Flute Long Tones
Flute long tones are an invaluable method of practicing to develop breath control and a rich, vibrant sound.
Indeed, all wind instruments practice long tones.
However, many students rebel against them. Boring! they proclaim.
Maybe. It's all in your frame of mind.
The advantages of flute long tones practicing are many, and not just for becoming a better flutist!
There are many more reasons, but the bottom line is this: When you are simply blowing a sustained stream of air and you don't need to worry about fingerings or technique or playing notes at all, you can concentrate on improving just ONE facet of your performance.
Clearing your mind allows you to focus.
Use your metronome to see how many clicks you can sustain the tone for. Try to get one more click every day or week.
Visualize the open throat analogies. Hold the ping pong ball in your mouth (hard boiled egg, if you prefer). Raise your eyebrows in surprise at how wonderful your tone quality is. Flare your nostrils. It's okay--no one is looking.
Sound like hypnosis? Well, music is very cerebral. Believe me, your state of mind influences your physical motions to a huge extent.
Going sharp? Loosen the embouchure. Relax the neck. Imagine your jaw falling on the floor.
A bit flat? Push the lower jaw out to direct the air stream up to the ceiling and raise the tone. Don't tighten your lips.
The use of a digital tuner can help you stay focused. If you find your mind wandering while you practice flute long tones, you are really just wasting your time. Focus on the tuner or the metronome can give you something more to think about.
You can even have the tuner turned on if you would like. But don't bother if it is a distraction.
So what pitches or notes do you play while practicing flute long tones?
Any pitches will do, and all of them is the best answer!
In reality, it depends on the amount of time you have available. If you have 15 minutes to devote to long tone practice, and you can do one register in 15 minutes, then do the notes of the low register one day, the next day do the middle register, and the following day practice long tones on the high register.
Over the course of one week, you will have practiced long tones on the entire range of your instrument twice (plus one extra octave or you had a day off--your choice). This is really excellent!
If you have 30 minutes and you can do the entire range of the flute in that amount of time--so much the better!
You set the practice schedule.
Are you getting winded and worn out by flute long tone practice?
Good--you're doing it right.
And what about those nonmusical benefits of practicing flute long tones? This is subjective, of course, but for me they include...
New! CommentsHave your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.