The Flute Show - flute expert

How to change octaves on the flute, part 2

A deeper lesson on the flute technique of changing octaves

In this video, Florence tackles again the change of octave on the flute, with more insights, and a practical example taken from the famous Meditation from Thais by Massenet.

Released on May 7, 2014

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Video Transcription

Robert: Welcome to The Flute Show on I'm Robert Estrin your host and today we have Florence Estrin, who's going to tell a question, answered Leah asks. How do you change from a higher octave to a lower octave in the flute? Specifically we're going to use the example suggested by Lee of Massenet's Meditation from Thais. This is a great question. Florence covered in a previous video how to change registers on the flute, how to play in different octaves, but today specifically going down the octaves. So what's that all about, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that, Florence?

Florence: Okay, well as I said in the previous changing octaves on the flute, that it's basically going...If you're in low octave, it's a spread position. If you're in the middle octave, it's an oouu position I call it, bringing the corners forward. And so going from the upper to the lower it sounds like, well it's just the same thing but going that way. But there's a lot of little things that can get in your way, like make sure when you're going from the upper to the lower that you open your mouth, don't let it close up because you're going into a spread position. You can end up squashing your notes if you don't think to open your mouth.

And then the other thing is...and I see, you've probably seen this too, anybody who starts singing a low note, they score down, down, down, down, down. They start doing this, putting their head down, and a lot of people when they play the flute they go for the low note and put their head down, thinking about going lower, and that also sabotages being able to change the octaves well. So, Leah had specifically asked about the "A's" and the "B's" so it's just going from oouu to spread, and then later on the "B" and that's all there is to it.

Robert: Maybe we should play this little excerpt, and then you could talk a little bit about how you're achieving that smooth, slur down the octave.

Florence: Okay.

Robert: All right.


Robert: Beautiful melody, beautiful playing by the way.

Florence: Thank you, you too. Anyway, to do it smoothly a lot of it is just making sure you keep your throat open so that the air stream is nice and steady, and that also you know just not doing anything extra, you know. Just basically keeping everything relaxed and thinking the phrase.

Robert: That's it, it's as simple as that, amazing. Well thanks for these flute tips, really appreciate it. Join us next time here at, thanks for joining us at The Flute Show.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Laurie Hufford * VSM MEMBER * on July 14, 2015 @7:05 pm PST
what is the title of the piece you played to demonstratein this flute lesson?
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on July 15, 2015 @8:14 am PST
HI Laurie. The music featured in this video is the Meditation from Thais by Jules Massenet:

Please, let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks for watching!
Vern on May 28, 2014 @2:22 pm PST
This piece of advice was very information and it will help me become a better flutist.
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