Step 1) Using a completely straight tone (no vibrato whatsoever), play a simple warm-up exercise for about a minute. (I like this one at Nathan Muehl’s site.)
Step 2) Now play the same exercise again, using no vibrato, but hum along with your playing.
- You can be in unison with the flute, or just hum a drone that is low enough to be relaxing for your throat – I prefer to drone on a mid- to low-ish note.
- While doing this step, think about the relaxed feeling in your throat and at the back of the tongue.
Step 3) Play the same exercise a third time, but with a warm, full vibrato.
- Try to reproduce the feeling in your tongue and throat that you had in step 2.
How This Works:
At first, the 3rd run-through may sound darker and warmer and fuller than the first. This is because the 2nd and 3rd steps help relax your throat and put your tongue in the right position. You can put this in your practice routine without significantly lengthening it. Just use your regular warm-up but do it three times using the method outlined above. It won’t fix things overnight, but it will get you there eventually as long as you do it conscientiously and really focus on your tone and the relaxed feelings you’re trying to achieve in the throat and the tongue. There are other benefits to relaxing the throat and the tongue, so this is an exercise that can benefit other aspects of your flute playing as well.
Good luck with this exercise. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome and appreciated!