Simply put, the antidote is to have a long term strategy for your ensemble so that your woodwinds develop the necessary technique to play fast passages and runs with accuracy and clarity. Then they won’t need to fake. What this means in practical day-to-day terms is to have technical warms ups for your flutes and other winds to incorporate into your daily rehearsals. It also means, at least in terms of your flute players, that you will need to monitor and evaluate their hand positions and posture on an ongoing basis. It’s really important to note that developing facile technique is so dependent on having the flute balanced in your hands rather than holding the flute. See drcatesflutetips.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/flute-balance-and-the-left-hand/ and drcatesflutetips.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/flute-balance-and-the-right-hand/

For the newest flute and woodwind players, a completely realistic goal for the first year is to make it a priority that they can play five note scales, one octave arpeggios in all twelve keys in quarter notes and eighth notes, and F and Bb chromatic scales one octave in quarter notes. You can make this part of your assessment testing with SmartMusic or any other method you choose.

By their second year of playing, they should be learning full octave scales, tonic and dominant arpeggios in all twelve keys, as well as be able to play a one octave chromatic scale starting on any note. At this point I think it is really important to introduce material for solo and ensemble that is in keys other than the traditional band keys for flute, i.e. F, Bb, Eb, Ab. Have them play solos and duets in C, G, D, A. The kids will be able to play harder music sooner with a foundation of playing in more than just band keys.

When students have been playing for three years, they are ready for the well-known band technique books like Williams and King Foundations for Superior Performance, and Rush and Moon Habits of a Successful Musician. Both these books are in SmartMusic, so you can gradually increase the speed on these exercises while monitoring for clean technique and balanced hand positions. Especially important for developing good technique are scales two octaves in all keys, arpeggios two octaves and chromatic scales in eighth notes and triplets. Teach the students to listen for clean combinations like C to D, C# to D, Eb to F, E to F#, Ab to Bb (using thumb Bb or 1 and 1 Bb). Then there are larger intervals, especially G to Bb, F to A, F# to A, F to A (pretty much any interval that is using fingers from both hands at the same time), D to F, D to F#.

By the time wood students are in high school, they should have a personal practice routine that includes technique practice, tone studies and articulation exercises. Both the Foundations book and the Habits book are a great basis for this personal practice. I also strongly recommend practicing fast five note scales through the entire range of the flute. See the link below. These are great preparation for the kinds of fast scale rips that are common in ensemble music. It is also great practice to play one octave scale rips as fast as possible, starting on each note of a scale in all keys.

As always, if you find these entries useful, please subscribe, share with your colleagues and come back regularly. Feel free to comment. If you have a topic you would like to see explored more fully, you can contact me via IM/Messenger on Facebook or email me at dr_cate@sbcglobal.net. For information about clinics, workshops and performances, click here.