Musicians experience inherent instrument challenges. The flute is no exception. In “9 Common Flute Problems,” we will identify what barricades musicians from perfecting their musical craft. These common problems include tonguing, air, control, fingering and other mechanical facets of the flute.
The common problems for the flute are all manageable and fixable. Just by knowing what these common problems are, musicians can avoid making costly musical mistakes.
Foot and Body Rods Lined Up
Firstly, for the flute to play correctly, it must be set-up accurately. One major mistake that student musicians make is that the body and foot joints are lined up. Young musicians sometimes assume that there should be symmetry in the instrument. Have the foot joint rod in alignment with the center of the bottom key on the body of the flute.
Aperture Too Large
The next common flute mistake is the aperture that is to large. A non-resonant and airy tone results from this. One common misconception is that many believe the aperture should be a round hole. Instead, the aperture should be a slit in the center of lips, which should not be longer than the blowhole.
Covering Too Much of the Blowhole
The next common problem involves flute players that cover too much of the blowhole with the lower lip. By rolling in too far, the sound will be small and causes the pitch to be flat. As a result, this is due to the position of the right arm. For example, sometimes student musicians rest their arm on the back of the chair or allow their right to hang too low. If the flute playing is “airy,” have your students roll inward to eliminate the unwanted sound.
Incorrect Holding Position
Incorrect holding position is always a concern for music educators. Check the following locations to correct:
- The right arm is sitting on the chair. As a result, this causes the flute to roll out too far and creates a flat, stuffy tone.
- The right index finger is resting on the rod to stabilize the flute.
- The student musician starts using four points of balance rather than three.
- The student slumps in the chair, promoting weak breathing, and the student rolls the flute inward too far.
Flute Needs Adjustment
If the instrument fingering is out of alignment, meaning the rods, keys, and pads don’t create a clean seal, then the instrument needs repair. Some adjustments are easy to fix and may need to tighten the screws. Other modifications may require work to be done by a local repair technician.
Sometimes when students learn how to tongue, they misinterpret the Suzuki suggestion of “spitting rice.” What sometimes occurs is that students will engage in tonguing between the teeth. As a result, the musician hits the lips with the tongue rather than the roof of the mouth.
Soft Dynamics going Flat
The flutist must learn how to use their airspeed effectively. To keep the soft dynamics without going flat, the musician must keep the airspeed up and blow across the blowhole when playing softly.
Too Much Pressure
Watch not to put too much pressure into the lip. Teachers can test if the pressure is appropriate. The educators should be able to tap the instrument off the lip with little effort.
Lip Supported by the Tongue
Finally, young flutists may support the lip with the tongue. Consequently, this is something that at first may seem helpful but will reinforce a labored articulation as the musician develops.
In conclusion, solutions only help improve student musicians if you know what problems exist. Consequentially, these common problems can point to the reasons you or your students are struggling with the flute. Above all, take a moment and see if fixes to these issues improve your musical product and satisfaction.