How do you practice piccolo tuning and intonation? It’s okay if you don’t know where to start.
In this guide, I’ll share some tips you can follow to get starting with piccolo intonation. Then, you can make sure you play the best you can when you’re alone or in a group.
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Tune One Note
First, you should use a tuner to get one note in tune. I’d recommend making this note the A natural in the first or second octave since that’s what you tune to in orchestra and other ensembles.
Make sure you can get a clear tone and that your intonation doesn’t waver. You can stop playing to breathe, but take a good breath so that you can keep the note in tune after you play again.
Write Down the Natural Piccolo Tuning
Next, I suggest you get a flute or piccolo fingering chart. You can mark a circle or something to show that you’ve already gotten one note to be in tune.
Start on the note and slowly go down chromatically using your tuner. For example, if you start on your first octave A, play the first octave G#, then G, and so on.
As you play each note, look at the tuner to see where the pitch falls. If one note is flat, mark a “-” or mark a “+” next to any note that is slightly sharp. Keep that fingering chart nearby when you practice so that you know how to adjust your tuning.
Use a Tuner
After you figure out how your piccolo plays naturally, you can use a tuner to keep an eye on the pitch. You can experiment with how to adjust the pitch, such as using your lips or airstream.
Spend a few minutes each day practicing your piccolo tuning. You don’t need to go through every note on the piccolo each day, so maybe you do one octave per day or half an octave per day.
Go through that set of notes, and play them with a tuner. Once you get each note to be in tune, note how it feels and sounds to play, and use a mirror to view your lips so that you know what you need to do to play the pitch in tune.
Play Long Tones
One of the best ways to practice piccolo tuning is to start with long tones. Yes, you’ll eventually need to be able to get a note to play in tune right away.
However, you should give yourself time to experiment with an individual note. Playing a long tone is a good way to do that since you don’t have to worry about your technique.
As I mentioned, it’s good to use a mirror if you can so that you can see how your lips look. Otherwise, focus on how your lips feel and what your air is doing when you do get the note in tune.
Switch Out Your Flutes
When it comes to piccolo tuning in the first and second registers, have your flute on hand. You can swap out the instruments and play the equivalent pitch on the flute.
This is a good option if you’re struggling to get a particular note to sound in tune. Maybe you can’t get the G above the staff to sound good on your piccolo.
So you can use your flute and play the octave above that since the flute sounds an octave lower. That can give you a nice idea of what you need to do on your piccolo to produce the same pitch.
Make It a Routine
Once you find practice strategies that work, include piccolo tuning in your practice routine. You don’t have to spend much time on it each day, but you should work on your intonation regularly.
Then, when you get a chance to perform on piccolo, you’ll know how you need to manipulate your air. I’d also recommend giving more time to piccolo tuning whenever you upgrade.
No two piccolos are the same, so what works on your current piccolo might not work on a new one. Download a new fingering chart for the new instrument as well so that you don’t confuse yourself with the prior markings.
Why Does Piccolo Tuning Matter?
Piccolo tuning matters because the piccolo is almost always at least a bit exposed in an ensemble. You need to make sure you don’t stick out in a bad way when you play in a group.
Even if you play alone, you still want your piccolo to sound good with itself. It doesn’t have to be difficult to work on your intonation if you do it in small chunks each day.
Why Is Piccolo Tuning Harder Than Other Instruments?
Piccolo tuning can be harder because it’s a higher-pitched instrument. That means there are more rotations in sound waves between each note, and the sound waves are closer together.
So even if you’re a bit sharp or flat, it can sound worse than it might on a different instrument that’s out of tune the same amount.
Do You Need Perfect Pitch to Tune a Piccolo?
You don’t need perfect pitch to tune a piccolo. As long as you have a tuner and can work on your aural skills, you can learn what your piccolo is supposed to sound like.
That way, you’ll be able to adjust as you play if your piccolo sounds a bit out of tune.
How Will You Practice Piccolo Tuning and Intonation?
Practicing piccolo tuning is essential if you want to play better. Be sure to learn which notes are sharp and flat on your instrument, and work on your intonation regularly.
Soon enough, you’ll know how to play in tune as soon as you pick up your instrument. Want to learn more about the piccolo? Head to the resources page!