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I'm a beginning flute player. When I play, I often- but not always- have a "shh" sound along with it. I noticed that it usually starts out pretty quiet when I start practicing, but after I play for about an hour it gets totally out of control. And since I usually play for an hour or more in one setting, that is a major problem. I've tried changing my lip shape and tilting my flute back and forth, and I found there's a spot where it doesn't sound as bad as the other spots, but the shh sound almost never fully goes away. Anybody know how to help with this?

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    Thank you for your side question about the braces. I am getting braces soon too and also play the flute so I share the same concern. I started a separate question for that. I hope it helps you too, although you are probably more proficient in the flute than I: music.stackexchange.com/questions/51704/… – Melanie Shebel Dec 31 '16 at 0:11
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    I've removed your second question about braces, as Melanie has asked it separately. It'll help keep this question focussed, and get you better answers. – endorph Dec 31 '16 at 1:31
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As Super Query Lad said, the problem may be that you're getting tired as you play (you mentioned being a beginner and playing for over an hour - that's rough!). Even advanced students and professionals start to sound pretty bad when they're exhausted and their emboucheres are relaxing. It's generally a sign you should stop.

Definitely the best advice you can have is practice! I remember that infuriating hissing sound - sometimes it seemed like it was more hiss than note - and wondering why I couldn't have a nice pretty tone like my teacher's. Tone studies (where you hold each note in turn until you can get it to a nice, full, round tone) definitely helped me; you can talk to your teacher about what tone study would work best for you. :)

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I know people say keep practising, but that's half of your problem! As a beginner, it's difficult to keep that perfect embouchure for an hour, and really, at your stage, it's becoming non-productive - as you found out.

Keep the practice sessions shorter - perhaps 20 to 30 mins at a time. Leave a good hour in between, to give your mouth muscles time to recover. You need that time, and the results will improve because of it. or go even more, and play for 15 mins, but 4 times a day. Note this is not necessarily a permanent situation, as, when your embouchure gets stronger - as in it can be maintained for longer - so your playing sessions can and will lengthen.

  • Are there any special exercises for strengthening the embouchure or something like that? – Ira I.I. Dec 12 '17 at 1:54
  • Like a lot of things in life, just doing what you do - practising - is a good method. It's doing exactly what the embouchure needs, provided you're doing it right. And when it sounds good, you are! – Tim Dec 12 '17 at 6:54
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Check out this thread on fluteland.com. Notably, it's mentioned that this is a 'by-individual-musician' issue...

Also, this nice gentleman is beautifully demonstrating body position, fingering, etc. on a wooden flute with no hiss:

Your ultimate answer here, as you may find in other places on this SE, is: practice, practice, practice. As play becomes second nature, and your instrument becomes an extension of your body, this problem will likely solve itself. Keep it up!

  • You mentioned noticing that the hiss gets worse over time during practice... Are you beginning to tire at those times? Slouching or loosening your grip? – Modern Apostles Dec 31 '16 at 16:02
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Time and hours on the instrument will strengthen your embouchure and the problem will disappear. Your embouchure muscles just need to become more hardened, which takes time.

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Adding onto other answers regarding embouchure, when playing for extended periods of time, a high amount of moisture from the air you blow into the flute develops inside the opening and pools into droplets inside the head of the instrument. Try swabbing out the instrument with a flag or with a cloth and stick (the kind where you thread the cloth into the stick to be able to push/pull/turn). You might notice some decrease in hiss after that.

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Have proper posture and make sure you play the correct note.

  • There's a be nice policy for all Stack Exchange sites, including this one, and ending an answer with "duh" does not comply with that policy. – Todd Wilcox Jan 9 '18 at 22:01
  • @ToddWilcox: Not sure, if not simply the syllable to tongue is meant, but the answer is too short to judge. Anyway, pasture seems to mean embouchure, so a language barrier may make things worse.... – guidot Jan 9 '18 at 22:25
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    @guidot Or it’s a misspelling of posture. – Todd Wilcox Jan 9 '18 at 23:22
  • Welcome. Not a good start, but perhaps you could clear up the ambiguity between posture and pasture. That should narrow the field, so to speak... Playing the correct note is rather too obvious. – Tim Jan 10 '18 at 11:28

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