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Cross Roads and Lazy Left hand

Alternate Fingerings, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:02 pm

Cross Roads and Lazy Left hand

Postby Bani » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:01 pm

The last few years I've been playing various world flutes that are played vertically (quena/quenacho, shakuhachi, Xiao). I used to be a trumpet player but after many years in the corporate world, I started playing world flutes for relaxation and became very serious about it. One of the reasons, I didn't gravitate to Irish flutes and Bansuri's was because I am short with small hands a very weak left hand. I imagine my hands are smaller than the average teenager. I actually took bass lessons some years ago and I had issues the bass teacher never saw. My fingers are very weak in the left hand and also have a hard time playing tranverse flutes for any amount of time, no matter how well my posture, stretching etc.... But I'm ok with smaller tranverse flutes.

So I have two silver flutes that were sitting in the closet. A student Yamaha and an old King. Neither are very good. But the Yamaha is in relatively good shape, just not very responsive instrument. I have enough musical education that I am able to play my scales and arpeggio's and all that stuff.

I used to play jazz trumpet many moons ago and still can play piano and pretty well along with jazz harmony and how to play ii/v's and changes and so on. There are players in the world flute scene that play outstanding jazz whether it be on shakuhachi or Quena. Shakuhachi takes years of study to be able to play well chromatically and finding really good quena's is difficult. I have well over 20 and maybe two or three are good enough to play in tune and 1/2 finger well and to get one in another key that is exceptional we are looking at 2 to 300 bucks.

So I'm not completely getting my jazz fix on these instruments but great for modal tunes but bebop tunes are tough. Not that there aren't guys doing it but very few.

So I'm at a crossroads. Do I invest in a silver flute to begin transferring my jazz skills to a new instrument? Or accept some of the limitations of the world flutes. I say limitations in that chromatics comes with some amount of excruciating practice. And good world flutes are not cheap.

I'm ready to buy a good intermediate flute except for the fact that my left hand gets tired. So I'm thinking of going to the flute center of ny and trying some flutes with a curved headjoint or maybe renting a flute with a curved head joint to see how I do. I think it's less an ergonomic issue as it is just a physical limitation. If I know I can play an hour without getting tired, I will go for a flute lesson to ensure My embouchure and position are well established.

So all that being said, I here are my questions

Going through the listings of flutes at flute center of New York, I noticed that not alot of beginning an intermediate flutes come with curved headj oints as an option. I think I found one in my price range under $1000.00. Does that mean I'll have to buy a flute and a curved headjoint, or am I just not looking at the right place? Are there any well recommended flutes that come with that option? Maybe a different flute store? Yes, I will go down and ask but I want to have certain flutes in mind before I go

Also I read that some flutes have smaller finger hole spacing. I just read it but can't find the reference. Any idea if that is true and if so which flutes?

I have a a yamaha 225sii student flute made in Japan. While I'm not a flute player, it doesn't seem like a very good instrument at all. It was barely played purchased in early 1990's by my brother who bought it to double as he was a saxophone. He never got into the flute and I've had it sitting in my closet. Good enough to learn my scales. But I can't seem to play low C and it just doesn't seem to play well in general. From what I can tell the flute looks in good shape. No leakages, no problems with pads and when I play my other jalopy, and old boosey and Hawks that probably has no resale value??, I can play the low c but still not that easy. Any sense that the Yamaha could have a problem I don't recognize or that's what you get out of a couple hundred dollar flute? the old boosey and Hawks has some key problems but it seems to play better and while the low c ain't easy, I can get it.

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Re: Cross Roads and Lazy Left hand

Postby zummerzet_lou » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:32 pm

I think you need to have a think about what you want to play etc.

The Yamaha 225 is considered a good, student flute ... could it be that it needs adjustment / service to ensure that the pads a really not leaky?
Remember that bottom C is probably the hardest note to play on a flute, as you need to fill the entire tube.

Curved headjoints are usually found only on beginner flutes as they are intended for children yrs and under (ish) .. not sure if you'd find that comfortable, and I'd also question if you'd get a really good tone?

There are other options ...
Offset G? Does the 225 have that?

Or how about one of these?

Perhaps, you may want to consider some exercises to build up the strength in the left hand ..

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Re: Cross Roads and Lazy Left hand

Postby Bani » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:18 pm

As far as what I want to play, world flutes are my bag but I don't see any reason to eliminate the Boehm flute. There are handful of players masterful in both worlds. Pedro Eustachio to name one. And some of you might know a guy named John Purcell who was a multi-wood wind player. Played with World saxophone quartet, Jack Dejohnette and was coach to great sax players like Michael Brecker and a host of others. He played just about everything and did it well and I was fortunate to study some of his techniques some years ago relating to embouchure and sound. The decision is not a musical one but a physical one. The only thing with getting deeper into the Boehm flute is to ensure that I find a comfortable option before investing money. And I'm not like a young kid where the question is will I pursue it because I play music everyday and will until I die.

Yes, this Yamaha has an offset G. But the left hand is a bit too far down. An inch to closer might be perfect but will consider both hand exercises for cramping as well as the Yamaha curved head joint. I will go to the store and try the Yamaha head joint and see how it fits and take my flute in for somebody to look at it. It has almost never been played and while I don't know the pads look white and new. I can play the low C just not as well as I can on the other cheapy. And the Yamaha seems to have more resistance.

The headjoints look great and they would be the answer if they weren't well over $2000.00. I ain't buying a 2 grand headjoint for a 10 plus year student flute. I can buy world flute attachements either quena or shakuhachi for much less although those musically don't appeal to me.

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Re: Cross Roads and Lazy Left hand

Postby pied_piper » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:36 pm

First, before you invest in another flute, I agree with zummerzet_lou. Get your Yamaha checked by a flute tech to be sure you are not fighting a problem with the flute rather than yourself. If the pads are leaking, it makes you press harder with your fingers than you should have to do. That could contribute to tired or cramping fingers and hands.

Second, be sure you have a proper hand position. The left hand can be a problem for many players and if you are not using the correct hand position, that will contribute to early tiring/cramping. Take a look at Jennifer Cluff's website. She has some good tips for your posture, hand position, and bad habits that self-taught players often develop.

"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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