The title of this topic could also be, Play Big or Go Home. If you want to be good at something, do it right and do it big. This is certainly true when learning how to play the flute. Play every note aggressively. That does not mean play every note loudly, it means put maximum effort into shaping and supporting each tone that comes out of the instrument. In fact, more delicate sound often requires the most effort. You can easily see the difference between an energetic flutist and one who is just playing the notes. Watch some great solo and symphony flutists – Emmanuel Pahud, Mimi Stillman, Matvey Demin, Clara Andrada de la Calle. The stance of a great flutist is solid and forward, their relationship with the instrument is commanding and their focus is constant.
Energetic playing is not easy but being aware of it will put you half way there. The following should help you develop the rest of what you need to become a more dynamic flutist.
How to Play the Flute Like a Boss
Like anything learned, we must continue to remind ourselves until it becomes a habit. Put a Post It (or 10) on your stand. Start every section of your practice routine with a self-talk to attack your playing. Once you develop muscle memory for a more dynamic playing style, it will become natural.
Develop a visualization that will help you maintain a stronger playing style. It may be something like being engaged in a sport or a defensive posture. Or it may be a visualization of your favorite solo flutist. Athletes often use visualization to develop their form and style. These techniques work when learning how to play the flute also.
Until you internalize a stronger style of playing, there will be a tendency for you slip back within yourself when you encounter difficult passages. Ironically, using an energized playing style over difficult passages will not only help you through them, it will allow you to control them – instead of the other way around.
Of course, the basics of technique and tone discussed elsewhere on this site are critical but developing a commanding energized style will be the difference between blowing into a pipe while moving your fingers and making beautiful music.