Flute Studio of Kerry Shaffer - How to Practice
How to Practice Intelligently

Following are some steps that will help you get the most out of your practice time.  You
must practice joyfully and with intensity – always try to engage your listener, be it your
parents, friends, your dog or yourself!

The Power of Concentration:  15 minutes of intelligent, focused practice is better than 2
hours of unfocused practice!  Use your time wisely!

Please note:  only the more advanced students should attempt practice in excess of 1 hr.  
Playing the flute takes a lot of air and a lot out of your body.  You need to rest and
recuperate, so don't overdo it!

Notice that tone is given a large amount of time –
this is because tone is everything!  
From a great tone comes great technique!

What to aim for in TONE exercises:

  • Begin by playing harmonic of first note (E2 usually for the B natural above the staff) –
    blow freely and relaxed.
  • Smoothness of fingers (no percussion accompaniment!) and air, your goal should be
    to melt the two notes together
  • LOUD – practice these exercises with the most volume of sound possible (you must
    develop strength before being able to play with sensitivity)
  • Always try to make it better, your goal is to match the quality of the first note to the
    second and so forth, joining the notes as musically as possible.
  • Focus the sound.
  • Clean articulation, support the sound, blow through the notes, leading the listener to
    the 2nd note.  
  • Play without looking at the music.  Use your EARS, not your EYES to move the
    music forward!


  • Smoothness of fingers and air
  • Relaxed fingers – don’t push too hard!  The harder you push, the slower your fingers
    will move!
  • Always play musically!  There is no point to play your technical exercises as pure
    technical exercises.  Playing your scales and other technical work musically with the
    best sound possible allows you to quickly apply these skills to your solo flute
    repertoire!  Remember music is made up of scales, arpeggios, triads, so practice
    everything as if it is the most beautiful piece of music you’ve ever heard!
  • Be very accurate with articulation
  • Make sure your first note and your last notes are your best!  People remember what
    they heard first and last.


When practicing pieces of music, we must always remember that music is just a script, and we
are the actor/actress, telling the story.  Use what Tadeu Coelho calls “The Barney Law”
– Use your imagination and make up a story to accompany your piece.

Sometimes to try and play more musically we must think, how would a pianist or a string player
do this?

Four musical imperatives (when you come across them in the music, give them more
  • ½ steps/accidentals (implies dissonance – something interesting is happening!)
  • octaves
  • triplets
Kerry Shaffer, BMus (Honors) Flute Performance
Private Flute Teacher for Middle Tennessee:
Brentwood, Franklin,  Arrington, Nolensville, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, and the surrounding areas

1019 Valley Forge Drive    Arrington TN  37014
Home:  (615) 395-9291
Mobile:  (615) 879-4688
email:  ks@kerryshafferflute.com