You may not know that my beginning to playing the flute was kind of a rough start. I really did NOT have good instruction at ALL. In fact, I didn’t have any instruction at all.
I used to hide in my sister’s closet with her flute book. My parents sent her to a local flute teacher, but never even entertained the idea that I might be the one in the family that REALLY wanted to play the flute well.
My sister wasn’t patient at all, and wouldn’t teach me anything… so I had to take matters in my own hands.
After a few years (yes, years) my parents saw that I was pretty serious about playing the flute- and I hope they saw that I actually LOVED it and was already making a name for myself in the community as the “flute player”. I BEGGED for lessons once I found an instructor about a 30 minute drive from home.
Basically, my lessons consisted of the teacher writing a list of assignments in a notebook. Each week I would play for her. She would say, “Yes, you can pass that” or she would say, “No, you need to do this one again.”
I honestly never knew what I was doing well or .. wrong for that matter. There really wasn’t any instruction going on. But apparently I was figuring it all out as best as I could. In the meantime I was already teaching a small pile of younger students, and figuring out the nitty-gritty of playing well.
Not too long later I found myself as a full scholarship student at the University (music scholarship), and studying with one of the GREATEST teachers I have ever met. Inspiration took over me and I totally went for it in the teaching world. I wanted to GIVE others what I didn’t have when I was learning at first.
Lucky for you…I am now putting all of my 37 years of learning online for you.
Since that day I have had hundreds of masterclasses and pedagogy courses and realize NOW that if I were starting over in flute there are important things i wish I would have known right from the beginning. (there are loads of items, but here are two at the top of the list)
A solid sense of TONE.
A desire to learn those SCALES.
I realized so much later that if I had proper instruction right from the beginning, I could have saved myself A LOT of trouble in the practice room.
Well,… LUCKY for you I am now putting all of my 32 years of learning (I’m a lot older than I look) online for you. And, I don’t hold back because I remember what it feels like to “guess” your way through a passion.
I’m going to help you right here and NOW a bit with both of the areas I needed better instruction on in those beginning years:
1. TONE – I totally understand now that this is what we HEAR, so it’s the #1 thing to focus on.
Tonguing is super important, and the space inside your mouth is where your tone comes from. SO many flute learners don’t realize that tonguing on the roof of their mouth isn’t going to get the desired results. There are are different tonguing techniques to be used at different stages of proficiency, and using the “forward tongue” method is absolutely THE BEST when beginning.
I hope you’ve already been able to learn this from me in one of my first learning videos inside the Silver Level here at Learn Flute Online. I’ll get right down to it and SHOW you exactly how and where to place your tongue for the BEST tone.
2. SCALES – I used to think they were the most drab thing to play. I’d fake my way through them at first until I realized that this is the HEART of finger technique.
In the lesson modules here at Learn Flute Online and also over at my other sites (IntermediateFluteLessons.com), I show exact finger position… and it’s SO NATURAL to play well.
RELAXED is the key.
Try this: hang your hand down by your side in a “sleepy/relaxed position”. Now raise your arm up in front of you without moving a muscle in your hand. THERE, you have it. PERFECT hand position for playing the flute.
I hope you’ll consider coming in one of my websites for some flute lessons from me this week. If you need help getting started, please contact me. I’m here to help you with ALL of your flute needs. 🙂
30 thoughts on “If I were starting over in flute…”
On monday I decided that I would focus on two things for a while: tone and scales! Gave me a big smile to read this today! However, this is an insight that comes having played for a while. At first one just wants to play some tunes. Learning the scale before learning a new tune (as Rebecca teaches) is the best.
Hey Benjamin, it’s great that you have ‘goals’ in mind before you start your practice. Perfect! Yes, scales are pretty important because they build the foundation for our pretty melodies. Keep it up ! ~Rebecca
I also had the experience of beginning flute with a teacher who could play the flute but could not teach at all. She would give me a note to play.
I could not hold the flute correctly and had litttle instruction about the aperature.
I went online and found you. After struggling for three months with her, I finally quit and began the silver and gold modules with you.
I have been with you for 4 months. I am now on module 18 but have to keep going back to former modules.
I am almost 78 years old. The biggest troubles I have are : 1. Having enough breath to play scales up and down. I can play only about 4 notes without taking a breath. 2. I sound breathy…..not a clear tone.
I can play Minuet in G and all the folk tunes which you have given us but I seem to be “stuck” with playing scales at 80-100 with my metronome.
I am eager to move on but feel that I must stay at module 18 til I can get these scales right.
I have trouble slurring for more than two notes.
I do love your lessons and practice an hour each day.
I hope that I can get to the intermediate level.
Thanks, Rebecca for a helping me so much . I do love the way that you teach’
Hey Jane, it sounds like you’re learning so well here! Glad you found me. 🙂 Yes, it’s good to be thorough and not hurry too much. You want to make sure your skills are solid so that everything coming will be easy and fun. Thanks for the background/update. You’re great! ~Rebecca
I am not doing well with the high notes not sure how they are suppose to sound cannot practice all the time due to my job and sometimes fatigued progress is slow my teacher is away will be back in feb he is good but my time with him is short i will try to continue becuz i really want to learn thnx 4 listening
Hey Rose, thanks for the comment. I’d love to help you with your high notes. Have you already seen my Gold Level series online flute lessons? They are geared perfectly to what you are looking for and will help you go from the beginning way up onto a high level. Just follow the lessons in order. https://learnfluteonline.com/gold-lessons/ Hope we see you soon! ~Rebecca
am unable to find a flute instructor hear in Nigeria myself, and am just trying on my own to know it, but not perfect with my breath and pitch, and don’t have the cash to download ur videos, so what can I do
Hi Emmanuel, I am glad you are wanting to learn to play the flute. It is such a great instrument! I hope you have been able to acquire a flute you can learn on. It’s great- can you find someone in your area who is willing to let you watch them play? ~Rebecca
You’re not old enough to have had 32 years teaching experience.
Been playing for longer than that now (article is a little older), and started teaching when I was in High School… I am much older than I look. Haha Thanks for the compliment. 🙂
Ooh~ Very nice story! You sure showed your sister! 🙂 I actually find it highly amusing that almost every musician dreads one thing, scales! Very few actually enjoy practicing scales. (unfortunately, I’m not one of them.) for those of you that do, great! We Envy you! They are so cut and dry but so important for growth.
I also identify with you Rebecca as I am also sort of helping out a younger beginning flutist learn to play. I am in no way qualified and still have so much to learn myself with my own flute playing, but it is definitely an experience.
Haha, I didn’t mean to be so competitive. I just really, really wanted to know how to play well. I love the sound and the feel of those flute vibrations in my hand!! And, I learned along the way that my biggest love is sharing the knowledge with others. ~Rebecca
I like You…and love playing The flute
I’m a lot older than You – but I still cary with me some ambition.
Your intermediate level is my goal…☺
Awesome, Bo. We’re glad you’re here. We’ll get you to that Intermediate level, no problem. ~Rebecca
my goodness that’s so sad! well, im so glad you kept playing, becase now all of your students can play too.
Yup, exactly!! I know a lot of important flute-stuff. 🙂 ~Rebecca
Hi Rebecca, my name is Leonard, and I started playing the flute over 30 years ago. I was a 20 something year old back then. I am a self taught saxophone and flute player. Back then I used to carry my flute with ever where I went. Well, I stopped playing for 30 plus years and now I’m ready to get back at it! I hate scales, well playing them at leaat, but I know they are very important. I love all music, but Jazz is my first love. I am looking forward to upgrading so I can be the player I always wanted to be. Thanks for the encouragement and I can’t wait to take off like and Eagle!
Great article! I’ve had very similar experience in my early flute journey, as well. It’s good to hear another person sharing the same experiences. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Rebecca, I found tonguing in the forward position spit lets me hit the notes every time I love it. I blow sometimes for octaves and such. I got rid of the breathiness part. I can do it. I’m still awkward only having played 60 days. Your pedagogy is so complete. I look forward to learning with you such a great teacher.
You’re doing SUPER, Daniel! ~ Rebecca
What an amazing story and such persistence! Really, really inspirational. It makes me want to put even more effort into being the best player I can be. Thanks so much for sharing this.
Yes, Holly- with the right directions and enough persistence you can really do well!!
Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing your story. It has truly helped me realize that I’m not alone in my flute struggles. In fact, all your articles are quite motivational and inspirational. God bless you.
I’m so glad to hear this, Patrick. I appreciate your comments and your effort here at Learn Flute Online. ~ Rebecca
I can not play the c low note. Is there any advice? I also want to buy a new flute to have a better sound any advice?
Hi Dora, the lowest C is a verrrry tricky note. There’s a certain way to blow it to get it come out well. Perfect technique is a must, the correct size and shape of aperture, and a flute that is in great condition. If you are looking for a new student model that will help you have a nice, big sound- here is my favorite: http://amzn.to/1pdh0wI
I show and teach you exercises that get you to that low C easily in about module 54 of the Gold Level.
At first glance I am sorry you had to endure the pain and frustration you first went through to learn how to play this wonderful instrument but I realize that without that experience you would not be the extraordinary musician/teacher that you are today. I am grateful that you are here to teach me how to go about this whole business. I do study your videos and listen to you and follow your recommendations very seriously. to say I have improved as a result of your teaching would be a very big understatement. Thank you for giving us so much of your self. Without your help my greatest accomplishment in music would probably be turning on the radio each day.
Don, you are so eloquent. I love hearing from you and wish you and all of my other students the very best! ~ Rebecca
fantastic.inspring story. I admire your commitment.Thanks for passing on your wisdom
You’re very welcome, Bob. I imagine there are some pretty great stories in this online studio as well. ~ Rebecca