Flute Technique

Flute technique - fast fingers, flying fingers, playing lots of notes. Flutists play lots of notes fast!

So we must work on a variety of exercises to get those fingers moving.

After you have moved past the basics of learning the flute fingerings, we will set about developing technique. Be sure you have your flute fingering chart to check any notes you are unsure about.

Scales is a common way of learning flute technique. They also serve to teach us about music itself. Music is made up of scales and scale patterns, so the better we know them, the better we play.

As you saw in the flute fingerings lesson, flute technique extends over three octaves comfortably. Most scales, however, are practiced in just two octaves, except for C and sometimes D-flat for showoffs :) .

If your instructions book does not include scales (almost all do), you need to decide how you will learn them. Even if your book does include scales, you should practice scales each day, even if it only one.

An affordable and convenient alternative to buying a scale book is offered at Christian Flute where you can purchase a full set of scales for the flute in PDF format for the small fee of £3.00 ($6.00) each. Now can have high quality scales and arpeggios that are only an e-mail away. In addition, 20% of proceeds to charity.

The method I recommend for learning scales employs the "Circle of Fifths." This adds one sharp or one flat each time.

C Major - no sharps or flats

Sharp keys

G Major - 1 sharp (F sharp)
D Major - 2 sharps (F sharp and C sharp)
A Major - 3 sharps (F sharp, C sharp, and G sharp)
E Major - 4 sharps (F sharp, C sharp, G sharp, and D sharp)
B Major - 5 sharps (F sharp, C sharp, G sharp, D sharp, and A sharp)
F-sharp Major - 6 sharps (F sharp, C sharp, G sharp, D sharp, A sharp, and E sharp)

Flat keys

F Major - 1 flat (B flat)
B-flat Major - 2 flats (B flat, and E flat)
E-flat Major - 3 flats (B flat, E flat, and A flat)
A-flat major - 4 flats (B flat, E flat, A flat, and D flat)
D-flat Major - 5 flats (B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat, and G flat)
G-flat Major - 6 flats (B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat, G flat, and C flat)

You will notice when you play F-sharp Major (6 sharps) and G-flat Major (6 flats) that the fingerings are exactly the same. You are indeed playing the exact same pitches. The notes have different names, however, depending upon if you are in F-sharp or G-flat. The notes D-flat and C-sharp, for example, are called enharmonic because they are the same pitch with two different names.

Start playing the scales in quarter notes. Set your metronome at a comfortable tempo--60 is a good starting point--and play each note of the scale in quarter notes at 60 beats per minute.

You can start with one octave of the scale if you would like, or learn them both at the same time.

Again, your time table dictates when you move on to a new scale. Practice a scale for two days, then add another one. Or practice a scale for a week first.

Continue playing the scales you have already learned as you add more. Move the metronome speed gradually higher and play the scale in eighth notes and sixteenth notes.

Eventually you will have learned all the major scale in two (or three) octaves. At this point, it is a good idea to move into scale exercises, such as playing in thirds. This will improve your flute technique considerably.

The next step in developing flute technique will be learning minor scales, but we will save this until you are very comfortable with major scales.

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