TONE – basics

low tone
Lower tone exercise

This is the most difficult thing you’ll do….. every day! Yes, this one will never go away. If you don’t make a fabulous tone you’ll only ever be playing notes. If you’re wondering why so few notes are taking up so much space, it’s to show that you really need to take your time. Apart from listening in detail to what you’re producing, there are several other things that can also happen……

  • Posture – make sure it’s the best, standing like the Eiffel Tower, check arm position, etc.
  • Hold – your method of fixing the flute in position so that it won’t roll, yet with the fingers free to work with ease. Weird right hand positions will show up as you cross octaves and suddenly have to shift to finger D. Ask your teacher if in doubt.
  • Breathing – diaphragm breathing (a whole chapter in any book), filling the lower lungs, not the smaller upper part. Be like an athlete.

I’ve started on G as (a) you have a good firm grip on the flute with G; (b) it’s in the middle of the tube, the optimum place for fixed-diameter tube. As you close more keys the flute is [effectively] becoming longer, yet the tube doesn’t get wider. You have to fight the shortcoming in design and keep pushing the tone from your best note gradually down towards low D and beyond.

Low tone ascending from G
Low tone ascending from G

Now comes the difficult bit, the tube getting shorter, so the tone getting coarser and possibly variably tuned. Your job is to make this sound on a par with those juicy lower notes, but able to link up and continue seamlessly at D and the next octave. Also, as you take fingers off, the flute may get more difficult to hold. Use a mirror to check what’s happening.