How do I play low notes on the flute?

Updated: Feb 15

To play rich, beautiful low notes on the flute, there are a few things you need to consider.


Air Direction

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



Okay, so we have the note but it doesn't sound as good as you want, so what next?


Air Speed and Temperature

When playing low notes, we want slow, hot air. If you blow air on your hand, you will notice that it's quite cold. The faster you push that air out, the colder it feels. Now make a 'haaa' exhale on your hand - warmer? This is because it's using a different type of air.


When playing low notes we need to make sure that we are using slow air, not fast. So relax, loosen the lips and make the embouchure a little larger.




Mouth

Still not sounding the way you want it? Well there is one more part to the puzzle. The inside of your mouth. If you want a rich, full sound then you need to make sure that

there is a lot of space in your mouth for the sound to originate from. Try imagining that

you have a ball or gobstopper in your mouth, lift your soft pallet (that bit in your mouth that goes up when you yawn) and take notice of where that tongue is, you may need to move it back and down. Try tonguing further back in your mouth rather than right behind your front teeth. You may be surprised at the difference these little adjustments make to your sound!


Exercises

So to practice this you need an exercise where you can really focus on your body and mouth. So work on your long notes. Choose a lowish note that you are comfortable with, an F for example on the bottom space, play this note for four beats and then move chromatically down to an E. Repeat the E and then move chromatically down to the Eb, repeat the Eb then down to the D and so on. The point of this exercise is that you are giving your brain time to focus on your body rather than the music. Don't rush, take your time and experiment with different things (air speed, air temperature, space in your mouth and tongue location). Once you have the sound you want, take note of what you did and try to replicate it a few times. Eventually this will become second nature and you will transfer this knowledge and skills into your pieces.



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 although I'm in Queensland, Australia, 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!


Happy practicing!

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