Scary notations

We all know the feeling of starting a new piece that seems impossible to play. The more ink a composer has used (for example, 32nd notes), the more difficult it seems. I see a lot of students who just go for it, hoping to make it to the end. A good way to start and sight read a piece, but it is not recommended to continue that way. And that’s what often happens. Without help, students often remain in the first phase of global reading of the piece. For instance:

Hugues: La Scuola Del Flauto, Op. 51, fourth grade, No. 4

The first part of the piece looks scary. But if we take a closer look, we can see that the second flute plays 8th notes and naturally divides the part of the first flute into groups of four 32nd notes.

If we’re going to divide the notes and help our brain to see groups, it becomes much clearer. If a performer (student) doesn’t really understand the music, it will show in the performance. If a performer doesn’t understand the music, we can’t expect the listener to understand the music either.

So read, analyze, simplify and understand your sheet music. Don’t be scared and demotivated if sheet music looks difficult at first. Relax and take time to see what it says in the score. In general, this is good advice that is also very useful for contemporary music. The notation of extended techniques can be confusing. Composers use different ways of notating extended techniques. Therefore always read the notes of the composer.

Let’s take a look at this example:

Ah, vous dirai-je, maman – Flute Colors arrangement 005

This can look complicated at first. As a flutist we are not used to reading two notes above each other. But if we read the instruction and learn that we should use the fingering of the diamond-shaped and then play a tongue stop without worrying about the arrow-shaped note (the way the tongue stops sound) then suddenly it’s much easier.

Take your time to get to know the music with and without flute and enjoy the road to your goal.


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