See also etudes for flute that are free online.
How to work on Flute Etudes: by Jennifer Cluff
METHOD FOR APPROACHING A NEW ETUDE:
1.PLAY THE SCALES IN THE KEY OF THE ETUDE FLUIDLY: Decide which key or keys your etude is in. Then aquaint yourself with these keys by playing their scale first in the low octave, and then slowly, using longtones in the high octave to improve tone quality. Play with full, rich, free and ringing tone always, even when playing very slowly. You may breathe as you need to, adding pauses wherever required at first. (see Breathing in Etudes below**).
2. ELIMINATE FINGERING BLIPS: Correct any fingering difficulties by listening carefully for "blips" or lazy finger changes. Lower the flute down in front of your eyes and WATCH the fingers if necessary, and smooth the blip area. Which fingers are exchanging places? Which are moving together during a change from one note to the next? Finally practice the scale, all slurred, two octaves, remembering to add breath support (crescendo going up and down too!). This clears up any inherent difficulty you may have with the scale before the problem then bungles your etude up.
3.AQUAINT YOURSELF WITH THE MUSICAL MATERIAL & STYLE: Play the first few bars of your study to establish the musical style & materials that are in it. Have a look at the tempo marking (Allegretto, Presto, Moderato) to ascertain the character of the music. Let the first theme sound truly attractive and musical as it begins to emerge. Play it very musically with terrific phrasing. Look into the thematic material for great phrasing ideas. Experiment with your interpretations. Get a feel for the challenges and the composer's ideas.
4.USE OUTLINING TO GRASP THE HARMONIC MOTION OF THE ETUDE.
Example: Drouet Etude no. 9 from 25 Famous Etudes can be simplified to two half-notes per bar during outlining stages (click on jpeg to enlarge):
Allow yourself to play through a basic outline of the etude, pausing on downbeats of any bar where you feel you're beginning to run low on air.
[See breathing notes** below on how to breathe when learning a study at slower tempos].
Don't bother getting all breathless and tight as you're first discovering the outline and harmonic motion of an etude. Instead, play tiny little sections beautifully and perfectly in half-notes or whole-notes. During outlining of the main tones in each bar, play especially MUSICALLY, even when holding whole notes, for example. Outlining is very good as a sight-reading exercise, and also begins imprinting the musical direction of the etude even before you've even fully learned the additional notes, which saves time and creates a deeper interpretation. (For more on outlining see: Interview with author James Boyk on Outlining in practice. )
5.TONE: Play with your ears focused on your tone at all times. If a leap to a high note suddenly creates poor tone quality on that high note, simply stop and do slow and careful longtones up to the highnote, memorizing the sensation of wind-speed and embouchure that you have when that particular high note sounds well, and when approached by step.
Next, with the sensations memorized, leap to that same high note and assume the same airspeed and embouchure position. If you do this the first or second time you ever approach this passage of music in the study, you'll be already training yourself to land each note of the work with fabulous tone. That will put you much farther ahead than "splatting" your tone on certain notes, and then having to discover later that you've taught yourself to "splat!" on those notes.
6.CIRCLE THE DIFFICULT PARTS FOR SPECIAL ATTENTION: As you work through an etude, gradually circle the toughest sections in that etude, so that you're well aware of which sections of the etude will require more careful work. Come back to the etude after a rest and make longtones out of the tough parts, first playing only two notes in a row, then a different two notes, and linking them together into groups of three, four, five and six notes. Create many new ways to work over the tricky bits, recombining smaller groups, creating new rhythms, and adding subdivisions and simplifications until the skill level improves. Return to erase the circles when those difficult sections are now easy.
7.FULLY EXPLORE DYNAMICS: Always play with full, rich, dynamic range, and experiment with their parameters in your etudes and studies. Can your fortes be richer and more ringing? Can your pianissimos have more core to the sound, and carry out into a large hall eventually? What can you do to improve your dynamic range?
If your production of dynamics has not yet been practiced that day, take a break at this point to do some of Fiona Wilkinson's vowel-dynamics as outlined in “The Physical Flute” or use Walfrid Kujala's method (see Jennifer Cluff's website for the terms “FULP” and “PLOT” for more info.). Then, return to the study and ease the dynamics into it working to make them beautiful in tone colour.
8.LISTEN FOR NEAT & PRECISE TONGUING: Pay special attention in one or more of your study-practice sessions on clear and concise articulations. If your tonguing has not yet had a clarity-searching session on a given day, spend some time tonguing repeated patterns on a single note, that relate to the articulation patterns in the particular study you're working on.
For example, if the study has a staccato high E3 that seems difficult to articulate clearly, try a whole note on E3 until the tone is clear and ringing. Then tongue four times on that whole note, keeping the tone equally rich and the air speed correct for a long, ringing tone quality. Then tongue twice on the pitch, then once, or as written.
Alternately, starting on B2 and tonguing four or more times per pitch, you can play chromatically ascending to high E3 and above, then return to the E3 and insure its quality of sound. If you take 4 minutes to do this, and then return to the staccato high E in your study, your body will have already perfected the correct embouchure, tongue strike and air-speed to assure you of a good E3 tone with crisp, clean articulations.
9.RETURN TO CIRCLED AREAS EACH SESSION: Each practice session you'll need to return to the etude and work on the circled (difficult) bits first. Starting with playing slowed down longtones, and then proceeding to speed them up slightly is a common method, but there are other interesting ways to create improvements as well.
When difficult sections are easy and fluid, play into them from the bars before. Also practice playing smoothly both in and out of these sections as well. Remember that at this stage you're able to speed up the tempo gradually, and can still pause on downbeats, gather your breath and faculties, and soar into the next section. Keep all sections musical, even though there are still pauses between larger sections.
10. ADD SPEED USING THE METRONOME:As the etude begins to be familiar and easy, click the metronome up one notch each time you run through it, and study the rise and fall of the phrases. Do not allow yourself to speed through at tempos that are simply too fast for accuracy (you'll only teach yourself how to repeat bad tone or mistakes, and that's not a good idea.) Sometimes you'll have to stay at a metronome speed for a few days until your body adjusts to the new techniques. Don't worry. You'll soon experience a quantum leap as your body learns and adjusts. It may take 3-6 days depending on the challenge the etude is offering you.
11. CREATE A FINISHED AND POLISHED ETUDE: Finally, as you approach the tempo you feel is most musical for the etude, start erasing any unecessary markings or breaths, so that you're left with the true number of breaths and "temporary pauses" that you can manage.
Eventually the goal is to eliminate almost all the added pauses, but in the meantime you can remind yourself to take deeper breaths at certain points by marking those places with a double-breath sign if you like. Go over extra-long phrases several times to see just how much breath you should have taken in to make it all the way through the phrase. If you need to reduce the out-going air, or reduce the dynamics from ffff to mf in order to conserve breath, mark this also.
The goal, remember, is to make real music out of the study.
Audio-record your final version and listen back to it, pretending it's a magnificent concerto, and you were to make the most gorgeous presentation out of it.
Find out if you can dance to the rhythm. Dancing around to recordings of your own pieces and etudes really helps you find out about hiccups that may exist in your rhythm and metre.
Find out if there are any weak areas in your etude from listening back to your recording. Circle them, and tackle them with metronome and subdivisions the next time you practice.
12.If you've done a recorded performance to the best of your ability on an etude, move to another etude that presents a similar or a varied challenge. Graded etude lists help. You can proceed through any etude book in any order and mix and match the etude composers for variety; ask your teacher for titles to hunt up.
Begin the new etude by determining the key, and by playing the arpeggios and scales of the new etude's key center, and perfecting the tone and fingering of that scale (ie: recommence at no. 1 above and repeat this list.)
And if you're proceeding by key, and you need an etude to go with your scales/arpeggios in Bmajor, for example, but cannot find one, go ahead and use one in B-flat major, and simply mentally transpose the key signature. This is particularly fun using Bach, Quantz, Frederick the Great and Galli exercises.
**BREATHING in ETUDES
Since many studies have seemingly impossible expectations concerning breath marks and ease of breathing, here are some ideas about “easy breathing” for etudes:
The study of an etude can begin with super-slowed-down renderings of the etude, or a simple outline of the etude. The flutist needs to give themselves full permission to stop and pause on the downbeat of any bar or literally, on any note, at first. Yes have permission to pause on any downbeat WELL before running out of air completely. This way you can always play with impeccable tone.
I especially recommend that you stop and pause as soon as you feel like you’re running out of air.
This method of breathing naturally works brilliantlyl especially when you’re doing the slowest practice of the etude with the metronome.
The pause-note is then replayed as the beginning of the next section, bar or phrase, so as not to lose melodic and harmonic continuity.
The frequency of these "temporary" pauses relies on just how slowly the study is being played and allows the student to begin to comprehend how much air to take in, and how to conserve it through repetition and
This means that the flutist can continue to play in a slow tempo without becoming tight lipped, breathless or tense, and can find ways of working the study as accurately as possible EXCEPT for the final breath planning. The tone will always be full and rich, and the body free to relax.
As the metronome climbs in speed, these pauses are naturally eliminated since the air use is gradually improved and the "temporary" pauses tend to appear every four or eight bars, as opposed to every
one or two.
As the tempo increases further, over several days work, and the etude becomes closer to perfect in terms of dynamics, finger agility, articulation (tonguing) and phrasing, the final planning of the breaths is then worked on, using pencil markings to add to those breath marks already present in the edition.
This method eliminates the student's frustration with long and difficult etudes that seem to ask the flutist to breathe only every four or five lines, which we all know is impossible except at breakneck speeds; speeds that may never be reached in the earlier years of study.
It also allows the full attention to be given to producing a gorgeous, brilliant and rich tone; using your best possible flute tone is something that should never be sacrificed when learning new music.