Today I am going to go through some tips to help students learn and play the Bouree from the grade 3 AMEB flute examination syllabus. The topics I will cover are:
- How to divide this piece into sections to break down practice times to make practice most effective and simple
- Breathing techniques
- Metronome practice
- Common areas where mistakes are made
The first thing to do when learning any piece of music is to break it down into manageable sections. Rather than trying to learn the whole thing at once, approach it in bite size pieces.
For example, the first section will be from the first bar to bar 8. The second section us from the up beat of bar 9 to bar 16. The third sections is from the upbeat of bar 17 to bar 22, and then the final section is from bar 18 to the end. These are just suggestions-you may wish to divide the piece up into different sections.
Site read the entire piece from start to finish.
Divide your sections up.
Start on section one. Play at a slower tempo for example crotchet=80. Leave the articulation out for now, just learn the notes to get them under your fingers. After 2-3 run through s of the first section, start a tally where you will aim to play this section 3-5 times perfectly without making a mistake, at half tempo. For laser focus, each time you make a mistake, you have to go back to the first time. You only pass this section once you have nailed it at least 3 times.
Now put in the articulations and approach the same way as step 3.
Start bumping up the speed on your metronome, starting with crotchet = 80, then 90, then 100, 110, and then finally up to speed. For each metronome bump up, aim to play the section at least 3 times perfectly before you bump up the speed. Once you have nailed this first section, you can go onto the next section, depending on how much time you have left to practice and what state your concentration is in.
Next lets look at styling. Keep it light! Remember that a Bouree is a dance like piece of music, so keep it light and slightly ‘stately’. Watch the video below where I demonstrate what I mean.
One thing to consider is the different keys this piece goes into at certain points. For example at bar 5, it goes into the key of G major, and then in bar 9 it goes into the key of A melodic minor. So, practicing your G major scales, as well as A melodic minor plus C major scales will be helpful for this piece. You may want to colour code where the music goes into these different keys to help remind you what is coming as you play along. Mistakes usually occur when the student is not prepared to go into the new key.
Very often in this piece, you’ll have take short breaths so you don’t interrupt the flow of the music. Make sure you plan out your breathing spots and stick to the same spot each time you practice this piece. One of the main reasons people make mistakes (apart from a lack of good practice time) while playing the flute is because they are running out of air during certain phrases-especially phrases that are more difficult than others. So, be sure to pre plan your air intake well!
You can practice short breaths in a scale. Watch the video for a demonstration.
It’s always better to practice for a lesser amount of time in a very focused way than it is to practice for a long time without good practice. So, use a visual timer (there are many free apps online for this), and decide how much time you will dedicate to each section of practice. Be laser focused for that amount of time before you let your mind wander to other sections of the piece. This will ensure efficient use of practice time.
If you would like some feedback on your playing with this piece or on anything else you are practicing, where you send me a video of your playing, please check out this page —>>HERE.