2020 April Mastering Rhythm - FATB 3

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Playing Tips for Flute Players by Zoë Booth

Warm-Ups for Flute Players - Improve Your Playing by Exercises by Zoë Booth (published by Pipeblower Publishing, RRP £8.95)

If you’ve enjoyed Zoë’s hints and tips for free here, you can also purchase her book, packed with loads more exercises and in-depth descriptions  - a beautifully presented treat for yourself or a  flute-playing friend!

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April 2020
This month: Mastering Rhythm
Welcome to my flute-playing free Hints and Tips Page; a new page is posted here on the first day of each month.

Well, March caught us all out with the worry of Coronavirus and the precautions we are now all living under; I hope everyone is keeping safe and well, wherever you are. By this time I was expecting to be reporting back after a Flutes at the Barns week at The Crewe and Harpur.... instead - to keep adult flute players inspired and connected during the lock-down - FATB Online was launched in March. I have spoken to so many of you who share the sentiment that we're really lucky to have our music-making for company during this time of separation from loved ones; not only that, but there is the real chance to play more often and come out of this with new skills and motivation, and it's been wonderful to already see such a number of friendly faces at the online classes and masterclasses, as well as in individual lessons! Please don't feel alone, click to join, grab that flute... and take care of yourself.

So we may not have other people to make music with at present in bands and orchestras, but rhythm is still fundamental to all musicians, and that's what we'll be looking at here this month. Here are a few things about timing that are commonly shared; why not find out if you do the same?

1. We might take more time than we think to take a breath - find out if you do this too by playing against a metronome. The slower you go, the more time you have to breathe, but those breaths have to last longer, so what's the right speed? Some useful metronome apps have a tap function which tells you the speed at which you're tapping - that's really helpful if you have any difficulties setting the read metronome mark!

2. Faster music often rushes, and vice versa - you'd think it would be the opposite, wouldn't you? In the learning stages, it may well be, as you have to slow down for those fiddly moments, but once you're really familiar with a piece, slow notes often gets slower (and the reverse) - I'm sure you've heard the same thing happen when musicians all play together too! Classical-era music is very telling in this regard, so why not learn a memorable tune (Mozart Allegro from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) and test out this theory?

3. Setting the speed can be a problem - whilst we're not able to play with accompanists, we have to set our own tempi! If you're nervous (playing in an online masterclass for the first time?), it's highly likely that your heart will be racing at the start of of a performance and this can cause us to zoom off too quickly. Do prepare for this mentally by thinking "however fast I CAN play this in practice, I'll aim to be a bit slower." Next time you practise, before you begin a piece look for the hardest moment in it, and play that to give yourself a tempo for the very beginning.

If you've not found a reason to use a metronome for even a few seconds in your last few practice sessions, I wonder if you can creatively think of ways to incorporate it a bit more often?

Having worked on tempo-stability, if we're going to master rhythm, we next need to look at subdivisions of beats. One thing that could really help is to understand the simplicity of the notation we use, so I've created something to provoke your thinking on this - do click on this month's print-out to try a way to make those rhythms easier using memorable words:

Click here for this month's Mastering Rhythm exercise (.pdf)>>


Tone is the focus next month - see you then!

Happy flute-ing,


P.S. Please send your questions and comments to me at info@flutesatthebarns.com

Next Time, May 2020: Tone Development

01727 765511
07976 613750

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