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Learning to play the (transverse) flute for beginners

Are you currently in the discovery phase of playing an instrument and the flute is an option for you? But you're not sure whether a wind instrument is right for you? Don't worry, many beginners feel the same way. That's why we've answered the most important questions for flute beginners.

Learn to play the flute
The transverse flute - one of many variants of the flute family

What types of flutes are there?

Basically, we differentiate between the so-called longitudinal flutes and the transverse flutes. You may be familiar with the flute - these are the silver flutes that are placed across the mouth. The recorders in various sizes are certainly the best-known models of the vertical flutes. These are available in soprano, alto, tenor and bass flutes, which are of course different sizes. Depending on the type of flute, the instrument is made up of different numbers of pieces. The bass flute in particular is often played with a separate mouthpiece. In addition to the models mentioned here, there are many other types of flutes. However, we would like to concentrate on the most important models here.

What material are flutes made of?

Most flutes are made of wood. Of course, you will also find plastic versions on the market. However, these cannot compete with their wooden relatives in terms of sound. If you decide on a flute, you should choose a wooden model. Transverse flutes are often made of silver-plated and gold-plated metal alloys. Nowadays, there are also models made of other metals on the market. In earlier times, all flutes were made of wood, which is why the transverse flute is still considered a woodwind instrument to this day.

What is the best position for flute players?

Basically, it doesn't matter whether you play the flute sitting down or standing up. The important thing is that your diaphragm can move freely. Of course, it is very comfortable if you can play an instrument sitting down. But then you have to sit very upright so that the air can really flow evenly. Soloists always stand. But nothing can go wrong if you sit right at the front on the edge of the chair. This makes it easier to sit through long rehearsals. You will usually stand during lessons.

I'm about to retire - can I still learn the flute now?

As long as you can breathe well, you can learn to play the flute at any time. After all, playing the flute should primarily be about having fun making music, not so much about performing at a high level. The flute, especially the various flutes, is a very patient instrument. You will soon be able to hear beautiful sounds. Unfortunately, many people associate the recorder with pressure because they played it as a result of a particular situation, such as music lessons at elementary school. If you now pluck up the courage again, you are doing it out of a completely different motivation and it feels like a free decision to learn the wonderful instrument of the recorder. You will soon realize that there are not only boring children's or Christmas songs that can be performed on the flute. The bass flute is also often used at concerts, where it doesn't play a solo part but provides a nice foundation. Perhaps you even remember something and we can start with previous knowledge. But if that's not the case, it doesn't matter at all and we're more than happy to start from scratch. That's what teachers are there for.

Querflöte lernen für Kinder

I would like my child to have flute lessons. From what age is this possible?

Your child can start quite young with the flute, especially the soprano flute. They can even start at the age of 3. Lessons are usually taught in groups to keep the fun high. Young children in particular need to be well motivated and brought on board so that they keep having fun. It's not so much about performance, but rather about conveying the joy of making music. It's a little different with the flute. Here you don't have the same "tone guarantee" as with recorders. Here, a tone is produced via the embouchure and this is not as reliable. In addition, your child will need a little more strength to hold a transverse flute. We recommend a starting age of 7 to 10 years. The flute is considered a rather difficult instrument because the sound is not produced by a reed. You blow on a mouthpiece and need quite strong lungs to do so.

How much do I need to practice to learn the flute?

Regular practice is better than practicing for hours at a time. Above all, your lungs have to get used to the new strain. It's not incredibly difficult to play the flute or transverse flute. But plan to practice for 10 to 15 minutes five days a week to start with. You can take the weekend off or days when you are particularly busy. With a little practice, you'll soon get the hang of it and then you'll be motivated to play more on your own.

Does playing the flute have positive effects and is it therefore a particularly popular instrument for beginners?

The recorder in particular is an instrument that quickly leads to initial success. This reduces frustration among learners. Studies have shown that wind instruments instill good self-confidence. Because despite all the quick initial successes, you need practice and perseverance to play the flute or flute. The more you persevere, the more satisfied you will be with yourself. Very important: your breathing benefits from learning the flute, no matter which one you choose. You strengthen your lungs with every exercise and your breathing becomes deeper and more even overall - an effect that even asthmatics can benefit from. The corresponding muscles are also trained automatically.

Many people learn the flute in a group - can you also play the flute on your own?

It's quite possible - many pieces have been written for the solo flute. This applies to all types of flutes. With a concert flute or transverse flute, you are not learning to play a group instrument. You will also quickly get used to practicing for yourself.

Die Blockfölte

What qualities do I need to be able to play the flute?

The flute is a typical beginner's instrument. But if you want to keep at it, you need a few qualities that will make it easier for you.

  • Fine motor skills: You need your fingers to play the flute. It's good if you have good fine motor skills. Because you either have to operate keys or cover holes with your fingers. This has to be done quickly over time and you have to alternate your fingers in order to play different notes.

  • Strong lungs: Maybe this sounds like a cliché to you, but you actually need good lungs to be able to play the flute for an extended period of time.

  • Self-confidence: Unfortunately, the recorder in particular still has this cliché of being a primary school instrument. So you have to be prepared for a few more or less witty remarks when you learn the flute.

Should I buy my own flute straight away?

Especially if you are not yet sure whether you want to play the flute or flute permanently, we recommend that you rent a flute first. Then you don't have to pay for it straight away and can try it out for a few months to see if the instrument is right for you. Then you can decide after a few months. You can also ask your teacher about it. They can give you great advice and then you'll know what's right for you.

How much does a good flute cost?

Prices vary greatly, depending on the size of the instrument and the material used. You should find a good mix to start with. Because if you save at the wrong end and choose a plastic model, you will soon be frustrated. But it doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Here's what you can expect to pay for a nice beginner's flute:

  • Soprano: good models that are made entirely of wood are between CHF 80 and 120.

  • Alto: These are slightly larger and start at around CHF 300.

  • Tenor: There is a wider price range here - the good models are between 300 and 600 CHF.

  • Bass: The larger the instrument, the wider the range - good models are available between 450 and 1500 CHF.

  • Transverse flute: Here it depends very much on the material used. You should choose a model from CHF 180.

  • Basically, there is no upper limit. It's best to consult your teacher before making a decision.

Flöten in vielen Varianten

I'm still very unsure whether flute lessons are right for me - how should I proceed?

Why don't you arrange a trial lesson? This will give you 30 minutes to find out whether you are a good match with the teacher. Maybe even a whole trial lesson is possible. Then you'll have a great basis for making a decision.

If learning the flute is so easy, can't I teach myself?

Many people think that learning to play the flute is an easy exercise, especially the recorder. With the transverse flute, a teacher makes sense. But you can also get into the wrong technique when playing the flute. This applies not only to your posture but especially to your breathing. If you use the wrong breathing technique, you will have to get out of the habit later. What's more, at some point you won't really get any further and your results will diminish. So it's best to choose a good flute teacher straight away so that you can learn the flute or flute well from the start and have fun doing it.


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