Tag: flute breathing

Try Gary Schocker’s trick of using a wine cork to improve flute tone

October 2, 2014 at 3:03 pmCategory:Practicing the Flute

I’ve been concentrating on improving my tone lately, and came across these videos from Gary Schocker. He demonstrates how he used a wine cork to develop and improve his sound. It sounds totally off-the-wall, but it makes good sense! And since Schocker does have a glorious sound and amazing air management, this technique must be doing something good for him!

The basic idea is that positioning the cork helps you open inside your mouth and create a freer path for your air to move through. Take a look and give it a try!


Intrigued? Here is more!


Practice Diary 7/24

July 27, 2013 at 4:45 pmCategory:Uncategorized

started with EJ4 at CM
- focus is good, D#’s are much better today, must not be much of a leak
- air attacks and clipped articulation are pretty crisp, appropriately aggressive
- remember the good physical set up!
- arms are getting better
- tkt ktk is really awkward, I’m not always sure I am doint it, maybe should slow it down so I can be more mindful?
- Db’s in Gb M are so high! have to play it slower to add fingers and bring it down, errr…

Moyse triads CM to DM with tuner, up to DR
- keep root pitch in ear, match it internally, actively pursue the intonation
- keep good posture! bring flute to face!!!

wanted to play some music, so blew through the Sarabande and Badinerie of Bach Partita

I may be a bit Romantic on the Sarabande, but I belied that Bach was a very passionate man, and I like to indulge in making the gestures as clear and noticeable as possible

should try recording these things to see if they sound as rough (or polished) as I think they are, something to check out on the new Smartphone

feels good to just blow so openly, once I can add some time to practice, I will be able to do some serious work, maybe next week add a secont, shorter session, neck felt good all day, yay!


Practice Diary 7/23

July 23, 2013 at 6:37 pmCategory:Practice Diary

Neck was stiff this morning, enough to be bothersome but not enough to inhibit movement. After my stretches it was better, so we’ll see how today’s practice affects it. From reading this, you might think that I am in some sort of rehab for an injury. I have arthritis in my neck and sometimes I do things in my playing that aggravate it, like pushing my neck into weird and completely unnecessary configurations. I’m taking a cautious, mindful approach to getting back in performing shape because if I overdo it, I won’t be able to do anything for awhile, let alone play. No pity called for, it’s just another challenge on the journey. You’ll see a lot of comments about posture, alignment, and observations on how different parts of my body feel as I am playing. This is how I monitor and minimize unwarranted physical stresses in my practicing. If I don’t, I injure myself, it’s that simple. Maybe some of the things I try can be helpful to you in working on your own challenges.

- tone warmup from Trevor Wye’s tone book, page 11 or 14, I can’t remember which, I have it memorized. It’s about energizing the air to make smooth leaps
- sound is nicely smooth and steady
- I’m letting my head turn more to the left rather than looking so straight ahead, don’t push it, let it turn!

harmonic on C up to Bb3
- unusually good expansion of ribs, all the way down into pelvis, is this what it means to feel the support in the pelvic floor? hmmmmm….
- right arem is still feeling strained
- air is nicely full and direct

Paganini Caprice #11, the staccato section to end
- all breath attacks, combining exercise with sight reading
- not really separating the air sufficiently for crisp attacks, but have no problem navigating the leaps
- tone is pretty good, air is moving forward well

I seem to have found a really good set up from the floor up where the expansion is really good and free, and the music can really flow out (if I were playing any music!) My right hipbone feels a little out of place, but it seems to work; I can maintain a good alignment all the way up. Can I do this sitting? If I can remember how to do this consistently, will have to translate it to a sitting position, that is where my real posture problems lie.

Right arm and elbow want to fly away from my body (come back, elbow!), creating stress, but that can be worked on

- timer went off, but finished to dt on single pitches, G#m to CM
- have to keep air focused on single (good) spot on the strike wall, otherwise the tone goes splat all over the place
- double and triple tonguing are already better, less air disturbance on the articulations
- what is with the D#’s!!? better check for a leak


Practice Diary 7/22

July 22, 2013 at 6:36 pmCategory:Practice Diary

Woohoo, two days in a row, doing good! Not hurting today so it is full steam ahead. I set the timer for 30 minutes, wonder how much time is spent writing?

long tones in 4′s
- started out with a throat buzz, I’m pushing air through my throat and creating the buzz
- breathing in through nose and a quick lean over fixed it

harmonics on C#
- good flow between notes, easy transitions
- good comparison tones
-totally forgotten the good air support from yesterday, err, take it easy and observe
- up to G#3

played all the Bach Allemande from am Partita using only breath attacks, tiring but helpful
- found that if I go down to D# by leap, I squeeze the left hand keys and the embouchure unnecessarily, makes the sound stuffy, it’s fine if approached by a step, hmmm…

- started on EbM, got up to g#m in tkt ktk pattern
- started using metronome and drone, discontinued both after awhile
- harder to land on correct pitch when descending, don’t think I’m as mindful on descents
- if I concentrate on holding the drone pitch in my imagination, I am much closer to it than when I just check the target pitches with the drone generator, hmmm…
- not too bad overall, the tk’s are really uneven, very obvious difference
- practice on double and triple articulations is a must

physical fatigue is setting in just before alarm goes off, right shoulder and arms are already tired, neck is not bad however


Calming Pre-Concert Nerves

March 28, 2013 at 7:11 pmCategory:Flute Choir

Before our flute choir concerts, I like to do a calming exercise with the group so they can play with more relaxed bodies and clearer mental focus. It is a simple breathing exercise that has had good results so far.

I have them breathe in through their noses for a slow count of 4, then breathe out through their mouths for 4 counts. I count off out loud to get them started, then transition to holding up fingers for the counts.
Breathing in through the nose automatically opens up the throat and chest, making it easier to take a fuller, more relaxed breath. The slow pace of the breathing helps get heart rates down, calming pre-concert nerves. It also makes everyone be quiet for a few minutes so we can get focused on making beautiful music together.

We do this for a couple of minutes at most, then proceed with our regular playing warmup. It is amazing the effect this has! As I lead the group through it, the pitch of my voice drops as my own body relaxes. The slightly worried looks on some faces ease, raised eyebrows return to their normal positions and stiff postures relax. When we are ready to pick up the flutes, everyone looks more confident and eager to play, rather than afraid of how that first note is going to come out.

This exercise is helpful in just about any situation when you want to get your heart rate down a little, or take the edge off jittery nerves. I even used it during a concert I played in last weekend, between pieces. My nerves were threatening to get the better of me, though I knew there was no good reason for them to. My heart was beating double-time so I did the exercise for a few breath cycles. It took enough of the edge off that I was able to launch into my part on the next piece with less fear and more gusto. Simple, but effective!