Jennifer Cluff ~ Wanting flute lessons

Canadian Flutist and Teacher





Wanting flute lessons? Not sure if you need them?


 
Read: The Top Ten Reasons for Taking Flute Lessons 
 
Other questions: 

How do I get back into flute after a long hiatus?


Here are some skill builders for folks just getting back to the flute::
(who want to get really good really quickly, and are setting
about finding their first private flute teacher.)


1. Use a real music stand for your practising, and set it at
eye-level
(or get a stand that goes higher than your current
one, so that it *is* at eye-level.) This makes it easier to
fix and posture problems, such as having your neck crooked,
or your chin too far down.

2. Practise, if possible, in a resonant space, that really
makes your flute sound great.
This will increase your
delight, and will cause you to practice longer, and with
more joy. (your ears will be happy.)
Later you can experiment with less-echoey spaces, but
they're very fun at first.

3. Look in the mirror, and see if you can stand easily and
naturally, as if reading a bulletin board
. This will give
you the feeling of eyes up, chin up, alert, and straight
spine (without 'pulling yourself up to attention' which is
too rigid a posture.)


4. Always warm up with a medium, soft tone, playing long,
beautiful notes
, letting them ring the flute, and listening
for the tone to come into focus first on low notes.
If you start this way your lips will be more sensitive, and
you'll be able to pay attention to deep, slow and easy
breathing. Just play mp, and don't worry about playing loudly or more fully at first.
Your tone will improve faster if you're gentle with your air and lip positions as you first warmup. Allow the time to have your lips adjust to your flute.
 If you start playing high, fast, or loud right away,
without a warm-up, you may miss the perfect adaptation your
lips will naturally make to the flute when they are still
sensitive.


5. Match every note on the flute to its neighbor notes.
Match a low register B with a Bb. Match that Bb to the A.
Travel down the flute in half-steps, staying slow and easy,
and listen carefully to what the lips must do to make every
pair of notes identical in the low register.
After a week of this, you can start the same progress but
from medium B (one leger line.)

After several weeks, when the low and middle registers are
all equally wonderful in tone (clear, no hiss, even sounding
all the way to the end of the note), then you can start
tone-pairings of notes above medium B.
By this time, your Trevor Wye: "Practice book for the Flute-
Volume 1: Tone" will have arrived.


6. Other things you can do while learning to "warm-up" are:
a) look in the mirror and check your posture, so that it's like "looking at the bulletin board".
b) check your fingers to see if they stay very very close to
the keys, and curved, and land in the center of the keys
when they descend.
c) check that your belly moves when you breathe, and that
you're really breathing deeply, not shallowly. Your
shoulders should stay down, your throat well open, and the
belly-button should move outward when you inhale.
d) when you exhale into the flute, relax all muscles that are unecessary.
Open your throat
Relax your face as much as you can
Relax your neck, balance your head.
Relax your finger pressure so hands are without excessive
tension.

7. Borrow or buy a flute CD that gives great examples of a beautiful flute sound. Or listen to flute players online and/or watch videos of flute players:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/listen.htm 
 

Look for:
James Galway, Julius Baker, Sharon Bezaly, William Bennett, Emanuel Pahud, Susan Hoeppner, and other great flute artists.
By listening to flute on recordings, or watching flutists perform, you'll be programming your brain to hear the flute at its best, which will then transfer to your own ideals for your own tone.

Hope these serve you as good ideas until your new teacher is found.
Jen :>)

---------------------------------

What flute ideas can I play with until lessons begin again?

Question: I used to play flute in middle school, and now really want to take it up again. I hope to start lessons soon when I can afford it. Any ideas what to do next, until I can take lessons again? I really have no idea, but I want to get started!!

Jen replies:.
I think that the biggest part of returning after a musical hiatus is pure enjoyment. And one of the biggest parts of that is locating the kind of music that you enjoy so that you can play everyday, so that your skill develops, so I'll
start with that! :>)

1. Find some books of flute sheet music or some improvisational CDs (Jazz, folk, ethnic music etc.) that you really like. Keep hunting down interesting tunes and great flute pieces through various sources and by asking friends and colleagues for their favourites. If you're looking for something specific (ex: African nose flute transcriptions :>), ask on one of the internet discussion groups for specific suggestions.

Some of my suggestions for favourite sheetmusic can be found here.

Some free online sheetmusic for flute can be found too, although there's not much on the net that's REALLY good.
If you're on a huge budget some of the best buys in books of sheetmusic are here.

The main thing is to play everyday, and you'll only do that if you're playing music you love.

If you're eclectic and you like all kinds of musical styles, a good source of flute books (some with CDs) is Just Flutes catalogue online in the UK. Use their search engine under sheetmusic to find teh catagory of flute books with CDs.

For a list of Celtic flute sheetmusic (all levels) see here.

If you're looking for great flute CDs to jam along with (by ear) ask people at Flutenet or other flute discussion group for their favourites in a given catagory (ie: Jazz, Folk, Ethnic etc.)

A simple example of a classical CD that I recently found fun to jam along with was a CD of Enrique Granados early orchestral suites of Spanish Dances: NAXOS cd: 8.555956
An example of Celtic flute music that comes with sheet music is "Celtic Music for Flute" by Jessica Walsh at
www.fluteandguitar.com This is the single most popular series I've found for beginner to intermediate flute students. :>)

Alot of jazz flutists really got a headstart by listening to Herbie Mann and Hubert Laws CDs but many more jazz flutists can be found who may become favourites. Ask around online, and from jazz flute groups. Choose your favourite genre and then hunt up some inspiring music to get you going when it's practice time.
______________________
2. Take at least 3 or 4 lessons with a top-notch teacher in order to correct bad habits before they become engrained. This will put you yards ahead of where you'll be if you "wait until you can afford lessons".

Immediately sign up for 3 lessons, and start saving up now. Tape record the lessons, or take very good notes (tape recording is much easier; you can always borrow a tape recorder from a friend for this purpose.)
Make an effort to pinpoint and eradicate bad habits or they will hold you back no matter how often you practice your flute. ________________________
3. Find a partner to play music with or a local band or chamber group to join. Playing weekly with others will REALLY motivate you to improve. There is nothing better for getting thrilled about being part of live music.

If you can find a pianist, harpist, or guitarist there are SCADS of easy and intermediate sheet music available that will really rock your world. See my celtic sheet music suggestions especially for flute/guitar/harp/piano combinations of easy-to-read music.
_______________________
4. If you're interested in progressive PRACTICAL improvements in your flute playing,
consider purchasing a flute method book that gives you step by step exercises.
You'll need to develop great tone,good rhythm, good music reading skills, and fast and accurate fingers.

If you're on a budget, the least expensive one source for novices to advanced playersis: Methods and Studies CD-rom from 'The Ultimate CD sheet music for flute'. www.cdsheetmusic.com for a full index, or see my repertoire files for all asterisked methods and etudes appearing on this CD-rom.

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Good Flute Method Books for the returning student:


If you are returning to the flute after a long hiatus, and want to make one $20 purchase of almost 1000 pages of flute music, you may be interested in the incredible CD-roms of flute sheetmusic entitled "The Ultimate Flute Sheetmusic - Flute Solos" and "The Ultimate Flute Sheetmusic ~ Flute Methods, Studies & Ensembles." Each CD is $19 U.S. and will take you from beginner review material to advanced methods & duets. See below.

_______________________________
Beginner Level (Easy)
________________________________

See recommended beginner books at:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/cheap.htm
 
For returning players: The CD-rom entitled: Flute Methods, Studies and Ensembles, by Theodore Presser is a great buy for the returning flutist. Print out the Altes or Wagner method books you'll find on the CD-rom and use them as a refresher for rhythms and counting. The Wagner method on this CD-rom is lots of fun, and has all the scales, patterns, and fillagree stuff. Review these a few pages a day when you practice, and hunt for skills that you're currently working on among the many lessons printed there.

Additionally in the list below, all sheetmusic titles with *asterisks* are in fact on this "Ultimate Flute Sheetmusic" two CD-roms and are pieces that are print-out-able on your home computer just for the cost of ink and paper. More info on these CD-roms ($19 U.S. for hundreds of pieces flute music) at www.cdsheetmusic.com and are cross-referenced also with asterisks at my favourite repertoire page.
______________________________
Intermediate Level:
______________________________

Kohler 20 Easy and Progressive Ex. op. 93* (asteriks denote that they're found on the CD-rom for flute at www.cdsheetmusic.com ) This is terrific stuff, and a new discovery for the intermediate flutist working over the summer, or with a teacher's help. Kohler has arranged 20 weekly assignments that include scales, thirds, articulations, and follows with a short Etude and a Duet in the same key to be played each week with the teacher. Amazing. Check it out!

There are also lots of flute duets, on CD-rom sheet music (many to choose from), if you have a friend who plays flute, or use a tape-recorder to play duets by yourself using the metronome on the tape so you don't get lost Playing duets with a recording of yourself on the other part is more fun than you would believe. :>).

Books of flute Etudes you may also find to hand:
Melodious and Progressive Studies; Robert Cavally
Kohler 15 Easy Etudes
Gariboldi 20 Studies* op. 132
Gariboldi 30 Easy and Progressive Studies*
Kohler Romantic Etudes*
Andersen op. 33 Etudes*

[Note: asterisk* = on Presser Cd-rom of 'Ultimate' sheet music]


 

Books of Classical flute Solos you may find to hand:
 
36 Repertoire Pieces; Edited by Donald Peck
Concert and Contest Collection
 
[more advanced] 
Flute Music of the Baroque; Schirmer
Flute Solos published by Amsco 

___________________________
Advanced highschool-level
____________________________

Standard Etudes can be worked on; including all the Andersen etudes (also found online for free), Berbiguer 18 etudes (also come in duet form), Altes 26* studies, J.S. Bach 24 Concert studies*.
The asterisked items above are on the CD-rom of sheetmusic for flute also.
A good collection for buying only one book is: Selected Studies by Rubank.It's the only Rubank flute book I really like. It's got scales and scales-in-thirds in the back, and some really truly wonderful (not yucky) etudes at the advance/highschool level. It's also a very inexpensive book.


For advanced student Duets:
Many to choose from, very high quality, from CD-rom sheet music*:

Kuhlau Duets*, Kohler Duets*, Mozart Duets*, Quantz Duets*, Telemann, Tulou etc.
See the index listing of the CD-rom under Flute at www.cdsheetmusic.com 


Duets: Schirmer: Selected Duets for flute. This is a great book. Almost all of the duets are beautiful in some way. Only a couple of throw-aways....
_________________________________
  As your flute skills become more advanced try the following method books to assist self-study. They can be ordered from Fluteworld.

The Physical Flute by Fiona Wilkinson:
Teaches posture-ease, intonation, vowel-dynamics, leaping without embouchure distortion, high soft playing and all sorts of other things not covered in most other method books. This is a valuable resource for flutistic finesse!!!

The Flute Player's Book by Vernon Hill:
Teaches special techniques, releasing the sound effortlessly, tuning vertical chords, cleaning up articulation, tricks from the pro-level. Demo CD of all techniques included.

http://www.vernonhill.net/TheflutePlayersBook.html

 

More titles of cool flute books can be found here.
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Can I get by without a flute teacher?
A young person wrote that they didn't have access to a flute teacher; so what should they do to improve?


Question: Does anyone have any suggestions on being able to improve my abilities without taking lessons? Yes, lessons are very important, but I do not have a way to get them... so I'd like all the advice I can to improve as much as I can on my own. (advice other than just well, practicing :-) )
__________________
Jen's reply:

Honestly and with the most kind of intentions, my best advice is:
Don't stop asking until you can find out how to GET FLUTE LESSONS where you live. Even if they're only once a month, due to travel.

It may *extremely* possible to continue with weekly lessons, and you just don't realize it yet, because you haven't asked the right person. Suddenly you could find a teacher is in fact available.

There could be a flute teacher next-door, down the street, at the highschool, at the college in your town; or they might be in the next town, or you might find another flutist or instrumentalists who drives a few hours to lessons each week who could take you along and share the commute. You may be able to find the money for one lesson a month, or you might even find a flute teacher who would also be open to trading lessons for something valuable that you could do for them. (babysitting/mowing lawns/painting/cleaning etc.)

Don't say that it's impossible until you've really gone the extra mile and really exhausted all the avenues.

And here's why:
Almost all self-taught players make the same mistakes that have been made for the last 200 years or more, and need to find out what they are before those mistakes become bad habits.

Self-taught players, or those who try and learn from books and CDs/videos inevitably delelop the same sets of bad-habits that are difficult to break, and will eventually halt their progress.
 
Also, as more and more teachers appear on the scene with more advanced knowledge about teaching flute, a teacher can save you YEAR'S of work on your flute, just in a single "ah ha" moment in a flute lesson. The more I talk to flute teachers, the more "quick fixes" and " tricks to jump-start a skill" and other faster ways of connecting with a student are coming to light. Why reinvent the wheel when there are thousands of flute teachers in the world today who hold the key to doing it in half the time?
If you work on your own, it may take you DAYS to figure out how to crescendo to fortissimo without going sharp. It may take YEARS. But a good flute teacher could teach you that in five minutes, and save you so many "hits and misses" hours of frustration. 

At the link below you will find dozens of articles that will help you on your way while you're looking for a teacher; but you really owe it to yourself to REALLY LOOK HARD FOR A TEACHER.

Can you imagine a self-taught wanna-be Olympic athlete trying to come up to current standards without a coach or expert training them? Can you imagine a world-class writer who never had access to any of the most current books?

Can you imagine a swimmer who had to learn to swim on dry land, and never travelled to a pool? A high-jumper who never had any proper equipment, and so taught themselves to land on their feet instead of backwards onto a mat...

Can you imagine someone trying to learn French by reading about learning French, but never hearing the language spoken?
Now, imagine a cello player who was self-taught but had the cello pin at the wrong height and hurt themselves from hours of playing with their body hunched up at the wrong angle.
THESE are the kinds of problem that crops up. 
It's all a question of degree.
 
Just last year I had a student with a flute so unplayable that she'd taught herself to pound the keys down from a finger height of two inches. Turned out it had been mis-padded, and all the pads were puffed up like popcorn. And she'd been wondering why the "Chaminade" was so impossible to play.... 

Look for a teacher.
You'll soon realize why it's important, at your second or third lesson; you'll say: "Ah ha!!! You're saving me YEARS of going around in circles!!"

All the
articles you'll find on this site will convince you of WHY. Printed words can never help you correct what you don't realize you are doing wrong when you self-teach.

Please believe me.

Self-taught players ALWAYS have unknown handicaps working against them, and when you DO go to a lesson, and find out what handicap you were working on, it'll likely be one that the teacher has seen a zillion times.
From a flute teacher's perspective, students plateau when they're self-teaching for the exact same set of reasons over and over again, and it's not the least bit necessary for this to have happened to them.

A flute teacher,
Jen Cluff

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Re: Re: Re: any advice for those without lessons?
A response from another online chat group member:
____________________

Subject: Re: Re: any advice for those without lessons?

I'm not trying to sound mean or rude, but what is a flutist suppose to do if they really don't have a flute teacher (or a good flute teacher at that) in their area? Music teachers can be very hard to find...especially in small towns that are in rural areas. Sadly, there's also a lot of teachers out there who don't know what they are doing, which can actually do more harm than good.

Of course, it's would be very nice to hear that everyone has an excellent private teacher and comes from a great music program. However, since this isn't the case, I do think that a self-taught flutist can still learn about the flute without a teacher. There's a wide variety of materials that are available that can be used to help a flutist who is teaching him/herself. You have to give them credit to try and improve on their own when and if they can't find (or
afford) a suitable teacher.

Just my 2 cents,
________________________
Jen replies:

Oh yes, I agree that some folk can get ahead on their own, and do quite a bit of work if they intelligently apply themselves to the materials that are available.

But I've also seen flute students with bad-habits so badly engrained that it takes them over two years to UN-DO the physical reflex and response patterns that they have accidently practiced in.
 
On the other hand, I've also seen rural families that wouldn't think of letting their musical child get THAT frustrated. Because they prioritize positive-high-level-music-lessons, they make a point of that 6 hr. round trip drive to take their kids to top-quality music lessons in a big city (coming from very remote towns) and these are the same families whose kids end up in fabulous youth orchestras, summer orchestras, music camps, and chamber music scholarship courses.

Some of these rural and small town musical kids (with parents keen on high end private instruction) end up in the National Youth Orchestras and on to musical careers! Living far away from good instruction doesn't mean you have to miss out---it just means you have to choose what's important to you, and how far you want to develop your musical knowledge.

I wouldn't want anyone who's truly motivated to miss out on the kind of opportunities that are available for young musicians simply because they did not try and inquire and therefore somehow didn't find out in time that those opportunities (including scholarhips, ride-shares, and great teachers closer-than-you-think), are indeed out there.

I also agree that poor music teachers may do more harm than good. But phoning around and doing your research by actually attending teacher's recitals and studio recitals (where their students play) should allow you to form your own opinion.

A set of four to ten lessons with a new teacher will also allow you to make a more well-informed opinion.

But optimally, one shouldn't give up too soon in seeking out expert instruction and opportunities to play with better players.

It's so inspiring and you learn so much more if you can put yourself where the talented young musicians are all congregating.
Best,
Jen Cluff

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What can I do to 'self-teach' until my flute lessons can begin?


Regarding advice for what to do, in order to improve, while you're waiting to find a flute teacher, here are some of the standard books that you might want to invest in, or order through your public library (if you're on a budget.)

Also see:

BEGINNER:
1.Trevor Wye: Beginner Books for the Flute - Volume 1 & 2 with CD. Publisher: Novello

2. Howard Harrison: How to Play the Flute
Publisher: Elm Tree Books; ISBN 0-241-10876-4

3. Jessica Walsh: "Celtic Music for Flute with CD" (or "Ancient Airs and Dances" or "Medieval and Renaissance Music for Flute & Guitar".) See and hear MP3s at www.fluteandguitar.com order: <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = SKYPE />1-800-627-0823and create duets from them, using CD using this method.

NOVICE:

1. Karen Smithson's Flute and Piano solos from: Playing the Flute Volumes 2-5 and book of piano accompaniments (find a local piano teacher to accompany you as you learn and play through all the tunes.) www.fluteworld.com or www.weisgarber.com

2. CD-sheetmusic with the Wagner Flute Method and Altes Flute Method (vol. 1 & 2) plus about 200 other books of etudes/studies/duets etc. all on one cd-rom: www.cdsheetmusic.com for Flute: "The Ultimate Sheetmusic for Flute - Methods, Ensembles and Studies". Publilshed by Theodore Presser.

3. Trevor Wye: Practice Book for the Flute - Volume One - TONE
Order book along with CD. (this volume is also contained in Omnibus edition below....)

INTERMEDIATE:

1. Trevor Wye: Practice Books for the Flute Omnibus Editions, Books 1-5 Tone, Technique, Articulation, Intonation, Vibrato, Breathing, Scales. Publisher: Novello

2. Indispensible Scales, Exercises and Etudes for the Developing Flutist
by Dona Gilliam & Mizzy McCaskill
Publisher: Mel Bay

3. Robert Dick: Tone Development Through Extended Technique.
MMB Music Inc.

4. Walfrid Kujala: The Flutist's Vade Mecum [of Scales, Arpeggios, Trills and Fingering Technique.]
Publisher: Progress Press.
Avail. at
www.fluteworld.com

ADVANCED HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL:

1. Vernon Hill: The Flute Player's Book with demo- CD [Everything you wanted to know about playing the flute.]
http://users.bigpond.com/vkhill/ or www.fluteworld.com

2. Trevor Wye: Complete Daily Exercises for the Flute - Essential Practice Material for all intermediate to advanced flutists. Publisher: Novello

ADVANCED LEVEL:

1. Werner Richter: Conditioning Training (for flutists)
Publisher: Zimmerman. Avail at:
www.fluteworld.com

For more advanced flute method books click here.

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For etudes, daily exercises and repertoire lists see:
cheap.htm

or:

faverep.htm

For articles on all topics, such as "how to practice" and "what to learn" go to all my flute articles:

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Copyright 2004 Jennifer Cluff