The Flute Academy
How to play high without sounding SHARP

How to play high without sounding SHARP

Oct 27, 2020

Did you know that if you're not paying close attention to how you play, you'll likely sound sharp when you play up high?

How to play high without sounding SHARP

Yup, it's true - lots of people think they're playing in tune up high, but they're actually not!

Which is no good if you're playing in an ensemble because it throws off the tuning of the whole group (and can sound a bit terrible!)

Come and learn in this week's 5 minute mini-lesson how to stop sounding sharp, and start sounding in tune!

It will be music to your (and the audience's) ears!

Jane xx

Improving high notes on the flute

You're about to learn in this video, how to play up high on the flute without being sharp. So it's true that if you don't know the right technique for playing up high, you're going to be out of tune. And if you're playing with a group, you're playing with other people, your intonation's going to be totally out of whack and put the tuning of the group out. And it won't sound very nice.

Faster flute progress through learning proper technique

So my name is Jane. I'm a flute teacher. And my favourite thing about being a flute teacher is that I get to show students just like you, how to make tiny adjustments to their flute playing that make a massive difference to how good they sound and how easy it is to sound good.

I'm going to show you the three things today that make you sharp when you play up high. If you find that you're sharp, when you're up high, then you are doing at least one of these things. 

Wrong placement of flute head joint

Number One, if you have your head joint pushed all the way in like that, you will be sharp. It makes you sharp up high because the flute is designed to be closer to being in tune when this has pulled out a few millimetres. Now let me give you a demonstration. So this is where I would normally generally have my flute pulled out and it will sound like this

Now, if I've pushed that in, have a listen to the sound, it'll sound sharper

So you can hear that sharper. Now, if I do the same thing up high, you'll notice that it makes it even sharper when the head joint is pushed all the way in.

So here we go. This is pulled out at my normal spot. And pushed all the way in, it'll sound sharp, even sharper than before.

Make sure flute head joint is pulled out a little

The flute is designed to have the head joint pulled out a little bit when you play. Now the exact spot that you put this head joint depends on mostly the temperature of the day, but it also depends on how you're blowing, how hard you're blowing and also the tuning of the people that you're playing with.

That is all in-depth stuff which we're not going to go into this video because what I want you to get out of this video is that if you have that pushed all the way in, you will be sharp.

So start with your flute pulled out just a few millimetres, and that's a good place to start.

Smiling when playing flute causes sharp high notes

The Number Two thing that makes you sharp up high is smiling for high notes. There's a good way of playing high notes and a bad way. The bad way is smiling. The good way is not smiling.

I'm going to tell you more about that in a second, but first a little demo. I'm going to play up pie in my normal way of playing. Now, I'm going to smile. You'll see the corners of my mouth pulled back. This is going to make me sharp.

Did you hear that? You could probably also hear that the sound didn't sound quite as full and resonant. So if you smile, if you pull the corners of your mouth back, you're particularly tight. When you play high notes, it will make you sharp.

Free flute mini course on high notes for the flute

Now the good way of playing high notes. I have made you a free mini course to go in-depth about how to actually use the right technique to play high notes. I'm going to tell you about that at the end of this video and it's worth doing because it makes high notes easier and sound nicer. Oh, and not be sharp.

Blowing too hard when playing the flute can cause sharp high notes

Number Three thing that makes you sharp when you're playing up high is blowing too hard. Now, if you don't know the real way to play high notes, which I showed you in the mini course, if you don't know this yet, then there's only one other way besides squeezing to play up high and that's blowing harder.

And often people do a combination of the two: squeezing or smiling and blowing harder. Blowing harder makes you sharp. Here's the demonstration. So this is me playing normally. And here I'm going to blow harder, listen to the tuning. 

The highest note on the flute

For a bit of fun, learn the highest note on the flute here and see how high you're actually able to play!

Instantly improve your high notes on the flute

So you can hear that it's sharper. Now that happens even more if I go up high. Here is me playing normally and here is me blowing hard to get the high notes. It's sharp and I also run out of air and I get dizzy, which I don't like the feel of.

So blowing harder gets you the high notes, but it makes you sharp and it makes you run out of air.

If you'd like to learn the real way to play high notes, it's a little movement of your embouchure that gets you playing high notes the right way, come and join me at And I will teach you there for free. I'd love to see you there. Bye.

Faster Progress Through Proper Technique ™

Learn how making the right tiny adjustments to your flute playing accelerates your progress.

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

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