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Playing in tune


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#1 adultpianist

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 14:48

Someone said to me that the flute is very hard to play in tune.   I said my teacher has not said I am not playing in tune so they said but do you check your playing with a tuner and I said no I have never used one nor has my teacher ever suggested it.

 

Is it worth asking my teacher about this?  I was advised that you play a note and check the note against the tuner to see if what you are playing sounds like the tuner in order to improve your sound.     I have never had any criticism on my sound except that it sounded airy when I first started but not so much now.


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#2 hennylemon

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 15:44

I have no experience in flutes but to address your question about asking your teacher, I think this sounds the sort of query you could discuss with your teacher. smile.png (Edit. Even if for reassurance).


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#3 BadStrad

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 17:17

I'm sure your teacher would mention if you were playing out of tune.  (My teacher certainly never let me slip an off note past them).

 

Frequently checking your playing against a tuner sounds like a recipe for tension.  May I ask if the person who suggested it is a flautist themselves?

 

If you are concerned then of course ask your teacher.  Good intonation takes a long time to acquire, so it may be that yours is fine for your level of playing and that your teacher will help you to improve further when the time is right.  Or it could just be fine and there is nothing to worry about.  So I think I'd suggest asking your teacher and see what they have to say.  That way you don't have to think about what that person said again.


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#4 elemimele

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 18:01

Trust your teacher. They will tell you if your pitching needs improvement.

I am very unconvinced that the electronic tuner is a gadget that has brought anything positive to the musical world. It's a nice thing when you need a source of absolute pitch, but the ultimate arbiter thereafter should be your ears. Anything that encourages people to look at a dial rather than use their ears (and it's all too easy to concentrate so much on the technical issues of playing that there are no brain cells left to do the listening) is a Bad Thing (in my view).


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#5 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 18:44

I am very unconvinced that the electronic tuner is a gadget that has brought anything positive to the musical world. It's a nice thing when you need a source of absolute pitch, but the ultimate arbiter thereafter should be your ears. Anything that encourages people to look at a dial rather than use their ears (and it's all too easy to concentrate so much on the technical issues of playing that there are no brain cells left to do the listening) is a Bad Thing (in my view).

 

Hear, hear!

 

And it drives me nuts when string players tune to electronic tuners - resulting in subtly out-of-tune instruments.  You'd be shocked at the open-mouthed stares I get when people watch me tune a guitar, banjo, or even fine-tune a fiddle for that matter - I set one or two strings by the tuner (D string or strings, usually) then tune the rest by ear.  People look at me like I just used a superpower.  I calmly explain that it's a skill that most (if not all) people can learn.  I grew up tuning with a pitch pipe - I had to train my ears!


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#6 adultpianist

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 19:51

I think the person was just being clever and trying to show off.   I do not believe he is a musician.   He claims to know more than he actually does trying to say that he plays jazz so he is better than a classical musician because he can improvise. 


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#7 Maizie

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 20:06

Take it with a pinch of salt.  Your tuning may not be perfect in the early stages of learning, but if you get yourself distracted/obsessed by attempting to match the tuner, you may be focussing on the wrong thing.  Your teacher has almost certainly not mentioned your tuning because your tuning is OK; and as you move forward, if there are minor adjustments needed to tuning, you will learn them then.  If what you and your teacher are working on is working for you, ignore what anyone else has to say - 'qualified' or not!


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#8 EllieD

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 07:23

Agree with all the above, we do not need electronic devices to improve as musicians. We need to train our ears. You will know if you are out of tune, trust yourself, you have been playing music for a good few years now I'm guessing, so you would definitely hear if things weren't as they should be. Electronic devices are there so that human brains will rot .... wink.png


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#9 SingingPython

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 09:52

As I say to my violin students, it is your ears not your eyes that are in charge of whether you are playing in tune :).  Some of my famiies use electronic tuners to tune the strings; I aim to wean them off doing that as soon as a child is capable of playing two strings together smoothly and evenly.  I agree that you can tune much more accurately than with an electronic tuner.


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#10 JimD

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 09:57

I agree with what's been said above - you listen to music with your ears, so that's what you should use to play in tune!

 

Some notes on the flute are naturally slightly off (most notably the C# s played with only the right pinky down), but if you play with others and you all use your ears, that will automatically right itself.


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#11 Arundodonuts

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 14:28

It's dead easy to be out of tune on all wind instruments. As Maizie says, your intonation will not be perfect from the start but your teacher would not be expecting it to be and so won't make a big deal of. I'm now post Grade 8 and my teacher DOES now make a bigger deal of it.

 

I wouldn't be so dismissive of electronic tuners. Used sparingly in your technical practice it can help develop your ear - e.g checking you remain in tune playing intervals. You might think your intervals sound fine but you might be wrong. As a matter of interest what do you tune to before you start playing? In orchestra, the other players tune to my A. What do you suppose I tune to?


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#12 BadStrad

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 15:01

I think the person was just being clever and trying to show off. 

I suspect you are correct.


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#13 Tenor Viol

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 22:04

Complex subject and the question about tuners is not a simple one. bottom line, assume your teacher would say something if you were out of tune. Electronic tuners have their place IF you understand the issues and limitations. 

 

The main problem is they are USUALLY tuned to equal temperament, which is useless unless you are playing with an ET instrument such as piano. My tuner has an option for 'string' tuning which gives just intonation perfect 5ths and not the slightly narrow ET ones...

 

Constantly cross-checking to a tuner is not a good idea. 

 

As I said, they have their place so long as you are aware of the issues.


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