Friday, February 13, 2015

A Free and Open Sound

By Cynthia Ellis

Having a beautiful tone is a goal for everybody who plays flute. But, the definition of unique depending on the musical context, and the player...and truly, beauty varies from performance to  performance. Here are three ideas that are basic to creating an open, focused tone: 1. Make sure that your flute is lined up exactly as you wish. Most professionals use a mark made with nail polish to line up the headjoint and body so there is 100% consistency from day to day. Also, double check the footjoint. A millimeter can feel like a chasm if it is in the wrong spot, creating a different angle. 2. Support is a moving air column: Since the tone is made with air, not the lips, it is critical to have a good solid support concept in place. Breathing and blowing are basic to creating tone 3. Embouchure: Tone is focused with the lips, made with the air. Make sure that the aperture is the appropriate size/shape for the octave you are playing in. Keep some space between the top lip and the top teeth: likewise, keep an open oral cavity (experiment with different vowel shapes) and keep height to the aperture: never press the top lip down toward the bottom lip. Remembering always to project the tone to the back seat in the hall is a good metaphor for projection: likewise, setting the air around you in motion is another helpful mental image. Enjoy your long tones!

*Note - This article first appeared on the "Teaching Tips" section of Cindy Ellis's website.

For more on Cindy, visit her Powell artist profile page, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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