Breathing techniques for Amateur Flutists

Most flutists are continually working on tone and sound production as they continue their music education. Often, they may focus too much on the actual instrument rather than on its operator. The tool can only play as well as it is played in most cases. What people forget is breathing is the most significant foundation a player has for producing a beautiful tone.

Excellent posture is necessary for easy breathing. What is an ideal posture? For a body to be function properly, a straight line from the tailbone to the head’s tip can be envisioned. You can try this by working on growing upward as tall as possible or stretching without thrusting your chest outward or bowing your back.

It is still necessary and possible for a flute player to keep their body in balance while sitting just as much as it is when standing. Always keep your head elevated above your back and not dropping your chin below your shoulder level. Once good posture is accomplished, it will feel familiar and comfortable within time. One can envision a string connected to the roof tied to the top of their head. After a player has achieved good posture, they can take an intense breath, and the body will be ready to receive it. But, there are simple tricks you can do to teach your body to inhale more massive amounts than usual. This is required of wind instrumentalists since we often play many notes in one exhale.

One of the tricks prominent players use is to learn to fill all sections of their long lungs. Most students tend to fill their upper part of the chest with air and forget that there are three times that much space stored for air lower down towards the belly. A good yawn is an excellent start. You can take in a big yawn-breath where you create many extensions in your upper body, including much of your belly. This will teach you the proper “filling” impression you should have when taking a breath before performing on your instrument.

One amusing note is that flute players should know when to exhale before inhaling. Fresh oxygen means many things to your blood. It provides your brain with what it needs to function correctly. It lets blood back into your body areas used while playing (arms, lips, etc.). You often do not need to use all of the air you have just breathed in for a particular passage while playing music. Decisive exhaling will keep you inhaling fresh oxygen regularly. You’ll feel like you are choking if you don’t find a time to blow all of that air out! But, taking in large breaths is what holds your clear tone together for all to appreciate.

How can Flutists Practice Breathing?

There are several ways you can practice your breathing:

  • With your flute, play a particular note and try to hold it out as long as you can while you time yourself (using a timer or a clock). Stop timing when your flute stops making a sound. Record how long you were able to hold on to the note. You will observe that the time gets longer as you practice regularly. 
  • Pick a balloon and go on inflating it over and over again to increase your lung’s oxygen capacity.
  • Using your diaphragm, yell out, “Ha!” regularly to practice your muscles’ strength. It is essential to employ your diaphragm to create the sound rather than using your throat. With the same direct diaphragmatic push, you can also exercise this on your flute instrument.

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