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Flute Tuning Mythbuster #2 – Headjoint Alignment and Flute Angles

THE MYTH: Roll in! Roll out! Pull the headjoint out! Push the headjoint in!

These vague instructions can be confusing, leaving a flutist to wonder how to play in tune. I call these phrases the “band-aid” approach to tuning. While they provide temporary help, they don’t fix the long term reasons why a flutist is struggling with their tuning.

To truly play “in tune,” you must work at it every day, with a tuner. Here are my tips to help you grow in your ability to play “in tune.”

  • Keep about 1/4 to 1/3 of the tone hole covered with your bottom lip. If you can see the back edge of the tone hole while you’re playing, you’ll need to adjust the angle.
  • Generally speaking, the cork should be 17.3 mm from the center of the tone hole. Use the tuning rod to check. And resist the urge to tighten and loosen the crown.
  • Pull your headjoint out about 3-5mm. (Some flutes may require more, but most beginner flutes are designed to be set here.) If you’re pulling out an inch on the flute (yikes!), most likely, you are angling your air too high across the tone hole. Blow down into the flute more and see if that helps.
  • Make sure the tone hole and the closed “C” key are aligned center to center.
  • Then leave it alone! If you’re “out of tune” try adjusting your angle of air into the flute. If you’re flat, try raising the airstream. If you’re sharp, try blowing down into the flute more.

There may be other issues that are causing your intonation problems that I will try to cover in future posts. For example, if you’re constantly readjusting the placement of your flute on your chin, there may be a balance issue with how you’re holding your flute. Also, the size of your aperture and speed of air will cause tuning variations. Check with your teacher to help you with these issues.

In order to have your best tuning, use the tuner in your daily practice. You’ll begin to form the correct angle as you practice. Tuning on the flute can be difficult. So, be patient. Don’t expect perfect pitch all the time. Keep practicing and see how much you improve!

Our Next Myth #3: Long Tones are Boring and Don’t Do Me Any Good!

 

* Note: Over the summer, I will be posting every other week rather than every week. Hope you have a great one!

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