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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a rising freshman at the Hartt school (majoring in saxophone performance) and I have been playing saxophone for 9 years, oboe for 3, and clarinet for 2. What's the best way to start learning the flute? What exercises should I do? Should I get a book? Which one?
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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A flute embouchure is so critical that you cannot afford to cut corners at the beginning. You need the guidance of an accomplished flute player/teacher for at least a few lessons at the start to establish embouchure.

Otherwise the chances are very high that you will chance upon an embouchure that works at the beginning, and becomes firmly established, but which lets you down badly when the real challenge of flute playing comes - playing the third register in tune, with good volume and pitch control, and getting strong, fast response from the lowest notes. Unless he/she sticks to playing hymns (or equivalent), a flute player eventually cannot avoid facing those issues. Flutes play in the third octave a lot.

You may be interested in these, which have helped quite a few in your position, but they are no substitute for some good lessons.

First Note From a Flute
http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resources/FluteLessons2.html

Flute Lessons by Email
http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resources/FluteLessons.html

Other good resources:

Flute Resource – Larry Krantz
http://www.larrykrantz.com/

Various info by Jennifer Cluff:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/

Flute Embouchure Photos, demonstrating diversity that suits different good players, mainly to accommodate lip shapes.
http://www.larrykrantz.com/embpic.htm
 

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Gordon, good stuff as usual.
+1

I would only add that going to the flute after playing oboe (or bassoon, or trumpet, or any other instrument where the top lip has a more active role) is quite challenging, even for an experienced doubler. So I'd practice the flute before you shred your top lip with the oboe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much for the information! I will definitely get a few lessons now. I thought I might not need them but I probably do. Thanks again!
 

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I would start with a good teacher and go from there. They will be able to advise you. I've been using Trevor Wye's practice books for years. They are very good.
Lessons are a must to develop a proper embouchure. That being said, my old teacher from many years ago recommended the Wye books to me recently. I wish I had them years ago!
 

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Thanks so much for the information! I will definitely get a few lessons now. I thought I might not need them but I probably do. Thanks again!
A GOOD teacher will be able to tell you if you need a teacher or not - but it is not that simple - like reading a book if you are trying to learn to swim?? IMO - Get a flute teacher and then jump in the deep end. ShannonsGrandma - good stuff/posts being delt here -- pay attention.

DDR -> Checkin' out my Arthur Gleghorn notes.
 

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Lessons are a must to develop a proper embouchure. That being said, my old teacher from many years ago recommended the Wye books to me recently. I wish I had them years ago!
To roughly quote from Larry Teal in the Art of Saxophone Playing..." You have to start from the ground up ..There is not enough similarity with the exception of a few fingerings to give the sax player an advantage"


Yes they are excellent. Mine are very old but I use them nearly every day for long tones. I have his altoflute/bass flute and piccolo books too.
 

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.... first with the lower end blocked. Then with it open. Then an octave and 5th higher with one end blocked (by blowing faster air). Then and an octave higher without being blocked (by blowing faster air).

Don't progress from one to the next until you can get a strong, full, non-"fuzzy" (i.e. toilet flushing) sound.
 

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I have noticed two different approaches to the start of playing the flute. One is to put it together, blow it any which way and have some fun. The other is to find a properly trained FLUTE player and do it right from the start.
I would suggest a very brief time with the first method. :)
But no harm will be done....
Some have lips that allow the air column to be centered. Some play like Lady Galway.
The lower lip and jaw are paramount.
The muscles surrounding as well.
The speed of the air column is controlled by the size of the opening of the lips.
Of course proper breath support is another factor.
I first learned from two flute playing acquaintances.
After a few days my tone was equal to theirs.
I knew something was very very wrong as none of us sounded like Rampal. :)
So I took lessons for 10 months with a flute player who studied with Lora, who studied with Barrere at Julliard.
Sixteen years as a tenor/altoman was an asset but once I got the flute embouchure working it was love.
Most of all...have fun.
Flute is really really easy.







To carry.
 

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Yes, it is for some. Most definitely not for all!

Edit: Woops! I did not see the "to carry bit" of the post I was responding to. In light of that, wasn't my reply so courteously restrained!
 

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Flute is really really easy.







To carry.
Right on.

That said, I have had exactly one student over the many years of teaching flute (which followed a long and never-ending quest to learn to play the thing) who actually had a really good tone without a ton of work and without being taught properly as a beginner.

It is possible but rare. Likewise it is possible for someone who doubles to develop a really good sound on flute. But rare.

I've seen it once.

Usually, doublers sound wretched and then they play pop or jazz thinking that gross sound is OK.

But go for it. You CAN do it.
 

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To become a first chair player on any instrument requires lotsa work.
Sort of an OCD thing :)
 

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You know, there's a lot of "to learn to play xxx, you MUST study with the FOREMOST xxx teacher/player in a 5000 mile radius or you CANNOT POSSIBLY succeed and must give up before you even start" on these forums. I don't think it's really true, and I hope it doesn't discourage new players. I don't know any musicians that were that serious when they started. I get that there can be bad habits. I also get that a teacher can steer a student in a rapisly improving direction. After learning a couple instruments some common themes carry over.

Get a decent method book and put in some time. Once a little proficient with fingerings, pitch, dynamics, then seek the guidance of a teacher who can fine tune efficiently and suggest improvements to embouchure.

Flute seems easy relative to the others, not requiring body building of embouchure and breath support to get some semblence of sound.

Jim
 

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Some people can learn to levitate.
Right on.

That said, I have had exactly one student over the many years of teaching flute (which followed a long and never-ending quest to learn to play the thing) who actually had a really good tone without a ton of work and without being taught properly as a beginner.

It is possible but rare. Likewise it is possible for someone who doubles to develop a really good sound on flute. But rare.

I've seen it once.

Usually, doublers sound wretched and then they play pop or jazz thinking that gross sound is OK.

But go for it. You CAN do it.
 

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You know, there's a lot of "to learn to play xxx, you MUST study with the FOREMOST xxx teacher/player in a 5000 mile radius or you CANNOT POSSIBLY succeed and must give up before you even start" on these forums. I don't think it's really true, and I hope it doesn't discourage new players. I don't know any musicians that were that serious when they started. I get that there can be bad habits. I also get that a teacher can steer a student in a rapisly improving direction. After learning a couple instruments some common themes carry over.

Flute seems easy relative to the others, not requiring body building of embouchure and breath support to get some semblence of sound.
I would agree, there's two kinds of players: people who just futz around on an instrument for the fun of it, and the people who want to know how to really play it. Based on the OP's situation (music major at Hartt), though, I would doubt that he falls into the former category.

In order to know how to play an instrument properly, it is indeed true--you MUST study with a qualified teacher. There's a thousand ways to play an instrument wrong, and one or two ways to play it right. Unless you want to remain a strict amateur, then you'll need to learn one of those ways of playing it right. And you can only learn that from someone who knows how to do it.

And flute is not easy. The flute embouchure does in fact require building up the lip muscles--just in a different way from sax. And you also need to build up much more nuance in your lips for flute than sax, and that takes years of concentrated playing and listening to accomplish.
 

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... Get a decent method book and put in some time. Once a little proficient with fingerings, pitch, dynamics, then seek the guidance of a teacher who can fine tune efficiently and suggest improvements to embouchure. ... Flute seems easy relative to the others, not requiring body building of embouchure and breath support to get some semblence of sound.

Jim
There was once a time when I let beginner kids "fiddle" and try the instrument before I instructed them. What I discovered that a lousy embouchure habit picked up in only a few minutes, could take many weeks to then correct. And that correction process is very frustrating for the player. Better to get away to a good start with some initial expert instruction.

I can cite myself as an example. I initially played with the tip of my tongue supporting behind my lower lip. And to tongue a note, I used the tone position for 'th", using a portion of my tongue very slightly back from the tip. I had a good tone, and I mastered clear articulation with that tonguing, because I practised it so much. It was not until years later that this presented a handicap, especially with fast tonguing, such that I discovered what I was doing wrong.

I had got that far and never developed the required delicate muscle support for my lower lip, because I had used my tongue instead. To correct the situation, I had to revert to being a complete beginner, embouchure-wise. And my tongue definitely did not want to do that. It was far, far more difficult than getting that tongue away from my embouchure in the first place.

And I am convinced that that wrong approach to tonguing that I had learnt, has always interferred with my facility at correct tonguing since. As with a speech impediment, The nerve linkages and muscles are still simply reluctant to change. And my resulting extraordinarily slow tonguing is the main thing that prevented me from becoming a pro-standard flute player.

Good luck if you effectively teach yourself flute embouchure! It's control demands are quite a different ball game from sax.
 
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