Euphoria Photography - Isle of Skye Wedding Photography, in the Highlands and Islands and throughout Scotland

Lockdown Blues
07 July 2020
Over the years, I have blogged about flute blues - or trying to play the flute with a teardrop lip.
Firstly, it took years for me to discover why I could never hit the high notes with any clarity or purity until I discovered the teardrop lip.  Generally, the tear drop lip creates a lovely Cupid’s bow but has a corresponding area which drops into the lower part of the upper lip.  This means that when you create an oval aperture, for blowing the flute, it is misshapen at the top.  In turn, this creates a broken or double airstream with the resulting problems in the upper register.
After taping the lip up, there is a loss of volume but you can hit the high notes - not an ideal situation.  Yet, there are many of us teardroppers who still want to play flute.
Yesterday, this Skye wedding photographer had a bout of the lockdown blues.  So, I got out both my flutes, set off my Guest Spot CDs and played along.  You know that you are playing well when you just do not want to stop and, yesterday, I did not want to stop!
The flute, like many other instruments, requires a combination of factors to create a beautiful, pure sound - the instrument itself, the head of the instrument, the angle of the head, the condition of the instrument and its material, the surrounding temperature, the mind-set of the player, choice of music, moistness of the skin and lips, body temperature, finger flexibility.
For anyone else struggling with those pretty lips which are really deformed for flute playing, here are a few tips.  Feel free to try the imperfect method of taping up the dip under the upper lip - a kite shaped piece of micro pore is ideal.  At least, then, you see what the problem really is.  After trying that for a number of days, you may find it is actually easier when you begin to play without the tape.
Next, I would suggest trying as many instruments and, in particular, head and body configurations as you can.  If you cannot go to the store in person, take on approval (with appropriate sanitising, of course.)  The shape of the head aperture and the positioning of the head in relation to the body are crucial to the production of good sound - most especially so for the teardrop player.  I have found Pearl, Louis Lot, and Andrew Oxley flutes and particularly Mike Allen’s head, were better for me.  Once you find the best flute and head combination, move the head position until you find the optimum for clear, high notes and you will be amazed, thrilled and delighted, making practice and playing a joy!  If you do have an off-day, remember all the factors which must be in place for flute playing.  One of these may be off, not you!!
If you really want to play flute with a teardrop lip, do not give up.  Yes, you are slightly handicapped but not impossibly so.  And, when you have success, please do let me know!
Norma x


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