Rachel, from our Ballymena Today Youth team, started playing the flute in primary 4, through primary school, and now plays at secondary school, so she has been playing it for a long time. (Featured Image; Ray Bouknight; Creative Commons)
For those who feel that they may wish to play the flute, here are a few suggestions from here that you may find helpful…
When I was a lot younger, before I started playing the flute, I used to think that in order to blow it, you just had to be able to whistle. That, however, is not the case. To blow the flute, you need to make a long soft ‘Tuh’ sound. You don’t say the actual word ‘Tuh’; you just need to make it as if you were whispering it to someone. I found this the most difficult part about the flute; not the notes, or the rhythms – it was the blowing, which took me many weeks to get right!
In the flute there are 13 keys, 9 of which you actually press down. The more fingers you use to press down, the lower the sound, and vice versa. You can play 3 octaves on it, the lowest note quite mellow, and the highest note is enough to blow your ears off! It is so hard I have only ever managed to play it once in my lifetime. It comes in three detachable pieces which means you can fit it in a case.
At the beginning, before my first lesson, I met up in a small group of about 6-8 people, all about my age, and the person who was going to be our teacher was there too. They first passed around three different instrument mouthpieces – a flute’s, a trumpet’s and a clarinet’s. Remember how I said earlier that they could be taken apart? Well, we were just given the top part which you blow into. We all took turns blowing into each one, and this was so they could see what instrument we were most natural at. Some were easier to get sound out of than others! Mine was the flute, and I was happy with that, as that was the instrument I wanted to play.
However, in February this year, I got braces. The first few weeks of that was just terrible when it came to playing the flute‼ I completely lost my tone i.e. how the sound comes out of the flute, and I couldn’t get any of the high notes. I actually had to change the way I blew into it. However, I needn’t have worried as my tone almost came back to normal. I’m sure though, that once I get my braces off, my tone will be much better.
I am currently in two orchestras at the moment; my school one, and one on a Saturday morning. I find that this helps me with my playing, and I also enjoy having a range of pieces to play from. That means you don’t always just have to play your exam pieces, over and over again…
Some people may think the flute is only for girls. However, I have seen loads of boys playing the flute, and there is no difference in how they play it and how girls play it. In my Saturday morning orchestra, almost half of the flute players are boys, and there are about fifteen altogether!
I started lessons through my school, so if you want, you can talk to your music teacher in school and see if they can sort you out for lessons; just to see if you like it or not. Private lessons after school are also available and this would be the better option for adults, unless, of course, you want to start school all over again‼ Remember, playing an instrument is great fun – so why not give the flute a go?
Thanks to Rachel for her advice on playing the flute. For more articles from our Ballymena Today Youth Team click here.