Flute Q&A #52: How an expert flutist masters their scales (in 4 steps)May 23, 2023
In this Flute Q&A #52, you'll learn how an expert flute player goes about mastering their scales. You'll learn the 4 steps that they use to get themselves (and keep themselves) a pro at their scales!
This Flute Q&A was inspired by the question from Henrietta who asks: "How would a pro flute player practise their scales? How do you practise them? Any tips for us aspiring flutists? Thanks!"
How an expert flutist masters their scales (in 4 steps)
Henrietta, in case you haven't already done it, I recommend you register for the free mini-course here
More info on The Flute Academy that I mentioned for you is here
And a question for YOU!
What scale do you find the most challenging on the flute? Let me know in the comments below!
Expert flute player practise scales
Welcome to Flute A and A Number 52. In this video, you're going to learn how an expert flute player practices their scales. Now I almost said how an advanced flute player practices their scales. That's the last video, the previous video. This video is a series of four videos.
Advanced flute player
So we've got how to master your scales as a beginner flute player, how to master your scales as an intermediate flute player, how advanced flute players master their scales, and how expert flute players master their scales. So this is the expert video.
Levels of learning flute scales
All the others are already on YouTube, so you can go and have a look at those if you feel like this one is way out of your depth.
Favourite flute scales
Now, before we go anywhere, I would love to know, so in the comments below, if you're on YouTube, type in what do you find the most challenging scale? So maybe you're an expert flute player, maybe you're advanced, maybe you're intermediate, or maybe you're even a beginner.
Challenging flute scale
Whatever level you are, which scale do you find the most challenging? Is it a particular major scale? Is it something with lots of flats or something with lots of sharps? Is it a minor scale? Maybe a scale in thirds or chromatic scale even? What is your most challenging scale?
For me? I actually didn't think about <laugh>. I didn't think about an answer to this till right now. What is the most challenging scale? I'm going to have to think about that and come back to you.
Practise full range of the flute
Okay, I know, I just thought about it. Anything at the moment, anything that goes up to high D because I'm a little bit outta practice up, high C, high D, and I definitely need to get my fingers around that more to feel as fluent as I possibly can on the flute. So there you go. That's my answer.
Faster progress through proper flute technique
Speaking of me, I'm Jane. I'm a flute teacher. I love teaching flute players like you all around the world. Any level how to get faster progress by learning the tiny little tweaks of proper flute technique.
Learning proper flute technique
Learning proper flute technique is so powerful because it means that you are learning exactly the right thing to do to your playing that then instantly makes your playing easier and better.
Correct why to play high notes on the flute
For example, learning the right way to play high notes, suddenly you can play high notes and then of course you have to practice it into your playing, but you instantly feel that you're doing the right thing.
That's why I love teaching proper techniques so much because you really give the student an instant insight into how it's the right thing for their playing.
The Flute Academy
So this is what the Flute Academy is all about. I'll put a link below to the Flute Academy in case you would like to learn a bunch of techniques yourself, specifically in the 45 day Flute Transformation. It's one tweak per day and one specific exercise per day for 45 days. And then voila, you have a flute transformation.
Pro flute players practise scales
This question comes from Henrietta and it's a great question because it leads perfectly into this expert level of this video. So Henrietta says, how would a pro flute player practice their scales? In fact, Henrietta, you were part of the inspiration for this series of four videos. She says, how do you practice them? Any tips for us aspiring flutists, thanks.
Four steps to expert level flute scales
Yes, Henrietta, I definitely have tips. Let's go. Four steps. An expert, or I should say four ways that an expert flute player practices their scales or advances themselves in their scales.
Full range of the flute
Okay, so the first thing that an expert flute player does compared to someone less expert than them is they do their scales full range up to D. So in the advanced video you would've said that I suggest you go up to C and maybe higher if you can, but an expert flute player always up to high D.
The highest note on the flute is technically a high C, but expert flute players will always play their scales up to high C# or D.
Incorporating the really high notes on the flute
Whenever I practice my scales, it's always incorporating some of the scales up to D. But in this case, you would do all of your scales up to D. So let's just say you are doing F major. So an intermediate would play at two octaves. A more advanced player would play at full range, possibly up to C and then down to low C like this. Then an expert flute player would always play up to their highest note on the flute, like up to high D like this.
B foot flute
And so that's step one. They do all their scales, full range up to D, no question. If they had a C foot that like mine, they'd go down to C and if they had a B foot, they would go down to B for their scales.
C foot flute
All of my full range scales go down to C or C sharp because that's the limit of my flute, which I actually like because - you can get a B foot, which is longer. I prefer the weight, the balance of a C foot. So whichever suits you.
Flute scales faster at expert level
The second thing that an expert flute player consistently does to make their scales better and improve their playing is to play these scales faster. They're always thinking about pushing it faster and controlled faster, faster controlled while controlled and controlled. So it's number two.
Controlled and smooth flute notes
Number three, smoother. They are always aiming for controlled and smooth. Now smooth is more than just sounding smooth between each notes. It's more like a sweep of the scale. So one big phrase of the scale.
Full range of the flute
So instead of thinking in groups of four or eight like this -it actually works nicely because four and eight means that a full range scale when you're going up to D ends on a beat on the last note. So it feels nice.
Sweep up and down the flute
But instead of doing that, think of a sweep. You can either sweep up and down and then back up even better, one big massive sweep. So we'll see how this goes. It's been quite a while since I've practiced full range scales in one big sweep like this. But I tell you what, it's the best thing for your flute playing.
Tempo of scales for the flute
So I sped up there, I mean I could have sped up earlier, but the idea is that you sweep up and then around and just finish nicely on the F.
Flute scales in one breath
Then the fourth thing that an expert flute player consistently does is play the scales in one breath. So you saw that every example that I did there was in one breath. That's just normal. When you're at that level, scales in one breath, completely normal <laugh>. In fact, sometimes my real life kid flute students like to test me. They say, how many times can you play this scale in one breath?
Flute scales at expert level
So I have to do it fast controlled, sweep, good embouchure control, good breath control. And I try and get it multiple times in one breath. And they love it <laugh> because they're still aiming for one breath, and then I go and do it three times in one breath and they think it's hilarious. It's really quite cute and it's also very inspiring for them to see where they can get to.
Now, speaking of being able to play things in one breath, I want to give you some help there. If you improve your embouchure so that you get a clearer, stronger, more pure sound, you will automatically be able to get through longer phrases and more likely a whole scale in one breath.
Free flute mini course on tone
So to help you with that, I suggest, or I should say, I invite you to come and do the free mini course. So you can register at www.flute.school and you'll see there's a button where you can register for how to instantly improve your flute tone. It's three tweaks over three days, and the purpose of it is to improve your tone, but one of the outcomes is that you can play longer phrases.
The Flute Academy
So I'd love to see you there. If you are aspiring to be an expert flute player, then I fully encourage you to do this mini course. Consider joining the Flute Academy as well because that's what will take you from beginner to intermediate or intermediate to advanced or advanced to expert.
So I'll see you in the free course if you decide to do that. Highly recommend you do. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. You've got clearer sound to gain and longer phrases. I'll see you there. Bye.