The sound of the flute is generated by blowing a narrow jet of air across a hole (the embouchure hole), in the same way that you can blow across a bottle. By pressing the fingers down on the keys, the effective length of the tube is made longer and the notes get lower. Some flutes are ‘open-holed’ which means that the fingers have to close a hole in the middle of the keys as well as pressing the keys down. An open-holed flute is not essential but most advanced players use one as it allows for certain special extended techniques, especially in modern ‘contemporary’ music.
The instrument is held out to the right of the player, and for younger players a curved head joint can be used to bring the fingers closer to the player’s head. For very young players I recommend the Nuvo flute which is light and robust, but has all the same keys as a metal flute.
The flute is fairly easy to maintain; with regular cleaning and careful handling a beginner flute can suit a student right up to the advanced grades (6 to 8).
Beginner flute students will be supplied with a tutor book and CD by me at a reduced cost.
If you want to learn flute, please see below some of the most asked questions!
Where can I buy a flute?
There are several reputable music shops in the country, and they all have a web presence. I would strongly recommend that you don’t buy an instrument online unless from a reputable shop (contact me directly for further advice). General speaking, if an instrument looks too cheap, it’s for a reason…
What about hiring?
Most music shops operate a hire and buy system, which has the advantage that you may return the instrument after a certain time if you or your child find it’s not the right instrument. I also have a limited supply of instruments for hire in schools for the first year of study only.
How quickly can I become really good at the flute?
There is no short cut to success in learning any instrument; regular practise is the best guarantee of success. As an approximate rule of thumb, most younger students can manage an exam grade every 2 or 3 school terms with practice, but some take longer than others. I will always work at the speed of the student.
How easy is the flute compared to other instruments?
All musical instruments are equally easy or hard to learn. The flute is popular because of its apparent similarity to the recorder, but if it is supposed to be easier to play across its range than some other wind instruments, composers will still push it to its limits, so it still requires several years of study and practise to be able to play to a high standard.
What about the piccolo?
The piccolo is the flute’s baby brother – in Italian, piccolo flauto simply means ‘little flute’!
Once a player has reached Grade 3 or above, they may wish to start playing the piccolo as well as the flute. Almost all orchestral flute players carry one, as they are often required to play both flute and piccolo on some pieces.
Are there other flutes too?
There is a whole family of flutes available; the next most common is the alto flute in G which plays a 4th below the standard ‘concert’ or ‘C’ flute. There is also a bass flute, twice the length of the concert flute, and there are lower ones still if your budget matches your enthusiasm!