How many notes can you play on a flute?
I get this question of how many notes a flute can play 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. I play the chromatic scale for them and use the entire range of the flute. We start low low and go way high high.
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.
Most classical/concert flutes have the exact same number of keys. There are basically two different types of flutes (technical specs): 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. Nowadays, student flutes can also come with a B foot joint, but it hasn’t been the standard for most years. If your flute was inexpensive and does not include any real solid silver on it, you probably are playing on a student model flute.
Intermediate or Advanced (sometimes also 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. These flutes generally always have higher level mechanics and a higher content of real silver on them. If you’re not sure what level of instrument you have, ask me or a flute sales representative at a reputable instrument store.
How high can a flute play? Well, it ultmately 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 – 37 notes.
If you have a B foot joint and learn to use a few new fingerings to go above the 4th octave C, you’ll have around 38 + notes.
Learning how to play these notes sounds easier than it is. Each note has its own personality and recipe for making sure it comes out nicely and as intended.
For example, the lowest two or three notes on the flute tend to be more difficult to learn at first. It’s all about your technique as a player and also the shape your instrument is in. If you have some leaking pads, those low notes will not speak.. at all.
The lowest note on a student model flute is the low C which is the same pitch and octave as the middle C on the piano (for reference). If your flute has an extra key on the foot joint (B-foot), then you’ll be able to play the low B without much more effort.
How often do you actually need to play the lowest notes on the flute?
How often you need to play the lowest notes on the flute will depend on what level you are studying and if you are in a band program or are studying privately (or here at Learn Flute Online).
As a general rule, band students don’t play in the lowest octave very often. The reason for this is that the sound of the flute doesn’t carry well on the stage in the lowest octaves, so it’s more rarely found in band-type sheet music.
But, if you’re a band player, you’ll definitely need your high octave skills more often than not. I’ve always been surprised at how many high C’s you can find in music written for bands. If there’s a piccolo player in the group, it’ll be best for them to take over the highest octave parts.
How many notes can you play on a flute is a fun quest to conquer though. If you’re studying with a good teacher, you’ll get there even quicker. You can make it a game and add a new set of notes each year.
I mentioned above that each note has its own personality – this is true. There are some helpful hints and tips that can make your flute-life so much easier once you know about these.
You’ll be glad to know that I teach these in the Member’s Area here at Learn Flute Online. We also learn how to make sure the notes sound clear, clean, and on tune. (kind of a big deal to a flutist!)
Regardless of how many notes you can play on the flute right now, you can have fun and play many songs, tunes, and melodies with even just a basic set of notes. Most folk tunes use the same octaves and keys, along with basic rhythms that can make your music-life fun fun.
So let’s get you going today learning how to play even more notes on the flute and enjoying the process of learning and exploring music as a fun hobby.
In the Member’s Area of Learn Flute Online there are thousands of pre-recorded video lessons just waiting for you to come and participate from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, and on your own schedule.
I’ll take you through a sequential order of learning that makes learning music and playing flute feel easy and fun. This program is organized and available for you 24/7. You can even learn in your pajamas!
How many notes can you play on a flute? Join us and let’s find out!