Thursday, March 16, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #12: Watering out

All Native American flutes will eventually “Water out” if played too long. This occurs when the condensation from your breath collects in little droplets in the air channel and disrupts the flow of air over the sound hole. You will notice that the flute simply stops making a sound as you blow into it, or the sound gradually or suddenly become very quiet, even though you are blowing through the flute. Depending upon how they were finished, some flutes may water out quicker than other.

Ways to prevent Watering Out

  1. Bring your flute as close to body temperature as possible before playing or a performance.
  2. Don’t drink hot drinks (like coffee or tea) before playing.
  3. Don’t play your flute too long. Use multiple flutes during a public performance to allow the flutes to dry out between songs or keep the flutes “dry” prior to playing them.
  4. Wax the air channel under the bird. (NOTE: use only wax designed for Wind Instruments)
  5. Brush your teeth immediately prior to playing, toothpaste is a drying agent and will dry alot of the moisture in your mouth. (this will only work for a while)
What to do when your flute waters out
  1. Forcefully blow out through the flute with a finger partially covering the sound hole (to prevent sound)
  2. Shake the excess water from the mouthpiece of the flute (make sure that your bird/fipple is secure or hold on to it so that it doesn't go flying).
  3. Put it down and play another flute. It is especially important not to be embarrassed if your flute waters out during a public performance. You can end the song, and most of the audience won’t know any different. You can quickly apply technique #1 (away from the microphone) and continue with the song, or you can pick up another flute and continue the song. Just like breaking a string on a guitar, either the song goes on or it’s over, but don’t make a big deal about it!!

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Scott August said...

These are all great tips. I would add don't drink anything with sugar or milk in it. Milk will add thickness to your saliva and breath condensation, and it just seems basic that sugar from your breath can't be good for a NAF. When I'm performing I drink Ice Tea, plain, or Coffee black. For me Coffee, even when hot, seems to dry my mouth. I also find that NAFs made of harder woods water out faster. The denser cell structure of hard wood doesn't absorb as much water. You might want to avoid playing a hard wood flute on a cold, damp day. There is also a belief that sucking on a coffee bean before playing will help.

ennis montana lodging said...

I have found that if I place a cotten ball in my mouth, between my cheek and teeth my flute will not "wet Out" as quickly. It does not make me look like a hamster and I do not think if effects the sound of my flute. Am I crazy? Does any one else do this?
"Loon Wing"