Where to start teaching a beginner?

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

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Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Shelby » Fri May 31, 2013 10:03 pm

Hi All!
I am in a bit of a quandary right now.... I'm currently a music major at university, been playing flute for about 14 years and also play alto flute. One of my professors just emailed me that her 5-6 year old daughter wants to play the flute and she wants to hire me to teach her daughter if I am willing. I am very excited about somebody else wanting to learn to play the flute and I would love to teach, but I don't remember much about how I got started! So I am hoping you all can help me.

1) My professor needs to know what instrument to buy. There is only one music shop in the area of my university, so she will probably end up getting one online. I started with a Gemeinhardt, which I now know is not a very good instrument. So what do you recommend for a beginner?

2) I remember starting out using the Standard of Excellence books for learning to read notes and memorizing fingerings. Is this okay to use or are there better books out there?

3) How long do you recommend lessons should last for a beginner so young? I want them to not be too long so the little girl doesn't get bored, but I also want to make sure I have enough time to give her enough to work on that first week.

4) What do you recommend doing on the very FIRST lesson? I do remember that I started by blowing over the mouth of an empty soda bottle while frowning, then applying the same idea to the head joint by itself. Then, learning to put the flute together without squishing the keys and how to hold it with my hands in a C shape. Is that a good way to start?

Thanks so much in advance!

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Grasshopper » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:43 pm

Hello there,

I've decided to PM you instead because I don't enjoy the idea of giving away something so personal to the public. My apologies.

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Shelby » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:18 pm

I just read your PM. Thank you so much!

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by tcarlisle » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:37 am

I would take a step back and start by making sure that the 5-6 year old has a left arm long enough to fit a standard flute, because the answer is probably not. In that case, a curved headjoint will be needed and that really limits the possible makes/models to buy. Take caution so as not to lead your teacher into spending more than is required as a starter flute for such a young age. Make sure the teacher/parent knows that the first flute will get beaten up, and it is not logical to buy anything other than a low end instrument which, if the child takes to playing, will need replaced in a couple years. As much as we might want it, the child may not "take" to music or the flute. If the flute is not properly sized, it is almost certain to lose the child's attention, because they can't physically do it.

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Marvout » Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:30 am

Just how evil would it be to start the child on a fife? Then they can transfer to a real flute once their arms are long enough in a few years. Realistically, wouldn't all elementary/beginner work a youngster like that would achieve in the first years be doable on the lesser instrument. Not sure just how blasphemous it is to use the word 'fife' on a flute board.


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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by fluteguy18 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:10 pm

It's just fine. A lot of good teachers do it for very young students.

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by wall flood » Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:58 am

Piano lessons instead......

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by theflutepractice » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:48 pm

I would absolutely agree with most of these comments. The size of the child in relation to the flute is very important. I started some children off on fifes as well (mostly for financial reasons). They are very beneficial for learning the basics but they do have limitation depending on the quality of the instrument. The curved head joints are great if the child can otherwise hold the instrument comfortably with their hands. Apparently they even have head joints now that curve down instead of parallel to the floor. Anyone know anything about these?

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Gandalfe » Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:28 pm

Love the idea of starting a youngster on a fife. With the piano, all musicians should spend some time on the piano. So helpful in so many ways.
Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra ~ Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns
I played the wrong, wrong notes. ~ Thelonious Monk

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Re: Where to start teaching a beginner?

Post by Fotofavoloso » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:27 pm

I realize that this is an old thread.....but I would not start a child as young as 5 or 6 on a flute or a fife.....but on a recorder. Get them used to the concept of controlled tone production and fingering. Tone production on a flute is the hardest part of staying with it and maintaining interest. You can get the child used to reading and playing simple tunes on the recorder.

Just my 2 cents...........


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