Tag: practicing the flute

Intonation in Action Exercise

April 1, 2016 at 10:27 amCategory:Practicing the Flute

In my mission to help people improve their intonation, I’ve had to come up with exercises that people can do in their own practice. Once I’ve convinced players that notes need to be adjusted according to their context in the music, regardless of what any tuner’s meter says, it helps to have exercises to back it up.

The attached handout is part of a set of exercises that you play against a drone, the tonic note of each exercise. In this case, all exercises are in C Major, so set your drone, tone generator, or helpful friend to play the middle C. As you play each exercise, you pause to listen to how your note compares against the drone; e.g. is it sharp, flat, or in tune with the drone? Don’t move on to the next note, until you get your note in tune!

introductory intonation exercises


The exercises start out by working on matching the unisons and octaves in the context of ascending and descending scales and arpeggios. Then they progress to tuning more of the notes in relation to the drone. The arrows indicate which direction the pitches need to be adjusted in relation to the drone pitch, assuming that you are playing them perfectly in equal temperament, i.e. in tune with a tuner meter. You may not need to make any adjustments, but let your ears be the judge.

So, give it a try! Then play it in all Major keys. Minor keys will require different adjustments, but after practicing the major keys for a few weeks, doing this in minor will be easy.

Reminder: we don’t hear in equal temperament. In order for our ears to register different harmonies as being “in tune”, we have to play the harmony note either higher or lower than a tuner would tell us to. (If this is new information to you and you need more proof than my say-so, there are many sources you can look up on the Web or in the library.)


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!


Bulletproof Musician’s 8 Things Top Practicers Do

September 28, 2014 at 2:58 pmCategory:Practicing the Flute

I’m always looking for new and better ways to make my practicing better so I often read the Bulletproof Musician blog to see what new advice he has to share. Check out his newest post to see how your practicing methods compare with the 8 top methods identified in a recent study.



Emmanuel Pahud plays Berio and some Bach

October 20, 2013 at 5:04 pmCategory:Flute Treats

An excellent musician must be able to play music from many genres and styles. Emmanuel Pahud demonstrates his mastery of the flute and of one of the classics of the flute repertoire in this video of a performance of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza I for solo flute.

To hear Pahud playing something more conventional, listen to his recording of a Bach standard, the Corrente from the Partita.

These examples only go to show that when it comes to the study of music, there is always more to explore and learn. You should never be bored when there are so many different styles to indulge in and conquer!


Practice Diary 7/29

July 31, 2013 at 6:46 pmCategory:Practice Diary | Uncategorized

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!