Flute Projection versus Volume

What is the difference between playing the flute loudly and projecting? This came up in discussion with a flute student today. We should be able to project our flute sound at any dynamic. The key is to maintain a steady air speed, spinning the air and focusing the tone without tightening up.

Cleveland principal Joshua Smith notes that “sound goes the wrong direction if it has an edge or is forced, because when you start forcing air, you’re not actually supporting it; rather than channeling the air column so that it’s coming out of you quickly and steadily, you’re anchoring something in your body so that the column tightens. Yelling might sound loud, but it doesn’t necessarily carry the same weight underneath it that speaking resonantly can….I know that a sound that is focused and round is what carries.”

So play to the back of the hall, the practice room or wherever you’re sharing music, and listen for beautiful round tone. Tabuteau, the French father of oboe-playing in the United States, put it best: “The sound that carries is the amplification of a dolce tone.”

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