If you are an intermediate level flutist, you have probably started to learn about the concept of warming up. What is a warm up? Why is it necessary? These are just a couple of questions you might have. I have flute exercises just for you.
As a music grad, I have learned a lot about how to prepare yourself to play flute. That includes how to warm up my lips and my body so that I don’t injure myself.
But not everyone has the luxury of taking private lessons and learning all about warm ups. If you don’t warm up, like for a work out, you have a greater risk of injuring yourself. So, to avoid that, here are some tips for warming up.
(Plus a free download of some flute exercises!)
Note: This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here.
This one is for your body. If you don’t stretch your muscles, they could tense up during play. This is especially true if you aren’t using a proper stance or hand position.
Giving your muscles a short stretch can help relieve possible pain, and you will be more flexible during your practice session.
Roll your shoulders, flex your elbows and wrists, and stretch out your neck. If you will be sitting, stretch out your back so you can maintain a better position for yourself and your flute.
Put your flute together.
This isn’t exactly a warm up, but it’s still something to think about. the way you put your flute together can have a major impact on your flute practice.
When assembling your flute, DO NOT touch the keys or the mechanism. Doing so can cause the keys and rods to bend. Bent keys lead to leaky keys. Leaky keys result in a flute that can be annoying at best and unplayable at worst.
Always assemble your flute (and hold it) by the smooth parts around the barrel and (for the foot joint) the end of the flute.
Long tones are the bane of many flute players’ existence. It can be super boring to just play one note for as long as possible. But long tones can help you in many ways.
If they are the first thing you play, they will help you create your sound for the day. You don’t have to worry about crazy finger patterns. All you have to focus on is creating the proper embouchure.
The best starting note for long tones in the B in the middle of the staff. It’s a fairly open note, but both the left thumb and index finger are down. This means that the flute is easier to hold in place than other more open notes.
The harmonic series is something that every flutist should learn and understand at some point, so now is a good chance to learn.
Since flutes don’t have an octave key like other woodwinds, we have to rely more on the harmonic series to play higher notes. Let’s take that B again.
The B in the middle of the staff (B4) is the lowest B on flutes with a C foot. It is also the lowest note with that same fingering. So, it is considered a foundation.
This note is the start of a harmonic series. The B above it (B5) has the exact same fingering, except you need to change the air so that you produce a higher pitch. That is a perfect example of harmonics on flute.
Other notes in the same harmonic series are F#6 and B6.
To learn more about the harmonic series, check out Trevor Wye’s Practice Books for the Flute.
Because we have to work more with our lips to achieve notes in different octaves, it is important to work on octave leaps or octave jumps.
This is where you start on one note and then leap up or down to the same note in a different octave. Octave exercises help build lip strength as well as better air support.
I don’t practice octave leaps as much as I should, but they are essential when you are still fairly new at the flute. You should also be able to play any note as a starting note, because you want to be prepared for anything.
Some composers like to write music that starts out on a difficult note. (Pun intended.)
All scales are important, and you should know the majors, natural minors, harmonic minors, and natural minors. But one scale that often gets neglected is the chromatic scale.
The other scales all fit into one key signature, but the chromatic scale includes every note. So while you might learn your Bb major scale along with an etude or solo in that key, the chromatic scale gets left behind.
It’s important to know the chromatic scale, because there are some chromatic passages (especially in newer works), and it is a great way to test your knowledge of the entire range of the instrument.
Now that you know what you should do to warm up, where can you find all of those exercises? I decided to create a PDF of these exercises, and I’m offering it up FOR FREE!
Just subscribe below, and you will get access to a free download of all the exercises mentioned in the post!
Download the exercises here.