How to fix MESSY note changes

Jan 28, 2019

I recently got an email from Paul - one of my readers (and flute players) just like you, which started:

"Hi Jane. I have a big playing problem which you might have a fix for..."

Now, quite simply, I got excited before even finishing reading the email. Why?

Because I love diagnosing the problem, finding the cause of it, then prescribing the remedy that works like a genuine quick-fix.

The Problem

Paul said:

"When I play C#, D, E and F#, the sound is inconsistent and sounds rough - as if it's from not very good finger movement. I have practiced this over and over again but there is not much improvement. It would be a great help if you have a fix for this!"

Another way I often describe this problem that Paul's having is "blippy notes". You could also call it "messy note changes".

The fix is very methodical, and works every time:

The Fix

When you have messy sounding fingers, where the change between the notes sounds "blippy", it is normally ONE finger that is the culprit (making the change sound messy).

The fix takes a little thought on your part, but with care, you will fix the problem very quickly!

Your job is to find which finger is causing the problem. You need to find out if it is moving too soon, or too late.

Let's use the change of D to E as an example.

If we're using D and E in the second octave, there’s only 3 fingers that move when change between the 2 notes:

  • Left-hand index finger
  • Right-hand ring finger
  • Right-hand pinky

Go through each of those fingers, one at a time, when slurring between D and E. Try moving it slightly early. Does it make a different to the smoothness of the change?

Now try moving it slightly later. Any difference?

Now go onto the next finger and do the same thing.

You’ll find that one of those fingers will result in a smooth change.

And BINGO! You've found your culprit finger, and fixed your messy note change problem!

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