with Jane

January 2021

The Flute Academy

Faster Progress Through Proper Technique

Join Jane in The Flute Academy to transform your flute playing - one clever tweak at a time!

Find out more

Flute Questions

👉🏼 2:05 Kristin asks: I would like to know how to approach my "lifetime of scales" sheet. There are major scales, 3 minors, arpeggios, thirds, different rhythms, different articulations, etc. SO much to cover! I don't know how to break this down. Practice one scale until I "have it" and then move on to the next? But "have it" at what tempo? Randomly pick a couple to work on each day? I've tried several different approaches, but I'm still overwhelmed.

👉🏼 6:19 Zwanie asks: Do I need to tune the flute before playing, and if so, how? I have come across some things on youtube about how to connect the mouthpiece. Does it need to be tight or not? And also what is the function of the cork? Does it need to be tight on or not?

👉🏼 9:37 Ann asks: Some people have a perfect pitch. But I cannot discriminate if a note I play is sharp or flat or ok. When I play flute duets with a friend, I sometimes hear a kind of scratching noise, like two empty glasses touching and resonating and I know that we are not in tune - but I cannot say which one of us it is, or is it sharp or flat. I have tried with a tuner and my eyes closed to blow a note, get it in tune and then check with the tuner - but I do not hear differences (only if they are really big). Is it possible, and how to do it, to develop one's pitch?

👉🏼 13:35 Ann also asks: When I play a melody on the flute, eg in G minor, and then continue with another one in eg D major, my fingers go automatically to the previous fingering, at least for a while. Is  there any trick to get my brain to realise that the key has changed?

👉🏼 15:18 Lesley asks: I  ignore trills! I don't go there because I have a block about them being too hard. 1) Is there a good explanation on how to trill? 2) What is the easiest reference for flute fingering for trills please. 3) Any cheats for trilling certain notes?

The app I recommended for Lesley is called Flute Finger Chart here

👉🏼 18:45 Jürgen asks: Should I replace the c-foot of my flute by a b-foot at a certain time? Does it make any difference except being able, if you are able, to play the low b?

👉🏼 21:28 Kim asks: How do I play the low B with a B foot? My fingers don't reach very well nor do I have strength in my breath that low.

👉🏼 23:07 Joe asks: Jane, I have a Muramatsu flute like yours and I’m curious as to why you changed the head joint. I’m assuming it gives it a different sound and if so, is that what you were trying to achieve?

👉🏼 27:20 Päivi asks: I've never been taught how to get a good vibrato on the long notes. I just know how to play them "straight". How do you get the beautiful pulse into them? How are you controlling the air?

Here's the piece (from Swan Lake) I used to demonstrate for Päivi

👉🏼 30:13 Geanina asks: When I play on flute,I feel a little bit of tension in my cheeks. Why? I think it is not good, but I don't know how to fix this problem.

👉🏼 31:20 Sarah asks: I seem to make sounds - maybe in my throat - when I’m playing and can’t seem to get rid of the “background accompaniment”. Any suggestions?

👉🏼 34:00 Julie asks: How do you stop your voice from sounding with the note??? It’s driving me crazy!

👉🏼 34:52 Iris asks: When I play staccato notes on my flute, I usually find more saliva droplets blowing out. Is there something I am doing wrong when doing the fast tonguing?

👉🏼 36:30 Iris also asks: I understand I should not squeeze my belly while playing in order to have proper breathing. I can control higher notes better but not for notes from low C to C. And I usually run out of air and it's harder to blow with a louder sound for this range of notes on the flute.

👉🏼 37:50 Iris also asks: In the flute academy, there is a whole module teaching breathing (properly breathing in more air using whole body). Now I am thinking, is there a technique for blowing out air from the body? Which part of the body should be used to control the air stream to prevent myself from blowing out too much air?

👉🏼 39:58 Cath asks: You advise not to squeeze for higher notes. I get my top E by pouting more. Am I supposed to do this?

This is the free mini course on easier high notes that I recommended to Cath

👉🏼 42:27 Cath also asks: If I try to slur up to a top E I don't get top E but get 2nd octave A so there is obviously a problem with the way I am playing.

👉🏼 43:06 Cath also asks: My 3rd octave G and A tend to be slightly flat rather than sharp. Have you any idea what is causing this and how to play them in tune?

👉🏼 44:33 Jim asks: When playing harmonics on low D, I can easily play the next D, A, and D, but high F# is a struggle. I can't seem to shape the embouchure. Suggestions?

👉🏼 45:37 Jim also asks: Is there something inherent in the flute that makes high F# more difficult to play cleanly than, e.g., high E of high F? Is the ability to play high F# cleanly in and of itself a sign of progress with respect to good embouchure development?

👉🏼 47:24 Andrew asks: I find it impossible to play low C (and forget low B on my B foot!). Just what is the required technique?

Here is the link to the video that answers Andrew's Q in more detail

👉🏼 48:35 Martin asks: How on earth is it that the flute developed to require a tiny, weak finger to balance the flute AND operate a key - ie. stop balancing the flute to play D?? Seems like a major design flaw to me. I have both the Thumbport and Fingerport on my flute which have been really good in helping balance the flute.

👉🏼 51:35 Helle asks: I find that C# doesn't sound that pretty. How do you play it best? (Also, I am impressed you pronounced my name correctly. Most people get it wrong.)

Here is the piece (Carrickfergus) I demonstrated for Helle

👉🏼 54:43 Lynette & Noel ask: Do long fingernails interfere with playing the flute?

👉🏼 57:38 Nils asks: How about thumb support? Does it help you to relax or does it conserve your tensions?

👉🏼 58:50 Mala asks: I was just wondering if you could provide any tips on how to practice good posture while playing the flute? Any exercises used by experienced players or beginners?  Unfortunately I often catch myself hunched over while playing.

👉🏼 1:01:15 Carol asks: Is there a cut-off age for learning a musical instrument? I am 83 years old. Will I still continue to get better?

👉🏼 1:03:01 Sydney asks: How do you take a deep breath, while playing, without sounding like you're coming up for air after almost drowning?

👉🏼 1:05:44 Sydney also asks: I didn't start learning flute until I was 62 years old. I am now 66. One of the HARDEST things for me to do, is count. Do you have an easy way that I can learn to count so my rhythm is right on?

Here's the piece (Joy to the World) I used to demonstrate counting for Sydney

👉🏼 1:08:00 Suzanne asks: What kind of exercises would you recommend to get speedy fingers on the flute? I play scales in 4 or 5 keys up and down, any other suggestions?

👉🏼 1:11:07 Frank asks: Any tips for doubling? Alto Flute? Piccolo? (Sometimes I even dabble on Tenor Saxophone). Sometimes you have to switch within a gig. And just psychologically - just keeping track of which instrument you're playing in fast passages as some fingerings (F# on saxophone, for example) are close BUT not the same.

👉🏼 1:15:17 Steve asks: I've watched the mini course on tone production and my tone improved for awhile. Now it's breathy again on passages and even on single notes. It's not clear and beautiful and I am at a loss as to why. I seem to constantly have to "reset" the embouchure. Thank you.

Here's the free mini-course on instantly improving your tone that I mentioned

👉🏼 1:17:55 Kevin asks: My upper register notes  on the flute are always sharp. How can I get them to be in tune?

👉🏼 1:20:47 Joanne asks: You've mentioned the magic tone exercise, can you please direct me to the complete exercise?

👉🏼 1:22:18 Debbie asks: How can you get low C to play?  (If I can get it at all, it has to be a whole note in order for me to find it and be able to play it. Anything shorter than that, I might as well skip it!)

Here is the link to the video that answers Debbie and Andrew's Q in more detail

👉🏼 1:24:56 Pierre asks: My coordination between the actions of my lips/tonguing with the movements of my fingers in a fast play is sometimes wrong. Sometimes i get intimidated by a fast piece of music. Any tips?

Here is the piece (Rakes of Mallow) that I used in the demonstration for Pierre

👉🏼 1:28:29 Cilla asks: I am an adult beginner and I have seen your videos about correct embouchure. My problem is that it is taking a long time to develop the muscles that would enable me to have the proper size.  Do you have any special exercises or strategies that offer a ways to develop lip muscles?

The two-part YouTube video I suggested to Cilla is linked here and the second part is here

👉🏼 1:31:17 Janet asks: I'm just wondering where do you align your flute? Just curious. I know we all have different mouth shapes but I'm just curious where you line up your dots?

👉🏼 1:34:09 Eli asks: How can I play a low C on the flute?

Eli, the video that will really help you is here

👉🏼 1:34:30 Paco asks: The notes A, B and Bb and C and C# on the flute give me a lot of problems when I find them in jumps or at the beginning of a melody. They sound an octave lower or they sound strident and if they sound they are not in tune.

This is the free mini-course I mentioned that makes higher notes on the flute easy

👉🏼 1:38:30 Rita asks: When playing the flute, I have difficulty in relaxing my hands and fingers in order to play smoothly in fast pieces. In part it’s likely body tension, and for me, a struggle to trust muscle memory rather than thinking about what I am doing. Any suggestions for how to make this shift?

👉🏼 1:40:45 Cathie asks: Does everyone have difficulty going from C to D and back or is it just my beginner blues? Is there a finger pattern that makes it easier?

👉🏼 1:42:48 Nikkie asks: Despite hours and hours of practicing the same troublesome notes, and watching your videos over and over, I still don't have enough assurance to book in for my Grade 5 exam because there are parts of my music I'm struggling with.

Here is the mini-course to learn the proper way of playing high notes that I suggested Nikkie do

👉🏼 1:48:13 Otilia asks: I’ve really been struggling with single-tonguing. My flute teacher has said that I should stop touching my lips with my tongue when single-tonguing. She wants me to make a D-sound in my palate. Can you explain that to me, cause I don’t get it. When I do it my articulation just sounds like dlah like its very airy.

👉🏼 1:51:13 Camille asks: Do you have a trick to help make it easier to play the low C. I serviced the flute and changed the pads, but it's still not easy.

Here is the video on low C for you Camille

👉🏼 1:51:33 Camille also asks: How can I master the Bach flute sonata? It made me stop playing flute for years, until I got back to it again. I have not tried Bach yet but am practicing every day to raise myself to it.

Here is the Bach Sonata (the 1st movement of the one in G minor) that I suggested to Camille

👉🏼 1:52:42 Jennavie asks: How do you personally know that you are doing the 'diaphragm vibrato' not the 'goaty vibrato?

👉🏼 1:55:03 Jennavie also asks: I also notice in my playing A middle register up to high register, my cheeks was getting tired after I play. Is it normal to squeeze your embouchure when you are doing the middle register up to high register?

Here is the mini-course that will help Jennavie with her high notes

👉🏼 1:58:06 Janice asks: I am starting to learn a hard piece. It is the Telemann Sonata in F minor for flute and piano. I can do the 1st and 3rd movements because they’re slow. It’s the 2nd and 4th movements that are a WAY out of my comfort zone because they are really fast for me. How do you recommend I approach the 2nd and 4th movements, knowing I’m not up to 110 BPM?

Here is the Telemann movement that Janice is learning

👉🏼 2:05:25 Helena asks:  I wanted to know why our pitch note on the flute is A, and how can I get the clearest sound ever while playing the flute?

Here is the tone mini-course I mentioned in the answer to Helena

👉🏼 2:08:24 Nigel asks: How do you play the lower octave on the flute because I can't seem to play it.

👉🏼 2:10:03 Ann asks: We are playing some very slow pieces in our community band. I find it very challenging to hold long notes when the MM is 48 , in 4/4 time.  What is the best way to practice to build capacity to hold long notes - especially when they may be held over 3-4 bars... exhausting!

This is the free mini-course that will improve Ann's tone and help her play a much longer note

👉🏼 2:13:16 Gillian asks: How do you achieve  fluid playing, where its seamless and you can't hear the individual notes.

👉🏼 2:16:33 Shalena asks: My lips are crooked so when I make my embouchure, my aperture goes off to one side. For some reason I cannot get it to blow straight across my flute. I have been practicing with a mirror and trying to find a good tone but it is airy. My top lip goes to one side and my hole goes to the opposite side. The only way I can get it to be straight is to smile on my right side. I also have a tear drop middle upper lip that gets in the way. Is this something you have ever come across and is this the correct solution? I can't wait to hear your insight!

This is the video on how to play with a teardrop lip that I recommended Shalena

👉🏼 2:18:56 Mike asks: As a long term brass player I am only too aware that the 3rd finger is less agile than the 1st and 2nd. I started playing flute about 3 months ago and I think I have made pretty good progress - your 'tone' and 'high notes' mini courses made a vast difference - but I still struggle with passages that require coordination of 3rd and little (pinkie) finger. As an example - I'm working on the Faure Sicilienne at the moment. I realise that it's probably way too hard for a 3 month flute player - but I'm 70 and impatient! After a few days of breaking it down and playing slowly... I can now play most of the first half fairly fluently and up to tempo. 

This is the Fauré Sicilienne that Mike is learning

👉🏼 2:24:40 Scott asks: It’s my understanding that C# is noticeably sharp on most flutes.  On my flute, although the tuner reads that it is in tune, the timbre is so edgy or shrill and so different from the neighboring notes that it sounds sharp anyway.  What do you do specifically to tame this note? Thanks for any advice.

👉🏼 2:27:13 Sam asks: Do you have any tips for jazz and improvisation on the flute? Is the approach with Jazz different to Classical and how?

👉🏼 2:28:32 Jeanne asks: How do I know the sound is supported adequately ie how should it feel?

👉🏼 2:30:31 Sherrie asks: How do I keep from cracking notes in the middle register? Also, I'm very breathy and can't seem to change my embouchure to correct that.

Here is the tone mini-course I recommended Sherrie and here is the one on easy high notes

👉🏼 2:32:04 Deborah asks: I am a beginner who loves the flute and I am working to find and keep a stable embouchure, I get very dizzy as I think I'm over-breathing and the hole I make with my lips is too big.  My question is, how do I make the hole I form with my mouth small enough to not get dizzy, while not being too tight and still making a noise and hold it steady so when I move my fingers the flute doesn't wobble and lose the sound? It's like trying to get a tight grip on fog. I get the occasional lovely note, but then I move a millimetre and its gone. Honestly I'm so frustrated, but I don't want to give up.

This is the first video that teaches a good flute embouchure and this is the second part of the video

👉🏼 2:35:56 Jack asks: My middle register above G is too breathy still!

Here is the tone mini-course I suggested to Jack

👉🏼 2:37:38 Paul asks: I have heard people say you should blow into the flute and others say blow across.  How do you set up the mouth piece for the best sound and hand positions?

👉🏼 2:39:04 Astrid asks: I am a beginner flutist. I would like to know how to do scales faster on my flute. How do I get my fingers agile?

👉🏼 2:39:36 Vince asks: As an adult beginner, it's incredibly helpful to me to understand certain "milestones" that would exist if I were learning the flute as a child. For example: Ability to play second register consistently by a certain point. Ability to play third register consistently by a certain point. Ability to double tongue by... etc. Based on your experience, can you give some helpful "checkpoints" that would help me benchmark my progress? I know everyone progresses at different rates, but an overall generalization would be nice! 

👉🏼 2:47:16 Vince also asks: What flute pieces do you think every flutist should have in their repertoire?

👉🏼 2:49:33 Ruth asks: How do I practise a very difficult passage in a piece?  Then, how do I acquire the confidence to play it in public?  I am thinking at this moment of some measures in an unusually difficult piece by Mozart.

👉🏼 2:51:59 Abha asks: How can I improve my vibrato on the flute?

👉🏼 2:52:15 Abha also asks: How can I improve my flute double-tonguing?

👉🏼 2:54:06 Abha also asks: Are there any beginner to intermediate books you recommend for piccolo?

👉🏼 2:54:57 Yosi asks: How do I strengthen my hands. I feel the flute slides off my left hand and my right hurts after ten minutes. I'm a professional sax player and this doesn't happen on sax.

👉🏼 2:56:45 Louise asks: How do you know if you’re in tune if you are playing just by yourself?

👉🏼 2:57:42 Lilly asks: How do you hold the flute?

👉🏼 3:00:13 Wolfgang asks: I have a question that relates to buying a professional flute and flute brands. I know that 80% of the sound is the flutist, and the biggest part of the remaining 20% is the material and craftsmanship of the flute head. I can certainly choose a flute that suits my requirements by playing it. But what I can't tell by playing it, is whether it is well made and needs little maintenance. Therefore I have to trust the experience of other flutists. I own two flutes. The first flute only had to be adjusted after more then 20 years. The other had to be adjusted after just 2 years. So there are huge differences. Are Japanese flutes better than American? What can you recommend and who else could I ask for recommendations?

👉🏼 3:04:44 Wolfgang also asks: When I practice scales, everything is alright except with B major scale. I find that the transition from F# to G# to A# to B and backwards in the third octave is very cumbersome. It is not an issue with my embouchure, but with my fingers. Is this just a matter of practice or is there a trick like alternate fingerings? Are there any well known pieces up that high in B major? If not, practicing this scale would probably be superfluous.

👉🏼 3:06:27 Roger asks: I'm having a very hard time playing middle C up to E.  My sound is very weak compared to say an  octave above notes.  I know to play slightly down on these low notes but I can't get much sound from them.  Could it be my flute?  I think all the pads are fine.

👉🏼 3:08:02 Nigel asks: I still cannot play higher octaves even though I followed all your tips. Can you teach me how to play lower octaves too because I cannot play them. I can only play low C. THANK YOU!!!

👉🏼 3:09:07 Jim asks: Why is it harder to play the flute in winter? I thought it was the air pressure, which to my mind should be heavier in the winter because the air is more cold, right? But using my barometer for a year, the air pressure doesn't seem to be much different in winter and in fact sometimes in summer is much higher. Go figure! I'm sure Jane can answer this question.

👉🏼 3:13:26 Julia asks: I've been playing the flute for about 2 years at school but didn't really get into it until 2 weeks ago, so when i play it kinda sounds fuzzy to me but my teachers told me otherwise, and when i record it, it sounds okay but not perfect. I want to know, how do i get a perfectly clear sound on the flute?

Here is the tone mini-course that I mentioned for Julia