#17 -Do What You Think You're Doing

Putting Passion Into Your Wooden Flute Playing

Before we get into this week's tip, I want to ask everyone to put on their thinking caps, open a new email, and send me ideas for what you want to hear me rant about in this column. There's no limit. Send me all you've got and everything you're thinking about. This will help me determine what kind of information you really need, compared to what I might think you want to read about.

This week I'm going to give you a quickie...

As with most things we say in this column, that line can surely be read several ways. For the moment, let's think of how that applies to playing the flute. When playing music in general, and the flute in particular, a series of things can go wrong. For example, bad tone, missing individual notes, bad rhythm, missing ornaments, etc. Many times, the cause of these maladies is simply not committing fully to whatever you're trying to do at that moment. Here is the most dangerous and costly of all mental errors -- lack of passion.

You think you're blowing into the flute, but there's no sound coming out. Chances are you are not really blowing into the flute. If you were, some kind of sound (notice I said 'sound' not 'music') would emit.

Perhaps your notes do not sound fully formed or the ornaments don't have punch. Usually, the cause is lack of support combined with not driving your fingers all the way to the flute. I can't stress enough how important it is to drive your fingers to the tone holes. Don't stop your finger before it hits the flute. Let the flute stop the motion of your finger.

Always drive every part of your technique. When you blow, really put wind into the flute. When you move your fingers, strike the flute. And most importantly, drive the tune in your head forward while playing. The level of aggression/passivity with which you play the tune in your mind will be reflected in the sound produced by your flute.

Remember, we are essentially turning a mental image into sound. So, transmit this mental image into your flute with belief and passion. I feel that the air blown into a flute is the physical manifestation of that mental image (cue Enya soundtrack). Yep...I know it sounds new agey and dumb, but it's true. Think about anything else you've done successfully. You were probably pretty passionate about it. Why should playing the flute be any different?

Remember...always play music with passion. The outcome will be so much better.