with Jane

March 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

👉🏼 05:51 Kristin asks: I have always used my right hand first and middle fingers for the first and second trill keys because it feels more comfortable. I know that I am supposed to use my middle and ring fingers. As I was looking over a trill fingering chart I could not see any reason that my preferred fingering would interfere with any other notes. Like Glen last month, I am not planning on entering any competitions. I just want to play as easily and sound as good as I can for community band.

👉🏼 11:32 Mary asks: When I first begin playing tone exercises and my flute is cold, I am slightly sharp. I pull out the head slightly on 3rd octave d to get that note on pitch. Then as I continue warming up on tone exercises, the low e, f and d are flat. Advice? I am playing on a Brannon.

👉🏼 16:35 Glen asks: I have a Yamaha 674 with a split E mechanism.  No problem playing 3rd octave E or F, but F# is sometimes unreliable and unstable with the conventional fingering.  If I play 3rd octave F# with the middle finger it is easier, and even a bit more in tune.  Should I use the middle finger instead, or is there a reason to keep working on the traditional high F# fingering.

Here is the Boccherini used for the demo

👉🏼 21:08 Jim asks: For trained, professional flutists, I assume that seamless movement through the registers doesn't require forethought about the embouchure adjustment needed to hit the desired note cleanly. It happens automatically. The rest of us are left to speculate whether each note demands it’s own embouchure or whether there are break points, up or down the scales, that require an embouchure shift. For example, when moving from low C to low G, is an embouchure adjustment needed? How about when moving from middle C to high E? Or, when playing harmonics on a single note, is each higher or lower harmonic the point at which an embouchure adjustment is needed? I apologize if this inquiry is too poorly expressed to merit a response. Also, thank you for your patient guidance.

👉🏼 28:18 Janiece asks: I was wondering is it ok to leave my flute on its flute stand for a couple of days, or should I clean and put it away after playing each day ?

👉🏼 30:04 Anita asks: My question is about the little plugs on the 5 keys. I had a teacher here in Melbourne for a few months pre-covid. At the last lesson I had with him, he said I should remove the plugs but then I couldn’t see him for the rest of the year. I practiced a lot during our long lock downs but despite good improvement in my playing I became demotivated by my tone- nothing sounded good. My solution was to try your flute academy. I am at day 32 working my way through and trying to hold onto the tone improvements I’ve gotten from it. My question is- should I remove the plugs? I don’t really want to do anything that will make it harder to get a good sound and like what I’m playing. It’s really hard to stick with it all by yourself in the back bedroom so I don’t want to make it harder for myself.

Here's the video "Should you remove all your flute plugs at once?"

👉🏼 35:36 Ann asks: I have a question about fast fingers. I needed something light and happy so I took to Papagenos Aria from The magic flute. There are these very fast 4 repetitions of G, A, H, C and a D. How do I speed up my old and clumsy fingers? I also want to tell you how much your weekly Youtube bits, the Flute Academy and your expertise and inspiration mean to me these difficult times, in this global crisis! Thank you!
Ann from Finland

Here is the melody from The Magic Flute

👉🏼 42:15 Laura asks: Can you please explain why sometimes there are buzzing sounds when I play my flute next to another flute player?

Here's the link to the musical acoustics article

👉🏼 45:52 Diane asks: Why do I get a little whoosh sound at the start of low C sharp, C and B (the lowest notes on my flute)?  The rest of the note sounds ok.

👉🏼 47:59 Helle asks: This is actually a sincere but maybe kind of embarrassing question. I wonder if anyone has experienced the same. I noticed that when playing a longer phrase before breathing I started to have trouble with saliva building up to the point I had to swallow and stop in the middle of playing. Is there a reason for this and what can be done about it?

(Helle! Gwyn has left you a helpful comment on YouTube!)

👉🏼 49:45 Jorge asks: Hi Jane, (if possible), how can we mute our Flute, making it sound much much quieter, yet, playing with all the possible dynamics, ppp<fff>ppp.

Here's the research on muting a flute

👉🏼 53:02 Cheryl asks: Are “long tones “ essential to daily practice and what is the best way to do them? When one has only 10-15 minutes of practice time how is it best spent?  Are scales a “must” for daily practice or are etudes just as effective? How , specifically , should scales be practiced?

Here's the video "The 3 Tone Exercises to Avoid"

👉🏼 56:48 Nils asks: I have a new hearing aid since about one month. It was a disaster to hear all air, wind and slam from the flute in the beginning. Now it's been adjusted and it is near acceptable. Everybody says I will get accustomed to this but...??  Do you have any experience or advice on this?  Greetings from Stockholm filled with snow but no icebears

👉🏼 58:19 Carrie asks: You spoke about turning the head joint in.  Why?  My instructor said that I should not do that because it will give me a false sense of the quality of my tone.  Would you repeat the advantages of turning the head joint in as I do in spite of my instructors warning?

This is the James Galway video I mentioned

👉🏼 01:03:25 Carol asks: Sometimes (or rather, often) when I am playing in the high register, I find that I collect air in my cheeks or above my upper lip.  I don't really intend to do this, but it happens while I am trying to produce a more steady sound of the higher notes.  This occurs especially while I am doing scales slowly.  Is holding air in my cheeks, or behind my upper lip a good practice or a bad habit?

This is the vid "Should you puff out your cheeks when you play flute?"

👉🏼 01:05:51 Carol also asks: I struggle with holding my right hand correctly on the flute. These days I am doing something wrong and my right thumb gets numb which then leads to my right hand feeling numb. I know it is something to do with the nerves in my hand but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong with the positioning of my hand. Any suggestions? As always thanks so much for your help

👉🏼 01:08:44 Nikki asks: which Etudes, or work books, would you recommend for ABRSM Grade 5 and Grade 6 to practice and improve on all the techniques needed at those Grades, when my exam pieces of music are getting frustrating?

👉🏼 01:13:56 Martha asks: I'm still a novice and struggling with second octave C. I can usually nicely hit D or Eb but C continuously gives me grief. Even standing up and even using supportive diaphragm, though usually it is better standing. Why the C though?

Martha, here's the free mini-course I recommended

👉🏼 01:16:38 Eszter asks: I am an adult beginner, learning from you and a beginner's book. There are two ways to make the  B Flat sound. When is it better to use the Thumb key, and when the one using the finger RH 1? There is no real advice in the book I learn from.

Here is the video "Which Bb fingering is correct?"

👉🏼 01:18:28 Wolfgang asks: When I practice technical stuff like Taffanel & Gaubert No. 1 I can do this in slow motion as well as high speed. When I do it fast I sometimes find it hard to use the regular fingerings. For example, transitioning from e to f# to g in D major is much easier with the middle finger for f#. Am I expected to use the regular fingerings always or is it ok to use alternate fingerings like trill fingerings when it goes fast or should I practice both to have them at hand?

This is where to buy the complete Taffanel and Gaubert exercises

👉🏼 01:22:00 Margaret asks: I am a 60 year old flute teacher. Over the last year, I have found when playing for more than 15-20 minutes my jaw begins to visibly (and audibly) shake and I cannot control my embouchure. Is this simply lack of regular long practice, my age or might there be another reason? (I do have TMJ).

👉🏼 01:23:45 Wendy asks: Is there a certain posture to maintain when sitting and playing the flute?

👉🏼 01:25:00 Sid asks: What are the most effective exercises for strengthening the lifting of fingers off keys. I find my problem is the precision quick lifting, and not the closing of the keys. My problem fingers are left index, left pinky, left ring finger, and right pinky. Jennifer Cluff recommended practicing trills, another friend swears by chromatic scales. What's your take? I'm looking for exceptional benefit, not just do some mindless routine and maybe one day it will all work out.

👉🏼 01:28:26 Robert asks: Can you talk a bit about bending notes?

👉🏼 01:29:40 Kate asks: The three point hold doesn't seem to stop my piccolo wobbling around when I'm changing notes quickly or trilling, especially with the trill keys. is there a special way to hold the piccolo?

👉🏼 01:31:35 Sana asks: How can I play my low notes really loud and strongly and my high notes really loud and strongly without going an octave higher?

👉🏼 01:33:09 Jennifer asks: I have difficulty doing a nice slur from almost any lower octave note to low C# and low C. The sound of the C# and C is okay but I can't seem to coordinate all my fingers to get a smooth sounding slur. You hear a definite jump. I've tried the oily pinky trick and it doesn't seem to help. Am I missing something or does it just take a lot of slow motion practice to achieve this?

👉🏼 01:36:08 Dara asks: Hi I would like to know how to improve my stability in holding the flute, and also how to relax my fingers.  I think one of the biggest problems I face is stiff fingers which kinda caused me to press the keys too hard and slow down my playing speed.

👉🏼 01:37:15 Peter asks: The top register – I’ve been able to play up to the top C for some time and having done your mini-course it’s not so loud up there, but it’s still work in progress. There are lots of teachers out in YouTube land urging people like me to ‘support’ the high notes, but the explanations seem vague and not particularly helpful. What opinion do have on ‘supporting the high notes’? (I can’t recall having heard you mention the concept).

👉🏼 01:38:46 Peter also asks: And while we’re up there, playing chromatically or C major to top C is one thing, but playing a melody up there is (to me) more difficult. Any tips?

👉🏼 01:40:04 John asks: When practicing harmonics, I feel the airstream going in different directions on different harmonics.  This seems to be confirmed from the marks on my lip plate.  Any suggestions on keeping the airstream focused over all the notes (fundamental, octave, fifth and next octave) in a harmonic. Thanks for all the time you spend on preparing for and answering our questions.

👉🏼 01:42:29 Jennifer asks: When I practise long low notes, I get to a point of having a sound that's ok and "full". The difficulty is when I play a piece. When those low notes arrive,  especially after medium or high notes, they're not as resonant anymore, it seems I can't get back to a correct low notes embouchure quickly enough to make them sound nice. Maybe I want to make them sound so eagerly that I unintentionally bend my head down or get contracted, which I understand is no good to sound good. I'm sure you have lots of tips for that !

👉🏼 01:45:22 Candi asks: For some reason all these years I was not aware of my Bb lever key. However, knowing where the Bb lever key has still not unlocked the mystery of how to use it in playing scales and pieces, can you please show me all the three Bb fingerings and why they are used?

Here is the Bb fingering video!

👉🏼 01:47:42 Malak asks: What happens when you don’t clean your flute for over a month?

👉🏼 01:49:38 Drew asks: I have a question regarding the E flat above the stave. No matter what I try I am unable to bring it into tune. The best I can manage is about 10 cents above the note as shown on my tuner. I can produce a note without difficulty, just not in tune. Is it a particularly difficult note or is there something I could be doing to improve the intonation? Incidentally, I have just treated myself to a new Azumi flute and have this problem on my old and new flutes so I don't think I can blame the instruments! Many thanks for all you do.

👉🏼 01:52:45 Jim asks: What are some other factors in the environment (besides weather) that affect your playing. For example, when my sound is weak I drink a few cups of water to rehydrate myself. That always seems to help.

👉🏼 01:54:49 Sean asks: Do you have experience with effects pedals?

👉🏼 01:55:03 Tessa asks: i know 2nd octive E flat is meant to be flat but i need a lot of air to get the note and then they are very flat and nasty- if there a way that i can make them sound a bit nicer?

Tessa, here's the free mini-course I recommended

👉🏼 01:56:57 Tessa also asks: when i hold a note sometimes the sound begins to start to wobble, it is not a smooth sound, how can i stop that?

👉🏼 01:58:08 Natasha asks:  l'm a beginner and learning to play the flute on and off for two years now.  Reading music seems crucial to get better.  How can l improve my sight reading skills? Which resources should l use?

Natasha, www.flutetunes.com is the great website for free flute music for you!

👉🏼 01:59:16 Jen asks: Thank you for all your great videos! As a saxophone player and woodwind teacher I am always looking ways to improve my flute playing. When I play overtones I notice they come out very easily and mostly in tune when I just make incremental changes in my embouchure. Is that the correct way to think about this or should I be focusing on the shape in the back of the throat? Both?

👉🏼 02:00:21 Jen also asks: Also, when doing interval exercises at a faster pace, it is just so difficult to keep the dynamics even between low and high notes. Maybe you have some suggestions that would help with this issue. Thank you so much!!

Jen, here's the high notes mini-course I recommended for you

👉🏼 02:02:20 Megan asks: How do I stop running out of air when I blow the flute?

Here's the free mini-course for you Megan

👉🏼 02:03:58 "Acid for Blood" asks: I have a question with regards to cleaning the flute with the untreated microfiber cloth. Am I supposed to wipe down the flute every 30 mins? I usually play for 1 hour and 30 mins each day unless its on the weekends where I play longer and I wipe it down after every session. I came across online that some people wipe down every 30 mins and it got me thinking if I'm doing it wrong. I put anti-tarnish strips in the case every 3 months even though each strip is rated for 6 months but I don't take that risk as I factor in the 10 strips in a pack as a whole will not last as long as it says it does even when fully sealed and zip locked. Additionally I swab out the flute every 20-25 mins so that I can get a clean sound. To add to this I wash my face and hands, brush my teeth and wipe off any lip balm or lotion on my lips before playing. I'm kind of a clean freak by nature.

👉🏼 02:07:07 "Acid for Blood" also asks:  I'm not sure if you answered this question in any of your previous videos but should I be oiling the keys on my flute every 2-3 months as my Yamaha 222 instruction manual suggests or can it wait till my yearly Clean Oil Adjust? My only concern is running the risk of putting too much oil into the keys or improper application.

👉🏼 02:08:06 Melody asks:  I've tried some of your tips such as making my embouchure smaller, not blowing as hard, etc., and I am still running out of air quickly. Any suggestions?

👉🏼 02:09:38 Stephen asks: How do I single tongue low notes quickly, with good tone? I find from low F down I lose sound with C of course being the hardest. I started adding articulation practice with the help of a metronome in order to try to get better at it but I'm wondering what else I can do. I start off my practice sessions with low register tone practice in Trevor Wyes tone book as a warm up. So if there's anything else I'm missing please let me know. 


To watch the replays of Jane's Flute Q&As, click here: www.flute.school/ask

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