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g0707136.WMF (22982 bytes)Dynamics

How loud or soft you play depends on how much air you put into the flute.  While the amount of air varies with the volume of sound, support is always needed.  In fact, the less air and less sound you make, the more you need to support the air column with body energy.  Avoid squeezing with either your lips, jaw or throat unless you like a pinched sound. 

It is also important to be able to channel the air efficiently with your lips with a well shaped and flexible embouchure.


It is not really possible to separate dynamics from intonation.  The natural tendency of the flute is to play moreNichole's new flute.JPG (15387 bytes) sharp when you blow harder and flat when you blow less. 

The very best way to compensate for these tendencies is to listen to yourself and to others carefully.  If you are out of tune, STOP!  Can you tell whether you are flat or sharp?  Are you out of tune with yourself?  Use a piano or a tuner sounding the pitch so you can compare and correct the intonation (whether you are playing in tune with yourself).  Play octaves and intervals like fourths and fifths to learn about tuning. 

Lori sagging.JPG (19802 bytes)If you tend to play flat, try:

bulletHolding your flute up.  If you sag, so will your pitch bulletRolling out the headjoint and uncovering the blow hole bulletUse more support (body energy) bulletBlow through a bigger embouchure hole

If you tend to play sharp, try:

bulletDirecting the air lower into the flute by reaching with your top lip bulletPut the flute lower on your chin bulletRelax the corners of your mouth and use the center of your lips to shape the hole

You can control the intonation no matter what dynamic level you are playing at.

bulletThe louder you play, the lower you must direct the airstream. bulletThe softer you play, the more you need to raise the airstream and increase support.

Most of all you learn to control the pitch by listening and learning what is in tune and what is not.  Practice playing out of tune on purpose to learn how to correct your pitch. 

Pitch Gremlins on the Flute

open C# high E high F# high G# highest C
sharp, aim the air lower, add right hand fingers sharp, aim the air lower, take off the Eb key sharp, aim the air lower, use middle finger right hand instead sharp, aim the air lower, add third and fourth fingers right hand use gizmo on a B foot or foot joint keys (C & C#)
Other pitch Gremlins include playing flat in the low register and sharp in the high register.  Support more and pay attention to where you aim your air.  LISTEN!

See Alternate fingerings for other special case fingerings.

Dr. Cate Hummel.
Copyright � 1999 The Flute Line. All rights reserved.
Last revised: June 23, 2016.