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Parent's Guide to children playing the Flute

AGE GROUP BOYS AND GIRLS  10 -ADULT

The flute is one of the most popular instruments around the world, which can be attributed to its simplicity and pleasing sound.  This instrument is a great starting point for a child to learn music.

What age should my child start lessons?

To play the flute you need to have arms long enough to reach the holes, and you need to be strong enough to support the instrument out to one side while you play.  It can be played by people of all ages and skill level but the recommended age to start flute lessons is 10 years old.  It is one of the easiest instruments to learn and it's size makes it easy to transport. The flute comes apart into three pieces, and packs into a very small case.  At the age of 10 your child will normally play the instrument as part of their school band program. 

 


Registration for private music lessons can be done at anytime, as long as space is available, and your session will be prorated.  Registration can be done in person, by phone, by mail or fax.  In addition, some organizations will allow you to register on line.   Normally these programs are very popular and space can be limited so don't delay registration or you may miss out !Independent programs are usually 16 -20 weeks long while school programs last the entire school year. 

 

COMMITMENT REQUIRED

How much practice is necessary?

Most anyone can learn to play the flute however it is important to learn proper breathing techniques so that proper lip formation (enbouchure) can be developed.  As with anything, improving in music takes practice. One of the major problems with children and music is the drudgery of practicing.  There is no set time, however your child must spend quality time each day reviewing what they were taught.  Practice must be concentrated and focused.  Set the same time every day to practice so that it becomes part of a routine or habit. For young children 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity and they spend more time watching the clock  then practicing.  Instead of setting a time frame, use repetition as your gauge.  For example have your child play each piece 3  - 5 times per day.  The child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing but knows that they are on the third time and almost finished.   Ideally, your child should have a place to practice without distractions and it should not disrupt the household.  If the home is small then you should consider the instrument chosen.  A very large instrument or a noisy instrument could be very disruptive and you may not have the room for it.

How long are sessions?

Depending on the instrument and the skill level of the child private lessons will run either 30, 45 or 60 minutes per week. Lessons are scheduled on an individual basis.  Your registration reserves you a time slot for the duration of your instruction period.  It is imperative that you arrive promptly for your lesson.  They will normally give you only one make-up lesson per session and any other that the child misses will be a forfeiture of that lesson.

Recitals...

Formal and informal recitals are an important part of the music program. They will offer your child the opportunity to perform, listen and learn proper recital etiquette.  These recitals are not mandatory but it is to your child's advantage for them to participate.  You will have recitals for school programs as well as private lessons. 

 

COST REQUIREMENTS

Cost of lessons?

The cost of music lessons has four components:

  • music lessons
  • cost of the instrument
  • cost of materials
  • competition or recital fees. 

The cost for lessons would depend on whether your child is taking private or group lessons, the length of the class and the qualifications of the instructor.

Music Lessons...

Music sessions will run for 16 -20 weeks.   As a general indication, most instruments will be $25 - $40 for a 30 minute lesson,  $35 -$50 for a 45 minute lesson and $50 - $60 for a 60 minute lesson.  Some organizations offer family discounts and group rates.  Many students enjoy taking lessons with their family or friends.

Instrument Cost...

The cost of the instrument would depend on whether you rent or purchase the instrument.  If you rent the instrument it is usually done on a three month trial basis that will automatically turn into a year contract if the instrument is not returned.  You can pay the cost all once at the beginning or they will automatically bill your credit card on a monthly basis.  Instrument cost information can be found in the Equipment section.

If you choose to purchase the instrument you have the option of purchasing a new or used instrument.  A used instrument will be substantially cheaper and many times are like new.

Materials...

Initially, the materials required will be a method book that will cost approximately $ 8- 10. Some music stores will include the book with the rental of the instrument. In addition, some musical accessories could be recommended depending on the instructor. 

Materials...

Competitions and recitals are a wonderful way for your child to show their abilities to the world and it is extremely exciting for them.  However, many recitals and competitions often have entry fees.  You will need to discuss with child's instructor their philosophy on this subject.

 

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT

Do flutes come in sizes?

The flute family consists of the piccolo, E flat, alto, concert or C flute and bass flutes.  The concert flute is the instrument used for beginners. To play this instrument your child must be large enough to reach the keys without straining their neck or hands.  Flute manufacturers do offer a flute with curved headjoints to make it possible for a smaller child to play the instrument without difficulty. Your flute teacher may recommend a curved headjoint for a small, beginner and will switch them to a straight headjoint as your child progresses. As your child's musical ability with the flute develops their flute teacher may recommend they move up to a bass or alto flute.

What should I do rent or buy a flute?

Initially, your best option is to rent a flute from your local music store. If you rent the instrument it is usually done on a three month trial basis that will automatically turn into a year contract if the instrument is not returned.  Renting, at first, is a good idea to make sure your child is committed to the instrument and it will minimize your initial investment.

Long-term, dedicated students should purchase a flute at some point in their development. Many music stores will give you a credit for a certain amount of money in the rental and will apply it to the purchase of either that instrument or a better one. A concert or C flute will cost between $300 - $500.  A fine sounding, bass or alto flute can be purchased from between $750.00 and $1500.00. 

In addition, you will need to purchase a music stand.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Did you know....

To play the flute you hold it out to one side (to your right) and blow across the mouthpiece to create the sound. The hole in the mouthpiece has a sharp edge, known as a fipple, and it is the air passing across this that makes the sound.  To make the different notes you cover and uncover holes with a system of keys operated by rods and levers.

In the early stages of playing a flute your child may feel dizzy.  This happens because they have to learn the proper combination of embouchure and air stream.  This will go away once they learn proper breath control.

Realize that the instrument that your child begins with may not necessarily be the one that they stay with forever.  They are however,  learning the basics of music theory and harmony that can be easily converted to another instrument.

You will know when your child is ready to enter competition when he/she feels extremely confident and is willing to play in front of people. This is the best sign that your child is ready to go out and be judged for their performance.

Rewards work very well for children. Be sure to grant an occasional simple reward to help encourage practice.  Stickers are a great way to show approval.  Praise also tends to be a great reward; there is no substitution for a pat on the back for a job well done.

Instruments are very delicate and should always be protected from heat, cold and quick changes in temperature.

It is important to properly maintain your instrument at all times.

 

FLUTE TERMINOLOGY

Harmony Two or more different pitches sounding at the same time
EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE A rule to remember the lines of a staff by using the first letter of each word (EGBDF).
Duet A composition for two players.
FACE A rule to remember, from bottom to top, the spaces on a musical staff.
Practices Time set aside for your child to review what the teacher has taught them during their normal lessons.
Solo A composition written for one player, often with a piano accompaniment.
Staff The five lines and four spaces used for writing music
Musical Alphabet The letters A through G.  These are used to name the notes on the staff in  a LINE - SPACE - LINE - SPACE order.
Flute A  musical instrument of the woodwind family.
Curved Headjoint A joint necessary when the lenght of the flute causes problems.
Flutist A person who plays the flute