| History of the Flute
The origins of the modern flute can be traced back to the most basic form
of instrument - a single note whistle made from reindeer bone dating to
10, 000 BC. Tin whistles, flageolets and fifes are similar to the modern
flute, and evolved from the Simple System flute - six holes and little or
The modern flute comes in three sections: head-joint, body-joint and
foot-joint. The head-joint has a mouthpiece with a blowing-hole near the
closed end. The foot and body-joints contain the keywork. This key system
is more advanced - the 'Boehm System' - allowing for a greater octave
range, and ease of playing, to cope with the demands of modern music.
Begin training with the head-joint only. By holding the head-joint up
to the mouth with the greater part of the tube extending to the right,
placing the right hand across the open end of the tube (making it airtight),
and tucking the lip plate beneath the lower lip, an airy and pleasant
"toot" can be obtained from blowing across the air-hole. A common
mistake here is to place the lip plate too high on the lower lip.
This action should be supervised, and the sound produced quickly, as
prolonged blowing may lead to hyperventilation
Beginning in this
way helps establish a correct muscle memory of lip to head-joint position
Age and Suitability
The flute is more difficult to hold/manage than its relatives (clarinet
and saxophone). This is due to the arm length needed while holding the
flute in playing position - arm length is a key element in determining
suitability for the younger player. Initially, the arms may feel tired,
but it will get easier - held correctly, flute playing can aid posture!
Some flutes come with curved heads, shortening the overall length of
the instrument. These can be replaced with straight heads as the child
The many options available (finish, hole type, etc) can make obtaining
a flute a daunting prospect. For a beginner, the best options are:
||Silver plate finish - which should shine with "white"
brightness. If there is pitting or blistering, leave well alone.
||Off-set G - the G key is out of line, to accommodate
||E mechanism - a bar attached to the key-work, which
pushes down the lower G key. This allows the instrument to pitch the
note more accurately. Most UK teachers like their students to begin
on a flute with this mechanism.
||Closed hole - makes playing easier for the beginner
- open-holed flutes require more expertise.