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  • Flute Technique Packet

    Flute Clinic Fingering Chart

    Major Scales Long Tones

    Tuning Chords Technique No. 1 Technique No. 2 Technique No. 3 Technique NO. 4

    Articulation No. 1 Articulation No. 2 Articulation No. 3

    Amazing Grace (Phantom Regiment 1992) Canon (Phantom Regiment 2003)

    Adagio for Strings (Santa Clara Vanguard 2013)

  • The Musical Ambassadors of the ArmyWashington, DCWashington, DCW

    The United StatesArmy Field Band

    Flute Clinic

    by Staff Sergeant Kendra BoettcherStaff Sergeant Jennifer Nitchman

    Staff Sergeant Dana Tan

    The United States Army Field Band4214 Field Band Drive Fort Meade, Maryland 20755-5330

    Phone: (301) 677-6586 Fax: (301) 677-6533E-mail: fl dband@emh1.ftmeade.army.mil Website: www.army.mil/fi eldband

  • The U.S. Army Field Band Flute Clinic


    Flute Clinicby

    Staff Sergeant Kendra BoettcherStaff Sergeant Jennifer Nitchman

    Staff Sergeant Dana Tan

    PREFACEThese comments about flute playing are in-

    tended to help high school age musicians derive themost from their practice time. This advice is by nomeans intended to be definitive. It is written withthe intent of helping high school flute players andtheir band directors improve skills and conquermany flute problems.

    PRACTICINGThink about the following points, made by the in-

    ternationally renowned flutist and teacher, Trevor Wye:

    1) Practice the flute only because you want to;if you dont want todont! It is almost useless tospend your allocated practice time wishing that youwerent practicing.

    2) Having decided to practice, make it diffi-cult. Like a pest inspector, examine every corner ofyour tone and technique for flaws and practice toremove them. Only by this method will you improvequickly. Try to invent new ways to cure old prob-lems.

    3) Always try to practice what you cant play.Dont indulge in too much self-flattery by playingthrough what you can already do well.

    4) Because practice can be tiring, always makesure your posture and hand position are correct.

    It is important to consult a good teacher on allof these points.

    TONEIn the study of tone, as in any other aspect of

    flute playing, a good private teacher should be yourbest guide. Listen carefully all of the time and donot be distracted by surrounding events. If yourflute tone is rudimentary, work in the low registerand build from there.

    The best way to improve tone quality is to playlong, slow notes. This gives the player the opportu-nity to examine tone in close detail. Beware, though,because long notes played carelessly or withoutthought will not achieve any positive result.

    Example 1 (page 14) shows a very basic longtone exercise. Many flutists start their long toneexercises on B or C in the middle register, but stu-dents should ultimately begin the exercise on a notethat they feel very comfortable playing, and one theyfeel has a good sound.

    In general, long tones can be practiced overthe entire range of the flute. It is most beneficial tothe soundand least stressful on the lipsto playlong tones in a descending pattern towards the lowregister, then ascending into the high register. Longtones should be practiced each day for at least fiveminutes of a thirty-minute practice session.

    TECHNIQUEIn many ways, certain aspects of flute tech-

    nique (for instance, finger dexterity and multiple-tonguing) can be some of the easiest things to learn.However, the fundamental aspect of coordinationis one of the biggest problems for many young stu-dents. The question of What do I do when? isoften enough to frustrate many young students tothe point of not wanting to continue playing theirinstruments.

    In the case of the flute, the coordination, oncelearned so well that it becomes second nature, isreally quite simple. Remember the following order:

    1) Prepare the fingers to play the note.

    2) Set the embouchure for the note.

    3) Begin moving the air.

    4) Use the tongue to articulate over the airstream.

  • 12

    Flute Clinic

    Of course, all this is easier said than done, asthe student needs to learn how to do all four of thesesteps in a split second of actual time.

    Example 2 (page 14) may be used to practicedoing these four elements in correct order in veryslow motion. In between each note of the exercise,make sure the fingers are all ready to play the nextnote before starting to blow. Then, make sure theembouchure is readyagain, before the air startsmoving. Finally, as the air starts to move (it willsound like the articulation whooo) add a doo ortoo, only after the note had begun to sound. Theresulting notes in the exercise will sound likeWhoo-doo, whoo-doo, whoo-doo. Yes, it will seemunmusical at first, but as this coordination is mas-tered, gradually compress each element closer andcloser together until all four steps are occurring sorapidly that they no longer sound separate.

    ARTICULATIONDonald Peck, principal flutist of the Chicago

    Symphony Orchestra, once said in an interview,There is too much tongue in tonguing. It soundslike a funny thing to say, but especially for the fluteplayer, it is very true. Often, when one thinks ofarticulation, it is equated with tonguing. However,articulation in music is much the same as articula-tion in speech. If we refer to someone as being ar-ticulate, we generally mean they are easy to un-derstand and adept at getting their points acrossto other people. Articulation in music is really thesame thing. Consequently, use of the tongue playsa part, but so does slurring, phrasing, and timing.So Pecks statement, There is too much tongue intonguing, actually makes sense.

    To be articulate on the flute, one must learnhow to produce the highest quality sound in theshortest amount of time. This becomes particularlyimportant when employing double- and triple-tonguing. Because multiple-tonguing is so oftenrequired of flutists, many young flutists ask, Whatcan I practice to improve my double- (or triple-)tonguing? The answer is to practice single-tongu-ing! Example 3 (page 14) is an excellent single-tonguing study that should be practiced in all keys.First, practice it with no tongue at all, using onlybreath attacks (as if saying, ha, ha, ha, ha). Af-ter becoming reasonably good at thiswhich maytake several weeks because it requires a great dealof staminastart adding a slight amount of tongueto the beginning of each note, all the while remem-

    bering the order learned when practicing Example2.

    INTONATION AND VIBRATOAlthough intonation can be very precarious on

    the flute, it does not have to be. If the instrument isblown correctly, almost all intonation problems be-come minimal. A very easy way to check whetheror not one is blowing into the flute in a fundamen-tally correct manner is to play a middle D (makesure the left hand index finger is raised), then playa low register D (which means lowering the lefthand index finger). Ideally, the player should be ableto alternate between these two notes without anychange in embouchure. In this instance, the rais-ing and lowering of the left hand index finger worksmuch like an octave key would on the oboe or saxo-phone. One should be able to alternate fairly rap-idly between these two notes, slurring one octaveintervals. If unable to do this, flute players are prob-ably relying too much on their faces (or embou-chures) and too little on air support. Several com-mon problems may result: the tone may soundover-focused and weak, the pitch may be quite low,and the high register may sound pinched and ex-tremely sharp. Example 4 (page 15) is a variationof Example 2 that may be used to encourage theuse of more air and less face. Example 5 may beused for similar purposes, but the octaves also of-fer an excellent opportunity to study intonation atthe same time. Ideally, both exercises will be prac-ticed using an electronic tuner to check the intona-tion at various points.

    Matching pitch with a tuner can be very ben-eficial. However, one of the best ways to benefit frompractice with a tuner is to set it to play a pitch (muchlike the drone of a bagpipe), then play scales or melo-dies over the top of that pitch. For instance, if oneis going to practice a scale of G major, set the tunerto G and play the scale over the top of the dronepitch. This encourages listening to the intonationof all notes not just unisons and octaves, but otherintervals as well.

    Vibrato is too complex a subject to try to ad-dress in a handout. Our best advice is to encourageprivate study. Every flute teacher has his or herown approach to the teaching and use of vibrato. Itreally all comes down to a matter of personal taste.The only thing that can be said for certainty is that,if a flutist already has a beautiful sound, a nice vi-brato can enhance it. If the sound isnt good to start,

  • The U.S. Army Field Band Flute Clinic


    no amount of vibratogood, bad, or otherwiseisgoing to make it any better.

    BREATHING AND SCALESBecause the flute player uses more air than

    any other wind player, it is important that the ba-sic fundamentals of breathing are learned correctly.The most common mistake many students make isto raise their shoulders when taking a breath. Thistightens the throat, which often leads to a bleat-ing, goat-like vibrato, and may develop into gruntsor vocal chord noises while playing. An easy way toillustrate correct breathing is to for players to puttheir hands on their abdomens and notice that,when breathing in, the abdomen moves out andwhen breathing out, the abdomen moves in. Play-ers should be thinner when breathing out and fat-ter when breathing in. They must understand thatcorrect breathing makes them wider instead of

    taller. By raising the shoulders, one actuallymakes the abdomen thinner when


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