When warming up, it’s always best to start slow and with the basics. Long tones and scales are the most essential part of my warm up routine because I get to practice a little bit of everything.
I start my long tone exercise on low B or C and follow the pattern of one whole note, followed by a half note a half step up. I try to maintain the best tone quality and intonation I can throughout. Along with abdominal support, it helps to have a tuner in front of me because it allows me to develop my sense of pitch in general. When I reach the top of the flute’s register, I use the same whole note—half note pattern starting on high C and make my way back down to low C or B. To align my breathing with my playing, I make sure to play each set of notes in one breath, trying to remain as relaxed in the shoulders as possible throughout. To extend my breath a bit more, I add more whole notes to the beginning of the pattern and, again, maintain a single breath through each set.
A former teacher of mine always used to say, “If you know your scales you can play anything”. That could not be truer. Whether you play your scales in eighth notes or thirty-second notes, it is vital that you know them inside and out, backward and forward, major and minor. Since practicing scales can be tedious, I like to make my scale practice fun by using the Trevor Wye Practice Books for the Flute. This, however, is not the only option. There are books and methods for everyone, and anything that will get those scales under your fingers will work just fine.