Learning the harp - how to take the first steps
Many students already have their first experience with the flute at school. What for some is just a chore is for others a real eye-opener to the world of music. But is the flute an easy instrument for beginners? And what needs to be considered in order to improve over time and be able to tackle the more difficult pieces? Our article provides you with all the important details about learning the flute and supports you in your first steps on the instrument.
Even if it doesn't look like it at first, the flute belongs to the group of woodwinds. It stands alongside other instruments such as the bassoon, the oboe and the saxophone. As with the conventional flute, sound is produced by controlling tone holes, and different tones can be produced depending on the touch and posture. A special feature of this flute is that the tones of the transverse flute are said to be very close to the human voice.
However, exactly how the transverse flute sounds will depend on the chosen type and shape of the instrument. Thus, there are different sizes and designs, which we will discuss in a bit more detail later in this article. The conventional transverse flute belongs to the soprano instruments and is quickly recognizable by its sound. However, smaller variants such as the piccolo are also very popular and can be used in many orchestras. But first, let's look at the history of the transverse flute.
The transverse flute has been known as an instrument for around 3,000 years. People in China and Egypt, for example, played the instrument long before the birth of Christ, and the basic concept of the transverse flute remained the same throughout the years. Through the Middle Ages, the transverse flute then gained increasing importance in Europe as well, with the flute being used to attract animals. The design that still exists today can be traced back to the flautist Theobald Böhm, who developed the transverse flute we know today in 1832. This was not made of wood as originally, but of very noble silver.
At first glance, the way of playing the flute is very difficult to understand. For example, the flute is equipped with numerous buttons and keys that facilitate playing later. The transverse flute itself consists of several individual parts, which are put together to form a unified instrument after cleaning and before starting to practice. Anyone who wants to learn with the transverse flute should quickly understand this step. Pay attention to the correct handling for the plugging together of the flute.
First, the foot piece is pushed into the body, which is most easily done by slightly turning the lower part. If a lot of force is needed from your point of view, you are still doing something wrong. Then you can insert the headpiece into the body on the other side. Make sure you keep a stable posture so that you don't slip off and bend the keys.
Hardly any other instrument requires such consistent practice and therefore real motivation as the flute. If your children are musically enthusiastic, do not give them the instrument if possible. Especially with the transverse flute, it depends on the child's desire to increasingly grow with the diverse challenges and thus increase their interest in music. Since the transverse flute is a complex instrument, coercion and pressure are not helpful.
Even if they'll end up with the flute later, young musicians do not necessarily have to start with this particularly demanding version of the flute. Often a recorder is sufficient to learn the basic principles and to take on the challenge of a transverse flute in time. If there is a special talent, an early change to the transverse flute is also a good choice.
Basic motivation and thoughtful time management are crucial to not losing patience with the flute. This also applies to the basics of practicing, which play an important role in learning the flute. One of the most important tasks is having the correct posture to reach the tone holes without any problems and to avoid possible cramping. The following tips can also help you:
To be able to play the flute correctly, you should pay attention to a straight posture. Grip the flute with both hands and avoid stretched fingers. Hold the lower third of the flute with your right hand and place your left hand to the left of your right hand. A loose and simultaneously straight posture allows you to reach the tone holes more easily.
Playing the notes correctly requires deep breathing. When operating the blowhole, it depends on the appropriate strength, whereby you should neither blow too weakly nor too strongly. Here, too, it is advisable to work only with the headjoint at first. With time, it will certainly be easier for you to play several clear notes directly with one breath when learning the flute.
A special posture is not only required for the hands, but also for the lips. Stretch your lower lip slightly and place the lower edge of the blowhole directly on the lower edge of your lower lip. It is best to practice this step directly on the headpiece. Then roll the headjoint away and blow into the blowhole with the same posture. This way, nothing stands in the way of tone production.
If you think that a simple and not so well-made model is enough for your first flute, you are on the wrong track. Especially for beginners, a well-made version is recommended so as not to jeopardize the fun of playing the instrument. The better the workmanship, the better the sound of your flute later on. To further optimize the sound, we recommend a flute with E-mechanics. This ideally compensates for acoustic disadvantages.
To learn to play the flute, we also recommend a model with a forward G and closed keys. This model is usually easier to use, as the decisive G can be reached more easily when playing. Especially for children, this type of transverse flute is helpful to ensure a good transition from the classic recorder to the more elaborate instrument.
Here is a product recommendation for you, with which you can not go wrong in any case.
In order to enjoy your transverse flute in the long term, you should not lose sight of the issue of cleaning. After each practice session, it makes sense to disassemble the flute and thoroughly clean the individual parts. Dry the individual parts with a clean cloth and wrap it around your cleaning rod. This can then be pulled through the flute parts. From the outside, simply wipe the flute with a soft cloth. If your flute needs to be oiled again, it is best to do this with a needle. This way you don't apply too much oil at the same time.
With the flute, a lot depends on the right fingering. It's perfectly normal that you can't remember the many fingerings right away. The fingering chart is a remedy for this problem. This shows you the individual notes in advance and visually depicts how you should finger the flute for this purpose. In the table itself you will see white and black keys. The black filled keys show which notes you have to press when practicing.
If you lack a clear posture so far, you can improve this with a music stand. This practically forces you to align yourself to the front and to focus on a correct posture when playing new pieces. At the same time, the additional notes will help you to play new pieces while learning the flute, and thus to handle the instrument more professionally.
Want to know what is important when reading music? We have already created an article on this topic for you, which you can view right here.
Here is a recommendation for sheet music for learning the flute (difficulty: easy):
As always with new instruments, the willingness to practice is still quite high in the first few weeks. However, if you overdo it, you will quickly lose motivation and learn very little. Therefore, frequent but regular learning periods are better than too long and monotonous practice sessions. These help you to stay on the ball even with difficult pieces and not to get out of your flow again after a longer period of time. A quiet place to practice is crucial so as to not get distracted.
Learning the flute therefore requires a consistent and clear approach right from the start. Another important task is tuning your instrument to maintain the sound even after longer practice sessions. It is best to pull out the headjoint to tune your flute. This lengthens the tube of the flute, which makes the sound deeper. As a rule, you tune your flute at this point to the note A. If you blow into the flute without pressing a key, it should produce an A sound. This way you can hear directly whether the flute is tuned correctly.
Tip: Do you already know the Thomann backpack with a flute compartment?
Since the flute is quite a demanding instrument, you should not ignore the procedures when practicing. Especially for the first steps, we recommend visiting a music school or taking private lessons. With suitable music teachers who take care of your playing and the associated progress, you have clear goals in mind. At the same time, you will receive the necessary tips on how to improve.
In principle, of course, you have the possibility to dedicate yourself to the flute without professional help. However, this requires the necessary discipline and the constant desire to improve. Here at mukken, we are happy to support you in this regard and help you expand your musical network. Our personals for musicians are the perfect way to do this. Just register for free on our portal. For more advice on practicing piano and guitar, we also have the right articles for you in our blog.
Originally published on March 15, 2023, updated on March 15, 2023
Main topic: Billie Eilish and the tragic