Method book for those beginning to learn flute.
Breathing is extremely important in playing any wind instrument. One cannot hope to achieve a strong sound and proper phrasing without good breathing.
First, stand or sit up straight. Think about a string attached to the top of your head like a marionette pulling you up. If your upper body is not straight, it will restrict your breathing. Posture is very important.
When most people think about taking a deep breath, they only think about filling up their chest. For good breathing, think about how a person breathes when they are sleeping. If you watch a person sleep, you will notice that their belly expands, rather than their chest. A proper deep breath involves expanding at the belly first, with the movement of the diaphragm, the main muscle used in breathing.
So, first you will inhale and expand your belly. At first this may not be very much, but after practice your capacity will increase. After expanding your belly, breathe in even further to expand your chest. Then exhale, allowing your chest and belly "deflate". That is the basis of breathing.
One way to experience this: Exhale all the air in your lungs, and then allow your lungs to inhale by themselves. You should feel your stomach take the breath.
There are a number of ways you can practice your breathing:
- Get a balloon and practice inflating it over and over again.
- With your flute, play a single note and try to hold it out as long as possible while you time yourself. Stop timing when your flute stops making sound. Record how long you were able to hold the note. You will notice that the time gets longer as you regularly practice.
- Using your diaphragm, yell out "Ha!" repeatedly to practice the strength of your muscles. It is important to use your diaphragm to make the sound rather than your throat. With the same diaphragmatic push, you can also practice this on your flute.
Circular breathing is an additional technique which make a tone continuous without pause, accomplished by the use of the cheeks as a reservoir of air while breathing through the nose rather than the mouth.