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When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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Deidre
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Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:51 pm

When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Deidre » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:40 am

I am an older adult who has been taking flute lessons for approximately 3 years. I have a wonderful flute teacher who is very patient with me. I continue to struggle with tension in my embouchure as I play in the higher register. I can envision how much fun I should be having when playing the flute. However, when I start to play these higher notes, it becomes a chore and I get very discouraged.

My teacher says that it could take as long as 5 years to get the comfort level with my tone, etc.

Is it possible that I am just not a flute player? I have invested hours each week with my practicing. I try to listen to my teacher, read books on technique, watch Youtube videos, etc.

Any suggestions?

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Zevang
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Zevang » Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:54 pm

Hi, first of all, there is no such thing (IMHO) as "I'm not a flutist". If we take time to train a monkey in playing the flute, it will eventually work :-)

I suspect that the response is in your sentence "I have invested hours each week with my practicing". What's important is not quantity but quality instead. It's really important to record in our brains that repetition itself is not what leads us to the success. Evolving repetition is the key. It's good also to have a theoretical knowledge about things, but without proper practice it's just culture, not playing...

Sorry if I seem too critical. I have to say this because I believe that the only way to grow as a flutist is actually practicing and practicing, but the right way.

So, let's think that maybe you are demanding too much from yourself. Take the time to research about your embouchure trying to change things using the theory you are accumulating right now. I think that watching to youtube and reading good books is a start, but the practice is what really leads you to the clouds.

Yes, it may take you 5 or even more years to BEGIN to get some comfort. I'm a principal flutist for 23 years now. I'm a professional, but I must confess to you that there are days when I ask myself if I was really made for flute playing... The good thing is that these days generally are over soon and I raise my head and move on, doing what I really love :-)

Just don't rush. Be patience and persist, and never give up your flute teacher ;-)

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Phineas
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Phineas » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:42 pm

Zevang pretty much summed it up! I would like to add a couple more comments.....


I am an older adult who has been taking flute lessons for approximately 3 years. I have a wonderful flute teacher who is very patient with me. I continue to struggle with tension in my embouchure as I play in the higher register. I can envision how much fun I should be having when playing the flute. However, when I start to play these higher notes, it becomes a chore and I get very discouraged.
There are many things that could be causing this situation. It could be something as simple as the cut of the headjoint, or a leaky pad. All in all you just have to keep at it.
My teacher says that it could take as long as 5 years to get the comfort level with my tone, etc.
I disagree with anyone who puts a time table on a level of ability. Everyone is different, and will progress at different stages. I started out playing the flute as an adult (25 years old). It took me only 6 month's of daily practice to be able to play the full range of the instrument. I have had students that never reach that level for many reasons. The ones that did not progress either had a less than playable instrument, would not practice as instructed or just did not practice as they should. I would persuade your teacher to help you to find a more root cause for your lack of progress, and go from there.

Is it possible that I am just not a flute player?
If you can blow a note, you are officially a flute player!!!!
I have invested hours each week with my practicing.
You and every other serious musician on the face of the earth until they give up playing or die! I have been practicing for 20+ years. Still working on being a better player/teacher.
I try to listen to my teacher, read books on technique, watch Youtube videos, etc.
Have you tried just playing the flute and having fun? Now there is a novel concept :D Play something that you like and the improvements will come faster. Technique/pattern books are not at all that musical most of the time. Find a song/tune/piece you like, and learn how to play it. Then get feed back from your teacher on what to do to make you sound better playing it. Heck, depending on the tune/song/piece, try to learn something by ear even. Could not hurt.

I have a motto....

JUST PLAY THE D**N THANG!

The more fun it is for you, the more you will play, the faster you will progress.

Good luck Deidre!!!!

Phineas

Deidre
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:51 pm

Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Deidre » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments. I always get great feedback from this forum. My teacher tells me that I am making progress. She commented that adult students are usually very hard on themselves.

She played my flute (Yamaha YFL-221 under a year old) and says my high register issues could be a combinationn of my embouchure and the flute. Maybe I should consider, down the road, trading up to a better quality flute that may produce better tone overall and be a little easier to play.

The jury is still out on that, but I definitely need to have fun and remember why i started taking lessons. If I enjoy learning and playing the flute, the rest hopefully will follow.

Thanks again, and keep those comments coming!

Deidre

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MissyHPhoenix
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby MissyHPhoenix » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:20 pm

Diedre, the embouchure is such a personal part of your playing and nobody can tell you how yours should work. You have to keep experimenting and trying and persevering .... it can be very frustrating for a long time and then all of a sudden it comes together! When I started school last fall my instructor started me working all over again on my embouchure -- I struggled with it for 2 semesters and have been working really hard over the summer and am just now finally getting the results I wanted. I literally had to re-work the positioning of my lips! I also discovered that I was trying TOO hard on the upper register -- in order to get a sweet, relaxed tone I have to relax myself and not push so much; in other words, let the notes come out, not force them out.

If you keep working on it, eventually you'll get the results you want. Don't get discouraged -- everybody knows what you're talking about! :lol: And I too am an adult who started over again -- been playing now for 5 years.
Missy

Why Be Normal????

Deidre
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Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:51 pm

Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Deidre » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:24 am

I would love to try some different headjoints, but how would I go about doing this? Wouldn't this be expensive since I would want to try out more than one? What kind would I be looking for?

evrmre
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby evrmre » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:42 am

One thing I've noticed is that different makes of flutes have different areas of playing that are more challenging than others, though it changes from person to person.

I wouldn't start changing headjoints, unless you change the instrument as well. Just creates other problems that the makers can't anticipate, leaving you more frustrated. Perhaps visit a few instrument shops, or even hire a few different makes of instrument to try out. Cheaper than buying, and allows you a decent timeframe to try them out, as well as being able to compare with your current one.

A good book on flute techniques that I can also recommend is "The art of playing flute" by Roger Mather. About a third of it is devoted to embouchure, and it is lucid and thorough. It might be able to offer a few ideas that may help.

And, of course, having fun :) Sometimes you can finally manage to relax, and it all just starts to work...

avins
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby avins » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:16 am

Hi Deidre
I quite empathise with your feeling and possible frustration(?) as I went through similar approach to the flute .
I am also an older student but had played the bassoon many years before, I started about 6 years ago with a good teacher but somehow she couldnt pinpoint my problem in producing the right sound and embouchure . I was playing then on mura ex , the high tones were always a struggle , I thought something was wrong with me and that perhaps I was not meant to play the flute. I gave it up for about 2 years,sold the Mura , but still remained with a Mateki .
I love the flute so much that I started reading and watching youtube ,untill i came across one of those short videos by a guy who explained very methodically how to form a proper embouchure , I picked up the Mateki , and I saw the light ,so to speak.I still struggled a bit with the high notes , and the low notes were not so nice and rounded as I wished.
I decided, after reading lots of opinions and comments on the web , to try out a good flute , and I got this most beautiful Sankyo 301 , and realised that , a flute ,or more so the headjoint, does have a great impact on the joy of playing.
I like reading about other instruments as well and I've found that the one topic that flutists , not just beginners but also more advanced players , talk mostly about the correct embouchure and control of air flow into that HJ,,
I've found that finding the right lip formation is very a fine tunning process and you have to find it yourself.
For the high notes ,for example, you have to from a very highly focused apperture,(Pahud masterclass)
The thing is that with the flute , unlike the reed instruments , which IMO are easier to produce sounds. you have to produce a virtual reed, (I played the clarinet and bassoon). once you get it right ,well it took me 6 years , you will see that its not that difficult "chore"
All the best and dont give up ..
Avins

connieg
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Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:44 pm

Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby connieg » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:31 pm

I am 61 yrs. old and I've wanted to play the flute all my life. So, on my 61st BD in Oct. I bought one. I don't know to read music at all and am miles from a private teacher. Boy, am I glad I found this site! I've had alot of problems with the embouchure (well, with EVERYTHING really). I do well with the head joint, but once the flute is together, it's a real struggle. I did everything the "right" way and no good. I actually placed the flute somewhat to the left of my mouth and pointed the flute upward, instead of straight, and it worked for me. My fingers are small and I think it will be a LONG time before I can play even the most simple song. But, I try everyday, I don't IMPROVE everyday, but I'm having fun!

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Zevang
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby Zevang » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:34 am

Dear connieg,

Each person has her/his own pace on learning things and also to play the flute. And this is not related to the age.
It's very respectful to me that you are a fighter on learning this wonderful instrument, but what really touches me is your last statement concerning that although you don't (perceive) improve everyday (none of us do BTW, being pro or amateur) at least you can say you're having fun. If we have more people with your attitude we would have more commited and better flutists around the world.

I'm honnored a person like you want to share your experience with us.

cheers,

Zevang

connieg
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Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby connieg » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:12 pm

Thanks!

jseligmann
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:54 pm

Re: When will the "light come on" with my embouchure?

Postby jseligmann » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:08 pm

The more you play, especially things you like to play, the more you will improve. And, although the progress will be evident, you may stay on a plateau for a while. Just know that you are not stuck, it's just part of the learning process; your mind and muscles are still making their adjustments even though it's not so obvious to you.

Here's a hint about your embouchure.
Try this: close your lips lightly together, then gently force the the air through them, allowing the airstream to naturally form the embouchure. Become more and more physically aware of controlling and focusing your airstream.

See how that works for you, and, by all means, keep at it.


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