Starting the Day

Every day is a new start for a flutist, and I begin the day with exercises to prepare for a great tone, technique and phrasing. Simple stretching and breathing exercises are essential because the flute needs energy, flexibility and air support in order to perform well in all conditions.

Remember that facial muscles responsible for controlling and directing the air column into the flute relax and return to a natural position while the body sleeps. Because the flute has no resistance, it’s important to wake up the face and body before playing the first notes of the day.

Try these exercises first thing in the morning to develop flexibility and confidence during the busy school year.


Breathe deeply, stretching arms, hands [read “Hand in Hand”] and facial muscles to wake up the body before playing the first notes of the day. Repeat the exercises at least 10 times to develop strength and flexibility.


Sing and/or whistle your favorite tune to prepare for musical phrasing, tone and breath control. Remember that notes on the page only represent pitches, so be sure to use your internal ear at all times in order to develop phrasing, musical direction and breath control.

Warm Up

Set your alarm 10 minutes early each day, and use the extra time to warm up. Early practice is often the most productive before the daily schedule, so concentrate on difficult techniques or challenging practice routines.


Use a mirror in practice to focus embouchure, maintain good posture and monitor hand position to increase self-awareness and encourage good habits. The mirror is your best friend because it always tells the truth.

Try this new practice routine for better concentration, an improved tone, increased embouchure flexibility and more energy throughout the day.

About the Author

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America.

A renowned author, Mary has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit

A photo of Adam Wiencken

What Now?

The effects of the global pandemic have drastically changed how we operate in our daily lives. Without ensemble rehearsals or performances, many of you are ...