Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Moyse Flute tone advice

Dear Flutists,
I thought I'd share some of the Marcel Moyse advice that is contained in a book written for beginning flutists. I believe the book is called "The Debutante Flutist", but I'm not sure as I have no cover or front page. (The publisher is probably Leduc.) Please give *me* the title if you recognize the pictures below. Thanks. :>)

Moyse's flute tone advice:
Marcel Moyse makes a very important point in describing the lip opening using drawings; that the inner (wetter membrane) surface of the lips vibrates sympathetically when the air column moves past it. If the lips are too tight, too squeezed, or the lip-plate of the flute is too high, the inner lip membrane is not free to help direct the airstream, and will not vibrate sympathetically. However, if the lip aperture is free and mobile, the flutist can incorperate the amount of inner lip membrane that is exposed to the outside of the lips. (to expose the inner lip membrane "explode" it a small amount outward by saying "PEU")
Hence these pictures:

Moyse goes on to explain the difference between the low register embouchure that gives the best tone, and the middle register embouchure. The pictures used for that show the inner membrane of the lips very much involved in producing the best quality of tone. (although I'd argue with the coverage of the blow hole advice that he gives.....)

This topic is also very well covered in Roger Mather's Volume 2 of "The Art of Playing the Flute" when Mather talks about lowering the pressure of the flute's chin-plate in order to allow freedom to the lips to vibrate as the air reed passes through them.

I think that the common mistake is for student flutists to squeeze the red lip tissue itself, often with the bottom lip being trapped by the metal chin plate, and the upper lip pulled too tightly across the teeth. Both these mistakes cause too much of the dry outer portion of the lips being used to direct the air stream, instead of the inner membrane of the lips, which actually is a much finer control.

We want to be sure we're using the muscles that surround the mouth (the 2 inch area that surrounds the lips in a 360 degree circle, but not the lips themselves) to form the lip shape. Using the muscles of the face that surround the lips allows the lips themselves to stay flexible, free and loose enough to form a longer "barrel" or tube for the air to flow down before it leaves the mouth. In lessons I ask the student to allow the inner membrane to be blown to the exterior as when saying a slightly explosive "PEU!" or "Poooooo". This gives them a longer lip tube to direct the air with to find the sweet spot of the best tone, and also eventually leads to effortless leaping between low and high notes.

Easier to show than to explain in words, but Moyse's pictures are very very good. :>)
Comments? Thanks.
Jen :>)
Comments (8)
Blogger here said...

Very interesting, but very complicated.
1. My lips do not have a vibrative membrane yet. Do I need a plastic surgeon? ;-)
2. Upper lip should not touch front teeth - good advice, I am working on that. (The Mather book II is great, by the way!).
3. Many things which are described in detail here remind me of - what I think - my buzzing and chopstick exercises are leading towards. Maybe I develop a vibrating membrane - hahahaha - so I do not need a plastic surgeon?
Greetings, Lie.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007 7:55:00 AM

Blogger Sheila said...

Awesome advice, thanks for sharing!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007 6:45:00 PM

Blogger Cecy Fernandes de Assis said...

Brasil - Thanks for sharing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 2:43:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Forwarded from another flutist:
Your posting about Moyse's lips(vibrative membrane)
jogged my memory. I finally found the pictures you
show. It's from the first Suzuki Flute School book,
volume I. I think Takahashi and Moyse collaborated.

I hope this is helpful. All your videos and
listings are just great!

Thankyou D. for this information! Jen

Friday, November 16, 2007 9:12:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

My lower lip is slightly thicker than the ideal and I get a better tone when the flute hole opening is a bit higher than the usual level of most players who have thinner lips. While this improves the sound, it also results in a declined stability (the support of the chin is diminished), as a result I tend to press my lip with the flute especially in the high register. Thus I get a bad, squeezed tone.

I have been playing for slightly more than a year and recently we realized with my instructor that this habit was preventing me from enhancing the tone in the high register. Now I am trying to shape my lips into the form that you have explained in Moyce's drawing. But I guess the muscles are still weak and after a while they start trembling and there's too much tension build up especially in my upper lip. Menstruation periods worsen the situation further, probably as the muscles around the diaphragm become loose. I find myself blowing harder and harder with constantly increasing lip pressure and headache. No matter what I do to relax I cannot succeed. As a result nowadays there are some weeks during which I cannot improve the sound no matter what, I just have to wait for the tension to go away. Even my instructor recommended me to have a break for few days.

What I want to learn is, if there are any exercises to help ease the tension and adapt the true relaxed embrochure more easily. Recently I have been practicing scales from Moyse's Ecole De L'Articulation to correct this but they don't always help. I was recommended to stop practicing the longtone sonorites as they also seem to tihgten my lips.

Thans for your answer in advance

Friday, March 27, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Nalan,

It's difficult to advise you at a distance. If you're "trying too hard" and if you're getting aches from tension, then for sure, it is far far too much tension.
When we first start to find the right muscles, we tighten all the neighbouring muscles as well, in our efforts. So instead of "tightening" you need to relax every muscle that is NOT needed. That takes time and focus, and much relaxing in between.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being maximum tension, you need to find a "two or three".
IT will take time to be observant of sensations in your muscles to loosen the unnecessary tension. So relaxing fully in between effort is key as well. Good luck. Jen

Friday, March 27, 2015 9:07:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Jen. I need to be patient then :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015 11:55:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Nalan,
Part of being patient is also spending time on things that ACTUALLY help. For example, if tension is a problem, typically, for you, you could investigate what relaxing 100% feels like. Invest in a professional massage and relax 100%. Then use what you learn when you return to flute practice.

Other things that might help are:
1. Changing the way you line up your headjoint, to see if you can get more of the flute's lip-plate to actually touch the skin of your chin. See: www.jennifercluff.com/lineup.htm
2. Changing the way you approach the high register by actually releasing the amount of pressure you push the flute into the chin as you go higher and higher. See Paul Edmund-Davies advice on this at: www.jennifercluff.com/davies.htm

3. Working systematically with specific self-teaching exercises to lower the pressure of the flute's lip plate so it doesn't distort the lower lip. These exercises are in Vol. 2 of Roger Mather's "The Art of Playing the Flute".

4. Reducing tension overall by improving the ease of breathing. Look into Alexander Technique and also "The Physical Flute" by Wilkinson. It could be your tension is actually caused by the way you hold your whole body.

When you take a break from tense flute playing, you can ALWAYS do self-relaxing imagery and other things with your time.
Hope this helps.
Let me know if you have a break-through, if you do. I'll be curious what the problem truly was.

Monday, March 30, 2015 12:07:00 AM


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