How Many Notes Can You Play On A Flute?

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“How many notes can you play on a flute?”

I get this question every so-often in my inbox from one of you awesome online-flute-learners.

During a student’s first few flute lessons, I like to give students a visual of what is to come. It is exciting and fun to find out there are so many notes on this beautiful instrument.

Unlike on a piano where the notes are sitting all in a row right in front of you, the notes on a flute need to be played or mapped out on staff paper if you’d like to view them in a nice neat row.How Many Notes on a Flute

Most classical/concert flutes have the exact same number of keys. There are basically two types of flutes: Student Model or Intermediate/Advanced flutes.

Student model flutes have the C foot joint – which means the lowest note on the flute is a middle C on the piano.

Intermediate or Advanced (sometimes called Professional) flutes generally always have one more key on the foot joint which allows them to play one note lower. The low B is the very lowest note this type of flute has.

How high can a flute play? Well, it all depends on your skill-level. Most flutes will learn how to play up to a 4th octave C.  But, there are some new funky fingerings for notes way higher than the standard C. Many advanced flutists can play some pretty high (squeaky) harmonics.

 

Are you ready to see the answer to the question: “How many notes can you play on a flute”?

If you have a regular (standard student classical flute) C flute with a C foot joint and you travel chromatically upward through the 3 full octaves you’ll have 36 notes.

If you have a B foot joint and use a few new fingerings to go above the 4th octave C, you’ll have around 38 + notes.

Happy Counting!

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

18 thoughts on “How Many Notes Can You Play On A Flute?”

  1. Nope. If you see notes that are lower than the C or B on your sheet music you should play up an octave. 🙂 ~Rebecca

  2. Hi Lisa,
    There are ‘traditional’ fingerings, and then there are a few ‘fake’ fingerings, and a few ‘creative’ fingerings. I teach the traditional fingerings only for the first couple of years of a flutists life. We get a little more creative later on. Yes, it’s true that one fingering can potentially make more than one pitch. We also have overtones and undertones like a trumpet. It’s pretty cool! ~Rebecca

  3. Hmm …

    My question would be , How many unique fingerings are there to play the 38 notes ? I remember from trumpet days some fingerings could play more then one note.

    Just wondering how many I have to learn lol

    Winks
    Lisa

  4. Hi Billie, thanks for the question here. The reason I said “+” is because there are a few more ‘notes’ you can play that are considered ‘harmonics’ or even slightly higher depending on the finger combination and how advanced your lip technique is. “Harmonics” are basically really high and squeaky notes lol. They’re not really considered ‘notes’ because they aren’t always a ‘true pitch’ depending on the player. Hope this helps! ~Rebecca

  5. umm .. hi.. how many notes does a flute play all together and yes you did give the answer for it but it has a plus sign next to it so I am assuming there is more than 38 and I am doing a speech so need info.thanks Billie. xx

  6. Hi Rorry, thanks for the question. I really like those songs too. I’m glad you want to learn to play the flute so you can play the style you love so much. Yes, I teach the skills and notes you need to play those songs. (although those songs are not specifically taught here because of copyright laws). You will be taught the abilities you need to sound smooth and beautiful. Also, you can play either a closed hole flute or an open hole. Both will do what you want. Excited for you to learn! 🙂 ~Rebecca

  7. Hi Rebecca,

    I want to qualify my first question. I would like to play songs like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Kenny G’s “The One You Love”. I want to ensure that say a student flute would have the notes that I need.

    Also, which is advisable, an open or closed hole flute?

    Thank You,

    Rorry

  8. Hi Rebecca,

    I am 70 years old and playing a Native American flute. I want to learn Western Flute. Should I get a student or intermediate flute?

    Thank you,

    Rorry Smith

  9. “If you have a regular (standard student classical flute) C flute with a C foot joint and you travel chromatically upward through the 3 full octaves you’ll have 36 notes.

    If you have a B foot joint and use a few new fingerings to go above the 4th octave C, you’ll have around 38 + notes.”

  10. RebeccaFuller

    Hi Jonny, this is a really great question. If you are using a C silver flute (regular sized) there are two options for foot joints. You can have a C foot or a B foot. Possibly the “E” foot you are talking about is on a different flute — perhaps a Native American, Indian Bansuri, etc etc.

  11. Hi Olga, you’ve done so well! I have received your other email and I’m sending them over right now. 🙂

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