

Just like there are those people in the world who enjoy practicing tone, there are people in the world who don't enjoy practicing etudes. Now who can imagine that? I love my etude practice time, and there are many-a-day where I have skipped my solo practice time for...

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Routine – Tone

In our first third of our practice routine there is this pesky little thing I like to call TONE that needs to be practiced daily. So let me give you some suggestions of material to cover when working on this part of your practice routine. There are 3 books I use for...

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Routine Continued – Technique

You have read about breaking your practice time into thirds, and you're good with doing that. Right? So, now lets talk about how to fill up your time in each section. If you're a flute major in college, you already have a better idea about all the myriad exercises...

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The Practice Routine

What is your practice routine? You know what I find? That so many students actually do practice. They honestly do. But they just cover the material and then they are done. I've found that so many of my students all through the years haven't the foggiest notion of how...

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Good Days or Bad Days

Do you have good days and bad days? Welcome to the club! That, my friend is par for the course. It happens to us all! Now let me tell you something. They eventually go away. Can you believe that truth? The bad days eventually begin to recede and the good days become...

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How Does One Simply Begin With Tone?

Contrary to popular belief, there are two types of people in the world. Tone people Technique people Tone people are the ones that want to practice tone the first thing. I mean can you believe that they actually enjoy getting up in the morning and then playing long...

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Who’s Afraid of Extended Techniques?

So have you tried extended techniques?  Or...are you afraid? Sometimes extended techniques can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. But, you know what? If you just try, you might actually have a lot of fun playing them. I went through a good deal of my performing...

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Tone: Part 2

Did you work with your embouchure to improve your tone? How's it going? It’s time to add another piece to that embouchure puzzle. Let’s talk teeth. So how do teeth add to the production of tone? They do, let me tell you! Teeth need to be apart when...

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Tone: Part 1

Tone!  We all strive to improve our tone. But what can we do? I used to think that I had a good tone. But then I really learned what tone was all about. It was then that I realized that what I thought was a good tone was well, wrong. There are a number of techniques...

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Welcome to DoctorFlute.com!

Welcome to my web site for all things flute! Here you will find all things about flute pedagogy and a whole lot more. I will address topics that are current to both professional and amateur flutists. My blog will address common problems flutists have in building all...

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