Flute Talk

Articles September 2020

Debost Scale Game


This is a favorite from March 1988. The scale format devised by Debost consists of playing twice through all keys of the Taffanel-Gaubert Daily Exercises, No. 4 using 60 articulations and rhythms.

March 1988

The Gamme-Game of Michel Debost

   The scale format devised by Debost consists of playing twice through all keys of the Taffanel-Gau­bert Daily Exercises, No. 4 using 60 articulations and rhythms. Though time-consuming, Debost's scale exercises have great value. With diligent practice the flutist will achieve not only agility, but improve ar­ticulation, dynamics, and more important, tone. Each day the scale practice is different because of the key-rotation through the chart. I nicknamed this intriguing format The Gamme-Game. Following is a paraphrase of Debost's scale instructions to his stu­dents.
   Scales are the essential part of daily prac­tice and must be played by memory. Begin each day with a different key. Carefully define the transitions between scales by slurring them. Debost says that this transition is very im­portant to the musical feeling. "This is the time to rest, relax, and relieve tension by listening to and loving your tone. Taste every note like you are tasting wine."
   Always play the scales rhythmically. The pri­mary concern should not only be speed, but also cleanness and evenness of execution. Breathe after the first note of a group of eight. To breathe in scales with repeated notes, leave out notes when necessary so that the ongoing rhythm remains unaffected.
   The scales of C major, C minor, D flat major, D# minor, D major and D minor are to be repeated one octave higher. Repeat the upper octave key right after the lower octave.
   The chart gives 60 articulations and rhythms. Assign one scale at minimum to each example and persist with those that are most difficult to handle. These 60 combinations represent two complete play-throughs of the scales. The 12 ma­jor keys and 12 minor keys with 6 repetitions one octave higher give 30 patterns, multiplied by 2 to make a total of 60 different scales. This is the minimum to be practiced each day; the rou­tine takes about 45 minutes.
   Nothing less than perfection is acceptable for scales: strive for evenness in all registers and tempos, attacks without cracking the tone, and control at all dynamic levels.

Key Rotation:
Day One: Kl on Cl;·K2 on C2; K3 on C3 etc. Day Two (move forward one key): K2 on Cl;
K3 on C2; K4 on C3 etc.
Day Three (move forward another key):
K3 on Cl; K4 on C2; KS on C3 etc. Each day thereafter: move forward one
more key for C 1.
Suggestion: to keep track of your place in the key-chain, clip a paper clip over the key that will begin the next day.

Chart PDF


Taffanel-Gaubert Daily Exercise #4


    Carefully define the transitions between the scales by always slurring them with a singing tone at a moderate or slow tempo. Assign only one scale to each example. Strive for evenness of tone and dynamic control.

pdfs of music:
page 1    
page 2




Frances Lapp Averitt

Frances Lapp Averitt

Frances Lapp Averitt, D.M., is Professor Emeritus of Music in Flute, Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University (1973-2012). Her major teachers were Albert Tipton and Marcel Moyse. While on sabbatical in 1987, she attended Michel DeBost’s classes at the Paris Conservatory. She was Principal Flute and Soloist with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra (1983-2003) under the direction of Barry Tuckwell and Elizabeth Schulze.


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