As you will see below, that couldn’t be farther from the truth……
The Flute’s not made out of wood, how is it a woodwind instrument? Some flutes, mainly from other cultures, are indeed made from wood or even bamboo. The oldest Flutes were made from animal bones over 35,000 years ago!!
The Flute is a very popular choice amongst young girls, but don’t steer your son away from playing the flute because you may think it’s a “girl’s instrument.” Many of the world’s finest flute players are men! (James Galway) **Many Jazz saxophonists double on Flute and Clarinet.
Factors to consider:
- The Flute, even though it is the smallest instrument, requires a lot of air. It is important that your child practices daily breathing exercises.
- It takes a while before your child will get a decent sound out of the instrument. The first few weeks should be spent practicing on the head-joint only in order to properly work the mouth muscles. (We call the mouth muscles your embouchure.)
- Some of the beginning method books have young flute players performing some of the most difficult fingerings. Your child needs a good deal of coordination in order to succeed at this.
- The Flute is a melody instrument. In later years, Flutes play melodies and counter-melodies.
- It is really important that your child consistently practices every day in order to keep his/her tone sounding good.
- Listen to recordings of the Flute from Classical (James Galway), Rock (Jethro Tull) and Jazz (Herbie Mann) performers at all levels, not just professionals. This will give you perspective on the wide array of genres of music the flute can perform in. (YouTube again would be a great resource.)
- James Galway has some excellent YouTube videos on making the flute embouchure (facial setting). He’s also very funny! Practice blowing across an empty (or partially filled for different pitches) Coca Cola glass bottle to get the idea of blowing into a flute.
- Greg Pattillo is world-renowned for his “beat-boxing” flute skills. Check out his version of “Peter and the Wolf.”
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Next week, I will discuss characteristics of the single reed instruments – Clarinet and Saxophones.
**Many woodwind players learn to double; they start on one instrument and then learn to play another woodwind instrument, and even 2 other woodwind instruments. This is very common in jazz and Broadway show music. (This is an advanced technique that can be explored in late high school and college.)