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If you wish to improve your tone quality, don’t practice your ‘tone quality’

by | Apr 25, 2019 | Ory's Tips | 6 comments

Ory’s Flute Tips

If you wish to improve your tone quality, don’t practice your ‘tone quality’


I’m very happy to share with you another article of mine which was published in the Pan Magazine of the British Flute Society in November 2018. Pan Magazine is a quarterly magazine and I highly recommend you to get a hand on it or subscribe to it!

And here is my article (with minor changes to fit to the internet format):

I strongly encourage all my students to learn how to practice effectively. Every day as you pick up your instrument, you have to know what you are about to practice and, no less importantly, why you are going to practice it. This is in fact very much relevant to your warm-up routine as well: if you are not exactly sure why you are playing a certain warm up exercise, you might wish to reconsider that exercise.

I personally believe that each exercise you play should have a very clear target to it and it should as simple as possible – sometimes even only one note. The most useful exercises are the ones that allow you to focus on only one aspect of your playing and experiment with that element in different ways, till you find out which way works the best for you.

What determines your tone quality?

Your tone quality is in fact a very complex matter with many variables that might have an effect on it. Among others, your air speed, air pressure, air direction, size and shape of lip aperture, the way you use your lips with all their different muscles, the attack you use, your posture and many other variables can affect the final result you are eventually hearing. Only if you learn how to separate each one of those variables and learn how to control them separately, will you be able to understand on your own what you could do differently in order to improve your tone quality.

In fact, all these variables I mentioned relate to the control of muscles, and therefore I would rather refer to them as techniques that can and should be trained. As a workout in gym, in which you separate your training between the different muscle groups, while practicing you should also be able to separate the different muscles involved and train them individually.

How shall you practice more effectively?

We all seek constantly to improve our tone quality, but I believe not many realize that actually only by concentrating separately on each technique mentioned above, will they be able to fully understand what allows them to play with a better tone quality – and by doing that, improve it much more quickly and with much longer lasting results.

If you start your morning practice and tell yourself, “I’m going to play this exercise now in order to improve my tone quality”, what you are actually doing is simply putting together all the techniques under “one hat” and therefore you’re unable to concentrate and focus on one at a time. On the contrary, if you start your morning with an exercise for your air speed, and exercise for the air pressure, an exercise for the lip muscles etc, your tone will improve every day – without even having the direct intention of “improving your tone quality”.

Therefore, if you feel you wish to play with a better, fuller, richer, cleaner and focused tone quality don’t practice your ‘tone quality’, but instead practice all of these different techniques, that all together will result in an improvement in tone quality.

You’re more than welcome to leave your comments and questions.

Enjoy practicing,


Ory Schneor is a principal flutist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, Tongyeong Festival Orchestra and member of the Geneva Camerata. He is teaching masterclasses around the world and he is the founder and instructor at FLUTEinWIEN

"After 3 lessons with Ory, I left Vienna feeling motivated, inspired and confident."

Stephen Clark International flutist and an Intensive Masterclass Participant

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