#14 -Go Home and Practice - Part Duh

Warming Up To Play Wooden / Irish Flute

Now that we have spent the last week lurking about in our hallways and bathrooms blowing on our headjoints till they are nice and warm, it's time to get to the good stuff.

People often ask how they can tell when the headjoint is warmed up. It's easy. The headjoint will feel warm to the touch. At this point, let's assemble your flute.

When I practice, I start by playing some nice long tones on the first octave G. Blowing first at medium volume for a few seconds and increasing gradually for another few seconds. I do this a few times on the notes from G down to low D. Then I do it in the second octave. Tome, the most important component of a person's playing is tone quality. I would rather listen to someone who knows ten tunes but has great tone, as opposed to someone who knows scores of tunes, but sounds like #$%@.

When I warm up, I first concentrate on achieving a full, clear, strong sound in my notes, rather than concentrating on warming up my fingers. Don't be in a big hurry to start playing tunes. You have the rest of the night for that. I think of it as first warming up the notes, then warming up my hands. When my sound is good, I know my hands will follow. It's kind of like the old Malcolm X dictum: "Free your mind. Your ass will follow." After I hear the tone I want coming out of my flute, I know that the headjoint is warmed up, the pads are all sealing, and I'm ready to shamrock and roll!

Now I'll play various triplet patterns to get some feeling of flow in my hands. Usually I start in the first octave, followed by second octave triplets. Just noodling around. This is where I start to feel the timing between my breathing and my hands. Give yourself a chance to be in control of what your are doing, especially when you begin to play. By this I mean, EACH time you play, not only when you are a beginning player. A minute or so of this, followed by miscellaneous little licks from various tunes, gets you ready to put Da' UHHHH in Da' THAAANG!!!

Warming up (think of it as beforeplay), when done thoughtfully and attentively, lays the groundwork for long evenings of passionate tonality...