Play like a waterlily

During one of the summer courses I organize every year, a young flutist asked me what he could do to make his low C easier. It was a quick question between activities. I gave him the answer: ‘Don’t think your energy down to the ground while playing the low C, think your energy up’. He did and he never had any problems playing his low notes.

I find this concept fascinating. The situation described above, among other situations, caused me to observe flutists and experiment myself to think the energy upwards while playing instead of downwards. I even call this the toothpaste tube technique. Let’s take a look at the tube of toothpaste:

If we want to use all the toothpaste from the tube, we have to push the toothpaste out of the tube from the bottom of the tube. If we do that, the tube at the top won’t collapse. If we push at the top of the tube, the toothpaste stays at the bottom.

This concept is fun to keep in mind while playing the flute. If we think of ourselves as a tube and we think that the energy from feet to head (and beyond) our posture will be better and therefore the notes will respond more easily, especially in the low register.

Not only does this approach work for the high register, it also helps a lot when starting a sound. Going down while starting a sound is hard, going up will make it easier. I’m not talking about big movements. Just the idea of directing the energy upwards instead of downwards is already very helpful. Extended techniques will also benefit from this approach. Harmonics, flutter tongue, pitch bend, tongue stops, multiphonics and whisper tones will benefit immensely.

If the toothpaste tube technique doesn’t work for you, you can also consider a water lily. A water lily is a beautiful flower in a pond facing the sun. Almost like greeting the sun with its leaves up. You can try to copy that without flute: spread your arms and greet the sun. How does that feel? It probably gives you an open feeling. Now try to copy this feeling while playing the flute and always greet the sun!


Try Flute Colors magazine!

Sheet music

Flute Colors has a huge collection of unique sheet music with extended techniques!