Using the 17 Big Daily Exercises for Flute
by Taffanel and Gaubert,
Published by Leduc

By Patricia George

Daily Routine: Goal = 25 to 30 minutes
Monday: No. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Tuesday: No. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
Wednesday: No. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12
Thursday: No. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13
Friday: No. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14
Saturday: No. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16

When you begin your study of the Taffanel, you will want to begin slowly. Here are some suggestions to get started.

Exercise No. 1
Week 1: Start in the low octave, line 1, 3, 5, etc., first nine notes only, slurred with three vibratos per note, mf. As you play, move the flute from back to front in a horizontal plane until you reach the high
Week 2: Repeat at the octave.
Week 3: Repeat in the third octave.
Week 4: Play in eight note chunks with a quarter rest in between each chunk. As the week progresses, increase the tempo.
Week 5: Play line 1, 3, 5, etc., low octave, in its entirety with the quarter note to 60, 72, 80, 96, 104, 120, 144.
Week 6: Repeat instructions of Week 5 at the octave.
Week 7: Repeat instructions of Week 5 in the third octave.
Week 8: Play all lines in a dotted rhythm (long, short).
Week 9: Play all lines in a dotted rhythm (short, long).
Week 10: Play entire exercise, slurred, with metronome markings from 60 to 160 to four sixteenths.
Week 11: The first 10 lines of the exercise may be played at the harmonic (third partial, i. e. the low D1 will sound A2). Using counted vibrato while doing this will make your tone ring.
Week 12 and after: Ask, what does my playing need and practice in that manner.

Exercise No. 4
Divide this exercise into four parts.

    Part 1 will include keys C through g.
    Part 2 will include keys Eb through bb.
    Part 3 will include keys Gb through c#.
    Part 4 will include keys A through e.

Step 1 (Each week use one of the four parts, key wise)

Play eight notes slurred with a quarter rest in between each set of eight. Move the flute from back to front with each set.
           Why?
           1. You will learn the pattern.
           2. The rest will help you develop muscle memory.
           3. Each chunk is about one inch long.  (See Sloboda for eye movement discussion)
           4. You will learn that the secret of fast playing is the ability to put many notes on one puff of air.
           5. The rest will teach you to wait for the beat to come up. Most young players play before the beat.
           6. You will develop a relaxed way of breathing through the continued repetitions.
           7. Be sure the timbre (color) of all the notes in each set of eight is the same.

Step 2

Learning the Scale Game (Homage to Michel Debost)
           See Scale Game by Patricia George (printable PDF file)

Exercise No. 5 - Chromatic
The articulation patterns at the top of the exercise are excellent. All keys each day.

Exercise No. 6 - Thirds and Sixths - See revised manuscript.
This is one of the most difficult exercises in the book. Start by playing in chunks, six notes slurred, moving the flute from a down to up position as you play each measure. Insert a quarter rest between each measure for re-organization. You will want to play the thirds and sixths this way for many months until you are accurate and there is an ease in your performance. At first play in the key of C. As you progress, add each flat/sharp, one at a time until you have five flats or five sharps. I usually do the flat keys on M, W, F and the sharp keys on T, Th, S. A long term goal is to be able to perform this exercise, rotating through the keys with a breath after the C1 only. A goal metronome setting is a measure to 80 - 88.

Exercise No. 7
This exercise has five key signatures suggested. Assign the first to Monday, the second to Tuesday etc. When you begin learning this exercise, play in four note chunks with a rest in between each group. This will help you learn the patterns in a relaxed manner. Relaxation is one of the keys to beautiful, controlled playing. Remember that you can do many of the keys in all three octaves. I prefer to slur this exercise; however, I sometimes play it very slowly with counted vibrato.

Exercise No. 8 and 9
There are five or six keys listed in the book. I assign the first one to Monday, the second to Tuesday etc. I usually slur the exercise because most of the time we find patterns like this in the literature are slurred. However, at times I have double tongued the exercise-sometimes double, double (a tk on each note, for rapid tonguing. I prefer the forward, French tonguing which I have my student practice by saying "thicka.") I play these at metronome marking from very slowly to very fast.

Exercise No. 10
This exercise is best learned in chunks. I often have my students do ten measures each week with counted (3 or 4) vibrato to each note. Eventually we play this very fast. Dotted rhythms are good too. Advanced students can benefit by playing this exercise 8va (starting notes of C, C#, D).

Exercise No. 11
Same advice as No. 10. Try to get rid of the floaters (floaters are notes that float in between two written notes). Ultimately this exercise should sound easy and feel easy too. Think about moving the fingers from the knuckles in a down and up motion keeping the fingers very close to the keys.

Exercise No. 12
Same advice as No. 10. The pattern of the exercise is based on four bars (Mm7, mm7, dm7, full dim 7). Be sure you understand what is happening theoretically. Counted vibrato and hah, hah, hahs are especially fun and will make your tone ring.

Exercise No. 13
Same advice as No. 10. Make it sound easy. Ask, does it feel easy too? It should and will, with practice and thoughtful practice. Practicing in a mirror can help you too.

Exercise No. 14
I prefer to slur to the high note, slur to the low note and repeat this articulation pattern again. I do this for a sweeping motion and ease of playing in all three octaves. Sometimes I play with additional vibrato too. Double tonguing is good also.

Exercise No. 15 and 16
Learn the diminished triads/ diminished 7ths in chunks. Eventually you will be able to play them very quickly with ease.

Remember in using the Taffanel, ask what does my playing need and practice that. If you are playing something that requires a lot of fast tonguing, then use the Taffanel that way. If your vibrato needs work, practice vibrato. At first play most exercises at a "mf" dynamic. Later vary the dynamics. A good rule of advice is to practice what you can not do well. Learning to play the Taffanel well will take many months. Be patient. Get started and keep on. You will eventually be able to play it well. And, the best surprise of all is how well you will play everything else!

Questions can be emailed directly to Patricia George

Patricia George teaches flute at Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho and at Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York with the Performer's Certificate in Flute. She has studied with Frances Blaisdell, Joseph Mariano, William Kincaid and Julius Baker. Ms. George is Director and Founder of Pocatello Flute Week, a week long masterclass program held in Pocatello each June. Masterclass teachers have included Erich Graf, Philip Swanson, Adah Toland Mosello, Michel Debost, and Jeff Weissman. Ms. George also teaches at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Sewanee, TN each summer (late June through early August). She performs with the Idaho Trio ( flute, bassoon and piano). She is married to American composer, Thom Ritter George, and is the mother of three musical children.

Many thanks to Patricia George for allowing this article to be published on my Web site.

Return to Teaching Tips