Euphoria Photography - Isle of Skye Wedding Photography, in the Highlands and Islands and throughout Scotland

More Flute (Not-so) Blues
29 December 2014

Anyone who has been following the saga of the tear drop lip and flute playing or anyone who has such a mouth-configuration, knows how frustrating trying to play higher notes can be.

It’s been quite a journey for me to, firstly, understand that I really had a problem, understand what it was and, finally, discover ways to counteract it and deal with it.

Fitting tape to give myself a home-made lip-tuck does work remarkably for high notes but it can be fiddly to get and keep in place. Sometimes, I was finding myself playing without it and hitting the high notes better than I used to.

I re-checked Larry Krantz’s page of photographs of various embouchures, including a number who were working to counteract their tear drop lips. I thought I would try some of these out again to see if they would help. The first thing I found was that, contrary to my teacher’s advice, lowering the flute to an angle helped. Jennifer Cluff suggested separating the back teeth more apart. There are a multitude of suggestions. It’s worth giving them a fair chance.

Interestingly, I got the opportunity to trial a Louis Lot flute (not a hugely vintage one) which I found to be a very sweet instrument. Initially, I could not hit the upper register at all with it and it was less powerful but I did find it very responsive and was able to pieces a lot faster and more fluently than my own flute. Mmm, the usual dilemma - it’s either this or that - it’s never this and that!

With persistence, I began to hit the higher note without my tape in place and with my Mike Allen head on, it was easier still. This or that again, though, because when I get the upper register beautifully, there’s a loss of power on the lower! Aaaaagh!

Taking this and that into consideration and bearing in mind Roz’ heartening words that lately my flute playing had not sounded “so abhorrent,” I concluded that I was making definite progress playing a different flute! Yes, I really was and it’s so heartening to notice a leap forward.

So, more advice for players with tear drop lips is: keep trying different instruments and heads until you find what’s suited best to your individual physiology and keep trying different blowing techniques. (Remember what works for normal mouths is unlikely to work for you.)

Happy blowing!

Norma x


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