How-To Videos

Tips on Playing Coda

The information in this section needs to be verified first. This was taken from Pamphlet 1: Marketing Message & Tips in Gdrive

General Tips

  • Coda is tuned in the key of C major.
  • Don’t try to learn all the chromatic notes (sharps & flats) right away.
  • Even though you get up and running on Coda more quickly than on most other instruments, realize that your sound will improve dramatically over time, growing richer, fuller, and more beautiful as you gradually master the nuances of proper technique.
  • If you don’t yet read music, have you considered learning how?  It’s probably easier than you think, and it can open up a world of musical possibilities.  Link to new curriculum.

Covering the Toneholes

  • Whenever you need to know which toneholes to cover to play a certain note, consult the fingering chart.
  • If a certain note sounds strangely out of tune, it may be because your finger pads are not in position to completely cover the toneholes.  This is to be expected in the beginning and will quickly improve with practice.
  • Play Coda with fairly flat fingers rather than highly curved fingers.  This allows your finger pads to lay flat on the surface of Coda so that you can fully cover the paired sets of toneholes.  (Please see video about finger positioning.)
  • Also, it is best to play Coda with your elbows at your sides rather than sticking out from your body.

Two Chambers, One Set of Toneholes

  • In order to pack a larger tonal range into such a small frame, Coda has two sound chambers.  One chamber sounds an octave higher in pitch than the other.
  • Blow into the left windway to play the lower chamber notes.  Blow into the right windway to play the upper chamber notes.  Switching octaves by sliding your mouth right or left feels odd in the beginning, but with time it comes to feel quite natural and fluid.
  • What sets Coda apart is that the TWO chambers are controlled by only ONE paired set of toneholes, greatly increasing ease-of-play.
  • This means that you can play a C major scale on either chamber using the same simple linear fingering pattern. In other words, you cover the same toneholes to play a low C scale as you do to play a C scale that’s an octave higher.

A Few Words if You’ve Never Played a Wind Instrument Before

  • Cradle Coda’s mouthpiece gently between your lips (not between your teeth) without putting too much in your mouth.
  • On wind instruments, you commonly use a technique called tonguing to start or stop the airflow with your tongue.
  • To start a note cleanly or to separate one note from another, whisper the word TOO (instead of WHO) as you blow into the mouthpiece.  For a softer attack, you can whisper DOO.
  • To start and end a note cleanly, try whispering TOOT.
  • Eventually you’ll learn more advanced tonguing techniques, but this will get you started.

Support or Balance Coda with Your RIGHT Little Finger on “High” Notes

  • When –and only when– playing the highest notes on either the lower chamber or the upper chamber, lightly support the end of Coda with your RIGHT little finger as needed for balance.  (see video to show how to support Coda on highest notes of each chamber.)
  • You have to think about doing this at first, but it becomes an unconscious habit with practice.

Overlapping Notes

  • Coda is designed so that you can play middle B, C, C /D, and D on either chamber.
  • These overlapping notes are extraordinarily helpful.  In fact, it would be difficult or impossible to perform many challenging passages up to speed without the aid of these overlapping notes.
  • Still, they initially present a challenge of their own because you have to decide which chamber to play them on.
  • Be patient. With time and practice, your decisions will become increasingly automatic.

Alternate Fingerings

  • The following is a link to alternate fingerings for some notes.  (Link to Alternative Fingerings.) These are optional, so just ignore them until you are very confident playing Coda.
  • At some point, after mastering the basics, you might find that an alternate fingering improves the tuning of a particular note or makes a challenging passage easier to play.

At Times, You’ll Need to Clear Condensed Moisture From Windways

  • Generally speaking, beginners need to clear their windways much more often than experienced players.  Also, condensation can be more of a problem in certain atmospheric conditions.
  • Try clearing your windway if any notes sound ragged or if upper chamber high notes are not clear.
  • One method for clearing a windway is to blow sharply into the windway entrance while covering the corresponding D-shaped window on the bottom of the instrument with your thumb.  (You cover the window to avoid making a loud noise!)
  • Another method is to suck briefly and sharply on the windway entrance a few times.

Windway Care

  • Every once in a while, you’ll want to gently polish Coda’s windways with folded white paper to keep them clear and smooth.  (You don’t have to do this very often!)
      • 1st, tear or cut white paper into strips that are about 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) wide.
      • 2nd, fold one of the strips approximately 3 to 8 times, depending on paper thickness, into a flat “stick” that is about 1/4 inch wide by 2.5 inches long (6.35 mm by 6.35 cm).  Neatly tear away excess paper.
      • 3rd, repeatedly slide the paper stick in and out of the windway.  Then blow away any remaining dust or residue.
      • It usually takes a little practice before you master the “fine art” of quickly making good polishing sticks.  You want them to be thin enough to slide through the windway without getting stuck but thick enough to polish the windway surfaces.
  • Never slide anything but folded paper through Coda’s windways!  Hard objects can damage the precise windways or the labium edges.
  • If you have just eaten, consider rinsing your mouth with water before you play.  A clean windway is vital to good sound.

Why Coda?

What Ever Happened to My Saxophone?

My situation is not so different from that of so many people I’ve spoken with. Perhaps you can relate.  I played a musical instrument (in my case, a saxophone) for several years during my school days.  That’s a lot of lessons, band classes, concerts, practicing…  Then what?  Well, I left home, went off to college, and my saxophone stayed behind.  Alas, we grew apart, my saxophone and I.  Years later, with work responsibilities and a family to nurture, I started to miss making music, but I just couldn’t see how that big old saxophone would fit back into my busy adult life.

The Problem

What’s wrong with a saxophone?  Not a thing!  It’s great at what it does!  And I’m still a sax fan.  The problem is that I wanted something that I could fit in whenever I had a spare minute or two, which you can’t do unless your instrument is instantly available.  Sadly, the saxophone is like most other band, orchestral, or folk instruments.  They are just too bulky and/or fragile to conveniently cart about with you.  (Try stuffing a piano, guitar, or saxophone into your pants pocket!)  Even if they were more portable, it takes at least a minute or two just to put many instruments together, or wet the reeds, or tune the strings, or warm up the chops, or clean up afterwards, etc.  Your two minutes are gone, and you never got to play a note.

If Only…

If only music making could be a more natural, spontaneous part of adult life! If only you didn’t have to make an appointment with yourself just to play your instrument!  If only you didn’t have to go off to some special practice room to do it!  And where is the adventure, the fun, of playing wherever life may take you?

A Solution?

So what is the answer?  Well, different people want different things, but I wanted a flute whose sound, range, and ergonomics were worthy of serious dedication.  At the same time, this flute had to be palm-sized, tough, and light enough to keep on me.  That way I could play whenever:  with my family, taking a quick break from work, waiting for water to boil in the kitchen, barbecuing in the backyard, sitting in a parked car, in the park, by the ocean, on a road trip, on a mountain trail, hiking, camping…  (There is nothing quite like making music out in nature.)

What is Coda?

Coda is a full-fledged EDC flute.  It’s also a dream I’ve been doggedly pursuing for several years now, through many iterations, scores of prototypes, countless challenges, and unimagined setbacks.  During this long development process, my guiding criteria were the following:

  • Coda had to be tiny, tough, and light enough for EveryDay Carry so that we’d be free to bring it along and play anytime.
    • At one point, I had finally achieved a beautiful version of Coda that I was ready to bring to the market.  However, after agonizing over the decision, I chose to go back to the drawing board.  Why? To me, that version was a little too bulky for EDC, and experience had taught me this:  if you don’t have it, you can’t play it.  EDC fits into life better and brings adventure into the mix.
  • It had to have two fully chromatic octaves so that we’d have enough range to play what we want, we could join in more easily with other musicians, and we could perform in more keys.
    • Way back in 1996, I first began prototyping and eventually manufacturing wonderful pocket-sized flutes.  Ultimately, they had one main drawback.  They needed more range!
  • It had to have a simple intuitive fingering pattern so that we could not only handle challenging pieces but also ENJOY improvising and playing by ear.
    • Simplified fingering was a tremendous challenge for a tiny flute with so much range, but, to me, it was vital.  I wasn’t interested in traditional solutions that would have made Coda overly complicated or cumbersome to play.
  • It had to have good tuning and solid, pleasing sound across its entire range so that it was enjoyable to play and listen to.
  • It had to be relatively affordable.
    • I added this last criterion after first experimenting with various manufacturing methods that resulted in Coda being far too expensive for my tastes.  Thus, we began the enormous, costly, and time-consuming process of making Coda precise and yet more affordable.

There are so many wonderful instruments that you could play (and perhaps do play).  Where does Coda fit in?  Well, I designed Coda to be an outstanding musical companion.  Coda can be there for you even when all the other instruments have stayed home.

The Advantages of EDC (EveryDay Carry)

  • Freedom to play:  A tiny, tough, light flute allows you to experience the joys of playing in places and situations where you wouldn’t bring  most instruments, especially out in nature.  Also, Coda let you practice anytime without bothering anyone. (Link to Silencers video)
  • Rapid mastery:  Take advantage of Coda’s portability to play in frequent short sessions, even for just a minute or two.  You’ll be surprised by your progress!
  • Playing by ear:  Since you’ll often have Coda with you when written music is not available, you’ll naturally tend to get good at playing by ear.  It happens like this:  Coda is with you, and you think of a song, so you try to play it. The more you do this, the better you become.  (As an exercise, after you learn a new song in this book, try playing it s-l-o-w-l-y, without looking at the music, perhaps while walking around or in a different location.)
  • Composing on the go:  Coda is a song writer’s friend.  There’s no need to wait until you get home so you can work out new melodies on, say, a piano.  With Coda, just pull off the road or step off the trail to record musical ideas into your phone.  As mentioned earlier, you’ll find yourself playing Coda when there’s no written music around to demand your attention, so it’s only natural to improvise and experiment.  Creativity flourishes when you play in this relaxed, unfocused state.
Play Video

Finger Positioning

Fingering Chart

Explanation of Extra Lower Notes

Playing Low B:

  • Don’t worry about this at first, but Coda’s design supports an extra low note not mentioned in the fingering chart.
  • To play Low B, place your fingers as if to play low C.  Then, either tip Coda down or move your lower lip down as you blow into the left windway.  Doing so will shade the larger D-shaped window on the bottom.  With practice and a bit of experimentation, this will cause the pitch to drop a half-step from a C to a B.
  • Actually, with practice, you can also reach down to low A /B or low A with this same shading technique.

Alternative Fingering Charts

USA National Anthem

The Star Spangled Banner