Practice Notes: Taffanel & Gaubert 24 Progressive Studies #17

Practice with me as I work on this painful little etude!

The music for this flute etude is available on IMSLP here.

Well… this one was difficult, no?? I think this is a great reminder that sometimes, it’s OK to not hit tempo markings! We should always push ourselves, of course, but as long as we’re learning something new and refining our skills, it’s not all that important to hit the tempo marking.

In this case the tempo marking is a whooping crotchet equals 152!! Woof. Even without triple tonguing, those are some fleet fingers to master.

But here are a few tricks I used to help me work on the fingerings and clearer triple tonguing:

1. I practiced everything slurred, watching for intervals. This was essentially a run of the piece as a tone exercise, ensuring that my placement for each note in the phrase was as nice as possible.

2. Practiced with breath articulation This was unbelievably helpful in my practice. We have to be so precise when using our breath articulation (‘ha ha’ really using the ab muscles like we’re laughing). Breath articulation is also great at reminding us of how much our articulation starts in the body, not the throat or the tongue.

3. Practiced articulating with ‘ku ku’. This allowed me to focus on the quality of my ‘ku’ sound in the triple tonguing. The ‘ku’ is often weaker or fuzzier than our ‘tu’ and here I focused on trying to make it sound as much like my ‘tu’ as possible.

4. Slowly added fast triple tonguing. I started playing the first three notes at tempo but played the rest of the measure as if they were crotchets (still triple tonguing though!). Then I did this again playing the second beat as the fast one, and then the third. Then I swapped this same pattern around, playing one beat slow and the others fast.

5. Got creative with the tonguing. There are two main ways to triple tongue. You can use TKT TKT or TKT KTK. I found the first easiest for this piece, so while I practiced both, I focused on the first one. However I did find it a delightfully goofy way to practice practicing other random ways: TTK TTK, KKT KKT, TKK TKK etc. It was such a brain and tongue workout, and I definitely cracked myself up a few times, so it was a great way to bring some silliness to such technical work.

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