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Playing a Transverse Flute


Playing a transverse type of flute such as a fife or bansuri is similar to whistling because the shape of one's mouth is most important and must be learned subconsciously from frequent, but short, practice sessions.
1.   In the initial practice sessions, remember to keep your fingers away from the playing holes.
2.   If you are righthanded, point the flute barrel to the right.   If you are lefthanded, point the flute barrel to the left.
3.   Rotate the flute about its longitudinal axis so that the mouth hole is pointed directly toward your lips.
4.   Move the flute toward your mouth until the mouth hole is upon them - as if you were kissing it (this centers the hole on your mouth).
5.   Roll the flute about its longitudinal axis while keeping it against your lower lip, shape your mouth as if you were saying "pooh", and blow.   When a somewhat musical sound is produced, stop rolling the flute away.   The flute is now close to the position you want for training your lip.
6.   Move the flute as necessary to improve the position for the best sound.
7.   For no more than five minutes, practice making the sound.

Repeat the above exercise after half an hour has passed, and remember not to exceed five minutes for the practice session.   Continue to use five-minute sessions with a half hour between until your lip tires or you become bored.   Do this every day for about a week and then reduce the amount of time between practice sessions to twenty minutes.   After another week reduce the time between sessions to ten minutes.   After another week, reduce the time between sessions to five minutes.

If you are righthanded, the three playing holes closest to your mouth should be for the index, largest, and ringer fingers of your left hand.   The three holes most distant from your mouth should be for the index, largest, and ring fingers of your right hand.   If you are lefthanded, the reverse is true.

Now you can begin to use the playing holes.   Start by closing the playing hole closest to your mouth and practice making a pleasing sound with it there.   When this has been achieved and practiced for a day or so, move the finger off and on the hole until the two notes that are created sound pleasant.   Practice this for another day or so.   Now place another finger on the second hole away from your mouth and practice making the new note.   Continue this type of procedure until you are familiar with the sounds made by closing all the holes.

This is the way you train your lip and learn the notes of the scale.   Once it has been accomplished, playing a tranverse flute is very much like playing any other type of flute.

The transverse flute is very versatile when you have begun to master it, allowing changes in volume and frequency that can be tailored for the mood and the music.


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