I have an EWI (electronic wind instrument) that I use with a DAW, it's nothing professional; just for bedroom home recording. I have found my techniques to be terrible on the EWI, and was wondering what are some of the things people do to improve their technique.

I have set the EWI to Flute fingering, but still get lost as to the proper use of the 3 bottom keys, and the thumb keys are driving me crazy.

My question is: What instrument method books could be used to help me? I don't want to develop bad habits.

What resources have been published about performing on EWI as opposed to acoustic wind instruments?

  • Welcome to Music.SE! We prefer questions with one or two short direct answers. Your question seems to be asking how to play an electronic wind instrument in general, which is a large enough topic to write a book on! Is there a specific issue you're having trouble with as you start paying an EWI that we can help you with? And as you learn more, feel free to post multiple questions about any challenges you run into.
    – Kevin
    Oct 20, 2014 at 0:09
  • @Kevin You are right about questions that are broadly asking about broad topics, but there's nothing wrong with long answers. This question seems fine with a little clarification, as it has some specific problems it is looking to solve.
    – NReilingh
    Oct 20, 2014 at 0:50
  • 4
    OP: Could you add some information about why you've chosen a flute fingering map? Do you have experience playing the C transverse flute, or any other woodwind instruments? If the EWI is your only instrument, a different fingering map might be more appropriate.
    – NReilingh
    Oct 20, 2014 at 0:53
  • @NReilingh and Dorian Mode: What's the specific issue in the question? I have to admit, I have a hard time recognizing what it is. If the question is edited to make it more clear, I'll remove my close vote / vote to reopen.
    – Kevin
    Oct 20, 2014 at 17:19
  • Thanks Kevin and everyone that answered I chose the flute fingering because I play the flute, but I guess in reading the answers there is really no easy way to develop technique. To be more specific, I guess my question would be should I use a method book developed for sax. to learn better technique on the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). Oct 21, 2014 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


I have an EWI as well, but don't get to use it very often. I'm about in the same situation as you. Here's another EWI-related question that you might find interesting: What is needed for an electric woodwind?. Some of my answer here may overlap with things I said there.

I briefly tried the flute fingering a while back, but I generally keep it on the recorder setting. Partly because I'm more familiar with recorders than flutes, but also because the recorder fingering seems to have a larger overlap between octaves, which gives me more fingering options.

In my experience, I'd say the key thing to keep in mind while practicing, is that an EWI is not the same as the acoustic instrument its simulating. While there are many similarities, the EWI will generally be less forgiving of sloppy fingerings than the equivalent acoustic instrument. This involves a bit of humility, because at first, you feel like you should be able to use it pretty easily, but then you find out that it's different than you're used to. The tricky part for me is getting all fingers to move at precisely the same time, without getting a quick "blip" of a note in between. Sometimes I'll just break it down to a single pair of notes, and slowly practice getting the transition as crisp and perfect as possible between those two notes. This especially true if there's a register shift, involving the thumb-roller.

When programming the DAW (I use Reaper), I generally turn off the velocity response (i.e. map all the incoming notes to a fixed output velocity). Instead, you want the volume to come completely from the breath control, which will give you better, more consistent, control of volume. For example, this will allow you to start a note softly, but still be able to swell the note to a fuller volume. If you used the velocity, and started softly, it would place a cap on how loud you can get the note later.

One really important thing that I've discovered is that there's a different breathing technique. The EWI doesn't allow all the air to pass through the instrument. It's based on static air pressure, not velocity. As a result, after playing a full phrase, you might find yourself needing a breath, but your lungs are still full! This means you have to exhale before you can inhale. The trick here is to "leak" air from the corner of your mouth (this is not good practice on most wind instruments). With a bit practice, you can control the air leak rate to both provide proper dynamics, and end-up with empty lungs by the time you're ready to breathe again.


Not an EWI-specific answer - but instead some more general suggestions on practice:

It's easy to be defeated when we tell ourselves we're terrible. The truth is more likely to be that our playing technique is mostly OK, but that there are certain techniques that we find hard and need to be improved. So try to be really forensic and analytical, and see if you can identify and isolate specific weaknesses, and then devise your own exercises to strengthen those weaknesses.

As a trumpet player I do this all the time. For instance, I practice scales (chromatic, whole-tone, diminished, major, minor) in various rhythmic groupings starting on any note, and certain runs involve cross-fingerings that are more awkward than others. But they do improve with practice. So if a scale doesn't work, I ask "why" and then on repeating it I can home in on exactly where it's going wrong. And I can then practise that transition between two or three notes until it's more fluent.

Another thing is to set yourself realistic targets. Record yourself. You won't see an improvement after a day of practice, but you will after a month and definitely after a year. And then you'll realise there are other techniques you need to work on...

And always practice with a metronome, as when it's ticking you can't relax the tempo to make things easier to play.

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