Any flute players here?

doc

Silver Supporting Member
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6,956
On a whim I picked up a used one - standard concert style. I don't plan to become a great player, but would like to learn enough to play some simple melodies on it. Any advice or interesting insights you have? Do you play, and what style music? Any "must have" learning material in the flute world you could recommend?
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
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6,956
I guess I've now at least answered the question of whether anyone here plays flute.
 

Trevordog

Member
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3,626
I guess I've now at least answered the question of whether anyone here plays flute.
It's my fave instrument, but it's hard to play well unless your lips have a certain characteristic, and you have to have a lot of wind.
It's also unfortunate that scientific studies have found that of all the orchestral instruments, the flute spreads droplets around the most, because the air doesn't all go into the sound hole like the other wind and brass instruments.
You blow into it on an angle, and that spreads the air around like mad, so if the player has COVID-19, anyone sitting near the flute player would be in danger of getting infected.

This is not something I wanted to hear, considering I've found the perfect ensemble I like to write for on MuseScore uses two flutes with all the other instruments in a jazz ensemble. But that may be because MuseScore has a wonky sax sound, and a superior flute sound.
Only live playing will tell, and that's a long way off...............................................................
 

Alanko

Member
Messages
186
I've been playing flute for one week. I bought a Yamaha 211 student model on a whim, as the flute has always been on my bucket list. My school had a cupboard of beaten up flutes (levers hanging off!) and I could never get a note out of them. This annoyed me enough to make me want to revisit the flute at some point. I'm working from home, so I might as well learn now! I can keep the head joint lying around and build hours quickly this way.

Don't buy a $99 beginner flute, as the key action will be slow and you will struggle to get a decent note out of it. A used Yamaha 211 is probably the baseline in acceptable flutes and, if you don't like it, you can always move it on. This is the advice I read time and time again online.

I've bought a few instructional books and I've booked in for some lessons. I could maybe figure the thing out by sheer trial and error, but I think that would take ages. The things that instantly struck me were:

  • How do I even put this thing together? It comes in three parts (cue getting some books). This is a totally alien instrument to me. Will I break it accidentally in the first week?

  • The note layout doesn't always make the most sense. You have to activate a wee lever here or unblock a hole there just to hit the next note in a scale. You will need to build a lot of muscle memory to remember all the unique combinations of left and right hand settings to make notes.

  • Embouchure. Its a lot more than 'blowing over a bottle', which is what I initially read of it. If you want short, choppy sounds like on the first Jethro Tull albums then this can be done quite easily. If you want full, resonant notes then this will take a long time to master. I signed up for a teacher because I want somebody to instantly point out how I can improve my personal embouchure. Beyond the rudiments of 'blowing right' it varies depending on your jaw shape, lip plumpness, etc. Saying that, there's a lot of air in the notes I'm playing at the moment, because my embouchure sucks, because I'm new at this!

  • I've not found tonguing too easy to begin with, and apparently it is good to pick this up early. Basically you pronounce a silent 'Du' for each note to put a clear start on the front of the note if you need it.

  • I have a decent lung capacity from running, but I can barely hold a note five seconds. Breathing, like embouchure, is something that improves in the round as you practice other things, so structured practice and learning is better.

Honestly I went with flute as I saw somewhere "have the courage to suck at something new". I played the bass with a pick for the first couple of years. When I moved to fingerstyle I couldn't get a consistent note out of my basses. I had to build it up over months, years, and I still make mistakes! I still sometimes pluck thin air instead of a string. Hopefully the flute will be similar to this. Painful to begin with, but worth it in the end.
 

Grun

Member
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1,994
I don't play, but my daughter does and teaches as well. It's all in the embouchure. Recommend a few lessons to get that right. Also woodwind instruments require maintenance. They're kind of like pianos in that they require regular maintenance and if neglected basically become useless (and worthless). If you picked one up used, it's likely in need. Should probably have that looked at first.
 

guitararmy

Member
Messages
2,620
My college sophomore daughter is a serious flautist with a higher end Yamaha, but started out on an Inexpensive flute like most budding musicians. You can do it!
She recently showed me the clear plastic guard she got for group rehearsals. Looks like those snooper super ear things
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
41,782
My wife used to play.

We both like the sound of the flute, but as others mention, the embouchure is a huge part and that takes continued development and maintenance.
 

fusionbear

exquirentibus veritatem
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,710
Its my first instrument and I played it seriously up to high school. Started at 8 years old. Became pretty proficient. I can still play, but I need a new flute.... Decent ones are about 1.5k....
 

Bee3

Member
Messages
1,061
I played seriously in grade school and high school... I can still play, but like anything else, without practice, it's a rough road getting back into it. At my age, I'm easily out of breath after a minute of playing.
 

Trevordog

Member
Messages
3,626
Even before Jethro Tull's "This Was" in 1968, The Blues Project put out "Flute Thing" in 1967. Al Kooper said he got it from a lick Barney Kessel played at the end of a song.
 

Crazyquilt

Guitar Dad
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,494
I love playing just about any kind of flute, except concert silver flutes. I did take concert flute lessons for a few years, but there just isn't enough note bending on tap. I started playing Native American flute almost thirty years ago, and I still gravitate towards it because it's so easy and natural for me. I also play shakuhachi, shinobue and will happily hack about on various sizes & tunings of transverse bamboo or wooden flutes. I find it helps my melodic sense, and have stolen a bunch of flute licks & ornamentations for guitar. I've got a (very old) album on Spotify called Journey to the West that's Native style flute & twangy guitars, and here's a somewhat newer track with slide & a transverse bamboo flute, doing my best bansuri imitation.


PS I'm a little fairy middle aged man and proud of it.
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,676
As other have said - it’s all about the embouchure. I recommend you take a few lessons so you can get that right - otherwise you’ll find yourself at 3am at a (paid) recording session - after tracking since noon - and you’ll be passing out from lack of oxygen by the 2nd take. Ask me how I know :)
 




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