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Play efficiently – Use your air longer

by | Sep 1, 2017 | Ory's Tips | 0 comments


Ory’s Flute Tips

Play efficiently – Use your air longer


Do you have a feeling you’re running out of air way too quickly?
Do you feel that while you articulate (single or double tonguing) you are wasting more air than playing legato?
Do you wish to play longer phrases?

Then you have to start considering how efficiently you spend your air while playing.

I believe that each one of you could play for example the solo from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in ONE breath (and in fact I think it would be very useful for you to do) and still have a good healthy tone throughout the whole passage (for practicing purposes, I’m not suggesting to perform it this way):

I can assure you I didn’t use circular breathing nor breathing through my nose. Try it out yourself and see how far you manage.


Holding your air for such a long time requires from you to be very efficient about the way you spend your air and I think the process of learning how to achieve that can be very useful and helpful for your playing. Efficiency here means that there is no room for any air wasting – the air you blow out of your mouth should have exactly the amount and speed needed in order to get a good tone. Not more, not less.

How can you improve then your air use efficiency?

💡 Learn from the oboists


Have you ever considered why can the oboists hold their notes for such a long time?
It’s a result of the way their reed is built. As its opening is very narrow it allows only a small amount of air to pass through and therefore the player doesn’t have to use so much air, and it the air lasts longer.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to blow as an oboist does, but we can try to learn from them and see how we could imitate it for better results. You will have to find a way to reduce the size of your lips aperture and using less air. At the same time, you’ll have to make sure to use a rather quicker air in order to create the right pressure and resistance.
Being able to play with air in your cheeks can help a lot, as it would mean that you have enough pressure and as a result your cheeks are getting inflated.

🎬 Watch my video again and take a close look on my lips. You will notice that I hold my lips together the whole time, with tiny adjustments needed for the changes between the registers – they almost don’t move at all. Avoiding any unnecessary lip movements and avoiding the lips opening while articulating are the keys to be able to progress till you can play the whole solo in one breath.

Try it out and let me know how it feels.

Enjoy experimenting,

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

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