Monday, January 01, 2007

Teaching hand placement for the novice band-flutist

Hi there novice flute teachers,
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Today's news:
Part Two of my video-answer is now available below. Recently on this flute teaching blog I've been answering questions about teaching a 12 yr. old novice band student in the first 10 to 20 lessons. Part One of my answer dealt with headjoint only and RH-on-the-barrel. This second segment develops ideas for the novice teacher in balancing the flute, and includes trills, finger position and flute balancing tips.

Video #2 Teaching the novice "Band-Student" flute tips;

The specific flute work books [in red] that I recommend in the video are listed below if you scroll down. These flute books work for all ages, and have flute holding diagrams, good quality flute pieces, and good advice. View the books by clicking on the links below after viewing the video. I recommend them as affordable to the young teacher, and the kind of books that you'll have on hand to hopefully provide to the student to purchase when they begin lessons with you. Most items are in the $10 range to keep costs affordable. There are also links to all the basic handouts I use below the booklist. :>)
So here are all the useful links:

Original question and answer on this topic:

Video 1 Answer about headjoint only & RH-on-the-barrel:

Flute recitals, live flute performance videos online for viewing:

Other useful flute videos by Jen:

Flute assembly to avoid repairs.

Cleaning & Marking the flute

Mel Bay's flute beginner book (purple cover) with CD:
Headjoint-only tunes with groovin' rhythms on play-along CD.
Also has playalong demonstration pieces using only the notes G, A, B, C which is great for RH-on-the-barrel playing. Easy rhythmic reading, rhythm explanations, samples; advancing slowly.
FIRST LESSONS FLUTE by Mizzy McCaskill & Dona Gilliam

Find it here at Mel Bay.
Jen says: Highly recommended to have as a resource book for selected exercises tailored to student. CD-backing tracks only contain easiest exercises for first half of the book. You may wish to follow up with other flute piece books with CD-accompaniment if having a playalong CD seems to help the student's interest level and musical ear. $10.

If you want to use a beginner book that doesn't come with CD but is equally good, use Trevor Wye's Beginner Book of the Flute Volume One.
HOW TO PLAY THE FLUTE by Howard Harrison
Used copies at Powells Books.
or at Amazon

Jen says: I notice that this book now has two different covers other than the one I displayed on my video. Nevertheless, a truly great for adults, self-teaching re-beginners, and anyone learning the flute wanting diagrams, note names, descriptions of "how to", including how to read music, and music notation and counting rhythm pages. Everything is there including good pictures and really great tunes. Relearn all fingerings as you go. Starts on LH notes, and progresses to E, F, D gradually while using simple rhythms. $10
The Best of Moe Koffman CD:
Jen says: Sample jazzy flute CD from the '70s of upbeat tunes for novices to find pulse when played during lesson, improvise, to play with right-hand-on-the-barrel and limited rhythm values. Best tracks would be Swingin' Shepherd's Blues (track 1), Dance of the Blessed (track 3) : $8

The Best of Moe Koffman volumes 1&2 ANBO-1057
# Label: Universal Music Group
# ASIN: B00006L60J

If this CD is unavailable, and an inexpensive substitute is sought, try the flute & harp recording by Naxos entitled "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" by Nora Shulman $6-$8. Lots of standard flute repertoire for the student to listen to as well as use in class for finding pulse, listening to rhythms, playing simplified versions for novice students using limited pitches.
Especially for those flute teachers who play piano to accompany students in lessons of hundreds of Flute Solos with Piano all in one book.
Karen Smithson's "PLAYING THE FLUTE" piano accompaniment volume.
All score form with small flute parts; progressive; good quality classical and folk tunes. All tunes winners/pedagogically helpful. Full sized flute parts are contained in each of her method books volumes 1 to 5, but if student is only going to buy one $25 book full of easy and progressive flute solos, this one is highly highly recommended: Playing the Flute Piano Accomp.
Smithson books also available at any regular music store for ordering by name, and at Fluteworld and JustFlutes.
EXTRA book added later: Solos, and Duets of flute & guitar:
Especially for those flute teachers who play flute throughout the lesson in duet form:
Jessica Walsh's "CELTIC MUSIC FOR FLUTE" book with CD.
This is the book I use all the time with novice students. Many of the solos can be made into duets, and you get about 40 pieces in the celtic style all with varying rhythms and different challenges.
The Top Ten Secrets of Great Flute Playing:
Topics: Breathing, Chair position in band, standing to practice, tonguing.

Misfingerings common in band flute students:

How to align and hold the flute:
Article with photos:

Handout on aligning and balancing the flute for novice flute students:

Spoken-word style rhythm sheet for band flutists who need rhythm reading review:

All teaching articles for novice teachers:

Best of luck, and ask more questions if unclear.
Comments appreciated. Thanks dudes. Jen :>)
Comments (4)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a new flute student, I have benefited greatly from your articles and videos. I do have a question about the embouchure. Mary Byrne's article mentions that the student should not be concerned with the placement of the hole, but with the smile part of the lip plate.

I have read from others that the hole of the lip plate should be placed between where the wet and dry place of the lip meets. Also, that the bottom lip should cover at least 1/3 of the hole. I have been trying to practice this especially doing tone practice for low notes. What is your take on this lip positioning? Should we concern ourselves at any point with the hole or just the plate against the chin skin? Thanks.

Friday, January 05, 2007 4:44:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

HI Joshua,

Mary Byrne's "First lesson" handout is about teaching the VERY FIRST lesson.
What she is saying, I think, is that it is less confusing for the student if you don't start talking about where the embouchure hole should go.
I've watched a few flutists teach beginners, starting with "this is where the hole should go" and unfortunately the student then tries to sense where the blow hole should be, and that slows down their progress (because at first, it's so hard to really know where the hole is, if you don't have the skin-sensitivity to feel the hole on your lip.)

The answer to your question about covering 1/3rd of the blow hole, and exactly where the edge of the blow-hole should go is somewhat covered in my tone articles.

It's an individual matter depending on the thickness of the student's lips (every person has different lip and chin structures) and how long they've been playing, and what kind of control they have over the tone.

There is no one answer.
Work with a good teacher, and you will gradually discover what works for you.
Work in the low register is covered in:

Hope this helps answer your very good question.
Jen :>)

Friday, January 05, 2007 10:45:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, and I look forward to more of your videos.

Friday, January 05, 2007 11:44:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

One more thing Joshua.
In re-reading your comment I noticed this sentence:

"I have read from others that the hole of the lip plate should be placed between where the wet and dry place of the lip meets."

This sounds slightly-mis-translated.
The edge of the blow hole usually goes at the red-line-of-the-lower-lip, which is where the red part of the lip becomes the flesh-tone skin of the chin.
This is for thin-lipped players, or medium-thin-lipped players.

Thick lipped players might have the edge of the blow hole half way up their lower lip!!!

So, it very much depends on where each flutist gets their best, most flexible tone quality.
And finding that takes a teacher, alot of tone exercises, and a good pair of ears. :>)

If you really want to read more after the tone articles:

then get a private teacher and/or read Roger Mather's "The Art of Playing the Flute" by ordering it at your library (Interlibrary loan).
Mather covers this topic with extensive written experiments for the flutist who's played 2-3 years or more.

Friday, January 05, 2007 12:36:00 PM


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