5 Practice Tips for Beginner Flute Players
Updated: Oct 24, 2021
Hello fluters! Welcome back to another blog post. Today I'll be going through five flute tips I have for beginner students.
These are some recurring tips that I've found myself bringing up a lot to my beginner students and hopefully they'll give you some insight on how you can streamline your progress.
Remember this is only my personal advice so if you already have a flute teacher, you should also consult with them for suggestions tailored to your specific situation. These tips can just be some extra information for you to consider alongside the advice you receive from your teacher.
Let's get started!
1. Aim for consistency in your practice schedule
If you are starting out as a complete beginner, the best thing for you to do is to play consistently during the week for no more than 20 minutes a day.
Recommended beginner student practice session lengths are -
🎷Young children: 10-15mins/day
🎷Young adults/mature adults: 15-20mins/day
🎷Aim to play for 4-5 days a week
Personally as a flute teacher, I don't believe in starting out with one hour of practice a day as a beginner student. It may end up doing you more harm than good to play for that long without having developed the adequate stamina and strength yet.
Unless you are super disciplined and are sure you can keep up with such an intense workload right from the get go, starting out with such long practice sessions is generally not sustainable over the long-term.
You might end up burning out after a few weeks or worse, end up injuring yourself.
2. Use a Practice Journal
You can use a practice journal to keep track of what you need to work on in every session. It's really simple, just grab any spare notebook you have (or type it on the computer/phone) and write down the details of your practise session before you start. For example, I just write down the date and some dot points listing out what I'm going to practise for the day (technique, sound, pieces etc.). What you specifically write down isn't actually that important, just make sure that it gives you some things to clearly focus on in your session. As you tick each point off your list, you know what work you've accomplished and also what you're going to do next. This will really help you avoid practising one thing aimlessly for too long, stop your mind from wandering/getting too distracted, and will also ensure that your practise sessions aren't longer than they need to be.
3. Focus on the Basics
It's important for beginner players to build up solid foundation skills before they can progress further ahead.
The fundamental flute skills I focus on the most with my beginner students are sound production, technique and reading-skills.
If you get impatient and try to do too much too soon, you might end up developing unhelpful habits that will take years to undo in the future. Common problems that occur when students rush the basics are poor hand and head posture, sloppy finger placement and an inefficient embouchure shape. You may be able to make a lot of initial progress despite these problems but you can hit a wall very quickly that completely halts your progress. For instance, poor finger placement/technique could make playing scales, or music that is very fast simply too difficult for you and it might feel impossible to get any better. Similarly, poor technique related to you embouchure might make it incredibly difficult to consistently hit notes in high and/or low registers. To get over these walls you'll need to go back and redo the basics which can be very frustrating and disheartening, especially when you feel like you've improved a lot already, so try to take it slow, focused, and steady from the beginning to avoid this.
*However, if you do hit a wall, don't feel too bad as it is very normal and has even happened at least once to most professional musicians (including me).
4. Tips for Developing Your Sound
In general, I try to get all my beginner students to aim for a clear sound that is supported by free flowing air.
You want to make sure that your aperture (i.e.. lip hole) is small but not so tight that it restricts your airflow.
It also helps to think of focusing all your air towards one single point in the centre and to direct your air diagonally downwards across the embouchure hole.
5. Tip for Developing Technique
Here are some tips for general flute technique:
🎻Avoid holding the flute at an angle that is lower than 45 degrees
🎻 Keep your chest open and your upper body (shoulders especially) relaxed
🎻To help with balancing the flute, I like to put my right thumb slightly on the side of the flute as opposed to directly under the flute
🎻Keep your fingers as close to the keys as possible as this will reduce the distance your fingers have to travel
🎻Try to breathe through your mouth and not through your nose
There you have it! Those are the five tips that I have for beginner flute players. For more flute-related resources please feel free to check out my other blog posts! Happy fluting and see you in the next post!