Flute Lessons: What You Should Know Before You Start
Playing the flute is a very enjoyable experience, but learning to play is not easy. The flute is not similar to other musical instruments, like the piano or the guitar, where playing is intuitive and you can easily learn by yourself. Learning the flute usually requires taking flute lessons before you get to be good at it.
If you are planning to take lessons, or if you want your child to learn to play the flute, whether for personal enjoyment or preparing for a recital or competition, here are a few things you should consider before you start.
- How young should children start?
Children and parents can be eager to start early on musical instruments, but with the flute it is generally accepted to start at around age 8 or 9. The main reason is that the student should already be physically able to hold the instrument properly and comfortably. If the child is too small to properly grasp the instrument, they will develop bad playing habits from the start, which may hinder their progress.
Also, at age 8 or 9 the child’s lung and breathing capacity is already at the right level, enough to blow on the instrument sufficiently. This ensures that the child’s embouchure (the mouth’s form and position on the mouthpiece of the flute) is correct when they start playing.
- Should you invest on a flute already?
Good brands of flutes can be expensive. If this is the first time your child is playing the flute, or taking flute lessons, it is always advisable to rent the instrument first. This way your child can try out different types of flute, and the teacher can see which type the kids are most comfortable or proficient with.
Generally, if the child is still having difficulty holding the instrument properly, they should start with a curved headjoint. Once they get the hang of it, they could move on to more advance and age-appropriate models.
- What can you expect from the flute lesson?
A good teacher with a great teaching plan should be able to guide your child gradually, and cover a lot of lessons or topics in the process. Typically, the lesson should include the following:
- How to hold the flute
- Proper embouchure
- Breathing and posture
- Developing a solid tone
- Proper finger placement for each note
- Reading notes and music
- Discussion of common mistakes
- How often should you practice?
Do not expect to be very good with the flute immediately. Some players take years to master the flute. Be patient and practice everyday, but do not over exert yourself. Begin with 15 to 20 minutes of practice every session, and take a good long rest in between. Short and regular practice is better than one-time long practice sessions. When you start feeling comfortable and your breathing becomes easier, you can slowly increase your practice time to around 30 minutes at a time, but make sure to still take long rests in between.
Playing the flute when you’ve had proper flute lessons is very satisfying. The tips mentioned above hopefully will make the experience not only very productive, but also extremely enjoyable!