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Flute/Aching cheek muscles

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Question
Hello, I have been playing the flute for around 7 years now and am taking my Grade 8 Exam next year. At the moment I am playing a Yamaha 211, which I am soon upgrading to a Trevor James Cantabile flute (I have played this flute and I feel that I 'gel with it' more than the more advanced Yamahas, they seem to produce an airy tone).
Recently I have noticed a problem that I have never had before. When I practice my cheek muscles start to ache rapidly into the playing. I have tried to relax them but I have found that this doesn't help at all (unless I'm doing something wrong). I have tried to alter my embouchure but have found little to no difference in the aching.
If it is relevant I have recently changed flute teachers to a very experienced flute player. My previous teacher was a brass player and taught flute on the side.
I don't know if it is something simple like positioning everything correctly for the first time or if I am doing something wrong. Like I said, in 7 years I have never encountered this problem until very recently.
Any help you could provide would be wonderful. Thanks!

Answer
Hi, Caz.
I think you are going to love the Trevor James flute!  When you change flutes, you do have to re-adjust a little bit everywhere to accommodate.  I make these changes automatically now, as I play an E.L. Deford flute circa 1971.  Then I play the amazing Guo flutes which I now sell.  Both are absolutely wonderful, but the cut of the lip plates, for example, requires changes in embouchure.  Different lip plate designs focus air into the flute body differently.  The weight distribution, the balance, and sometimes the location and shape of the keys themselves, makes a difference.  And then, adjusting for intonation nuances may vary also.

I am not sure by your question, if you are having this problem with your old flute, or just the new one.  It is now that I wish I could see and hear you play.  I could probably tell you more.  So, my best advice is this.  Your new teacher can see and hear you.  Please ask him/her.  This may be something you will both laugh about later.  But if it is something medical, and not related to something new or different in your music training, your teacher may advise you to check that out, too.

Let's hope you are going through an episode of "no pain--no gain."  My best to you, Caz.

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Denise J. Sipe

Expertise

These are the topics I CAN answer... How to play, from beginner to professional. Tips and tricks, breathing, auxilliary fingering techniques Tone Quality Listening--Developing your ears Technique --Bringing the notes up and off of the page, and making them "your own music". Playing solo, small groups, bands, orchestras Digitally reproduced, vs live accompaniment Accompanying vocalists, dancers, other instrumentals.

Experience

Soloist, small groups, large marching bands, symphony orchestras, stage bands and orchestras, theater, church music, jazz, classical, folk music

Organizations
I'm independent. But professionals have often hired me to play in their groups. Giving back to the community where I played in the High School Band, I am a former member of Williamsport, MD Community Band, a current member of New Horizons Band in Hagerstown, MD, and Bass Flute Player for the TOOT UNCOMMON FLUTES flute choir of Williamsport, MD. I often perform solo as "Toot Uncommon" and had a web-based business where I sold flutes of all sizes, shapes, and colors. The show is uncommon. The locations are often uncommon. And the variety of musical instruments is definitely uncommon! I am a member of NFA, the National Flute Association.

Publications
I didn't write for any publications. I leave that up to the more elite musicians.

Education/Credentials
This should have been my career. I am an engineer,and a trained professional clown. But my music is my passion. Flute is my favorite, though I also play many woodwinds and some brass. I am currently playing percussion in a volunteer concert band, and have drum corps experience, where I often played marching bass drum. I am totally self-taught. But I have often played in groups made up mostly of professionals. All in all I am still the area's best-kept secret.

Awards and Honors
Biggest honor of my career was playing an emotional piece, and looking out over the audience. Two big, tough construction workers had tears rolling down their cheeks.

Past/Present Clients
I've been teaching beginning and intermediate flute/piccolo students of all ages in MD and PA since the early 1970s.

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