Methods of Le Débutante Flutiste (The Beginning Flutist) by Marcel Moyse

Marcel Moyse

“Le Débutante Flutiste” emphasizes tone quality, and is a method book designed for beginning level flute students.  Moyse explains that, “since the quality of a flautist’s tone is largely dependent on his earliest and the nature of his initial acquaintance with all the notes of the instrument, it seems to me that the publication of this collection represents a worth-while venture.” “Le Débutante Flutiste” consists of thirteen lessons, and gradually moves from the low to high register notes.  Moyse placed accidentals in front of notes so that students could concentrate on obtaining a desirable tone. Moyse states, “from similar reasons I have placed the accidentals immediately in front of notes; this will spare the student the trouble of learning theoretical rules, for although such rules are undoubtedly useful, they may distract a student and prevent him from concentrating on how to obtain beauty of tone.”

Moyse introduced easy notes for beginning flute players which include middle c#2 descending to low d1.  In my opinion, flute students should use buzzing exercises to identify the proper tongue position for the low registers, which should be low.  This will help students open the mouth and drop the jaw to balance the weak low registers of the flute.  Also, students could experiment daily with low notes, by practicing descending chromatic scales to low c1.

From lessons five to nine, Moyse introduced middle registers which contain middle d2 ascending to middle b2.  High registers are more challenge for beginners, and Moyse added c3 ascending to b3 gradually in the last four lessons.  It completes a range of c1 through b3.  Moyse states, “Thus, after thirteen lessons, the student will have mastered all the notes; he will have acquired them simply and without recourse to such violent methods as will impair tone quality besides effectively discouraging the student right from the start.”

In my opinion, students will generally use greater air speed to play the high register than the low and middle registers.  Students could try buzzing the high registers to identify the proper tongue position, which should be high, for playing high registers.  If flute players raise the tongue, this will cause the air to increase in speed as it passes through a smaller mouth cavity.  To develop lip flexibility, students should become familiar with the overtone series, and be able to place overtones on the lower fundamentals.  Once students feel each overtone is established, students can practice legato exercises that will help develop lip flexibility control.  Afterwards when students switch to the real fingering, the note’s tone will improve and be more in tune.

Moyse gradually introduced note values ranging from whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, to triplet notes in “Le Débutante Flutiste”.  The tempo is sixty quarter notes per minute.  This method also consists of simple articulations, slur exercises within notes, and smaller intervals. Breath marks are provided at every bar line until the ninth lesson.  This encourages beginning level students to write breath marks on their own.  Therefore, this method is appropriate for students beginning to learn how to play the flute.

Each lesson in “Le Débutante Flutiste” contains two pages.  Even-numbered pages introduce new material, and the odd-numbered pages offer more extensive practice on new concepts.  Moyse explains that the construction of this book allows the student to complete it in two different ways.  One is simply to work straight through from beginning to the end, while the other is to complete the even-numbered (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26) pages first, return to the beginning, and progress through the odd-numbered (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 and 27) pages.

Image courtesy of the Marcel Moyse Society at moysesociety.org

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