Flute Tips & Tricks

Flute and Piccolo Tips and Tricks
by Kim J. Teal

Copyright 2001, 2004 by Kim J. Teal May not be reproduced in any form without prior consent. All Rights Reserved.

Articulation Tips
1. The secret to good articulation is to have proper breath support. The tongue will work more easily if it has a good cushion of air to interact with. 2. Use the syllable "tee" for single tonguing rather than "tah" or "too". The latter two syllables are both heavier and thuddier sounding, whereas, the syllable "tee" uses a lighter tongue stroke and less tongue surface when articulating. Save the other two syllables for accents or peasante-style playing. If you are an American, you might want to learn to speak French. American flutists generally have more trouble with tonguing too heavily due to the way we enunciate our language. French flutists, on the other hand, tend to have a lighter, cleaner articulation due to the way they enunciate theirs. So, try French!

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Flute Tips & Tricks

3. The syllable "doo" is used for legato articulations or for soft tonguing in jazz music. 4. A good way to achieve light, clean double tonguing is to use the word 'ticket". It provides even weight on both syllables while using less tongue surface. With triple tonguing, use "ticket-teh" or "teh-deh-keh". Don't forget to blow air! Breath support is even more important for achieving clean articulation when double and triple tonguing. For legato style double tonguing, try using the syllables "doo-goo". 5. When tonguing, make sure to keep the tongue relaxed and retract the tongue downward to the bottom of the mouth. This way the tongue doesn't interfer with the air column you are blowing in between articulations. 6. If you think you might have a minor speech impediment that is interfering with your articulation, you might want to consider consulting a certified speech therapist for an evaluation.

Fingering Tips & Tricks
1. Rub your right pinky finger along side of your nose to help it slide more easily from the D# key (lower pinky) to the C# and C keys on the foot joint. 2. When approaching low C# or C from any note other than Eb/D# or High A, leave the D# key off on the note before the low C or C# so that your pinky finger has time to get to the lower foot joint key(s). This can make for smoother fingering. 3. Make sure on low C that you use both the C & C# keys. Some band fingering charts only show the low C roller as being depressed, but most flutes will leak if you don't depress both keys. 4. If you have trouble reaching the gizmo key on your low B foot joint when
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Flute Tips & Tricks

playing high notes, use the low B roller key instead. 5. Use your index and ring fingers for the trill keys instead of the middle finger. This keeps your hand balanced and in position. (The notable exception to this is the high Bb fingering). 6. When slurring down to high E natural from high A natural, take your D# key (lower pinky) off on High E. The high E will respond much more easily. Note that the D# key must be on for high A or it won't come out. 7. Piccolo players that have a middle G - A natural trill, can "cheat" and cross trill, using the right hand index finger instead of the 3rd finger on the left hand. It gives a more even trill. This generally works best on a sustained trill. 8. Piccolo players who are playing high B natural should make sure not to let the 2nd trill key vent open too far. On most piccolos, if this key opens too far, the note won't speak as easily. Also on some piccolos, using the 1st trill key for high B natural helps to bring the pitch down. Piccolo players should experiment with alternate fingerings as success in using them varies more widely from piccolo to piccolo than the flute. 9. To play a low G or A on the piccolo (varies from instrument to instrument), cover the end of the piccolo with your pinky finger. You will need to have a good seal on the D# key's pad for this to work. You can also play a low Db by half covering the end

Alternate Fingerings
Solid aqua keys = depressed keys Yellow keys = trilled key

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Flute Tips & Tricks

Adding 5 & 6 also works well for lowering the pitch on middle C#.

Lowered Middle C

This fingering makes it possible to play high E natural softly on the flute or piccolo without going flat. Don't use it for louder dynamics or you'll go sharp.

Soft High E

This fingering helps high Ab/G# to respond more easily and lowers the pitch. It is the primary fingering for piccolo since the regular flute fingering doesn't respond as easily on the piccolo unless you are playing fortissimo.

Lowered High Ab/G#

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Flute Tips & Tricks

This high Bb fingering responds easily without going flat in soft passages.

Soft High Bb

For this trill, start from the regular high G fingering and go to this fingering, over-blowing to A and trilling 3. This trill is particularly good for the piccolo since you can't overblow the middle G-A fingerings like you do on the flute.

Alternate High G - A Trill

This fingering lowers pitch, responds more easily and is easier to finger in fast passages. Using 5 instead of 6 for the lower two octaves of F# is not recommended except in fast passages as the pitch is flat and the tone color dull.

Alternate High F#

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Flute Tips & Tricks

C - D Trills
Lower C - D Trill:

Higher C - D Trill:

The addition of the G# key in this octave of C helps to keep the flutist from going flat. Adding the G# key to B natural and C# below and above this C also does the same thing for those notes.

Raised 3rd Octave C

This fingering is used on open hole flutes and is helpful for sustained trills since it's less tiring than trilling the thumb. The G is also much better in tune than the regular trill fingering. The trick with this fingering is to depress the 2 and 4 keys only on the rings where the X's are marked and trill the ring on 4.

Alternate High F - G Trill

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Flute Tips & Tricks

Alignment & Posture Tips
1. Aligning the flute properly aids in maintaining good body posture. A general rule is to align the inside edge of the head joint blow hole with the inside edge of the first key. This may vary slightly from one brand of flute to another. But I have found that this gives the optimum angle for the air column to strike the blow hole. The foot joint on a C foot should have the mechanism post aligned with the middle of the bottom key on the body. For a B foot joint, the post will align more outward, so that the flutist can reach the foot joint keys as comfortably as on a C foot joint. I find the easiest way to align the B foot joint is to align the post with the outer edge of the open hole in the bottom key of the body (or outer edge of the key depression if you have a closed hole flute). When playing, the keys on the flute body should be level and not tilted backwards or forwards. Tilting usually indicates that the head joint is not properly aligned, which will also be evident in the lack of easy response, good tone, and intonation when playing. 2. The flutist should try to stand or sit so that the left elbow and knee line up. Standing with the feet in an "L" pattern also helps to distribute body weight and maintain good posture. The head should be titlted slightly to the right to reduce the bend on the left wrist. You should avoid holding your flute in the 45 degree "military style" as the severe bend of the left wrist can cause injury over a period of time. The right wrist should remain relaxed and straight so that you could draw an imaginery straight line from the elbow to the tip of the thumb. The right thumb is better positioned under the index finger, rather than under the 1st trill key, as it provides better hand balance and dexterity. Since we are
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Flute Tips & Tricks

naturally designed to grasp things between our thumb and index finger, I think you will see that it also reduces the strain on the right wrist and thumb. Another aid in reducing strain on the right wrist and thumb is to play on the side of the tip of the thumb. This straightens out the wrist. A Bo-Pep Thumb Guide or Finger Rest can also help with hand posture and comfort. The arms should be relaxed and held away from the body, with the upper arms being the main support for the flute. Holding the arms away from the body aids in proper breathing and posture.

Questions?
E-mail me at: kjt at glis.net
(in your email program insert the @ sign where it says "at", without spaces, and put "Flute Quest" in the subject line)

Back to Back to The Teal Flute Studio Flûtée Help Files

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