Kim’s Twenty-Minute Workout
I love this!! This is a great prescription for many of us who couldn’t seem to find practice time. One might think he/she needs at least an hour, but then if that magical hour fails to present itself in the course of the day, the flute ends up sitting in the closet!
This has long been a staple of my modern flute practicing, and I’ve had to make it part of my baroque flute practicing since that instrument is a completely different beast (an elaboration on my struggles with this will be the subject of a future blog entry). I’ve picked up several ways of practicing long tones over the years; I play a different exercise at each practice session. Each day at Boot Camp starts out with a “note of the day” session---there’s one long-tone exercise right there! Kim has us play/sustain/tune/focus/beautify the note du jour in all the playable registers of the instrument, then we go on to build triads over that note. It wakes up one’s “abs” and really gets the support going. Who needs Pilates core training when one can get it at BFVdGBC?!? We’ve also gotten other long tone exercises from all three of our instructors (Kim, Janet and Ingrid), and I can post those upon readers’ requests.
Every teacher I've studied with insists on including the following in every practice session: scales, arpeggios, articulation. Aaaarrrrggghhhh!! It sounds like a lot of work, but there must be a way to include all this in that twenty-minute workout. If time won’t allow us to practice every scale and arpeggio every day, then how about if we just focus on the scale(s) and arpeggio(s) that are in the piece we’re working on at the moment? There’s the main key and one or two others that it might modulate to; not too bad. The articulation practice is built in to the scale/arpeggio/technical passage work. This topic alone could take up many MB’s of space. (Kim----please consider this a request for you to post your words of wisdom on this.) It is something I’m working on a lot this year, and I am open to anything anyone has to offer on the subject. Here’s a cool exercise I recently got from early winds player Adam Gilbert. Its objective is to keep the air stream constant and not let it be too obstructed by the motions of the tongue. Turn your head joint so that the finger holes are not lined up with the embouchure hole. Hold up the instrument with the hands in playing position (not on the finger holes since they are now facing the wrong way), and practice your technical passage with the articulation AND the fingering motions. The articulation is being practiced on that single tone, but at the same time, you’re still working on coordinating that with the fingers. After practicing this a few times, turn the instrument back to its normal setting and play the same passage. Did it make a difference?
Happy practicing!! --Asuncion