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My wife has been learning the flute since beginning of this year. We went to a giant music store in the Netherlands (Adams music, near Roermond - over 20,000 sq meters of floor space), which is just an hours drive from us.
They have an extremely large Flute selection and we wanted to hear the difference - if any - between her student flute and a silver flute.

If I remember correctly, she tried a Pearl PF765. We couldn't hear any difference whatsoever, so obviously it's not neccesary for her to upgrade yet.
We then asked the shop salesman if he could play them both. Wow!! The comparison was like night and day. The Pearl had such a better sound compared to the student Jupiter - difficult to describe, but I would say it was just so much clearer, louder and more brilliant.
However, his sound and volume on the student Jupiter was also so much better than my wife's. Her sound was more airy and not even half as loud as the salesmans (he was very accomplished).

Anyway, here's the question: What's the secret of getting great volume on a flute? Is it embouchure, or support, a combination ?
What should she specifically practice in order to improve her volume ?
 

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It's obviously all of that.

She also has to make sure that she is not covering to much of the embouchure hole with her lips,the flute should not be turned inward.
The flute has to be turned a bit outward and positioned lower on the chin.
When you adopt this position, you focus the airstream down into the hole, not across. This helps in getting a bigger sound.

If she is also having intonation problems along with poor projection, this could be a sign of an improper embouchure.
A qualified teacher would be able to correct any embouchure problem.

It takes many years of study to develop a good tone on flute.
 

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daigle65 said:
It's obviously all of that.
...
It takes many years of study to develop a good tone on flute.
Well said - and it doesn't come automatically even with years. It takes intelligent well directed work to get there. I believe a good teacher is the best path though some of the study books can be good too. For tone I particularly like Trevor Wye's books and Marcel Moyse 24 petite etudes.

One must experiment to find his sound. There does not exist one canonical headjoint position and embouchure that is ideal for every player. Try every combination of headjoint position and embouchure you can imagine - slide it up, slide it down, roll it in and out, aim the air up, down, sideways, push the lips out, in, flat together, round the hole through your lips, make it elliptical, etc. and listen for how the sound changes. Pick your best, most refined and resonant note (this varies from one player to the next), make it sound as good as you can and then work up and down the scale note by note to get that same resonance with the other notes. Blowing overtones of low C to hit each one precisely and consistently is also a good way to learn the embouchure changes needed for the different ranges of the flute.
 

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MRC01 said:
There does not exist one canonical headjoint position and embouchure that is ideal for every player..
Very very true.
However, I've noticed that in general beginners tend to roll to much inward and they tend to position the flute to high on the chin. This usually results in a tone lacking in volume.
 

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daigle65 said:
Very very true.
However, I've noticed that in general beginners tend to roll to much inward and they tend to position the flute to high on the chin. This usually results in a tone lacking in volume.
Yep... definitely two common problems beginners have. I believe they both come from being afraid of making a big sound. This is understandable, since the unrefined, unfocused tone that beginners typically have tends to get brassy, harsh or shrill at loud volumes. The beginning student hears the tone grating on her ears and instinctively holds back, making a wimpy sound.

Also, rolled in, high on the chin takes less effort - less volume and support. Or conversely, a lower, more rolled out headjoint requires more support and air to get a good tone. It can create a bigger sound and has better intonation and is more flexible in dynamics and tone color BUT... it requires greater effort and airstream precision from the player.

These reasons why are just my own conjecture based on the beginner players I've worked with, but I figured it might help give ideas.
 

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Having just worked up flute chops in the last 5-6 years, I can comment from experience. I think that beginners are tense and try to force the embouchre and sound. I agree with trying lots of positions embouchres, etc...but the epiphany for me has been learning to have a relaxed embouchre and approach. My teacher at one point had me hum notes while I played them, eventually building to playing entire scales in 'sing-along' mode (by the way, this is a very cool effect when playing amplified with rock and roll or latin bands). You have to be very efficient with your air to do this and the efficiency allows you to relax.

I have also found this past year that the relaxed approach is even more important on alto; playing alto flute has given me the ability to increase my dynamic range on soprano as well, both softer AND louder while preserving full, focused tone.
 

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Beginning flute embouchure is generally overkill: since the player does not have fine muscular and breath control, the tendency is to have a parting of the lips that is too wide (so that at least some sound results), which leads to a airy and unfocused sound. Because so much air is being wasted with such an embouchure, there is also a tendency no to blow too hard, in order to be able to play at least a few bars without running out of breath, which results in a weak, airy and unfocused sound.

Long tone practice is absolutely essential: sound a note and concentrate on fine adjustments of the lips in order to get the cleanest and most focused sound possible. This will serve to refine the embouchure and get the optimal mouth configuration into kinesthetic memory. Once you start to have a cleaner sound, try the same long tone practice varying the dynamics from ppp to fff in crescendo and dimuendo. This will refine the embouchure at different dynamic levels. Eventually this will all become automatic and you will be able to achieve a good embouchure during playing, but it is absolutely necessary to do the basic homework of long tones. Studying with a teacher is also important, in that she/he not only serves as a model to show you what is possible (as the store clerk did), but can point you in the right direction and help you past limitations and bad habits that you might not be aware of by yourself.

Toby
 

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Flute embouchure or world peace which is easier?

I have worked for years to try to develop a real flute embouchure and recently have been having great success.

Search Youtube for "Flute Embouchure" and look for the the Nina Perlove posts and the James Galway master class, but most important, Jennifer Cluff listed as Fluteloophost.

Nina does not talk about embouchure specifically but about sound.

Galway gives a great demonstration that looks like a really relaxed lower lip. This helped me but did not get me there.

Jennifer gives some wonderful advice and the whole idea of being french and bored just really clicked for me.

Ultimately I think the talk about tone developed is really silly when what you really need to do is find a good embouchure.

The octave exercises that Jennifer talked about helped me alot as well as singing all exercises, in particular multiphinics. The Robert Dick book gives the best description on that.

When you frustration gets really bad one can always take comfort in looking at the flute literature that goes back hundreds of years and always centers around the same problem of finding an embouchure.

Good luck to your wife.
 

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Hunt out as many approaches as you can. Some suit some people; others suit others. It depends a lot on your personality; the way your mind works.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, thanks everyone for the tips. She's been thinking more about her embouchure in the last couple of days and has tried some things out, which has already lead to an improvement.
Now she just has to practice some more for the next twenty years or so...:D
 

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Just a word of caution - the sales person would want the 765 to sound better, no? - And could easily make it appear that way...

I have 765 with a powell headjoint and I think it's a great flute but I bet there are lots of people here that could make that Jupiter really sing.

Cheers, Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, he did really make the jupiter sing. It's just that the Pearl was singing so much better, so to say. ;)
 

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Crowfield,

Besides the common sense suggestions that have already been posted there's one thing I'd suggest: Consider getting a Yamaha student flute.

I've had difficulty all of my musical life in having a good flute embouchure. I was never happy with my sound. Last year, however, I got a a Yamaha silver plate model 26 (older version of the 261) with open tone holes for cheap on ebay. My repair tech cleaned it up and made some adjustments. Right off the bat I started getting a much better sound. Then, since I have physical problems playing a straight neck flute, I purchased a new Yamaha after-market curved head joint from WWBW. It's advertized as being designed for student flutes. Man, I sound even BETTER with this head joint! My sound is now significantly cleaner, more focused, sweeter, and projecting than I've ever had in my life.

It may be that some head joint designs are a better match for particular embouchures (or mouth/teeth issues) than others. Anyway, the Yamaha student head joint has worked wonders for me.

Roger
 

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I wonder if the curved head sounds better to you bacause the body of the flute is closer to your ears? Have you recorded on both to compare? I've tried both heads on alto flute, and always liked the straight better, but haven't tried this on the C flute. Edit: One more question: How does the curved head affect intonation? Again, on alto flute, it does- in my limited experience with curved head joints.
 

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I wonder if the curved head sounds better to you bacause the body of the flute is closer to your ears? Have you recorded on both to compare? I've tried both heads on alto flute, and always liked the straight better, but haven't tried this on the C flute.
 

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In my case I don't have an option. If I don't want to physically hurt when I play flute it's either I use a curved head joint or I don't play the instrument.

I've played both straight and curved Yamaha head joints in ensembles and my musician friends confirmed what I heard regarding having a better quality of sound and overall performance with the Yamaha curved head joint. It's my personal sense that the better quality of sound I'm getting with this Yamaha head joint is due to its design/cut. For whatever reason, I've found it to be a good match for my embouchure and playing. Also, it's possible that this new Yamaha head joint is an improvement over the older head joint that was used in the Model 26.

Roger
 
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