Chinese Flute: Learn the Chinese Bamboo Flute (Dizi) for Beginners | Jiang Jun Tham | Skillshare

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Chinese Flute: Learn the Chinese Bamboo Flute (Dizi) for Beginners

teacher avatar Jiang Jun Tham

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

23 Lessons (58m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What You're Going To Learn in Section 1

    • 3. Types of Chinese Flutes for Beginners

    • 4. Tuning Mechanism of the Chinese Flute

    • 5. 2 Things To Buy With the Chinese Flute

    • 6. Tips To Buy The Right Chinese Flute Online

    • 7. Parts of The Chinese Flute

    • 8. How To Hold The Chinese Flute Like A Proi

    • 9. How To Paste Bamboo Membrane On A Chinese Flute

    • 10. How To Breathe Properly To Play The Flute (MUST WATCH!)

    • 11. How The Have Proper Embouchure To Play The Chinese Flute

    • 12. How To Read Chinese Flute Fingering Charts

    • 13. How To Read Chinese Music Cipher Notation

    • 14. Sustained Note Exercise (Important Exercise For Improving)

    • 15. Single Tonguing Technique (Important Exercise For Improving)

    • 16. Tips To Play High Notes on The Chinese Flute

    • 17. Double Tonguing Technique (Intermediate Skill)

    • 18. 8 Common Beginner Mistakes When Playing The Chinese Flute

    • 19. How To Test The Bamboo Membrane On The Chinese Flute

    • 20. How To Read Rhythm in Chinese Cipher Music Notation

    • 21. Playing Folk Tune: Little White Cabbage

    • 22. Playing Folk Tune: Taiwan Island

    • 23. Conclusion

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About This Class

Chinese Flute: Learn Folk Tunes On This Bamboo Flute (Dizi)

In this class, you’ll learn everything you need to get started with picking up this awesome instrument - the Chinese Bamboo Flute, also known as the Dizi (笛子), and how to play 2 traditional folk tunes by the end of the course.

The course will be split into the following 3-part sections:

  1. Fundamental Knowledge - We’ll learn what to look out for before buying your Chinese Bamboo flute, the different types of flutes, additional accessories to purchase, tips on buying flutes, its physical characteristics and how to paste a bamboo membrane on the flute which gives it unique beautiful sound to this instrument
  2. Fundamental Techniques - I’ll teach simple music exercises even professionals practice, share how to breathe properly when playing any wind instruments, read Chinese music notation, learn how to play your first notes on the flute, and share 8 common mistakes beginner
  3. Fundamental Pieces - I’ll share how to play 2 traditional folk tunes suited for beginners in a step-by-step manner - the course will end here with concluding thoughts on how to proceed in your journey in learning this instrument!

If you’re a complete beginner to flutes or interested to learn about Chinese music styles, this course eases you in with the core fundamentals. 

This course is suitable for beginners who have no experience, or lots of experience in music. Even if you’re an experienced musician, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something that’s useful (I share the technical exercises even professional musicians use to increase their sound quality exponentially!) 

Who am I?

My name is JJ - I’ve taught the Chinese flute for the past 12 years in dozens of schools in Singapore. I’ve won several national music competitions, went to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and achieved a Diploma of Merit from the Beijing Conservatory of Music in Chinese Flute.

Aside from that, I love music. I’m a founder of a symphony orchestra and am a member of multiple national Chinese Orchestras in Singapore. Lastly, I’m a piano teacher and play the western flute in community symphony orchestras too!. 

I often get similar questions when teaching the Chinese flute and realized most materials about this instrument is in Mandarin (i.e not accessible to English speaking audiences).

So I thought I’d put this course together to show the fundamentals of how to play the Chinese flute, and to hopefully share the beauty of this instrument for decades to come :)


Email: [email protected]

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1. Introduction: Hey friends, [MUSIC] my name is JJ. This is a beginners course, covering everything you need to know about learning the Chinese flute. About my background, I've taught the Chinese flute for the past 12 years in Singapore. I've won several music competitions, went to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and achieved the diploma of merit from Beijing Conservatory of Music in Chinese flute. This course is split into three sections. The first is fundamental knowledge, where I'll share what to look out for before buying a flute, the different types of flute, additional things to buy with the flute, themes on buying flutes online, it's physical characteristics, and how to pace a bamboo membrane on this instrument. The second session covers fundamental techniques, or these simple music exercises, even professional musicians practice. I'll share how to breathe properly when playing the flute. With Chinese music notation, play your first notes on the flute, and eight common mistakes I see beginners make from my teaching experience for the past 12 years. The last section of the course covers fundamental pieces. I'll share how to play tunes of varying difficulties suited for beginners. I'll end the course by sharing how to proceed in your journey of learning the Chinese flute. This course is suitable for beginners who have no experience, or lots of experience in music. I truly believe to learn anything well, the fundamentals must be rock solid. I've included all these within the course. That's all I have to say. I hope to see you learning at detail. See you in the course. [MUSIC] 2. What You're Going To Learn in Section 1: Hey, friends. Welcome to the first video of the course Fundamental Knowledge. In this section, it doesn't matter if you have a flute or not, I'll cover everything you need to know before buying a flute. Please watch the videos before getting one. If you have a flute, you can skip to the second section, fundamental techniques, where I'll cover the basics on how to hold the flute and its physical features. I would still recommend watching the videos in this section as I'll share cultural contexts about different types of flutes and its music styles. Before we start, I want to thank you for attending this course. I hope you find it useful in your journey in picking up this awesome instrument. 3. Types of Chinese Flutes for Beginners: Hey friends. In this video, I'll share a few beginner friendly flutes. This will help you to choose the right flute to buy. There are two main categories of flutes: one called the bangdi and the other called qudi. The most obvious difference is the size of these flutes. Bangdis are smaller, qudis are bigger. If you're traveled to China, Northern Chinese are usually more loud in their speaking while Southern Chinese are usually more mellow and smooth in their accent. The sound of music is reflected within music pieces written for them. Here's a short excerpt of both music styles. If you play qudi and bangdi side-by-side, the bangdi has a brighter and louder resonance song, the qudi is usually more mellow and relaxing song. Going back to which flute is suitable for you, most beginners started with a [inaudible] . In English, it means a flute in a G major key. In buying a flute, you can see a letter engraved on it. If you have small fingers and don't mind high-pitched flute sounds, choose a G major flood key, simply because your fingers will feel more comfortable. It is also the flute most children start learning from. But if you're like me who prefer mellow songs and have normal size hands, I'll recommend [inaudible] also known as a D major flute, classified as a qudi. If your hands are really big, you can use the [inaudible] also known as a C Major flute. Both the C major and D major flutes are considered qudi. The bangdi uses less air compared to the qudi because it's smaller but don't let that stop you from using a qudi. There will be an entire set of lessons covering breathing techniques. If you can breathe, you can play both flute types. Eventually, all Chinese flutist must learn both the bangdi and qudi. For beginners, I'll personally recommend based on what you prefer and slowly expand from there. 4. Tuning Mechanism of the Chinese Flute: Hey, friends. In this video, I'll share about the tuning mechanism of Chinese flute. This will make you have the right decision, when buying one. When shopping for one, take note if it has an adjustable middle section of the flute. This is the flute's tuning mechanism. If you're intending to play the flute with other instruments like the piano, buy the one with the tuning mechanism. If you don't intend to play with other instruments, purchase the one without the tuning mechanism. Traditional Chinese flutes don't usually have the tuning feature, because they are usually performed alone. This tuning feature was recently developed when they needed to play with other instruments in the Chinese orchestra. If we compare both flute types, the one without the tuning mechanism usually has better sound resonance. The sound of the flute is contributed from the bamboo vibration. The traditional flutes without the mechanism usually sounds better because it resonates well. Professional flutists generally use flutes without the tuning pack because it sounds better. But for beginners, I don't think it's necessary. Choosing either one with or without the tuning pack, does not matter much, unless you want to play music with other instruments. 5. 2 Things To Buy With the Chinese Flute: Hey friends. In this video, I'll be sharing two additional things you must buy with your Chinese flute. The first thing you must buy is a bamboo membrane. It is usually sold on the same platforms you're buying the Chinese flute from. It looks like this. I'll be making a separate video on how to use it, but it's important to have it because it's the ingredient that gives the flute it's unique sound. Here's a demonstration with and without the bamboo membrane. The second thing you must buy is the ejiao. I don't think it has a English name for it. It's a traditional Chinese herb. It is used to glue the bamboo membrane to the flute. This should be available at the same shop you're buying the Chinese flute from. In the next video, I'll share three tips when it comes to buying a Chinese flute online and recommended platforms you can purchase your flute from. 6. Tips To Buy The Right Chinese Flute Online: Tip 1, don't buy a flute beyond 100 bucks. It is not necessary. There is a diminishing marginal improvement in the quality the more you spend on it, the more expensive flutes will be beautifully designed, but that doesn't mean it sounds better. At the same time, I don't recommend buying flutes less than $10. Those are made from poor bamboo and it's difficult to play. Any flute from $50 to $100 is good enough. Tip 2, don't be affected by the title of the product. When browsing online shops, I see flutes titled as constant great flutes or professional flutes. Most flutes from the 50- $100 range are good enough, I still even use some myself. The third tip is to buy flutes from either online or offline music shops. Avoid buying flutes on generic websites like Amazon or shopping platforms. Find music shops selling a wide variety of Chinese instruments. It's generally safer to buy from them. I'm based in Singapore. If you have no idea where to buy a flute from, try Eason Singapore. They do international shipping to anywhere in the world. Ping them to see if they deliver to your country. That's all you need to know about buying your first Chinese flute. In the next few videos I will share the different parts of the flute, how to hold it properly, and how to pace the bamboo membrane on the flute. See you there. 7. Parts of The Chinese Flute: Hey, friends. In this video, I'll be covering four specific parts of the Chinese flute. This is the blowhole, where air is blown into to produce the sound. This is a membrane hole where bamboo membrane or scotch tape needs to be pasted over it for it to achieve a sound. If you don't have anything covering it, you can't play any notes on a flute. This six here are your fingering holes. They are covered by your fingers, each covering a different hole. The last section of the flute, are air holes, it allows air to escape. If you cover these holes, you can't play the flute properly. That's it for this video, I'll show how to hold the flute in the next one, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 8. How To Hold The Chinese Flute Like A Proi: Hey friends. In this video, I'll show you how to hold the Chinese flute. It depends if you're right or left-handed. I will be demonstrating how to hold a flute for right hand users. Everything else is opposite for left-hand users. Hold the flute with the air hole pointing vertically downwards. If you're playing the flute for long periods of time, there will be moisture accumulated. We want to prevent the moisture from accumulating near the bamboo membrane hole because it's sensitive to water. If the bamboo membrane gets wet, it's spoils. I'll cover the specifics about the bamboo membrane in another video, but take note of this. Next, use your left-hand to cover the first three finger holes nearest to the bamboo membrane hole. Your index, middle, and ring finger should each cover one hole. To balance the flute, put the thumb below the fingering hole closest to the bamboo membrane hole. Your pinky should also be placed on a flute for extra balance. Ensure your left-hand forms a C-shape when holding a flute. Do not fully straighten your fingers like this when covering the finger holes. They should be curved and relaxed. You should be able to hold your flute with just one hand. Next, use a right hand to cover the remaining holes, each covering one finger hole. The thumb of your right hand should be below the index finger of your right hand. Rest your pinky on the flute as well. Practice this action of taking up and putting down a flute. It will make you and force you to be more familiar with holding it properly. One of my favorite life phrases is from this person called Tony Robbins. He says, "Repetition is mastery." It applies to everything in life, including holding a flute and mastering it. The only caveat I'll add to that is to make sure you repeat the correct thing. We don't want to master the wrong thing. In the next video, I'll share how to pace the bamboo membrane on your flute. I'll see you there. 9. How To Paste Bamboo Membrane On A Chinese Flute: Hey, friends. In this video, I'll be sharing how to paste the bamboo membrane on your flute. As a recap, it is a bamboo membrane which gives a flute its special sound compared to the normal Western flute. Here are things you need. One pair of scissors, one Chinese flute, a cup of water, bamboo membrane, and one piece of artel. Step 1, gently pull out one stream of bamboo membrane until it's about one cm in length. It is fragile and breaks easily, be very careful. Step 2, cut it. Step 3, notice a bamboo membrane is like a rounded tracing paper. Cut it with scissors and it will split become one flat membrane. Keep it somewhere near you. Do not lose it. It's very light. It'll fly away with a little bit of wind. Step 4, apply a little bit of water around a membrane hole of the flute. Avoid putting too much water where it gets into the membrane hole. Step 5, take the artel and rub it around the membrane hole. The artel access a natural type of glue that makes the bamboo membrane stick onto the flute. Rub it until it gets sticky. The most common mistakes beginners make is not applying enough artel. You want to make sure it's sticky enough. If it isn't sticky enough, add more water near the membrane hole and rub it with artel. Once it's sticky enough, pick your pinky, use it to rub off any excess artel on the sides of the membrane hole. Step 6, once the area around the membrane hole sticky, use the left hand's thumb and index finger and hold a bamboo membrane against a light source and you'll see lines on it. Adjust the bamboo membrane such that there are lines in the vertical direction, not horizontal. Step 7, with your left hand, hold the flute in your palm while you hold a bamboo membrane with your thumb and index finger. Paste the bamboo membrane on a sign of a membrane hole. Use your right hand thumb and index finger to pull the remaining part of the bamboo membrane over the membrane hole to cover entirely. Once done, you should start seeing horizontal lines appear because you are pulling the bamboo membrane horizontally from left to right. Make as many horizontal lines appear as much as possible. The more lines the better. Ensure there isn't any direct water contact with a circular exposed part of the bamboo membrane. If not, the flute will sound terrible. Step 8, let the artel in a bamboo membrane dry up. Don't touch it for 15-30 seconds. That's it. You have pasted your first bamboo membrane. In the third section of this course, I will share how to test if your bamboo membrane is working well. The assumption now is you have not tried to play the flute yet. We can only learn to properly test it after we have learned the fundamental techniques in the last section of the course. If you're having trouble, do not worry, using a scotch tape can work. This video serves as an introduction you should rewatch when pasting bamboo membrane on the Chinese flute. That's the end of Section 1 fundamental knowledge. I'll see you in the next video, where we will start playing your first notes with the flute. 10. How To Breathe Properly To Play The Flute (MUST WATCH!): Hey friends. Welcome to the second section of this course; fundamental techniques. The first thing we need to learn is how to breathe properly. I know it sounds ridiculous, but this is the most important aspect of playing any wind instruments. For this video, we don't need a flute, we just need a comfortable chair. If you want to stand, that's better. Most people who don't play any wind instruments don't breathe properly. We need to fix this before touching the flute. Here's an example. I'm breathing in and breathing out. Your stomach and diaphragm area should be expanding and contracting. When you are full of air, it should look like you have a very, very big stomach and fat. When you have no air, you should be contracted and very, very skinny and maybe you're able to see your six packs. Notice that my shoulders don't move. Your stomach and diaphragm area should be expanding and contracting. The key is to push the limit ever-so-slightly when exhaling in and out. You want to struggle pushing out the last bits of air you have and struggle just a little bit when approaching your limit when breathing in all the air. Make sure you don't overdo it. Expanding your capacity will take time. The mistakes most beginners make is they don't breathe enough. If you don't breathe, you get dizzy and we don't want that. For this exercise with me now, I'm going to breathe in as much as I can for five seconds, hold it for three seconds, and breathe out. Starting in three, two, one. Breathe in and breathe out. This exercise forces you to breathe properly. When you're playing a flute, this needs to be unconscious and instinctual. It's similar to meditating, but the emphasis is on your breath. The next time you are waiting for a queue, standing in line, or just waiting at a traffic light, do this simple exercise. It'll build your air capacity, which will go a long way to help not only in playing the flute but life too. 11. How The Have Proper Embouchure To Play The Chinese Flute: Hey friends. In this video, I'll teach how to have a proper embouchure or mouth position when playing your first note on the Chinese flute. By the end of it, you'll learn how to shape your mouth and tips that will help. Step 1, smile in a passive-aggressive manner like this. Imagine someone cutting your queue, you don't like the person, but since you're nice, you tolerate it. Step 2, imagine you're going to say the word tu. While smiling, your lips should be in a horizontal position like this. Have a small opening in your mouth to make space to say the word tu like this, tu, tu, tu, tu, tu. Make sure to have a little tension on the side of the cheeks. I'll show it now tu, tu, tu, tu, tu. Pay attention to the tip of your tongue. When you say this word, there's a tongue action that bounces off the top of your gums like this, tu, tu, tu, tu. If you just repeat the action without a voice, you'll get this song. Notice air coming out of your mouth. This is a technique that we need to play all notes on the flute with. Do not bloat your cheeks or have an awkward kissing position. The mouth position will tend to come outwards when saying word tu. You want to pull back with your cheeks and maintain some tension. If you put your palm in front of your face and blow with a passive smile saying the word tu without your voice, the air should hit your wrist area or below, depending on how near your palm is your face. Anything higher means you won't be able to make a sound on the flute. Moving forward, I'll refer to this as a tu technique t and u. Step 3, watermelon slice, exercise. Hold the flute as if you're eating a watermelon slice with both hands like this, push the blowhole against your mouth. Think of your lips getting in contact with the blowhole directly in the same plane. After that, bend outwards such that a blowhole should be perpendicular to your lips. Your lips should be facing straight. The blowhole should be aiming towards the sky. Step 4, have tension towards the back of your cheeks and use the tu technique. Make sure each try is short and doesn't use a lot of air. Here's a demonstration. Keep trying until you get it. One warning here, remember to always breathe. Beginners tend to not breathe enough and they become dizzy. One last step, don't be too tense at the cheeks. You don't have to engage it with too much strength. But there needs to be a little bit of tension. Don't worry if you can't get it on your first try. It took me many tries before getting it. Try a little bit every day, and limit practice to only 30 minutes at a time. If it's any longer, you may get dizzy and we don't want that. That's it for this lesson. The end goal of this video is to achieve a consistent sound without covering any of the finger holes yet, you need to make sure you can get some sound before we continue. I'll see you in the next lesson. 12. How To Read Chinese Flute Fingering Charts: Hey friends. In this video, I'll teach you how to read Chinese music notation. There are generally two types of music notations. One being the staff notation, which is what you commonly see in western music. The other being cipher notation, where we are reading numbers. When musicians refer to music in Chinese cipher notation, they don't see the numbers you see as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. They refer to one as Do, two as Re, three as Mi, four as Fa, five as So, six as La, seven as Ti. If you remember in school during your music lessons, your teacher probably taught you this, Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. This refers to the sequence of musical notes that go one after the other. Do, a deer, a female deer, Re, a drop of golden sun. Every time you see the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 on the music score, you need to translate it in your own mind to Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. This chart here shows a specific fingering of each note on a Chinese flute. Three here means Me, which means you'll need to cover one finger hole, which is the flute's first finger hole nearest to the bamboo membrane hole. It is covered by our left-hand index finger. Two here means Re, which means you'll cover two finger holes on a flute. It covers the first and second finger hole. One here means Do, which means you'll cover three finger holes. It covers the first, second, and third finger hole. I want you to pause the video looking at a fingering chart here, try to figure out where is Fa, So, La, and Ti. Pause the video right now. Hopefully, you have paused the video. Here are the answers. Four means Fa, you're covering the second and third finger hole. The first finger hole is not covered. Five means So, which means covering all the holes. Take note there are different fingerings for different pitches of the note. When you see a note like five, which means So with a black dot below it, it means that you're playing the low notes. If you do not see a black dot below the note, it means you're playing the medium pitched note like this. Take note of this So. You don't have to cover the first note, but for the low So, you need to cover all the finger holes. Moving on to six, which means La on the flute, it covers all holes except the last hole. Lastly, seven which means Ti, cover the first four finger holes of the flute. Notice both low and medium pitch, Tis have the same fingering, the only difference is the tonguing technique used. If you look at Southern musics course, there will be some notes of a black dot above, which means you're playing the high pitch version of the note but with the same fingering. Notice one and one with a dot above have the same fingering, but the sound is different. This is a normal Do. High Do. This is the same for Re and Mi. Note the fingering is the same, but a pitch is different. It is controlled by the force of air and ambrosia. Don't worry about playing the different pitches of notes for now. The next step will be to change your fingering on the flute based on a note that you choose. For a note Re, hold the flute with a Re fingering. For a note So, hold the flute with a So fingering. Practice this until it becomes easy. You should be able to close your eyes and change your fingering according to what notes you want to choose. A tip would be to say the notes on the fingering you're changing to like this. Re, So, Mi, Fa, Do. I hate to say this, but you need to memorize it. Instead of doing it theoretically by using only brainpower, incorporate muscle movements and that will help you remember them easily. After this video, I'll refer to each music note as Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do instead of saying 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. That's it for this video. Take your time to understand and re-watch the video if you have to and I'll see you in the next one. 13. How To Read Chinese Music Cipher Notation: Hey friends. This video will be an add on to reading Chinese music notes. By the end of it, you'll confidently pick up any score in cipher notation and understand how to read it. Here is an example of a cipher notation score. It is read from left to right. You begin with the first note we see on the left here, which is a Soh. It means we need to change our fingering on the flute to be Soh. For this video don't play anything on the flute yet. Go through the motion of changing a fingering based on what notes you see. It's an exercise to test how familiar you are with your fingering. I'll go through an example right now. Soh Mi Mi Re. On the flute, it should be something like this, Soh Mi Mi Re. Soh Mi Mi Re Doh. Here's the fingering of it. Soh Mi Mi Re Doh. So that' an example. I'll touch several other exercises you can try. Feel free to use them to have a better mastery of the fingering of notes. This will help you in the next section where you start playing the flute. See you in the next lesson. 14. Sustained Note Exercise (Important Exercise For Improving): Hey friends. In this video, I will teach the most important exercise every flutist must practice for maximum results. I've been taught by several Chinese flute masters before and they all practice this technique called the sustained note exercise. If I may go off topic for just a moment, people say meditation is the most important thing anyone can do to improve their mental well-being and state of mind. Of the many ways to meditate, the easiest one is to do nothing, also known as effortless meditation. The same is pretty much for the sustained note exercise on a flute. To be honest, it's very boring and nothing exciting, but it brings ridiculous results. This technique is the act of playing each note on the flute for fixed duration of time across all notes. For beginners, we start off by playing a note Doh for five seconds, like this. Progress on to the next note, Re. That wasn't exactly five seconds, but just count 1-5 silently in your mind. As a recap, before you play each note, remember the breathing exercise I shared earlier, breath deeply into your diaphragm until it gets really full before you play it. Think of every note playing on the flute like an athlete running a 100-meter race. He needs a good start. The tool techniques helps us have a clean and clear sound. Place your airflow evenly over five seconds. Like a flowing tarrif, you don't want to blast all air out in the first three seconds, you have too little air in the last two seconds. You want an even and sustained sound over five seconds. I'll now share some bad examples. Similar to meditating, your mind should only focus on a sound of the flute and nothing else. While air is flowing out of your mouth, feel the sensation of your body reacting to this action and keep a focus on a sound you're producing. It should be a clear, pure sound and it should not shiver. Let me demonstrate it one more time. Professionals I learned from at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, practiced this for years. The reason is so they can produce the best possible sound on the flute. The longer you can play each note, the better. Over time, it is almost guarantee that your air capacity and sound quality will improve. As a starter, practice this exercise for notes, Doh, Re, Mi, Fa, So, for now. I'll cover a separate video on tips to play higher notes, something most beginners struggle with. That's it for this video. I urge you to have patience with this exercise. From my experience, both meditation and a sustainable exercise has made me more calm and relaxed, and I hope it can do the same for you as well. I'll see you in the next lesson. 15. Single Tonguing Technique (Important Exercise For Improving): Hey friends. In this video, I'll be teaching the single tonguing exercise. This is also a fundamental exercise all flutists use. This is similar to the video about mouth position and ambrosia. The difference is you'll be applying this technique to different notes on a flute. If you're unable to make any song from the watermelon slice exercise, it will be difficult for this video. The focus of this is to make sure your fingers are synched with the airflow from your mouth. Here's a demonstration of what I would like you to try in this exercise. As a reminder, make sure your cheeks are not bloated. There should be a little tension in your cheeks. Imagine saying the word two without a voice. Note the movement of the tongue which goes though inside your mouth, this helps to have a nice starting sound on the flute. One last additional tip, breathe immediately after every note. I'll demonstrate again, notice my mouth position bounces after I play each note after using a single tonguing exercise. This helps with two things. It forces you to breathe which is good, it forces you to play short notes. The length of the notes should be as short as possible or having a good quality song. I'll now demonstrate a bad example. Practice this exercise for Do Re Mi Fa So. I'll cover tips to play high notes in the next video and I'll see you in the next lesson. 16. Tips To Play High Notes on The Chinese Flute: Hey friends. In this video, I'll be sharing three tips on how to play high notes on the flute. Tip 1; high notes don't need more air. The higher the note, generally, the lesser air you need. Avoid using more air for high notes because the secret to play those high notes has everything to do with your embouchure and mouth position. Tip 2; make your embouchure smaller and more tense. For most notes played on the flute, there is a normal size and how big the opening of your mouth is to let the air flow out. When you're playing higher notes, the opening of your mouth needs to become even smaller. The higher the note, the smaller the mouth opening needs to be. Naturally, the pressure for the airflow to go out this small opening is much higher and this is needed to achieve the high notes. Think of a water pipe with water flowing out. To achieve high notes, the opening of the water pipe needs to be smaller. Lesser water is used but it's the pressure that makes playing high notes possible. Tip 3; practice high notes with a sustained note exercise and single tonguing exercise. I'm repeating, but use the concepts of the sustained note exercise and a single tonguing exercise. Here's a bonus tip. Don't practice all notes in a single practice session. If you can't get a good sound from any of them, practice one note at a time. After you get a consistent sound, only then do you proceed on to try higher notes. As a caution, avoid practicing high notes for more than one hour. There are two reasons. It will hurt your ears and you may get dizzy if you don't breathe enough. Beginners tend to use too much air when trying to play high notes. That's it for this video. As a bonus, I'll be covering the double-tonguing technique in the next one. It's more of an intermediate skill. Feel free to skip it, but it's also a technique all Chinese flutters knows. 17. Double Tonguing Technique (Intermediate Skill): Hey friends. In this video, I'll teach the double-tonguing technique. This skill will allow you to play notes at a rapid speed. Here's an excerpt for one of my performances. As a recap, the single-tonguing exercise uses a TU action of our tongue. The double-tonguing technique uses two syllable, TU and KU. When you say TU, there is a pocket of air that comes out of your mouth. When you say KU, there's another pocket of air that comes out. Combining both TU and KU allows you to play two notes consecutively like this. To practice this verbally say TU-KU, TU-KU with your voice and say it in an even and consistent manner like this. I know it sounds weird, but it's really effective. Beginners tend to say unevenly like this. Only after when you can say evenly, say without the voice to hear only the movement of air. It should sound something like this. Like going to the gym, practice this in sets. This is one set. Beginners should be able to play up to four sets like this. Intermediate players can play up to six sets. Advanced players should be able to play up to 15-30 sets. Notice I haven't used the flute yet. If you can't do it without the flute, you can't do it with the flute. The more sets you play, the faster it needs to be simply because you don't have enough air to last so long. Practice this slowly and increase your sets gradually. After you've practiced it successfully without the flute, use the flute and practice it one note at a time. Start with DO RE MI FA. Here's a demonstration. If you have no issues, practice this technique with different notes. This is where it becomes difficult, where we train the flexibility of our fingers together with the airflow. For starters, choose any four notes in sequence. DO RE MI FA is an example. SO-LA-TI-DO, is an example. Here's a demonstration. That's it for this video. As mentioned earlier, this is not a basic technique, but an intermediate one. Don't worry if you can't master this, focus on a single tonguing technique and a sustained note exercise. Revisit this video after you have mastered those two exercises. In the next video, I'll share eight common mistakes beginners make. It'll give you points to look out for when you're practicing. I'll see you in the next lesson. 18. 8 Common Beginner Mistakes When Playing The Chinese Flute: Mistake 1, not covering the finger holes properly. If you have difficulty playing a note, it's most probably because of this. As a reminder, don't use the tip of your finger to cover the holes. Use the inner parts of your finger to do so. Mistake 2, not breathing enough. As mentioned before, always breathe. Mistake 3, holding the finger holes too tightly. If there's a whole mark on your finger when practicing, it's too tight. Relax your finger when covering the holes. Mistake 4, holding onto the flute too tightly. To test if you are doing so, try to balance the flute with only four fingers, with the supporting fingers not covering any finger hole. Mistake 5, bamboo membrane is not placed properly. The membrane cannot be too loose, nor should it be too tight. It is easier to control the flute in terms of playing notes when no bamboo membrane is tight, but we don't want it to be too tight because the unique sound of the flute is lost. I'll teach how to adjust a bamboo membrane in the next section of this course. Mistake 6, fingers moving too slowly from note to note. When changing notes, be sure to have quick finger action. Beginners tend to have lazy finger movements specifically for notes which require more finger changes, like from NI to SO, because there's so many fingers that needs to be changed at once. It requires precise movement with the right timing. Mistake 7, practicing too much. Like running marathons, beginners don't star them. I used to practice 10-12 hours a day, but it's only possible if you have a good base. For beginners, I recommend being more consistent, 13 minutes of good practice daily is more than enough. If you practice a sustained note and single tonguing exercise over a month, you will see exponential results. Mistake 8, unintentionally covering holes that are not supposed to be covered. Here are two examples. Notice when my right-hand fingers are hovering too closely above the finger holes the notes pitching is affected. When you're not playing notes requiring those finger holes, ensure there's enough distance from them to avoid the pitch being affected. Make sure your fingers are not too far away from the finger holes or too close to it. We'll now move on to the next section of the course, where we will finally learn our first pieces on the flutes. 19. How To Test The Bamboo Membrane On The Chinese Flute: Hey friends, welcome to the third and final section of this course. Before I proceed to teach music pieces, there are two more things I just need to cover. In this video, I'll share how to test your bamboo membrane and how to adjust it safely. The objective of adjusting the bamboo membrane is to make sure we have a unique bright sound from the flute. This bamboo membrane is the secret sauce of the flute's awesome sound. The bamboo membrane on flutes generally have three states: too loose, too tight, and just nice. If there is some buzzing sound from the bamboo membrane and you can't play the flute properly, it means that the bamboo membrane is too loose. We fix it by tightening it. Prepare a cup of water and hold the flute like this. Put your left hand on the left side of the bamboo membrane and hold the bamboo membrane tight with the thumb. Tension on the left thumb should be pulling away from the bamboo membrane hole. Next, use one right-hand finger to dip into the cup of water. Place a little bit of water on the right side of a bamboo membrane. As a reminder, avoid putting water onto the part of the bamboo membrane which is exposed to the inside of the flute. If it gets wet, the bamboo membrane will spoil. Gently use your right hand thumb and pull the bamboo membrane towards the right. Imagine you're pulling a towel in two opposite directions. It's the same with a bamboo membrane but more gentle. After you have gently put it in opposite directions, give it 5-10 seconds to rest. Try the flute afterwards. If you have done it correctly, the buzzing sounds should be gone. It should be easier to play the flute with a nice bright sound. If you feel like your flute sounds like an airy bamboo flute, it may be because your flute's bamboo membrane is too tight. There are two ways to remedy this. First, you can use the heat of your breath to loosen the bamboo membrane. It's the exact same thing you try before going on a date with someone. You check if your breath stinks or not. The same can be used on the bamboo membrane to loosen it. It will make it a little bit looser. If it doesn't make it loose enough, here's another more effective way. Play a sustained note exercise. While playing it, use your finger to gently press on the bamboo membrane. I want to emphasize on the word gently because it breaks very easily. Once you release it after pressing, you should notice the sound of the bamboo flute being brighter. You want to aim for sweet spot. If you press it too much, the bamboo membrane will be too loose after which you'll need to tighten it again. That's how to test your bamboo membrane. The art of pasting one can be a separate cause entirely. There are dozens of factors to consider such as temperature, thickness, and quality of the bamboo membrane. But for beginners, this will be sufficient. The end goal is to get a nice unique sound from the bamboo flute. That's it for this video. I'll be covering the basics of music theory, and how to read rhythm in Chinese notation in the next video. 20. How To Read Rhythm in Chinese Cipher Music Notation: Hey friends. In this video, I'll teach the basics of music theory and how to read rhythm in Chinese cipher notation. The objective of this video is to equip you with the knowledge to teach yourself how to learn new Chinese traditional pieces that uses cipher notation. The screen you're seeing right now shows what a typical Chinese music's code will look like. The piece I'll be covering today is called [inaudible] , which translates to Little White Cabbage in English. This is most probably a folk tune farmers in China sung to when plucking cabbage to entertain themselves. This document will be available in the download section of the course. First, you see a weird symbol over here and a number. This symbol is called a crotchet and is taken from Western music notation. The number here indicates how fast the speed of the piece is. In Western music, this is called the tempo of the music. In actual terms, the speed of this piece is at 69 crotchet beats per minute. It sounds complicated, but no worries use a metronome to figure out how fast this piece is. If you don't know what a metronome is, it's a device that can indicate the speed of a piece. Don't get a physical metronome, download a free one on your mobile phone. Another way of knowing the speed of the piece is estimation. We know there are 60 seconds in one minute, so 69 crotchet beats per minute is slightly faster than one second. I have the metronome speed set at 69. Every time you hear one tick, it means one crotchet. In Chinese music notation, one number without any lines below it indicates that it's one crotchet. This is an example that you see here. There are three crotchet beats right now. When we have the metronome on, it means that whenever one tick happens, you need to play one note. Exactly when the next tick happen, you need to play the next note. If I was singing with a metronome, it would sound something like this, So Mi Mi Re. Notice in the second bar, the Re note is extended and there are additional flat lines here. This simply means to hold the previous note. One flat line here means one crotchet beat. In this example, it means to play the note for a total of three crotchet beats. Going to the third bar, you will see some numbers that one line below it. Every time you see a line under a note, it means the time value of it is cut into half. Let's assume that one crochet beat is one second, half a crochet beat is half a second. Half a crochet beat is also known as a quiver in Western music. If one metronome tick is one second, that means whenever one full tick happens, you need to play two quiver notes. I'll now sing a third and fourth bar of the piece with the metronome. So Mi Mi Re. Notice on the note Mi and Re, two notes are played in one single tick of the metronome. The first step to learning any piece is to know the rhythm of it by just looking at the score. You may sound stupid singing like me, but trust me, it will help you learn a lot faster. I'll start now from the beginning. So Mi Mi Re. After you understand the rhythm of the piece, this is where you need to piece together the fingering for each note to what you just sang. If you're singing So Mi Mi Re, you should train yourself to think about changing or fingering to each of those notes. Here's a demonstration. So Mi Mi Re. That's it for this video. I'll go through this piece in more detail in the next few lessons. 21. Playing Folk Tune: Little White Cabbage: Hey friends. In this video, I'll be teaching you how to play the Chinese folk tune, Little White Cabbage. Here's the score of the piece. Notice I've written Ts all over the place. This is to remind you to use the single tonguing technique on a note which I've written Ts on. In addition, notice there are these lines above some notes, they are called slurs. There will always be Ts written at the start of a slur, but never a T on a second note of the slur. Take note of this for all pieces, they won't bother to write a T for you. Artists usually identify them easily and use the single tonguing technique exercise automatically. For a slur, imagine there is a stop point which is the first note and an end point which is a second note. The next thing to take note of is the inverted triangle symbols. It's a symbol to use a single tonguing technique. For more advanced pieces, there usually won't be these symbols to remind musicians to use the technique. It should be automatically be done by the slur test. The last thing we'll take note of is these arrow marks pointed downwards. They indicate breath points, which indicates you should only breath once you've reached the mark. I'll now play a piece of few bars at a time, pause the video after I play to copy me. I have also a metronome on at a slower speed. For beginners, I don't recommend having it. Only use it once you're familiar with the fingering. Take note, I've only applied a single tonguing technique on So, Mi, and Re. This Mi here does not have any tonguing technique. The Re has a single tonguing technique. Onto the net two bars. As we can, make sure you play the Mi Re Do, at a faster speed compared to the rest of the notes as covered in the previous video. Onto the next four bars. Most beginners struggle to play the lower notes like Lo La and Lo So. Common mistakes here will not be covering the holes properly, fix it by practicing a sustained note exercise. You'll realize the way to play medium range notes like Do Re Mi Fa So is different compared to playing low notes. A tip I have for playing low notes would be to use more air. The higher the notes you play, the less air you need, but a tighter the ambrosia needs to be. The lower the notes you play, the more air you need, the more relaxed ambrosia and mouth position. Onto the next four bars. As a reminder, make sure you use a single tonguing technique on all of these notes here. Onto the next four bars. There should be no problem here. Onto the last four bars, which is a little tricky. The low notes of the single tonguing technique would be tricky. You will also need to play the four bars in one single breath. If you have practice a single tonguing exercise and a sustained note exercise, you should have not much problem here. That's it for this video. You just learned the Chinese folk tune, Little White Cabbage. Don't worry if you aren't able to muster it just yet. With enough practice, time, and effort, you'll definitely get there. 22. Playing Folk Tune: Taiwan Island: Hey friends. Welcome to the last video of this section. I'll be teaching a piece called Taiwan tau, which translates to Taiwan Island. This piece is more difficult than little white cabbage because it has a wider range of notes on the flute. I'll be using a or a C major flute. If you don't have it, using any other flutes will be okay. First, we need to understand the rhythm of the piece. Use the metronome to figure it out. Now there is a tempo speed indicated here. Some music scholars have Chinese characters, which gives a clue on what the tempo is. These Chinese characters here means slow and passionately. On our single piece, four bars at a time. While I'm singing it, think of it's fingering on the flute. I'll show my fingering move while singing it. Make sure the fingering used matches what you're singing. Do Re Mi, So La Do La So Me So La Do Mi La Do So. Take note to use only a single tonguing technique on the first note of each bar. There are two parts I want to highlight here. In a second bar it sounds like this. Take note when you change your fingering from La to So, check that you're using the correct fingering. When you're playing a So, make sure you don't cover all the holes because you're playing the middle So, make sure you open the first finger hole. Many beginners will just cover all the finger holes for a note So, avoid this. Another part I want to highlight is the high notes in bar 3 which is So La Do Mi Re Do So. I'm repetitive, but if you have practiced your sustainable exercise well, this should be no problem. You'll need to adjust your ambrosia of mouth position to have more attention for the high notes. On to the next four bars, you're singing while imagining the fingering on the flute. La Do La So Mi Re So Mi Re Do So La Do So Mi Re Do. Another section I'd like to point out is this bar here, So La Do So Mi Re Do. The fingering change from Do to So will be tricky for beginners to figure out. Make sure the finger transition between these two notes are clean. If you have to only practice these two notes like this. Onto the next part, let's sing it. Do Re Mi Do La Re Do La So MI, So So So La Do La So. As I shared earlier, every time there is one more additional line below the note, it's value is cut into half. A note like this is one beat. A note with one line below it, is half a beat. A note with two lines below it, is a quarter beat. Assume one culture beat is one second. This note here we have one line below it. It will mean half a second, which would be half a beat. These two notes with two lines below them, will be a quarter second each. I'll sing it now with the metronome, Do La So Mi. If each metronome take is worth one culture, the first metronome takes exactly on a Do and the second metronome takes on the Mi. If we imagine one metronome beat now representing half a second, it will be like this. La Re Do La So Mi. This file will be tricky for beginners, re-watch the video if you have to. There can be an entire course on reading Chinese music notation, but what I've shared here are the essentials. Onto the next part. Let's first sing it together with the metronome. Imagine a fingering while singing it and move your fingers accordingly. Do Re Mi, Do La Re Do La So Mi, So So So La Do La So, Do Re La So Mi, Re So Mi Re Do, So La Do So Mi Re Do. Now with the flute. That's how I play Taiwan Island. I can't emphasize enough. If you're having difficulty with the piece, be patient and practice a single tonguing exercise and sustain note exercise. If you master these two techniques, you can learn anything fast. We have come to the end of the course. I'll share some concluding thoughts on the next video on what you can do in your next chapter when learning this awesome instrument. There's still tons of techniques and crazy things about this instrument. I'll see you in the next video. 23. Conclusion: Hey, friends. Welcome to the last video of this course. I'll share tips to help you learn faster and be more motivated in learning this instrument. Tip one, find a Chinese music community near you. This is tough, but if you can find a Chinese music community near you, join them. I'm in Singapore where there are dozens of many Chinese music communities. Our friends based in Canada, Italy, and the United States who have set up music communities there. It's possible for most places. Another way is to find a tutor. With the Internet, it's possible to have lessons online. If you're interested to have a one-on-one lesson with me or find other tutors, leave a comment below or reach me at my email and I'll reply as soon as I can. Similar to life, surrounding yourself with people better than you, helps you learn anything well. Tip two, learn pieces that you want to learn. The instrument is just a medium. It can play all kinds of music. If you want to play pop songs, rock songs on a flute, it's possible. I personally listen and study a wide variety of music, ranging from western symphonies, Chinese music to rock and hip hop music. I love all kinds of music and it will be helpful to play the pieces that you want to play. Attending to learn your favorite piece on this instrument is another skill altogether. I may create a course on it in the future. But the best thing to do is learn Western music theory. If you learn that you can learn anything in music, including Chinese music. Tip three, practice technical exercises. Aside from a single tonguing and sustainal exercise, there are many exercises out there that will help you gain better finger movement on a flute. There are some exercise book I can recommend and I'll leave them in our video description. This is the trilling technique. The note running technique. The double tonguing technique. The circular breathing technique, which allows you to play the flute continuously and brief at the same time without breaking knot note. These are more intermediate to advanced techniques. I may cover them in the future courses if it's helpful to anyone out there. That's it for this entire beginners course on the Chinese flute. If you are learning from me in person, this is the exact formula my teachers have used on me as well as how I've been teaching for the past 12 years. As a final project for this course, record yourself playing a single tonguing technique and a sustainable exercise to see how long you can play them for. Post a link to our videos in the comment section below, and I'll reply to them as soon as I can. Thanks so much for attending this course. I really appreciate it, and I'll see you in the next one.