Next month, October 2011: Warming Up With Long Notes
Feet - are they planted shoulder width apart as they should be? Any closer and you
could overbalance... and make sure both feet are on the floor otherwise your breathing
is compromised! Also, if you have your feet pointing at the mirror/music stand you
could be setting up a need to ‘twist’ your shoulders; instead point your feet towards
the right hand side of the mirror or music stand.
Legs and Hips - because you may now be thinking too hard you may have ‘locked out’
your knees, so just relax. Make sure that your hips are above your knees, and your
knees are above your feet - no twisting through your lower body please.
Shoulders - are they level with one another, and in a relaxed position? Make sure
that you don’t lift your right shoulder to ‘hold the flute up’ - instead, imagine
your flute is the washing line, and your arms are the imaginary washing hanging from
it. As before, ensure that your shoulders are above your hips, knees and feet.
Neck - so many of us push our heads forward unnecessarily to eat, drink, read...
and play our flutes. If you move your head forward even half a centimetre as you
bring your flute up you may set up throat tensions which affect your sound, and you
can also give yourself a neck/head-ache. Carefully observe yourself slowly lifting
your flute to your lips several times, and notice if your head stays in its neutral
Arms - keep your left elbow low and tucked in to your body. The right arm should
have more space underneath it, created by pushing the flute further away from your
right shoulder (but keeping your shoulder still and level).
Angle of the flute - it’s ok for the flute to be below the horizontal (but not above),
but check that you don’t look too droopy!
Once you’ve checked all these things you’ve probably made several changes so relaxing
isn’t always easy; try to allow your muscles to feel comfortable within the new position.
Perhaps get a friend to take before-and-after photos of you, so that you can keep
keep a visual reminder on hand for a week or so? Finally, remember to adapt if you
feel discomfort - there are lots of ways to be right, you just need to find the position
that’s ‘right’ for you.
Keep upright and relaxed, and visit here next month for a good warm-up! Happy flute-ing!
PS Please send your questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to my flute-playing free Hints and Tips Page; a new page is posted here on
the first day of each month. This month it’s back to school time for children, parents
and teachers, so it’s the perfect time for a ‘new start’ by checking up on your posture
as you play your flute.
Most of us understand how important it is for musicians to observe good body position
as they play, and for some instruments this is harder than others. However, despite
the observation that the flute is ‘played on one side’, it is uniquely designed to
be one of the most ergonomic of all orchestral instruments, fitting neatly into our
hand and body position with little need for postural tension. Once you’re positioned
comfortably, not only will you avoid little niggling aches and pains which can follow
your practice, rehearsals or performances, but you will also be able to breathe and
blow with more freedom, allowing you to get closer to achieving that well-projected
and expressive sound we all seek.
So, the first thing to do is to play your flute in front of a mirror - not something
many of us like to do, but an essential step - a musician needs full awareness of
what his/her body is doing. Check the following: