Practising technical demanding passages on the flute

"First chapter of the law of the arts:
Execution is an istrument of arts
Execution as an intended purpose -
and the art is gone."
Friedrich Wieck (piano teacher and father of Clara Schumann; translation by Claudia Haider)

In practising technical demanding passages on the flute, the first step is to play the passage in a slow tempo. For systematical pracitising one possible approach is, to divide the passage up in smaller parts and to start very slowly using the metronome. If one tempo is manageable the metronome is switched to some beats faster. Thus the tempo is increased throughout practising.

After deconstructing the passage this way, one should try the whole again and from time to time change the points of division. As an addition to this simple method the playing from reverse, rhythmical variations of the passage and different articulations are effective add-ons for practising.

Very often the real problem of a passage lies some notes in front of the point one really looses control. Thus it is the most important ability to locate the start point of the irritation. Most of the time it is one single finger struggling with the change between two fingerings. For such a neuralgic point you need to analyse if the problem is in the head or in the fingers. Sometimes it might also be triggered by breathing or the position or some tense muscles in the hand or the arms.

Beside these technics for very fast passages also fast practising is needed. For example the division of scales starting or ending during practising with a long tone and playing the scale before or after that point as fast as possible. Thus you will identify which notes are not to be heard any more or even left out and the fast movement of the fingers is trained.

There are some fingerings which are very often played incorrect. Here is the list provided by Trevor Wye in his book Freude am gewandten Flötenspiel:

Author: Claudia Haider; Last updated 16.04.2013