The flute headjoint needs to go to the same position every time you assemble the flute. This consistency helps you learn faster because you’re still learning where the lips should go and how to aim your air stream, and that’s hard enough without having the headjoint in a different position each time you pick up the flute. Also, you will learn to play in tune quicker (and without unnecessary embouchure changes) if you always put the flute headjoint at the same depth and roll-in/roll-out every time. 
To ensure consistency of the headjoint position, mark the headjoint and body with a permanent pen (I like the “ultra fine point” Sharpies) so as to indicate both the headjoint depth and the amount of roll-in/roll-out.  
Here’s what I do:
  • First set up the headjoint where you think it should go.
  • I put a short line lengthwise at the top of the body socket, and then two lines on the headjoint – one crosswise, where the head meets the socket, and the second goes lengthwise about ¼ inch long, lined up to match the line on the socket when roll-in/roll-out is correct.  
  • Don’t worry, it’s not truly permanent.  The marking gradually wipes off over time, as I wipe down my flute after every playing/practice session.  Just re-apply as needed.
  • You can put the lines on the back side of the flute so your audience will never see them.

(In this picture, the headjoint is pulled out a little bit, so you can clearly see the double line on the headjoint.)
  • As you get better, you’ll probably find you need a different headjoint position, and consequently, you’ll need to remove the old lines and draw new ones.  In my case, as I learned to focus my air stream and blow faster, my playing became generally sharper so I had to start pulling out more.  You can just wipe off the old marks and make new ones.  I find it takes about a week or two of wipe-downs before the old ones are gone.  
  • I play in theater pit orchestras a lot.  It’s usually pretty cold down there, and I often have to pick up the flute cold and start playing immediately.  The headjoint has to be pushed in significantly more in this situation, so I like to have a second line on the headjoint that I use in cold pit situations. 
Happy fluting.  As always, please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on this post.  

I recently had a flute lesson with my teacher, after not being in a lesson for many months. I’ve been practicing hard during the away time, so I’ve fixed some old problems during that time, and started working on new problems. (Well actually they aren’t new – I’m just finally getting to focus on them 😉  So in the lesson we talked about how to address these fundamental problems in my flute playing. I’m going to start breaking these down into separate blog posts, and I hope you find them useful. Keep in mind that I’m a doubler, and I’ve been playing flute WRONG for a long time, so a lot of my work is focused on fixing fundamental problems that are probably already solved for most full-time flutists.

So without further ado, here’s the first Flute Tip:

How to tell if your headjoint is rolled in the correct amount:

  • Set up a tuner.  
  • Warm up your flute. 
  • Tune the flute and make sure the low C is in tune.
  • Play a steady, full, in-tune low C and hold it. 
  • From this point, do not roll in or out for the rest of the procedure.
  • While playing it, gradually overblow it until it becomes the 3rd space C.
  • Keep blowing and switch to the “normal” fingering for 3rd space C.
  • When you make this fingering change, don’t change anything else such as air support or embouchure
  • If you’re rolled in too far, the “normal” 3rd space C will be flat.
  • If you’re rolled out too far, the “normal” 3rd space C will be sharp.  

If your headjoint is rolled in or out too far, then you need to move it – not just once, but every time you play. You need a reference point, and sometimes looking down the length of the flute to line up the embouchure hole with the keys is just not very precise. So stay tuned for the next tip, which will help you with this problem! 

I have emerged victorious after a few days of geeking out here with my PC! (If you’re reading this and reach a critical mass of geek words, feel free to stop reading.) 

So I’ve been running my Windows 7 system with a motherboard-controlled RAID-5 array of 4 disks for about a year now.  But one of the 4 drives dropped out a few weeks ago.  I’ve been having trouble with RAID on this board since I bought it in roughly 2007, so I decided to dump the motherboard-based nVidia RAID and convert to a simple SATA hard drive.  So I found a guide online for this process, and it goes something like this…

Make a Windows (in my case Win7-64 bit) “system image” backup. (This is your “rainy day” backup.) Make another one as your main one (the guide recommended Paragon’s free one). Delete the RAID array. Restore the 3rd party image to one of the previously-RAID drives (but leave it under the control of the board’s RAID system). Reboot into Windows using the newly restored drive (still under RAID control though) and delete the RAID drivers. During the reboot, disable motherboard RAID (will make the drive revert to IDE or SATA, depending on your board). Then finish the reboot, at which time Windows will just automatically install IDE/SATA drivers during the reboot, leaving you running on your new single disk.

So that’s what I did in a nutshell, except I ran into several significant problems during this process.  See I had decided to upgrade my hard drives to bigger ones (trying some 2TB ones), so I bought an internal one to go inside the box as the new system disk, and I bought a 2nd external USB-3 one that was to hold all the backups during this transition process.  Well, I couldn’t get a successful backup to the external drive.  Windows Backup ran all night, so I went to bed and the machine was crashed in the morning. Same thing next day with Paragon’s backup. Tried ALL KINDS of things to fix the problem, but no matter what I did, the transfer rate to the external drives would gradually slow down to a crawl. Meanwhile, I was watching memory usage in Resource Monitor, and in both cases, free memory was gradually decreasing. The “System” process (which, best I can tell, manages the writing of data to the external drive) kept growing and growing, so this eventually just ate up all the memory (all 8GB of it) until the machine crashed.

So I finally decided the only way to make this work was to put the two new 2TB drives inside the box. That wasn’t easy (with 4 drives already in there) but I removed the excess RAID-5 drive (the one that had been kicked out of the array already) and managed to cram the other two in there. (That in itself was pretty difficult, especially since I had to break open the external USB enclosure to get at one of my two new 2TB drives.) Once inside the PC, I plugged one in to a SATA port (and made sure that port was under the RAID controller) and plugged the other into a port that was not under RAID control (had to change the setting for that SATA port in the BIOS).   

After that I got two smooth backups to the SATA drive using Windows and the Paragon software.  They took about 2.5 hours each.  Once I had these two good backups, I breathed a big sigh of relief, because I knew I now had a pretty good chance of making this work. (See, I was pretty pissed up to this point, having wasted the better part of three days dicking around with the external drives.)  And the rest of the process worked like a charm.

I restored the Paragon backup to the 2TB drive that was under RAID control. During the reboot, I deleted the RAID-5 array (so it wouldn’t try to boot from there).  Windows booted normally from the 2TB drive that was still in the RAID system.  Once in Windows, I uninstalled the RAID driver, and rebooted.  During the reboot, I used the BIOS to shut down all motherboard RAID, leaving all my drives as regular SATA discs.  Once again, windows booted normally, seeing the system drive via SATA and installing drivers for it.  And I’m typing this blog entry for you right using this new 2TB as my system drive.  Happy Dance!!!!