As instrumentalists, our tone speaks for us in the absence of lyrics (unless you are singing an playing simultaneously, but that is another blog post 😃). In order to most effectively and beautifully communicate our musical ideas, careful consideration must be given to tone production.
Three things that have a HUGE impact on tone:
1. POSTURE - position of the entire body, especially in relation to the instrument
*Flutists' chairs should be slightly angled to the right to achieve proper sitting posture.
*Proper standing posture necessitates that flutists have feet about hip-width
apart, and slightly angled to the right. The right foot should be somewhat
farther back than the left. Imagine standing on a large clock with the feet on
12 and 2.
*Notice how the right end of the flute is pushed away from the
body at an angle, not pulled in, in a horizontal line.
2. EMBOUCHURE - shape and position of lips, cheeks, and shape on the inside of mouth
Lip plate, embouchure hole, and keys should be parallel to the ceiling. NOT rolled in (makes your intonation flat and tone muffled), or rolled out (makes intonation sharp and tone thin/spread).
Inside of mouth should be shaped as if you are saying “AHH,” not “OH” (closes the throat) or “EE” (pushes the tongue too far up in the mouth).
Throat should feel relaxed. Imagine you are eating warm chicken noodle soup!
3. BREATHING - quantity and quality of the intake and release of air
The body expands and contracts in the proper directions when we breathe naturally. Attention should be directed towards the management of the air as it enters and exits the body.
I like to think of air as a lump sum of money. If you spend a large portion of it when you first get it, but it needs to last you a long time, you will run out before you get more! Pacing will stretch your resources farther, and possibly leave a surplus.
CALL TO ACTION: In what specific areas of tone production do you excel? In what specific areas could you use more concentration?