Long tones are the key to building muscle control and developing your sound. If you want to have that sparkling sound of great flutists like Galway or Pahud, you have to add long tones into your daily drill.
Preparing for the Race:
Building the embouchure muscles will help develop pitch control as well. If you’re just skipping long tones and technical exercises, diving right into the music, you’re setting yourself up for bad intonation and little endurance. It’s like training for a marathon and deciding to run a lap or two around the track the days proceeding the race, and then being frustrated when you can’t run more than a mile or two of the marathon on the day of the race.
You have to prepare and train those muscles just like an athlete would prepare for their sporting event.
Tips for Successful Tone Building:
Use a metronome set at 60-72.
Practice the long tone exercises with repeats.
Practice with your best sound all the time.
Use a tuner as you practice tone builders.
Practice to control your vibrato. Practice in triplet pulses, evenly.
Check out Trevor Wye’s Practice Book for Flute, Volume 1, Tone, or Marcel Moyse’s De La Sonorite for some great long tone exercises.
Stop making excuses for not having time to practice tone builders. The only way to develop a beautiful sound, brilliant intonation, and sparkling vibrato is to work at it everyday. With focus and intentionality.
Try if for a week. See how much your sound improves, and you may find long tones become fun!