High Notes on Scales? Eek! Newsletter 2-23-23

Hello Flutiful Friends,

Last week I revealed a goal of my flute studio to conquer the problems of playing the top notes of the scales. Today I want to share more about improving technique in the highest register.

The high note fingerings involve more fingers moving than what is typical in the lower parts of the scales where you are mostly moving one finger at a time. My students ALWAYS want to start at the bottom of the scale when they are practicing. The problem with that is by the time they get to the high notes, they are tired and don't spend a lot of time working on the top tones. Our strategy this year is to really concentrate on the top 5 or so notes of the scales. For my students, past practice has included the Long-Short (dotted-eighth followed by 16th note rhythms) and Short-Long note patterns (16th note followed by the dotted eighth notes rhythm) and the Reverse Add-on methods (starting with the top 2 notes and after repetition, adding another note and so on until you are playing the whole scale down and up.)

One issue my students have is trying to go too fast on the highest notes before the fingers are ready to go that fast. This can result in sloppy sounds, notes that have incorrect fingerings, one hand gets ahead of the other etc. Trying to get students to go slower on these high notes can be like trying to slow a freight train!

One technique we will be using this year is what my teacher friend calls the FASR method of practicing:

Finger the note (no blowing) Articulate the note (attack releasing air with the tongue) Sustain the note Release the note

Continue with each note in the same manner. This will work the brain in a different way than normal and brings quick results.

There will also be a Five Finger (5-note) pattern for the highest notes of each scale. The Five Finger name comes from playing 5 scale tones up and down on the piano which only uses five fingers. On the flute, these patterns will involve lots more fingers.

And by the way... I sent an email to the students and parents recommending earplugs for both the students and other family members to protect everyone's hearing. 


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