To play the flute you hold it out to one side (to your right) and blow across the mouthpiece to create the sound. The hole in the mouthpiece has a sharp edge, known as a fipple, and it is the air passing across this that makes the sound. To make the different notes you cover and uncover holes with a system of keys operated by rods and levers.
The flute family consists of the piccolo, E flat, alto, concert or C flute and bass flutes. Each of the instruments has its own range. The concert flute is the instrument used for beginners. To play this instrument you must be large enough to reach the keys without straining your neck or hands (although curved mouthpieces are available for smaller children) and you need to be strong enough to support the instrument out to one side while you play.
It can be played by people of all ages and skill level but the recommended age to start flute lessons is around 10 years old. It is one of the easiest instruments to learn and its size makes it easy to transport. The flute comes apart into three pieces, and packs into a very small case, ideal for carrying to and from band practice!
Here are a few examples where you can hear the flute in action...
Tchaikovsky’s Dance of Flutes demonstrates the sound of orchestral flutes playing together and the bright sound that they produce.
The flute and piccolo plays a vital role in the 'Lord of the Rings (Return of the King)' soundtrack.
The flute is very flexible with regards to performance opportunities. It is not only classical music that can be performed on the flute, but it is also greatly appreciated in the folk and jazz music scenes around the world.
FUN FACT: The 'Hyperbass flute' is the largest in the flute family, its tubing is over 8 metres long and its lowest note is one C lower than the lowest C on the piano - lower than what scientists consider the range of human hearing.
The flute is a very adaptable and wide ranging instrument. Its small size means it is very portable, few accessories are needed to get started making it ideal for beginners. Here are the key items that we recommend you need to get you started on the road to becoming a great flautist!
The flute itself can be purchased or put on a hire/purchase scheme. It comes in one standard size. For the beginner, we recommend.
Whilst flute accessories that you need (including a case, polishing cloth and clearing stick) are usually included when you buy or rent a student flute, alternatives are available depending on your preference. Clearing sticks and polishing cloths will need replacing over time.
- Plastic clearing sticks, like the one provided with the Trevor James student flute pack require a piece of material to be threaded through it in order to clear out any saliva.
- The alternative Cleaning Mop is however the most convenient as it does not require any additional material and can be deposed of when it begins to deteriorate.
Here are the best selling flute tutor books for beginners:
Abracadabra Flute leads a beginner from the earliest stages of musical education to become a competent and self-confident flautist. The book is full of exciting musical styles and popular short songs. There is a CD included with certain editions of the book. Performed by professional musicians, the tracks demonstrate each piece, enabling you to hear how the pieces should sound. CD's like this are invaluable for building ensemble experience, offering all the fun of playing with other musicians in the comfort of your own home.
Team Woodwind Flute begins with a step by step guide that talks you through the instrument and basic music theory. It moves through the notes of the flute, gradually building up your ability to play the variety of short pieces included towards the end of the book. The book contains a wide variety of musical styles from the Baroque and Classical eras to film, folk, jazz and Latin American - a backing CD is provided to play along to which makes it really fun!
Finding a Flute Teacher
Music Centres - playing in orchestras & ensembles
This resource was written by:
Sarah Hayward Bmus (hons), MA
Sarah is a sprightly coloratura soprano and active violin and viola player who enjoys interacting with other musicians and teaching her students. Sarah is part of DS Music’s Education Outreach & Marketing Team and is passionate about the expansion and Educational Outreach of the company in order to help give everyone the opportunity to access music. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Music has the power to change people so help me use it to change the world!! :)