Flute Punch

Posts Tagged ‘tuning

Follows is some helpful advice on finding optimal placement for the headjoint cork on piccolos:

Set the cork so that the line on the cleaning rod is in the center of the embouchure hole. Then play, without changing fingerings (don’t lift the first finger), the bottom two D’s. Only lip them. You will probably find the middle D to be flat. Push the cork in a TINY bit. Try again. When they are in tune, check the high register. You might find the highest three notes to be hard to get. Now move the cork out just a tiny bit. The correct position is a compromise between the D’s being in tune and the highest notes playing easily, and is normally 1 mm or a bit more in (toward the piccolo body) from the ‘correct’  (line in the center of the embouchure) position.

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Whenever I see a clinician working with a high school group (or some similar situation) and they work with the group on tuning, they invariably ask, “Can you hear that it’s flat/sharp?” and the students all nod their heads. I have to smile to myself, because the truth is, hardly any of them can hear the difference. But they all nod because each of them thinks he/she is the only one who can’t really tell who is out of tune and how to fix it.

I know this because I was one such student, and it probably wasn’t until my late 20s that I really started being able to hear differences in intonation. I never felt like I could ask for help with it because I felt somehow it was something I should have already known.

One of the first things every player has to to learn is how to tune themselves to the given pitch. It’s always easiest to hear the pitch when it’s given by a like instrument. But no matter what instrument provides the tuning pitch, a little trick that has been most helpful to me is to hum the pitch quietly to myself, leaning forward into the stand to hear myself better, if necessary. Once the pitch feels like it’s resonating in my head, I then play the pitch and it is much easier to find the center of the pitch.

Robert Dick started a YouTube channel in conjunction with a flute manufacturer. I thought this video on what he calls “throat tuning” was interesting. I definitely agree with his comments about singing. I think as instrumentalists, particularly when we are younger, we resist singing as some sort of “inferior” form of musicianship, probably because of the perceived differences between “band kids” and “choir kids.”


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