The fail-safe way to improve at the flute!Apr 30, 2019
My flute students (ie you!) with a keen eye for detail are my favourite. This attention to detail will get you FAR in your flute progress.
The fail-safe way to improve at the flute!
But it can get you into trouble too.
Seeing every little detail of everything you can't do on the flute often leads to OVERWHELM. Which is stressful and totally counter-productive!
The guaranteed way to improve
Yep. There is a sure-fire way to fix this. It's a certain way of thinking. And I made this quick vid to explain how to do it.
Progress not perfection at the flute
I hear a lot that people, maybe you, struggle with overwhelm. The feeling of there being so many things to concentrate on when you're learning the flute that you just feel like you're not getting anywhere because there's so many things you need to be doing at once. Now, there is a solution to this and it can be summed up in three words, progress, not perfection, it's totally psychological. And it makes the most amazing impact on your actual progress. I'm gonna give you two examples. These are perfect examples.
The first one is to do with tone. When you're trying to get your tone clearer, more resonant, less fluffy - Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was built. Now I talk about this in the magic tone exercise, which is the best tone exercise ever. What you are aiming for when you're trying to improve your tone is not an amazing tone.
Magic tone exercise
It is to see progress in that day. If you can hear an improvement while you are doing this magic tone exercise, and you can hear an improvement in one long note, you are taking the right steps forward.
Micro-improvements on the flute
Now on a grander scale, if you can hear improvement in your practice session, let's say in 20, 30 minutes of playing, you are taking a bigger step forward. And then if you can notice improvement week by week, this is all you need to do. So instead of thinking that, Oh my God, my tone is so fluffy. And how do I get a clear tone, work on getting an improvement and then keep that improvement? Don't worry if you come back a step like the next day, but as long as you can get it back to where it was the day before, like with the clarity with the resonance, just keep moving forward.
High notes on the flute
The second example and this is a great example as well is controlling your high notes. So whenever you're trying to get control of your high notes or switching between octaves, I teach people in the courses to go up chromatically for example, this is an E.
Set little goals for yourself
And getting control of that switch, and then going up to an F and having control of that switch, then an F sharp. Showing you exactly how to do it is in the course. But here is the mindset for how you're going to improve when you feel overwhelmed by not being able to do your high notes, you want to gradually improve your range. So if today you can maybe get it on the E, but you can't do it on the F and you find yourself just blowing harder to get it on the F for example.
Flute embouchure control
That was me just blowing harder to get the high note instead of using embouchure control. All you want to see is the fact that you can get one note further than you could before. It might take you a week to get one semitone further with that same control that I teach you. But if it takes you a week to get one semitone and you think that's incredibly slow, it's not. Because it's a step forward that other people are not doing.
Progress, not perfection at the flute
So the way to deal with overwhelm is to break everything up, everything up into progress, not perfection. If you can do this, all you have to do is keep playing the flute. The months will pass. The years will pass, and you'll be so much better than you were before that you'll hardly be able to believe it. Not only is it a sure way to improve on the flute, but if you suffer from that feeling of overwhelm of so many things to do at once, this is the only way to improve.
So that's pretty good, right? It's the guaranteed way to improve, but it's also the only way to improve. If you suffer from overwhelm - that's a plane, by the way, that's a tourist plane going over Sydney Harbour. If you suffer from overwhelm, this is the way to progress. Hope that helps you. And I'll see you in a week.