Posture and breathing
Like all wind instruments, playing the flute requires good breath control. It is easy to run out of air when playing the flute because it does not have a reed or a cup shaped mouthpiece to offer blowing resistance. Flutes use a lot of air so we will start with posture and breathing.
Good posture is important to allow your lungs a chance to fill to capacity. Though many play standing, for now we will concentrate on sitting.
- Use a plain straight back chair, try to avoid cushions.
- Sit half-way off the edge of the chair with your knees bent at a right angle, your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
- Your feet should be directly under your knees.
Now, tilt your pelvis forward a bit until you feel your upper torso rise slightly.
Although this may seem a bit uncomfortable at first, this position will allow your diaphragm (the big dome-shaped muscle that controls your breathing) extra room to expand.
Practice sitting like this for a while. If it gets too uncomfortable, it's okay to take a break and go back to a more relaxed sitting position, but whenever you are working on breathing or playing your flute, it is important to return to this position.
We will now try a simple breathing exercise.
From playing position, draw in a full breath through your mouth. Do this rapidly but silently, and imagine the air going all the way into your feet, not your lungs.
Draw the air as deeply into your body as you can. Hold the air in your lungs for a few seconds with your mouth open, not closed like a balloon. Raise one of your hands to place the palm about an inch from your mouth, form a tight "O" with your lips, and slowly, quietly blow all the air out into your hand, feeling the small spot of air as it hits your palm.
Concentrate upon keeping the air stream steady, and try to stretch the breath out for as long as you can.
Don't let your cheeks puff out! Time yourself to see how long you can last and work towards increasing your time to at least 30 seconds. If you feel yourself becoming dizzy, stop and take a break!