Thursday, May 10, 2007

Flute Trills & how to read and play them

Dear Fluters,

Jen's new trill page: How to play trills for flute in pdf: How to read trills in flute music

This morning I read an email query about a piece of music where the young flutist could not figure out how to read the trill markings, and which note to trill to. This is a topic usually covered in private lessons with an experienced flute teacher, as there are many rules for trilling on the flute, depending on what period of history the flute music was written.

I answered the trill question, and then went to google and tried to look up a "how to read trills" page online; unfortunately, there wasn't a comprehensive "how to trill for flute" page that I could readily suggest. I tried the search terms:

Trill "how to";
Flute Trills;
Reading Trills;
Ornaments and how to execute trills;
Playing correct trills;
description of reading trill notation;
Yes I tried all sorts of other terms in my hunt.
Result? Nada.....d'oh! :>)

So I created my own page for fluteplayers on "how to perform trills on the flute".

Here then, are all the most useful "how to trill" pages and links that I've created or found, including trill charts, books of trills, and references for analyzing trills based on the history of music and musical ornaments:

Jen's new trill page: How to play trills for flute in pdf:
How to read trills in flute music

For further more intricate trilling information, including trill terminations, trill length, and trill styles and counting trills etc. see the trill pages in the $7 old book (don't like this book for my own students, but the trill info. can't be beat): Rubank Method Advanced Vol. 1:
You can buy the Rubank Flute Advanced Method book almost anywhere.

Online Flute Trill charts:

Simple one page flute trill chart by Armstrong (don't buy the flute, but use the chart!)

Delaney's flute teaching guide with good trill charts and other information that is very useful.

Extensive trill charts of flute fingerings from Woodwind Fingering Guide

Best book for flute trill fingerings, tremelo fingerings, and other alternate flute fingerings: Herszbaum's Flute Fingering Book.

The Grupetto and how to play it. This is another Baroque ornament that you might run into. These grupetto pages are useful for printing out (pdf).

How and when to use alternate fingerings for flute
and trills in Prokofiev and the Ibert Flute Concerto

List of best flute fingering charts.

Extensive historical explanations of how to execute ornaments such as trills, appogiatura, grace notes, grupetti, turns, mordents and other Baroque ornamentation.
Music Theory Online.

Hope this helps the next flute student looking for information online about how to play flute trills correctly.

Best and happy May to you all,
Jen Cluff :>)
Comments (4)
Blogger Sheila said...

Ah, very clever! Yeah, trills can be rather tricky, and having a good sheet about them to keep you from learning it wrong is awesome. Thanks!

Sunday, May 13, 2007 3:39:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Hi Sheila,
Yes, I had another student ask about the more complex rules of trilling and ornaments, so I just wanted to state that the complex rules can be found at this link:

I'm still seeking a better hands-on source for flutists of all the trill rules (starting on upper note? Starting on given note? etc.) but so far, the darned Rubank Advanced book is the only printed source that has all the examples in an easy-to-learn format.
I'll dig that out for my students.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 3:46:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,

All your pdf files come out in hieroglyphics on my Mac OS X machine. Maybe something with your font, but I assumer you are creating them on Windows, and not sure why, but I just get junk. Any ideas how we Mac folks can view your .pdf files? They're supposed to be system compliant. THanks, Marcia

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 1:34:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Dear Marcia,
Sorry to hear there is a conflict with the fonts I used and Mac OS.
I created the documents with Sibelius music writing software, and then saved them using primo-pdf (a free pdf document creator)
I tried to google the problem you describe and found the links below.
But I bet the only way for you to read these pdfs (and their strange fonts) on your Mac OS would be to have another computer reformat them for you. I don't know anything, personally, about how to solve it. So sorry.
Links below may be of some help, or perhaps another reader might suggest a solution:
Best, Jen
Sibelius site shows that their latest versions have addressed a Mac reading problem:
Mac OS X: Fixed a problem with PDF file opening where files contained fonts
Jen writes:
This led me to look for other articles where the problem of reading PDFs with Mac OS caused difficulties with unusual fonts (such as Sibelius made into pdfs).

Links to problems with with Mac OS reading PDFs which are font related:,1895,1836105,00.asp

Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:19:00 PM


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