Learning how to play flute is a great experience for students looking to play solo repertoire or to play in ensembles. Used in a wide variety of music, the flute is one of the oldest instruments in existence and can be found in a myriad of forms throughout history. Today, the flute is most commonly used in orchestral music, wind bands, marching bands, jazz bands, and to some extent pop and rock music.
The flute is played by blowing air into the mouthpiece located at the end of the instrument. The flautist then depresses the keys located along the body of the instrument to sound different notes. The flute is considered a woodwind instrument, but unlike other instruments in the woodwind family the flute does not use a wooden reed to produce sound. Most western concert flutes are made with metal of some sort, typically nickel, silver, silver plated brass, or gold but many other types of flutes exist including wood, bamboo, and bone flutes.
The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments and various versions of it have been discovered by archaeologists all over the world. Some of the oldest examples were found in the Geißenklösterle cave in Southern Germany. Made of bird bone and mammoth ivory, these instruments are estimated to be between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. Other ancient cultures had versions of the flute as well and the instrument has been a constant presence in music making throughout human history.
The earliest Western composers included flute in their compositions during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, and the flute remained a popular instrument for orchestral pieces throughout the Classical and Romantic eras. Moreover, both the flute and its smaller cousin, the piccolo, became an integral part of marching band tradition. The flute enjoyed a bit of a revival with jazz musicians like Frank Wess and Eric Dolphy in the mid-20th Century. The most famous rock groups to incorporate the flute extensively into their music are Jethro Tull and The Moody Blues. This site has more information about the history of the flute as well as other useful information! When you learn to play flute you are joining a long tradition of musicians.
Musika recommends starting to learn how to play flute around the age of eight or nine. The size of the instrument makes it difficult for younger students to reach all of the keys and the flute takes a large amount of breath control to play. Smaller children can also find the embouchure very difficult to master and can become frustrated if they are started too early. It is possible to start younger children on the recorder in preparation for learning to play flute as the fingering is the same on both instruments and the recorder also involves breath control practice. Older students may start lessons at any time, as there is no time limit on learning a new skill!
Beginner model flutes can be purchased or even rented at a reasonable price from local music stores or online instrument catalogs. Our flute instructors can also be of assistance in locating a good instrument, and this guide has some great advice on what to look for in a flute. Some younger students may need a special mouthpiece that is curved to make the instrument shorter and easier to handle in small hands. Your Musika instructor can help determine if this will be necessary for the student.