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How to Develop Security on the Low Register of the Flute

Learn basic exercises to improve your low register playing

Released on August 6, 2014

  
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Robert Estrin: Welcome to The Flute Show with Robert and Florence Estrin here on VirtualSheetMusic.com. Today's subject is how to develop security in the low register on the flute. We have Florence Estrin who's going to talk about this. Thank you Florence.

Florence Estrin: Thank you, Robert. Basically, one of the things I want to talk about is the main position you want to use for the lower register is, basically, a spread position. You pull back here a little bit and keep your mouth open and that way, you will get a more secure sound than if you have your lips further forward.

Now, within the low register there's a lot of stuff you can do, you don't have to always be exactly in that position. But if you want more volume and more security, pulling back with the sides of your mouth will definitely give you more security. Now, if you want to get a different color then you can bring the lips forward but it's going to be a softer sound.

And the other thing is to think about blowing down into the flute so you get a very pure sound, not just blowing right across the hole, but really down into it so it'll get a darker color to your tone and it will also project better. The more clear you play, the more it projects.

Robert Estrin: So what would it sound like if you blew across it like you described instead of the proper way?

Florence Estrin: Airier.

Robert Estrin: Can we hear what that sounds like?

Florence Estrin: Oh, I hate to play badly.

Robert Estrin: We've all heard that before.

Florence Estrin: Right. Now, there's a couple of ways to warm up the low register to. The best way is to simply work from higher notes and work down. And you could do that with any number of notes that you like. Like a real simple exercise would be like just taking two notes and then chromatically...

Repeat the lower note from last time and do it again going down further.

And so on all the way down to the very bottom of the flute. The other thing is you can do more than two notes. You may want to do something like...

And just keep going down a half step until you get to the bottom of your flute, which could be either the low C or the low B. And then, you know, other ways of getting secure with your low register, if you have to attack a low note and you're worried about the security of that note coming out, there's a little trick. You actually press the G key at the exact moment that you tongue the note and that helps lend some security to the note coming out.

And it's a wonderful trick. Just don't hit it too hard because then people can hear the clicking of the key as you do it. You can hit pretty hard if you're playing in a loud section with other instruments. But you want to make sure that note really comes out, but really, it doesn't take a lot of power. Just make sure you get it exactly at the same moment that you're tonguing that note. And then one last little exercise that I kind of invented a long time ago. And this is, unfortunately this is for people with low B keys, but you can do a variation on it also, and I'll show you that too. Just starting on low C...

Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to start the exercise the same way and go up a half step for the highest note.

And I keep doing that. And a good place to stop that is once you get to the octave above, but you can even go further. But it's a real good way to really solidify your low register in a warm-up.

Robert Estrin: Great.

Florence Estrin: And there're many other exercises and you can invent them yourself. Find the trouble spot that you have and work from notes around it to get to that point. Never start on a note that is your trouble note. So, the exercise that I just showed you, starting at a low C, if that's not easy for you to do, that's not the right exercise. Just work down to the low C, and if you don't have a low B, you can do the same exercise with a little difference. Just like...

And so forth.

Robert Estrin: Basically going up.

Florence Estrin: A half step.

Robert Estrin: A half step from C, then a whole step, and you keep adding a half step.

Florence Estrin: Yes, exactly.

Robert Estrin: And there you go. So you start with what's strong and you develop down from there until you can open up and get security with all the low notes on the instrument.

Florence Estrin: Exactly.

Robert Estrin: Makes perfect sense. Really appreciate the perspective on the low register on the flute. It's been a pleasure having you here again with our Flute Show. Thanks everybody for joining us here on VirtualSheetMusic.com.
 
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