Practice Diary 7/29

EJ4 from GbM to am
-clipped articulation exercise is easier if I remember to pause and expel excess air
-don’t practicing straining, you already know how to do that!
-overall focus is good, air doesn’t wander as much, especially when I think of playing out to an audience
-remember to push for better, it is easy to go with OK, to forget there can be much more, push for better!

CPE Bach am solo sonata
-the big leaps downward in the 3rd movement, the air attacks seem OK, but when articulation is added, notes are still not as clear as a pianist might be
-tried slurring through the figures, maybe the problem is the disturbance of the air on repeated notes, jaw and embouchure are opening on the 2nd note in the group, having to get back into position to play
-this is a case of expression getting in the way of technique
-opening in embouchure is too wide, how to address that; haven’t found a way that is effective for me yet
-feel like I’m just getting going when the timer goes off. tomorrow – 45 minutes!

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Explanatory notes about Practice Diary

In the Practice Diary, I’ve made some references to exercise books that I use. In the posts I’ve referred to them using mostly commonly known abbreviations, at least for people who had experience with them, but not everyone may know what they mean, so this is a short post explaining what the are. In a later post I plan to explain why and how I use them.

‘EJ’ stands for 17 Grands Exercises Journaliers (Daily Exercises) by Paul Taffanel and Gaubert. This is one of the most enduring exercise books, I call it one of the flute Bibles. I use Exercise number 4 (EJ4) almost every time I practice to establish a baseline for tone and articulation consistency in many keys and all registers.

‘Moyse’ is another flute Bible. The exercises in Marcel Moyse’s Exercises Journaliers are designated by letter, but there are several exercises that share the same letter so I’ve been referring to what the exercise actually is. So far I’ve only concentrated on one of the C exercises, triads, mostly for intonation and tone. If you’ve heard of James Galway’s scale challenge, this is the book you would be working out of. It covers much more than scales and is great for developing a good core tone that will work in all registers. You also need all the technique it offers.

I’ve also referred to one of Trevor Wye’s Practice Books, Book 1: Tone.

These books are all available through Flute World, www.fluteworld.com, if you can’t find them other places. The first two are not cheap, but they have been standards for many decades, and for good reason! Used properly and practiced conscientiously, they will help you develop the fundamentals of technique that will give you the tools you need to play just about anything.

Any time you want something in the Practice Diary explained, just let me know! It may take a couple of days, but I will at least get the basic explanation to you ASAP.

Happy Practicing!

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Practice Diary 7/24

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!

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Practice Diary 7/23

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

EJ4
– 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

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Practice Diary 7/22

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…

EJ4
– 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

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