Jen Cluff ~ Flute Tone low register improvements

Canadian Flutist and Teacher

Tone perfection for Novice Flutists

~ Helpful hints including special information on tone in the low register from Jennifer Cluff ~

Index of Novice Tone articles found on this page:

1. Beginner's info. on angling the lips for best tone

2. Focusing on Low Register

& Low register Problems and Solutions

3. Problems with LEAPING to low C?

4. Marcel Moyse exercises for low register

5. Embouchure Experiments for better tone

6. The Developing Embouchure: Three stages of student development 
If you have suddenly lost your tone, go here.

1. Angling the Lips for Flute Tone for beginners:

Jennifer Cluff. Aug. 2000.

Question: How do I find the correct angle for the best tone on the flute?

Begin by rolling the lips back and forth experimentally allowing them a great deal of sensitivity, and treating them as if they were very rubbery rolling pins made of jello. Put your hand about 6 inches in front of your lips and cause a warm air stream to travel from the base of your palm slowly to the fingertips, up and down, several times. This experiment will reveal just how much control you can have over the angle of the airstream when your flute is in place, and brings an awareness of the possible movements of the lips. The next thing to focus on is to direct the air downward only, at an angle
about 45 to 70 degrees down from the horizontal. (if horizontal is 3 o'clock, your flute's blowing edge is around 4 to 5 o'clock.)

Between 4 and 5 you can now refine the angling further so that you are able to utilize all the degrees between them only in miniature. In real flute playing the arcing range of the lip angling is measured in degrees less than a milimeter. Sometimes it is merely enough just to "think" an angle change, and not actually do anything, and that will be sufficient.

The flexibility of the lips, and their suppleness is much more easily felt, however, if the student begins with larger, more palpable movements.
Apart from lip flexibility and angling the flute's three octaves will be available with a clear tone if you then invite several other physical factors to be true as well:

1) the edge of the flute's embouchure hole should be at the red line of the lower lip.
See picture.

2) the chin plate of the flute should fit snuggly against the flesh of the chin. (Very little or no gapping.)

3) the flute should be rolled out so your lower lip only covers 1/3 to "+ of the blow hole (lean into a mirror to check). Any more lower lip bulging into the blow hole will choke off the sound. (making 3rd register notes very much more difficult.)

4) the lip aperture should be centered and in the shape of an oval slit, and the flute should stay parallel to the lips.(look in mirror lots.)

5) the upper lip should be pulled down from the nose, lengthening it.

6) the teeth should be slightly apart at the back of the mouth, tongue down, throat open.

7) the lower lip should be flush against the flute, no puckering or pursing forward.

8) the upper lip should "beak out" slighly to aim the air downward. (Imagine a pocket of air between the upper lip and the front center teeth. This pocket can direct the air downward.) See picture.

Once you have focussed in on the 4 to 5 o'clock angle, a sound appears on the flute. By further narrowing the range of lip angling, you can get quite a solid sound at approx. 4:30. If the sound doesn't appear, roll the flute out 1 mm. at a time until it does. When it does appear, just keep holding it and allow yourself to listen to it steady and solid. (avoid the desire to correct it by some "known" means, at this point. Use your ears to judge the nicest, clearest tone to YOU, and just let it correct itself.)

Next, add the experiments above to your search for finding that tone more quickly and securely in future through consistency experiments (and of course Longtones, for those who already do them.)


Allow your "best" sound to develop over time, by holding mid-range notes for a full lungful of air (This is know as practicing 'Longtones'.) This will slowly develop your muscles to retain a memory of this shape. If you lose your tone, just follow the steps above again, and wander with your lips until you find it again. Then hold it again. (Your body has to discover it without being rushed.)

Once you have discovered a solid sound in this new position you can work on remembering how you found that new position. For quite a few flute students the flute's embouchure plate may well feel lower on your lower lip than before with the flute feeling more rolled out. You can read about this in Roger Mather's "The Art of Playing the Flute" Vol. I, or you may want to search the FLUTE list archives for the word appearing in message = Roll, dates: June 2000 to August 2000.

More helpful hints while working on this:
1)Try to breathe quickly and return to this face-shape without taking the flute away or altering its position.

2)Find a relaxed and balanced hand posture/body posture, so that you feel you are only using the "necessary" amount of muscle tension to keep the flute in the right position for this sound to continue. (This avoids the arm tension that can push the flute out of this position again.)

3) Find a relaxed lip musculature by imagining that the two lips are creating a long barrel for the airstream to run down (like a rifle's barrel) rather than a short barrel (like a pistol). The longer an "air
runway" that you create between the two lips, the more sophistication you'll hear in the tone, due to the fact that the aim of a long-barrel is more accurate than the aim of a short one. This "runway" is
comprised of the "wet membrane" that lines the insides of the lips.
The air should pass over as long a path of this membrane as possible. (saying "poo poo" or "peu peu" can let you feel the extension of this membrane outwardly.)

If you are a total keener on this kind of detailed analysis, read Roger Mather's three volume set on "The Art of Flute Playing" which is often to be found in music college libraries (in North America esp.) and
orderable from or Thomas Nyfenger's "Music and the Flute".

Back to top

2. Focusing on the flute's Low Register:


One of the basic problems with low register tone quality can be the flute itself being in need of repair. Check by having a more experienced player test the flute for pad leaks, cork leak in the headjoint, or other mechanical problems with the keys. If your low register was fine before, but has gradually become worse in the past few weeks, suspect repair problems first. Check the articles on "Sudden Loss of Tone" if that is the case.

As far as low register tone work in general goes....the problem most students have with low notes is that when they try to play them full, loud and rich, and by simply blowing harder and faster air, they accidently overblow to the next octave. So they begin to accept whispy, quiet, unfocussed low notes as "normal" when in fact the mark of a superior flutist is his rich, colourful low register.

To compensate for the weak-low-register phenomena of the flute, the student instead needs to let the upper lip hang, creating an air-pocket between the front teeth and the inside of the lip,and to use this to aim the air more downward, and more accurately. Experimentation done daily with crescendoing on low notes as you descend chromatically is the basis of all tone work.

The more time that you spend in the low register, strengthening your embouchure and air-use, the easier all future tone work becomes.
Lots of low register tone work, as outlined by the master flutists, is the key. This is why Trevor Wye's Tone book, Moyse's tone book, and all other serious methods for professional flutistic development spent most of the time in the lowest register of the flute.
Sophisticated tone development isn't done in an hour, it's done by consistent work, discovery, experimentation, and diligence on a DAILY BASIS.
There's no real secret that wouldn't be discovered on the student's own, or in a lesson with a good teacher, followed by continued perseverance and low register experimentation.

One discovers these things over months and months of practice, until one has a "bag of tricks" of their own, about how to position their own embouchure best for each note on the flute, INCLUDING the low register.

After doing low note longtones myself for at least 20 years, daily, I would say a rich low register takes me about 5-10 minutes of warming up.

Low notes do not again become a huge problem for the daily practicer, until they have to play low passages triple forte in a huge hall, and still be heard over a full orchestra such as in a modern concerto written very low with many players accompaning. Sometimes, in these cases, one might query whether a different headjoint might be better for extended low work. Have your private teacher play your low register using your flute to ascertain that, indeed it can be done (I've only had one student buy a new flute that had a fuzzy low register that couldn't be helped. She started headjoint shopping within the year, so remember to test well for low register clarity when flute shopping.)

But just to be sure we have covered all the basics:

  • Keep the mouth open in an Awe or "Oh" shape behind the embouchure

  • Support the air-stream with the torso so the sound is not flabby and weak

  • Practice low register specifically to "feel" and "find" your own best sound

  • If all else fails, blow more softly at first and then gradually crescendo

  • Feel free to allow the sound to reach the breaking point so that you have found the breaking point and know where it is.

Back to top

3. Low Register Problems & Solutions:

One of the basic problems with low register tone quality can be the flute itself being in need of repair. Check by having a more experienced player test the flute for pad leaks, cork leak in the headjoint, or other mechanical problems with the keys. If your low register was fine before, but has gradually become worse in the past few weeks, suspect repair problems first. Check the articles on "Sudden Loss of Tone" if that is the case.

Problems & Solutions:

1. Low register keeps squeaking up the octave:

Solution: Check that you're rolled out so that lower lip covers 1/4 to 1/3 of the blow hole, and angle the airstream downward using your upper lip.See picture.
2. Low register weak and breathy:

Solution I: Make the hole in your lips more defined and more accurate to aim the air. Use the mirror to find a long, thin, oval in the lips.

Solution II: Pull the bottom lip more across the bottom teeth, so that it makes a finer edge for your to blow over. Some people "pull back at the corners" or "tuck the lip corners back" to stretch the lower lip longer and more firm.

3. When leaping from a higher note, low register note does not come out at all:

Solution I: You may be ducking your head, lowering your chin suddenly, or making some air-angle lowering motion that's too extreme. Look in the mirror and get rid of any extraneous sudden motions you're making when "diving" for a low note from a higher one.

Solution II: You may be playing with the air too fast and too much air-pressure. Let the air pressure become gentle, (like fogging up a mirror) and make the hole in the lips more loose.I find making the lip hole taller in the center automatically allowsthe air pressure to be less. Larger lip hole=slower air.
4. Low register notes break too easily into high register notes, so you have to blow so softly to *keep* them low, that they sound weak and wimpy:

Solution: You may have shifted the blowing hole in your lips to one side of the other, and it's not in the center of your lips, aimed at the center of the blowing edge. Look in the mirror. Are you aiming at the exact center of the blow hole's far edge? You should be.
5. Other flute players seem to be able to make a powerful, rich low register, and mine sounds too unfocussed:

Although easiest to play for the beginner, the low register becomes more difficult from time to time for the intermediate student, and they must work on it daily in order to find a secure and rich low register.
Use the Tone development books by Trevor Wye TONE and Marcel Moyse DE LA SONORITE & TONE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INTERPRETATION (see back pages) for at least 20 minutes of low register work every day! We all have to do it.
6. I don't know how much air speed and what embouchure to use with the low register.
Solution: As another helpful Flutenetter said, the low register will come out perfectly using the same embouchure and air
flow for Bb1. (Middle line Bb for flute.)

If this note sounds well in tone, pitch and strength, you need make maybe no more further adjustments to play all low register notes down to low C. (Some would argue that you would make a tiny, subtle adjustment, but it's so small as to be negligable.)

So play a really good Bb1 and see if you can leap to all the low register notes from there, without changing a thing.
7. My low register is really great once I've spent an hour or two warming up on other flute practice, but I want to get it good right away.

Make a tiny pocket of air between your inside upper lip (in front of your front teeth) and your front teeth
See picture.. Let the air that you're about to blow into the flute go up into this slightly loose, "hovercraft" pocket and bounce back down from there into the flute. This gives you better aim, for aiming slightly down, without requiring you to change anything else about the angle of the flute to your lips. Use the pocket in your upper lip (microscopically thin air-bouncing space) to find the best possible spot on the blow hole for focussed, rich low notes.
As you crescendo and make the low notes richer, you will use the pocket more and more to bounce the air downward.
Get an experienced flute player or teacher to demonstrate this for you, if you can't understand this concept in words alone.
Hope this all helps, but what would help most is a really accurate description about what is wrong with one's low register.


8. I can tongue perfectly well in the high and mid-registers, but my low register tonguing sounds really fluffy and speaks late! Why is tonguing in the low register so difficult?


To clarify tonguing in the low register several factors have to be experimented with. The easiest solution is to use a less explosive syllable, such as using "Du" instead of "Tu". Du is said with a softer tongue, and farther back on the roof of the mouth, less disruptive to the lips which are normally looser for low register loud playing than in other registers. It also helps if the lip's aim is very specific; for example, play a longtone on the low note you wish to tongue, first, and then break-into-it with light "Du" tonguing. You'll soon find a tongue strike method that does not crack the low note, or make it too turbulent when it starts. Working backwards this way from longtone to tongued repeated notes is good in all registers by the way. It helps you quickly make all the adjustments without sacrificing tone that's already established. Also ,try relaxing the jaw, opening the resonating cavities, and pitching the note in the lungs, as though you are speaking or singing that note. This slows down the air, and relaxes unecessary tension that could lead to squeaking on low notes. Try singing and playing to establish the air flow required for a resonant low register. Finally, remember how much air speed you use for a full forte low note. This airspeed must be put into the flute very quickly getting UP to speed, in order to have a crisp, on-time attack. Many players experience the phenomena of having to prepare early for tongued, low note entries, and set the air column in motion a split second before they need to, setting the embouchure into optimal position early, and not allowing the sudden gust of air from the abdominals to blow their embouchure open. With all these tricks to try, you should find two or three of them that are worth experimenting with. This co-ordination does come with time.

Jen Cluff from 2001 Flutenet post

Back to top

4. Problem leaping to low C:

Question: I have a great low C when I "walk" down to it doing my longtones, but when I have to leap to a low C from a higher note is often doesn't come out. What am I doing wrong?

Jen's Answer:

For my students, low C problems arise due to:

- When the pinky moves forward onto the C roller, the ring finger of the right hand moves off the open-hole causing an air-leak

- When the footjoint is not in a good position for reachability, the change in hand position when going for low-C causes a disruption of the flute's position on the lip, or general instability. Have your teacher help you find a good reachable placement for your footjoint keys (start with the ball at the end of the rod on the footjoint in the center of the D-key, and move it toward you from there until fingers naturally land on the low C roller, without having to change your hand to a new position to reach it.)

- When the reach to the low C is too awkward, the student may be dipping their head downward unconsciously to get low C, making too low an angle for the airstream, and covering too much of the embouchure hole with their lower lip as a result.

- After playing many high notes, the embouchure is still set for "High register" and needs to relax, widen and spread out for better low register tone. Find your low notes with chromatic longtones and then memorize the lip position you use in minute detail (all the sensations--how wide, how tall, how loose, how poised, where's the jaw? What shape is the aperture in the lips? etc. etc.) Then teach yourself to "leap" to this embouchure exactly.

- If the lips are too tight to the teeth, and there is not air-pocket between the top lip and the top, front teeth, low notes get progressively more difficult to sound as they get down to the lowest

- If the lip corners are drawn too far up, down or sideways, the lips get too close to the teeth, resulting in same effect as above

- If the player has progressively rolled the flute's headjoint inward as they're playing, or rolling it inward as they descend, the lowest notes get too stuffy, and finally, don't have a long enough air-reed to sound. (Air-reed: the length of invisible air-runway between the point at which the air stream leaves the lips, and the point at which it arrives at the edge it is split over.)

- If the jaw is pulled too far back or pushed too far forward (try leaving it in the same place as for when you speak.)

- If there is a minute leak in the C or C# pad (very very common as many students, not MINE of course, grasp the keys of the footjoint during assembly and disassembly. YOu should NEVER allow the hand to wrap around the moving parts or rods of a flute, as over time, they *do* bend, causing keys to develop adjustment problems and leaks.)

- If there is a minute leak in the D# (normally closed) pad

Any of these ideas help? Write back and let us know what you discover.

Best, Jen

Back to top

4. Moyse exercises for developing the low register on flute:

Good exercises for leaping to low notes (to use after your flute is checked for leaks by a reputable repair person):

Can also use Trevor Wye "Practice book for flute volume I - Tone" if you don't have "De La Sonorite" for Stage 1.
BOOK: Marcel Moyse: De La Sonorite
Stage 1:
Standard longtones crescendoing down to low C1, done daily as preparation:

Pg. 6-7 To develop low register embouchure with light fingerings and good hand position [check footjoint alignment for easy reach] and to assess flute pads ability to seal without pressing hard, after visit to repair shop. Train your fingers to use lightest possible touch from here on in using these longtones.
Stage 2:
Crescendo/Diminuendo on low notes (to develop awareness of lip aperture size used when playing loudly and softly in low register, as well as awareness of controlling intonation during increased/decreased air supply of forte-pianissimo playing):

Pg. 10-11 (add pg. 12-13 later as you progress)
Stage 3:
Leaping increasingly large intervals: (to develop a standard placement for embouchure when leaping both up and down from middle register)

Pg. 15-17 (add pg. 18-22 over several months of daily use.)
Marcel Moyse: Tone Development Through Interpretation

Use at stage 2 or 3 from above list:

Pg. 67 to 75 (at back of book.) These teach you to play full, rich, centered low notes, D, C and C#, while increasingly leaping from farther away. This will create a memory of WHERE the low note embouchure should be for immediate speaking of full-tone low notes. This is the BEST exercise for interemediate players who have no other problems other than gettting low C and C# to speak when leaping down to them.

The above 'back of book' exercises by Moyse relate to melodies from B and C sections of melodies you'll find in front of book. (see front index.) Best, Jen

Common low register problems at the Intermediate stage:

After developing an embouchure that works for the high register, many novice-intermediate students claim that their low register has disappeared. This is SO common it's almost laughable. Obviously the problem is that the lips have now accustomed themselves to the shape needed for good sounding high notes, and have forgotten to return to their "good position for low notes" shape.

Yes there are several different embouchure shapes. Low notes are best when the hole in the lips (the aperture) is more elongated, and oval, and the lip corners are pulled slightly back, so that the lips are thinner and horizontally elongated.

High notes are better when the the lip corners come forward, the lip centers are more "kiss-shaped" and are progressively travelling across the blow hole (closer to the splitting edge on the far side of the blow hole) the higher the notes go, the closer the lip centers are to the far side. The best high register tone also comes from a lip aperture that is rounded and somewhat taller.

To return to the low register the student must pull the corners of the lips back, make the lip aperture long and oval and let the lips become thinner and more side-to-side again.

This is far easier to see in real life than to write about. In the next article on Tone for intermediates I talk about low register "lizard lips" and high register "kiss lips", but a good private teacher will sort this all out for you very quickly indeed.

There are many "leaping to good tone low notes" exercises in the books by Marcel Moyse. The best are in the back of the book called "Tone Development Through Interpretation" which is very much devoted to developing the tone in all registers (playing loud in low, playing soft in high, and all combinations) but there are also good low register leaping exercises in "de la Sonorite" if you have it. Ask your teacher for help in this too, as they will be able to spot the problem and give you quick exercises to overcome it. Best, Jen

Back to top

5. Experimenting with your embouchure.

S. wrote:
>My teacher tells me to experiment with my embouchure, but I would like to have some guidance....
I know I have to lower my lower jaw and relax a bit, but I think there should be more to it.<
Jen writes:
Perhaps this is one of those questions that can result in thousands of typed words that are attempts at
substituting for live demonstrations, and experiments done with the teacher watching and listening to you.
 Plus, there are numberless individual features to the face and the lips that need to be seen in order to
understand why the flutist is not yet getting a rich tone, or able, yet,
to colour their tone more.

  Many of these are covered in a brief way in Edwin Putnik's "The Art of Flute Playing", (although he
recommends jaw movement that can result in TMJ, and I don't personally recommend
it.) and almost all these individual embouchure considerations are covered
in the excellent three volumes of Roger Mather's "The Art of Playing the Flute".

(if ordering Roger Mather from the library, order volume Two for "Varying your tone colour" experiments.)

Here are some of the things to consider:

1. Experiments with angling the lips north, south, east and west, and using a mirror to insure the lip-hole is
centered and the flute is parallel to the face. You'll want guidance in flexing the lips a tiny amount in each direction so you
can control the exact angle with the most inner-lip-membrane being used and deciding where the most comfortable postion is for
the lower jaw. (this depends on whether you have an overbite or underbite etc.)

2. Creating a long air-reed:
  This is about maximizing the distance between the hole in the lips, and the striking point for the air on
the far side of the embouchure hole.   It's achieved by gradually lowering the pressure point of the flute's lip plate on the chin
so that it goes from squishing the lower lip at the level of the lower teeth (a beginner's sound that is too short and air-reed and has no
colouring possibilities) to feeling the flute's lip-plate pressure as against the roots of the bottom teeth.
(lowered pressure point of the lip plate allows freedom for the lower lip to move and reposition itself.)This is
combined with uncovering more of the blow-hole in the flute in a series of experiments.
  Note: The EDGE of the blow-hole still remains at the red-line of the lower lip, but the pressure of it is
rotated down and out. See picture.

3. Creating an air-pocket between the upper lip and the upper front teeth. See picture..
   Many novice and intermediate players pull their upper lip too tightly against their upper teeth, so
that there's no space for the upper lip to be stretched out and away from the
teeth. You want the airstream to be directed by the upper lip at a
downward angle, so that the flute in a low, relaxed position, can stay still while the upper lip changes
its angle minutely to blow more deeply or more shallowly into the flute.   The more you are able to flex the upper lip away from the
teeth, the more experiments you can proceed with.

4. Relaxing the jaw and opening the mouth cavity behind the embouchure:
   This is about creating a resonant chamber inside the mouth, even though the lips are in the "flute
embouchure postion."
  You want to use all the resonating cavities you have (open sinus, open throat, open mouth) so that the
flute's vibrations echo back into the body cavities, and create a resonance there. (Helmholtz effect).

5. Puckering vs. drawing the lips back (lips moving together):
  Roger Mather's experiments allow the individual to gradually pucker forward to see what effect that has on the tone in various registers, and then to draw the lips back again to see which is more effective for his particular dental construction and lip tension.    When I was taught to experiment with this (when I was 16) it was done by considering the position of the CORNERS of the lips, with the mind on the final feel of the lips in the center; Are they fleshy/pillowy? Or are the lip centers getting tighter and tighter?
  Which amount of puckering (move only microscopic amounts at
first) works for low notes, high notes, medium notes? etc.

6. Uncovering the flute's embouchure hole more or covering it more.
  This has to do with the lower lip specifically.
  If the above changes are being done as experiments, many times the sound will become too "covered" as the
lips are allowed to become more fleshy and more mobile. The student has to constantly check whether "rolling out 2 milimeters more
than they think they need to" in fact results in a more projecting and ringing sound.   The optimal covering of the embouchure
hole is between 1/4 and 1/3, and most flutists tend to cover too much as their lips become more flexible. So at every chance you get, uncover the
flute's blow-hole by a milimeter or two, and listen to the sound become more open and free. (rotate the flute
down and out on the chin)

7.  Releasing the tension in the upper lip so that the hole in the lips has a rounded arch in it, instead of a long thin slit.   This is the single most effective change to varying tone-colours that I've found once the other experiments have resulted in a vibrant and open sound.   This "arch in the lip aperture" also allows a quick ascent or descent into different octaves of the flute's range, without making too many other changes to the lips.

Since Roger Mather wrote nearly 105 pages with experiments in all the above areas, and since your
teacher wants you to experiment......I think that all I'm able to do here, is try and interest you in trying out Mather's
Vol. 2 of his "The Art of Playing the Flute".

But if you have any more REALLY SPECIFIC questions, go ahead and ask us here on Flutenet!!
Cheers!       Jennifer Cluff

Back to top

6. The Developing Embouchure:

A teacher's perspective of the basic student stages:

Three stages:

Stage 1:

The flute student discovers or is taught that there can be three basic lip positions corresponding to the flute's three octaves.

Lip corners move back to pull the bottom lip more across the teeth. Upper lip aims downward more.

Medium: Lip corners return to neutral. Angle of airstream is raised.

High register: Lip corners move further forward. [Upper lip can be beaked outward to control sharpness. See picture.]

Overall, the movements of the embouchure may be large, visible, and perhaps too dramatic to create fine control over tone colours, but muscular tone and muscle memory is being built upon.

Stage 2:

The flute student may be over-manipulating, unecessarily, and may now be able to refine the motions. The "over-manipulating the embouchure" stage, for a young player, is a natural stage, however now more embouchure muscles are toned, they can be brought into play by physically moving the lips less and less, and with greater detail.

They may now be taught to use the inner lip membrane increasingly as an aiming device a la Moyse's "Debutante Flutist" diagrams. Roger Mather also talks in his books about "creating a long air-reed with the inner lip membrane" for more accurate aim.

The lips can be described as moving diagonally (as opposed to jaw thrusting which I avoid).
For diagonal lip movement:
The upper lip moves in and down, the lower lip moves up and out.

This is also utilizable for diminuendos and "feathering off" or for maintaining accurate pitch in the three registers.

With practice on exercises designed specifically for wide-leaps, diminuendo, crescendo, legato etc.(ex: See Fiona Wilkinson's "The Physical Flute") lip motions can begin to become very small and almost unnoticable.
Some tone colours can be changed sometimes by merely "thinking" tone colours, and consciously moving the lips as little as necessary to hear the change.

Further corrections to pitch and dynamics are experimented with, so that flat lower register notes can be corrected by increasing airspeed and aiming higher from the "inner lips".
Sharp high notes can be corrected by not only aiming downward, but by "beaking out" the membrane of the upper lip more, possibly raising the center of the upper lip to create a slight arch (esp. useful for high F# and E in quiet dymanics), and by experimenting with vertically closing slightly, or alternately opening, the jaw more to use a larger or smaller lip opening.

Thomas Nyfenger makes a great topic of this in his book. (About how our jaws are designed better for closing than for opening. Very funny when we get compared to crocodiles!)

At this stage: Air angling is reduced to a smaller span.

In general, the trend is toward a slightly more flexible and larger lip opening for forte playing and a smaller aperture, but with
resilience and minimum of lip-tightening, used for quiet playing.

Overall,at this stage, there are still ideas about possible changes to the lips that will aid the player's control over tone and

Stage 3:
At this stage a finer control can be had in large interval leaping by using what Thomas Nyfenger describes in his book: "Music and the Flute".
It is discovered that air-speed changes can be made much more subtley and with out unwanted tone-colour changes, by the vertical opening and closing of the lips themselves very slightly, and by vertically raising and lowering one or the other of the two lips according to octave.

Angling of the airstream becomes even more subtle, and unnoticable.

To drop from very high to very low, smoothly, without colour change, open the jaw slightly, relaxing the lip aperture vertically a very small amount. The open aperture slows the airspeed, and the lower note speaks more quickly from the higher, than if you made an angle-change.

To leap to a high note, raise the lower lip very subtley vertically upward (instead of only diagonally forward, as may have been used at earlier stages.) This insures that the same tone colour is maintained, and the upper note is not sharp.

To make absolute legato note connections using difficult fast passage work, Nyfenger has interesting diagrams that show the
discovery process for an "average" lip position that bisects the ups and downs of the notes in the passage, so that every note is "within range" of the lip position, instead of attempting to reposition the lips for every note.

Now: Do any of our other flute teachers recognize any of the above stages? (They fully relate to the student's learning to concurrently control of the airstream of course. :>)

But I hope to ascertain whether there are in fact three:
1. Overmanipulation of embouchure
2. Reducing overmanipulation.
3. Unnoticeable but detailed lip motions.

From: Jennifer Cluff, 2006

Back to top

Back to Jen's homepage


© Jennifer Cluff