Mendelssohn Scherzo in one breath? You can do it too!
Ory’s Flute Tips
Mendelssohn’s Scherzo in one breath? You can do it too!
I’m very happy to share with you this time my article as published on the July 2018 Pan Magazine of the British Flute Society. The magazine is published every 3 months and I highly recommend you to make a subscription to it.
Here’s the article:
A few months ago I published a video that has astonished many flutists around the world. I recorded myself playing the flute solo from the Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo in one breath, without any circular breathing or breathing through the nose.
My conclusion was that it is definitely possible and your playing can benefit a lot by practising it.
Why should you practise it it one breath?
Being able to play the whole solo in one breath is a clear indication that your staccato is efficient and works well. You won’t spend any unnecessary air and you won’t lose air during the solo. Your tone will be equally rich through the whole phrase and you can just imagine how easy it would be playing the solo with two breaths after that…
How can you practise it then?
The idea here is to learn how to spend your air more efficiently. You should allow less air to come out of your lips, hitting the wall at the ideal spot, in order to get a resonant tone and hold your air longer.
Play the solo once and check yourself (in order to know your starting point):
where in the solo does your air run out?
After that, you can start practising:
1. Start by practising the solo in legato, slowly. Increase the air speed you use and reduce the aperture of the lips. You should have a tone colour which is very focused and equal through the whole passage. If your notes don’t sound equally and aren’t focused, you lose precious air. Use the opportunity of playing it slowly in legato in order to concentrate on reducing your aperture and playing with equal tone colour.
2. Increase the tempo gradually, still played in legato. Make sure you can keep the same aperture and tone focus in tempo as well.
3. Add the staccato on top of what you have just practised. Make sure that your tone has the exact same focus, colour and dynamic as in the legato, and that your aperture doesn’t get interrupted by the tongue movements.
I would not recommend trying it in an audition, but this process will make your playing at the audition much easier.
Here’s the video for you: