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The ABC'S of teaching extended techniques

By Susan Maclagan <suemaclagan@SHAW.CA>

The following is a review of a seminar at the 2004 Nashville NFA convention. Used with permission.


Pedagogy Panel: Sonic Extensions: The ABC'S OF TEACHING EXTENDED
TECHNIQUES-Moderator Rita Linard will be joined by Jennifer Binney Clippert, Patricia George, Camilla Hoitenga, Phyllis Louke, and Cynthia Stevens to demonstrate how they teach students to have fun with multiphonics, sing/play, whistle/whisper tones, flutter-tonguing, bent pitches, harmonics, and other new ways of experimenting with sound production on the flute.

This class was LOTS of fun. Not only were the ladies who were running the class passing on very useful information, but you could tell that they were having a great time doing it.

As people settled into their seats, the class started with the famous 'Snake Charmer' tune, but this time arranged for around 5 head joints and flute by Phyllis Louke. It was absolutely delightful, particularly with Cynthia Stevens wiggling her hips about as she played the tune on her flute. For extra effect, the five players on the head joints were scattered about the room.

More of Phyllis's delightful tunes for beginner flutists were played throughout the class. Most were from her new book called: "Extended Techniques-Double the Fun" for two flutes (or multiples), Alry Publications. The Snake Charmer tune is not in that book, but I'm hoping that it will be in her next book, which I hear is soon to be published. Another book that was used was "Kindertrios Heft 1-Eine Kleine Tiersuite " for 3 flutes and published by Zimmermann. I look forward to using both books in my teaching.

After the playing of the "Snake Charmer", the ladies took turns talking about various contemporary techniques and how they taught them to their students. What follows are some of the things that they said:


-improves support
-Exercise-Try a scale ascending and descending. Try all notes flutter-tongued or just the last note.
-Can't flutter-tongue?-student probably doesn't know how to 'blow through', or push the air. Have them push the air first and then introduce the tongue on the air.

BENDING-good for flexibility, color

-Exercise #!-How to bend from D2 to C#2. Play D2 and then C#2 normally to hear what note you are aiming for. Then bend from D2 to C#2 with your lips.
-Exercise #2-Trevor Wye tone book- P. 34 of his Tone book or P. 34 in the Omnibus edition.
-Exercise #3-Tongue C3. Play C3 again, but this time bend to B2; and then bend back to C3. Repeat this pattern on the notes G2 to F2; E2 to D2; and C2 to B2.
-Note from Patricia George: Be careful about telling student to use jaw or will cause TMJ. You want jaw in a down position.
Exercise-Put one finger in each ear and move your jaw. You will be able to feel where your jaw is the most relaxed with your fingers.


-Exercise-Do Patricia George's "Run the G" exercise. (For information about this exercise, see my convention post about the Patricia George class)


Ghosting is talked about in the Gilbert book.

Exercise #1: Play the lowest note that you can get with a B3 fingering. This note will be a harmonic.
Do the same thing with Bb3 and then A3. Continue with other notes.
Exercise #2: Repeat exercise #1, but play B3 and BRING IN the lower note at the SAME time. Continue with the other notes.
Exercise: #3: Finger F2. Add both trill keys. You will sound like a train whistle. Play train song duet with teacher (Does anybody know the notes for this tune? I didn't get a chance to mark them down).


With firm 'flute lips' blow through mouth hole and end with tongue going through mouth hole. When doing this use 'ah' syllable for notes above D2 and 'oo' syllable for notes below D2.


To get students to sing-and-play have them hum a note. Then have them put their hand in front of their mouth and try to get the air that they are blowing to their hand.

Exercise-Sing D2. Then sing D2-C#2. Then play D2 and sing D2-C#2-D2 You will hear a wobble. When notes in tune, wobble will go away. Doing this will get you singing and playing in-tune. This will also help you find the best position of your throat for a particular note.


Have student whistle one pitch. Then have student whistle a song. Ask student how they made the pitch change when they whistled the tune. What moved? Answer: The tongue. The tongue is a mini-trombone. It helps you get different pitches when doing whistle tones. If student can't whistle, ask them where tongue is. Direct student's tongue to position needed for whistling.

Exercises to help student play whistle tones for the first time:

Exercise-Play low C. Diminish to nothing. Whistle tones come in at end.
Exercise-Get some bubbles and a bubble blower. Blow slow bubbles.
Exercise-Blow at hand, but don't let air reach hand.

A few whistle tone exercises:

Exercise-Do whistle tone arpeggios.
Exercise-Right hand on barrel. Play "Did you Ever See a Lassie" as whistle tones


-Head joint off. Blow in end of middle joint.
-Toilet flush-Mouth over embouchure hole-blow with growly voice noise. Get different sounds depending on what keys hit.
-Use head joint as a pop bottle. Blow in open end and put thumb on and off of embouchure hole
-Buzz like brass player into embouchure hole. Do whistle tones afterwards to relax lips
-Mouth over embouchure hole. Sing into flute. Change fingering
-Have student find a neat sound and name it.

Best wishes, Susan Maclagan

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