Taffanel and Gaubert practice tips

My battered copy of 17 Daily Exercises. The cover is around here somewhere...

The book “17 Daily Exercises” (or 17 Grands Exercices Journaliers de Mécanisme) by Paul Taffanel and Philippe Gaubert is the flutist’s bible. Since its publication in 1923, it has become a standard method book for all flutists. Taffanel began writing this book, and it was finished by his student, Gaubert, after Taffanel’s death.

I start my students in this book at a young age with the expectation that they will use it for many years. Even if they initially move at a slow pace, they are still developing technique and will use the book throughout their musical careers.

Some practice tips:

– If you are just starting in this book, work at a very slow tempo and be sure to use a metronome.
– Establish a tempo where you are able to play through the exercise comfortably (and write that tempo down!), then work on increasing the tempo.
– If you run into any problem spots, stop! Work out those isolated areas until they’re as comfortable as the rest of the exercise.
– When the exercise is moving along fairly comfortably, start using the different articulations listed at the top of each exercise.
– Try to work through one of these exercises each week. If that’s too much for you, divide it in half and spend two weeks on each exercise.

Eventually, you will want to work your way through this entire book. However, I prefer that my students tackle exercises 1, 2, 4, and 12 before moving on to the others.

* A note about breathing: Make sure you are breathing in places that make sense. For example, in exercise 4, place a fermata on the first note of measure 5. This is halfway through this key. Then place a fermata on the first note of measure 9. This is the switch from C major to its relative minor. After pausing on these notes, take a breath, and then begin the next section, repeating the note that you held under the fermata.

With diligent practice, you should see nice results in just a few weeks.

Have T&G practice tips of your own to share? Comments welcome!

2 Replies to “Taffanel and Gaubert practice tips”

  1. Hello Tammy

    I use the same philosophy with my students and pretty much the
    Same exercises.

  2. Aloha Tammy: I am still on the 1st exercise (it’s been 7 months since I restarted playing the flute)…I went from about 24 beats per second in 4/2 time to about 35 beats per second. The biggest problem I have is getting in a breath…I continue to run out of breath. I can jam in those breathing moments when I am at 30 beats per second, but anything above that and I fall behind on the metronome. I recently returned to my flute after 42 years of not playing, so I understand this will take time, but the only way I can make room is to skip a note at the end of a measure or fall behind and catch up in the next few measures. I am not doing circular breathing…what’s the technique for jamming in a breath? many thanks. I don’t remember having this problem when I was 18, but now I’m 60. Even at 18, I was not practicing with the diligence I am today (60-90 minutes every day). I’m disappointed it is taking me so long to figure this out. Thanks in advance for you advice.

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