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So I just got a used gemeinhardt yesterday, but something is wrong. I just can't seem to get above the Ab in the second octave without the sound giving out. I'm constantly running out of breath, and my tone is very airy. Is this typical for beginners, maybe there's a leak in the pads somewhere that's causing this? Mind you I'm a high school student doubling sax and flute, so I might just need adjusting. Let me know what you guys think.
 

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I liked it better at first just blowing the headjoint. Really! Take it somewhere and just hoot. You'll find a sound you like - you'll sort of hit a sweetspot. That is the beginning of a good embouchure, and it's a technique many flute teachers endorse.

Yes, at first you're going to need to waste loads of air. Sit, don't stand. Stop if you get light headed. The embouchure itself is what will solve that problem. As your lips train, they'll be better and better at shaping the airstream and really using that air to make tone.

Leaky pads? If you're getting all the way up to Ab2, probably not. Couldn't hurt to have it looked at though.

The thing to remember is that the flute is way less perfected than the saxophone. It's such an old instrument that many flaws are inherent in it and it's too late to change them. C3 - the second index-finger C - is one of the hissiest, cracking-est notes, and the notes just below it get a little harder one by one.

Take a little interval practice by going from a strong note - say G2 - up to Ab2, down thru G to Gb2 (remember: 3rd finger down, not middle). Then up thru G to Ab again. Then try G, Ab, A, and back down. Listen and feel intently all the while. What do you hear on what note? What do you feel - breath, lips, tension in your body?

Speaking very generally, the flute embouchure is kind of an upward curve in lip tension and opening size.
Think pop bottle in the low range - that wide slit you make to blow a low note across the bottle top.
Think tea kettle in the high range - a teeny round hole that pressurizes the air and blows a high pitch.

I would also get a good method book (maybe Putnik's Art of Flute Playing) and ask a good flutist for a lesson or two. Maybe study weekly if you feel ready.
 

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A great trick my first private instructor gave me when first learning flute was to think "fast air" instead of "lots of air" when blowing. Helped me a lot - I found that by trying to concentrate my airstream rather than just puffing helped conserve breath and direct the air more efficiently over the hole. Better sound, more endurance. As for range problems, it's all in the embouchure.

Be patient, practice plenty (long tones really help a lot) - flute isn't the easiest instrument to learn.
 

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Yeah I've managed to do the whole headjoint thing. Maybe practicing longtones on the headjoint will help? Some of the lower notes are difficult to hit too, but I suppose that's a common mistake. Anyway thanks for the tips guys, maybe I'll start some beginner lessons to get some things down.
 

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Long tones on the joint are a great idea.

Low notes aren't the place to start - just like on the sax, they need a special balance. Relaxed tension, I call it. Diaphragm support. You know the feeling. For now, play down to F1, maybe E1, and go for tone. Don't worry about volume.

Some say Gemeinhardt's old style embouchure hole cutting makes the low end extra hard. But if you're just starting out, a different cut wouldn't help much. So no worries for now.
 

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So what would be a good idea for long tones practice, how long should I spend on that alone in a practice session? (Mind you practicing the flute might only be 15-30 minutes as of now because of my lack of flute literature)
 

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So what would be a good idea for long tones practice, how long should I spend on that alone in a practice session? (Mind you practicing the flute might only be 15-30 minutes as of now because of my lack of flute literature)
GET A teacher 15-20 minutes is ok just have fun flute to me was much harder than the sax but I love the flute still more
 

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So I just got a used gemeinhardt yesterday, but something is wrong. I just can't seem to get above the Ab in the second octave without the sound giving out. I'm constantly running out of breath, and my tone is very airy. Is this typical for beginners, maybe there's a leak in the pads somewhere that's causing this? Mind you I'm a high school student doubling sax and flute, so I might just need adjusting. Let me know what you guys think.
First thing is have the flute checked out for adjustment needs. Second get a teacher. Flute playing is not at all like the saxophone and just like there are no shortcuts to becoming a proficient saxophonist, the flute will challenge you as much or more than the latter.

I've been taking flute lessons for about 7 months, and I am still at the beginner level. I could get better faster if I gave up playing the sax for awhile but that ain't happening. Maybe in a year or two I will play flute on a gig but not for awhile.

Best of luck. Doubling is a great thing.

B
 

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The flute embouchure is like a suspension bridge (think golden Gate SF).
The muscles at the corners of the mouth above and below and at either side are like the uprights on the bridge, very firm and and strong. This where the embouchure is set. The middle is flexible and supple. This is where the actual hole is formed and must be able to change for each note and sometimes throughout one note. Like any woodwind instrument relaxation with firm control is key. Anytime your mouth feels like a tightened vise you should try to relax or stop and rest a moment. Some of the mouth muscles are small and get tired quickly. Long tones give you a chance to evaluate your tone and tension. Hopefully that's where relaxation and refinement of your tone can happen. Some people have a mouth with a pointed upper lip ( I do so did Rampal). To make a small and well shaped hole you might have to blow slightly to one side or other of the middle of the mouth. A teacher can help alot with this and flute consepts in general.
 

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I first started flute in high school after playing alto. I well remember having to sit down because of becoming light-headed and feeling like I was going to faint.

Not to worry--your body and lungs will adapt so long as you keep practicing. You're going to need to get used to the idea of conserving air and blowing against very little resistance (whereas on sax you have a ton of resistance).

And yes, the higher and lower ends of the horn are the hardest.

It won't hurt to have the flute checked out by a repair tech. You don't want to have to do any adjusting that you don't have to.

For me, the thing that made me improve the most was to listen to good flute players, and then imitate their sound.
 

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You can do different things with the headjoint. Work on jumping octaves. Cover the open end with the palm of your right hand and you get different notes. Stick your finger in the headjoint and you get different notes depending on how far your finger goes in.

I remember my warmup when I first started learning. After the doing just the headjoint for a couple of minutes, I'd put on the body without the foot. I'd hold the flute with my right hand where the headjoint enters the body. Using only my left hand I'd play G A B C up and down in the lower register. After doing that a bit, I'd adjust my embouchure to blow the next octave higher. After that, using the same fingerings I'd overblow the notes so that the 5th above would come out. So even though I'm fingering G A B C, what's coming out is D E F# G. Then I'd go and I'd play a G scale using those fingerings. So I'd be fingering G A B C G A B C but a G Major scale would be sounding. Make sense?

After that, I'd put the foot on, hold the flute normally, and do the same thing using the F G A Bb fingerings.

One thing you may want to experiment with is how you line up the embouchure hole (EH) with the body of the flute. Some people line up the center of the EH with the center of the tone holes on the body. Some people line up the far edge of of the EH with the far edge of of the tone holes. I turn my head joint in even farther and line up the outside edge of my EH with the center of the tone holes. That seems to give me the best results.

Also, make sure you play at least a little every day. It seems to me that the body (lips) forget a lot when you take a break (even a couple of days) from the flute, noticeably moreso than on sax or clarinet.
 
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