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Mastery Through Flute Scales

flute lessons onlineHow can you find out for yourself where  the imperfections are in your playing – the details that keep you from being the best player?  If you’re repeatedly playing the same mistakes, more practice time won’t help much.  Using flute scales to your advantage however will help you tremendously. 

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Flute scales are the first thing beginning students are taught when learning flute because they serve as a tool for learning all the notes on the instrument.  But when used instructively, flute scales can also reveal the nuances and subtleties of playing that distinguish an outstanding player from a mediocre one.  

Advanced students labor over their sound when playing scales.  Flute scales are not seen as merely a warm-up exercise, they are a time to fine tune and carefully listen to your sound.  As speed is increased when playing flute scales, slight mistakes in intonation or dexterity can get blurred or overlooked.  By using scales as a tool, players can break down the very foundation of their playing and expose subtle imperfections that they may not have noticed before.  Achieving a high degree of technical skill requires a discerning ear and disciplined self-awareness, and practicing flute scales are an excellent way to achieve this. 

Any serious practice regimen should include rigorous work on flute scales for building strong technique. Flute students should practice all major and minor scales at the same dynamic and the same articulation.  Sharp keys can be played on even numbered days, flatted keys on odd days. Flute scales should be played both staccato and legato with the goal of 104 BPM for advanced players. 

Beginner and intermediate students should start their flute scale work at a pace where each note is played in tune and with the proper dynamic and articulation.  Only after each element is perfected should speed be increased. 

Listen carefully to the tonal homogeneity throughout the entire flute scale.  For instance, the sound of a low G should have the same timbre and sound quality as middle D.  The distance between each note should be seamless. The same dynamic should be played throughout the flute scales without any diminuendo at the end or when running out of breath.  Even when playing scales, flutists should play musically and with attention to phrasing.  For those more inspired students, flute scales can be approached with different styles in mind: vivace, animato, brillante.  Lastly, five-tone flute scale patterns like “quitachords” can be played the full range of the instrument to improve breath control and to build a full rich tone.

Highly accomplished musicians inherently understand the need for mastering the basic fundamental skills of playing an instrument.  Flute scales are no exception - they are fundamental and the building blocks for mastery. No matter the level of player you are, playing scales will reveal the imperfections and bad habits that prevent us from progressing. 

flute scales

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