Straight Flute

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How to Improve Your Tone on the Flute

Are you flummoxed with your flute tone? Is it bright or airy? Look no further. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your tone.

1. Sit up straight. In fact, it's easiest to play with a good tone while standing. Make sure your back is straight up and down when you are sitting and don't slouch!

2.

Proper flute posture that will improve your tone!

Proper flute posture that will improve your tone!

Hold your flute up. You've probably been told this at least a thousand times, but it can affect your tone if you hold the flute too low. You should hold it about 20 degrees below parallel. When you hold it any lower you collapse your stomach area and cannot take a proper breath or support the tone. If you hold it any higher you will create tension in your right arm. (Sorry marching flautists.)

3. Balance the flute. This is related, but not the same thing as correct posture. There are four points of balance when holding up a flute: the chin, left thumb, right thumb, and right pinky. The lip plate should rest in the hollow between your lip and chin, and you should feel a gentle pressure on the gums of your lower teeth. Your flute should rest just above the lowest knuckle of your left pointer finger, above where the finger meets the hand. The flute should rest on the tip of the right thumb, underneath or slightly behind the flute, between the F and E keys. Your right pinky finger should then land naturally on the E flat key.[1] Once in this position it should feel very natural, and the flute should "float", allowing you to produce a resonant sound.

4. Breathe correctly. Take a deep breath with your belly, not your upper torso, before playing. You should see your belly physically expand.

5. Listen to your tone. You can probably fix things yourself. Just think about sounding resonant and full. Imagine that you are vibrating the whole length of your flute.

6. Remember to support the air stream. In-tune notes always sound better, mainly in ensemble settings.

7. Shape your lips. Making the hole in your lips smaller can produce a better tone. The air stream is more direct and you do not use as much air. On the other hand, make sure not to make the hole too small, or you can cut off the airflow and get an airy or forced sound.

8. Know that better tones on certain notes will come with time and familiarity. As you become more familiar with lower and higher notes on the flute, your tone will improve on them as well. Don't just assume that time will solve everything however. It takes practice too!

9. Use vibrato on longer notes. Vibrato is a technique in which the player pitch bends very fast. Act like you are whispering "ha, ha, ha" and try to play a note.[2] It might sound unnatural at first, so practice until it is natural and even. Vibrato is a good technique that will create interest on longer notes and mask tuning inconsistencies as well. Try to play vibrato in triplets for every quarter note.

10.

Have your flute serviced regularly. A flute that works better has a better tone. Period. If your tuning cork is messed up, a key is leaking, the rods are misaligned, or your flute is ailing in any other way, that will negatively affect your tone. To some extent you can fix things yourself--sticky keys or loose screws--but for most things have your flute checked at a music store.

11. Get a better flute. The quality of the metal (whether nickel, silver, or even gold) and the craftsmanship that went into making a flute drastically affect its tone. If you have a beginner's flute consider buying a new one. Professional and intermediate flutes are crafted more precisely, and it is easier to get a good tone on many notes. Some features to consider:

*

Open hole on top, close hole or plateau keys on bottom

Open hole on top, close hole or plateau keys on bottom

Open hole keys: These allow the air to go through when uncovered, and this leads to a fuller tone. This is very recommended, but it will take some adjustment once you switch because you will have to cover the holes completely with your fingers. Start out with plugs in the keys that are hardest to reach, so you can play normally, and work at playing without the plugs while you practice.

*

Inline on top, offset on bottom

Inline on top, offset on bottom

Inline G key: This is a matter of personal preference and wont really affect the tone. An inline G key just means that one key will be a bit harder to reach (see the image to the right). If you have small hands or are used to playing with an offset G key, just stick with that.

*

B foot on top, C foot on bottom

B foot on top, C foot on bottom

B foot: You can purchase a foot joint with a few extra keys that enables you to play one chromatic step lower than usual (a B). This is a good idea because you will probably come across the note in advanced flute literature.

*

The gizmo key is the long, little one, closest to the viewer.

The gizmo key is the long, little one, closest to the viewer.

Gizmo key: This key will almost always be included in a B foot and makes it easier to play high C or C# (5+ ledger lines).[3]

*

They do make golden flutes, but silver is good quality and far less expensive.

They do make golden flutes, but silver is good quality and far less expensive.

Metal quality: Most beginning flutes are nickel or silver plated nickel. Pure silver (sterling silver) is the next quality up. Then there is the option of rose gold which can run about the cost of a nice car. There are even platinum or titanium flutes!

• The most important part of the flute is the head joint, so if you cannot afford the body and foot joint, make sure to update the head joint's metal quality at the least.

• Watch out for gold plated lip plates. They don't affect tone at all and are just for looks.[4] However a better quality riser, the short "chimney" that attaches the lip plate to the head joint, does improve tone.

Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Tone-on-the-Flute

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