5 minute warm-up for flutists in a hurry!

Flute Q&A #46: 5 minute warm-up for flutists in a hurry!

Feb 28, 2023

This week's Flute Q&A #46 is how to do an express 5 minute flute practice - one that is highly effective!

The video was inspired by Benny who asked:

"Can you share your daily flute practice routine with me?"

So here you are Benny - an insight into how I practise, plus the express 5 minute practice guide for you!

5 minute warm-up for flutists in a hurry!

Benny, in case you're interested, the Reichert exercises can be bought here

If you'd like more info on joining the wonderful students in The Flute Academy, check it out here

And a question for YOU!
What do YOU do to warm up in 5 minutes? Let me know in the comments below!

Feel free to ask your flute question for an upcoming Flute Q&A by clicking here

Daily flute practise routine

Welcome to Flute Q and A Number 46. This question comes from Benny, and Benny asks, can you share your daily practice routine with me? Yes, I can Benny and I'm going to show you in two versions, I'm going to show you the express five minute version, and then when I have more time than five minutes, which I normally do, I'm going to show you that longer extended version as well.

Faster progress on the flute

My name is Jane Cavanagh, I'm a flute teacher and I teach flute players how to get faster progress by learning proper flute technique. Because when you know the right way to do something, it's so much easier. So much easier that you can feel straightaway that <laugh> you wish you'd been doing it this right way all along because you sound better and it's easier to play.

Anyway, here we go. Here's my practice routine. Here's the express five minute version first.

Flute warm up

Now, this is what I recommend for you as well because it's so effective. If you've only got five minutes to practice, equally if you've got five minutes to warm up, just, you know, before you go and do a rehearsal or something, let's just call this a five minute practice.

Flute tone exercises

Take a bar or two of a piece that you are learning and we're going to turn it into a tone exercise and a finger speed exercise all in five minutes.

Tone and finger exercises for flute

Okay? Let's say that you are learning to play this piece, otherwise no one as Morning Mood by Greig. Take the first bar and we're going to do the tone exercise first and then we're going to do the finger speed exercise. Tone exercise first, take the first two notes and make it a tone exercise.

Long notes on the flute

Play the first two notes and join them beautifully, smoothly. If it's not smooth, if it's a bit clunky, that was very clunky. If it's a bit clunky, make sure you get it absolutely smooth and then extend the second note. On that long note that you're playing, the second note, you're going to fine tune the sound, you want to listen to your sound and see if you can get it more resonant than you had at last time you played it.

Repeat tone exercises on the flute

Then after you've done that once, maybe twice, you do it on the second and third note. You think purely of your sound <laugh> and you think of a pure sound as well. Then you do it on the third and one, two, yeah, the third and the fourth note. And if that was a bit clunky, do it again. And then get your purest sound on the second note, the long note that you extend.

Long notes on the flute

So that's only halfway through the first bar. So you can do this for one or maybe two bars, depending on how long your bars are and more importantly, depending on how many notes there are in a bar. So just do it for a few minutes. Maybe do five or six of these long notes, because remember you've only got five minutes. Okay?

Finger speed on the flute

Now the finger speed part of this exercise, we'll go back to the start of the piece, take the first two notes and you're going to see how quickly you can alternate between those first two notes controlled. So you can go random like that. Just go back and forward and keep it an even change. If you find yourself clunking, make sure go as slowly as you need to go to make that change smooth.

Smooth transitions between notes on the flute

So when I say go as fast as, you can only go as fast as you can while it's an even change. So let me rephrase the go as fast as you can. Go as fast as you can while keeping the changes smooth and clean. There you go.

Flute practise

Then do it with the second and the third note as well. If you find it's getting clunky, it's too fast. If it's clean, push yourself in speed. Then you do it for the next two notes. This is an excellent way to practice. Think about tone for a while, then think about finger speed for a while.

Faster progress through proper flute technique

Now it's all about how you practice. You know how I said about I teach students to get faster progress through learning proper technique? That includes practice techniques. So when you practice, I never say just practice more and I'll never say anything generic like practice long notes. There's always a method behind it. So that was the little, basically the tip of the iceberg what I showed you there when I'm talking about fine tune your sound. As in fine, tune your ears to listen to your sound. This is the tip of the iceberg. 

The Flute Academy

In the flute in the Flute Academy, there's a big course called the 45 Day Flute Transformation. There's a module in that course called the Magic Tone exercise, and we spend seven days teaching you how to improve your tone by your method of practice.

The Magic Tone Exercise on the flute

It's not hard and it's not boring. It's actually very systematic and it's very satisfying because you get very, very quick results when you do this tone exercise for let's say 15 minutes. I call it the Magic Tone exercise. By the end you go, oh my gosh, I actually sound better. You'll come back the next day, do it again.

Tone exercise part of warm up for flute

If you did that every day for a week, or let's say you did it for seven days, you know, doesn't matter if it's all in a week. By the end of those seven days, even five days, you'll be going, oh my gosh, I wanna do this tone exercise every time I play. And in fact, that's what the students in the Flute Academy tend to do. They love this exercise so much. It becomes part of their practice routine because it's so effective.

Slow practise on the flute

So that's the important part about tone and the important part about practising with your fingers and getting your fingers speed faster is also about how you practice. A lot of people think that the faster they practice the better.

Clean tone on the flute

If they're trying to get their fastest finger, fastest finger, oh my gosh, if they're trying to get their fingers faster, but in actual fact, it's about how you practice and hearing the exact changes. Hearing the cleanliness of the change is super important because that's what you're teaching your fingers. If you go clunky and you go really fast, that's not really teaching your fingers anything but the wrong thing.

The 45 Day Flute Transformation

So anyway, that's the tip of the iceberg with practice technique. I cover it a lot more in the 45 day flute Transformation. I'll put a link in case you're interested. Now that was the five minute express practice that I do. If you're interested in a more extended version of how I practice, which Barry I, oh, sorry Barry, sorry, sorry, Benny. Benny, it sounds like you might be interested in, let me tell you exactly what I'm practising at the moment.

Flute exercises

So for the last probably month or so when I practice, I've been practising a Reichert exercise. I'll put a link for you below. You don't have to go and buy this if you're interested, go for it. This is just what I'm practising at the moment and I'll give you some other options of what I'm practising.

Daily exercise for flute

Now, this Reichert exercise is from a book called Seven Daily Exercises.  I was just about to say there's seven in there, but that's kind of <laugh>, that's kind of a given <laugh> given the title. This is number four. I have learnt two or three of these from memory and I just really like number four. So I do that.

Practise flute exercises you enjoy

Do what you like when you're practising Benny, do what you like because if you like it, it's more satisfying, you know, within reason. If you like, only playing one note on the flute, that's probably not going to be very helpful for you, but you know, within reason do the exercises that you like. So this is Reichert number four, starts in C major.

Tone and phrasing exercise for the flute

Now, I always ran out of breath because I was talking before it, but I'll do one of those in one breath and then move on to the next key, which is A minor and it goes through every major and minor key. It takes me about 10 or 15 minutes to do. So there you go. That's what I've been practising. It's actually not a finger speed exercise. It's more a, a tone exercise and a phrasing exercise.

The Flute Academy

So that's it. Benny, I'll put a link to the Flute Academy, which includes the 45 day flute Transformation course in case you're interested. Otherwise, good luck with your practice routine. I hope this gave you some insight. Before you go, actually, I would love to know anyone watching this video, not just Benny, what is your recommendation for a five minute flute practice? What would you practice if you only had five minutes practice? I'm interested to know, see you later.

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