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Where do I start with learning the flute?

What do you actually call a person who plays the flute? Is it a flute player, flautist or a flutist? Think you have the answer in the bag? Perhaps not! The correct answer is that somebody who can play the flute can actually be given any of the above titles. And another interesting fact, did you know that flute fragments have been recovered in Europe which date back about 40,000 years ago? The Germans call it the Schweytzerpfeiffs and the Swiss call it the Zwerchpfeiffs, we just call it the flute and here is everything you need to know about playing it!

If you are looking to learn how to play the flute, private tuition is likely to cost upwards of $27 / €25 / £18 per hour. Whilst it is advisable to have one to one lessons, online resources can also help you to learn the flute. We’ve reviewed a range of websites that help you learn the flute such as FluteInfo or First Flute which have some great beginners tips and informative video tutorials.

Before you can start to play your flute you will need to know how to assemble it properly. There are many online diagrams which can help you with this, alternatively ask the music shop to give you a demonstration. Once your flute is assembled you need to work on how to hold the flute and how to blow into it. Again, there are many online videos to assist you, but be aware that it can take some time to get this just right.

Many people who are new to learning the flute get frustrated with mastering how to actually get a tune from it. Therefore we have put together a step by step guide on how you can develop your technique. Be aware that this can be tricky and you may need to repeat the steps a few times.

  1. Don’t blow into the flute. Learn to tongue it by making a “t” sound.
  2. A good way of practicing the correct blowing technique for the flute is to try making a sound by blowing into a glass or plastic bottle. Try blowing downwards and across the top of the bottle, while making an “mm” sound, and then “a p” sound as you purse your lips. Keep in mind that the more liquid the bottle contains, the higher the pitch will be.
  3. After mastering the blowing technique using a bottle, you can progress onto blowing into the flute itself. Rather than blowing directly into the embouchure, try placing the edge of the hole against the edge of your bottom lip and blow gently downwards and across the hole (just like you did with the bottle).
  4. Do not puff your cheeks out as you blow. The air should come directly from your diaphragm, not from your mouth. Try making a “too” sound as you blow, as this will help you to get your lips in the correct position.

Deciding on which flute to buy can be a daunting experience. There are so many variations and the prices fluctuate greatly. A good flute should normally cost within the range of £200-£450. There are cheaper flutes on the market but these will generally need a lot of expensive maintenance. Ask your local music store to advise you on the best beginner flutes, these will be light to handle and robust. If you can’t wait to get to your music shop then have a look at our range of flutes in our online store – click here.

Are you practicing enough? Don’t be tempted to think about practice in terms of hours but in terms of what you have achieved. Many tutors will give you specific skills to work on during your practice sessions and so ensure you are getting closer to perfecting your technique each time you practice.

Above everything, have fun 🙂

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Rozalind MacPhail

Rozalind MacPhail

William Bennett

William Bennett

James Galway

James Galway