How do I play high notes on the flute?

Updated: Feb 15

This post will follow on quite closely from my 'How do I play low notes on the flute post' but there are some key differences.



Make an ugly sound

Yes, that's what I said. Blow the damn thing until you get that note out. Then start pulling back, reduce the amount of air you are using, and incorporate the following points. You can't make a beautiful sound until you first, get a sound.



Air Direction

To play high notes we need to make sure that we are blowing up. Imagine that there are four points that you need to hit. To get high notes we want to blow up (photo 1). Moderate high, slightly lower (photo 2), moderate low, lower again (photo 3) and low notes need the air stream down (photo 4). A tool to help visualise this is called a pneumo pro, a yellow headjoint with four fans (google it!).



Chin

Another consideration to this air stream concept is what you do with your chin. The higher you go, the more you are going to need to push your chin out. It's awkward and it won't move very far but it will make a drastic difference to the direction of your air stream. By moving your chin out, you are able to use less air and play softer. It will still be airy but don't fret, you will notice the airiness more than a listener because you're closer to the headjoint.


Tension

Make sure you relax! I can almost guarantee that if you are struggling with high notes and they're sounding too airy, then you're probably really tense. Relax those shoulders and the neck. If you strangle the air, there is no way it's going to come out and give you that nice tone you're after!




Support

Those high notes need support from your diaphragm. If you're not quite sure what or where your diaphragm is, tighten your tummy muscles while you blow into the flute. This will allow you to control the air flow. For high notes, you need fast air and the only way you can do this effectively is by tightening those muscles!




Exercises

So how do you practice this? Well, grab your flute, choose a low note and start playing harmonics. Harmonics are notes that can be played using different fingerings. Basically, what you need to do is play the note (lets say an F on the bottom space) and then

gradually move the airstream up until you get a second note. Don't change your fingers! Take a breath if you need, start at the note you stopped at and then move your chin forward and your airstream up until you get the next note and so on. After the second note, the sound will start to become a little weird but that's normal because your playing notes with the wrong fingerings. Ideally, you should be able to get 3-4 notes from the same fingering. The lower you start, the more you will be able to get!



Questions?

Leave a comment or get in contact with me today! I love to hear from you and know how you are going. And did you know that I also do online lessons?! This means I can teach you or give you some handy tips no matter where in the world you are!

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