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How to Learn Flute Notes for Beginners

It might surprise you to know that of all the instruments we have in the world, the flute is probably the oldest. In fact, it is easy to trace its history as far back as the Stone Age.

The designs, the length of the tube, and other elements have varied and changed over the years. But the basic playing principles of this instrument have largely remained the same.

As Popular Today As It Has Ever Been… Almost

As Popular Today

Spurred on by modern flute players, it has grown in popularity for young people and their first instrument. It is, therefore, important to know how to learn flute notes for beginners. 

But it hasn’t always enjoyed such a prime position. Many of the great composers included pieces for the flute in their works. Mozart and his “Flute Concerto Number 1 in G” is a good example.

Returning to Favor

By the mid-18th century with the Classical Period was in full swing, and the Romantics were about to arrive. As a result, orchestras got bigger. And louder. 

The Flute was rather swallowed up as composers eager to satisfy their paying customers, produced larger and more lavish productions. It was short-lived, though. And we can thank the French Flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal for returning some semblance of favor.

In Today’s World

The Flute has played a prominent part in pop music culture with many people’s favorite Sir James Galway. But let’s not forget a genius in the mercurial Ian Anderson. He, with his band Jethro Tull, brought delicious raging flute solos in rock music.

Not Easy

This is no easy instrument to play. Some would argue it is much harder than the Clarinet and the Oboe. It isn’t a large instrument, but it takes a lot to play it and become an expert at the flute

It has no reed and a rather different blowing action. There will be no shortcuts to hours of practice and some frustrations along the way.

As You Improve

As you start to get better, the natural thing is for you to learn more note positions. This will give you greater playing options. Furthermore, it will apply to whatever genre of music you are playing. This is an ongoing exercise. The more you learn, the more you want to learn as the doors open up musically.

You Will Need Proper Posture and the Rest

Proper Posture

When you are trying to learn flute notes, a lot will depend on some issues that you probably discussed with your teacher. Assuming you have one. These can be defined briefly as:

  • Your posture while playing the flute.
  • The way you hold the flute.
  • Your embouchure.

If you want to know how to learn flute notes for beginners, these will all be vital. But let’s just mention a little about your posture.

Playing any sort of wind instrument requires good posture. Without it, you won’t be able to breathe properly to create the sound. Breathing is important, as is being able to relax your shoulders and elbows. But there is more to posture than just standing up straight.

Where Posture Meets Holding the Flute

You need to be able to relax as you hold the flute. Additionally, you need to be able to create a very low tension, but without it making you feel like you might drop it.

Play the flute with your hand, not just your fingers. Therefore, you should hold it with your hand, and not only your fingers. Learning to play the notes in comfort means letting your fingers curve over the keys. 

Don’t Grip the Keys

You need what flute players call “economy of motion.” Simply put, it means don’t let your fingers drift too far from the keys. You don’t use your fingertips directly placed on the top of the keys. It is all about relaxing.

A Word About Teachers

These days there are a great number of potential resources for learning instruments. Like all things, some are good, some are bad. The question is, is it possible to learn an instrument without a teacher. 

In some cases, it might be. Guitar and Bass would be two. But an instrument you have to blow is something else. There are books, online teachers, and guide resources. But nothing can ever take the place of a teacher. 

Someone to Take Control

Someone to Take Control

A teacher will monitor your progress. They will set realistic targets to achieve. Plus, they ensure your posture is correct. And they will make sure your embouchure is just right. Best of all, a flute teacher will take control of your progress and make sure you are moving in the right direction.

That’s the Upside, Is There a Down?

Only the cost of doing it. They are qualified people, and you have to pay for that. And the better they are, the more they will charge. That is not unreasonable. But for some, that cost is a real burden.

If cost is a problem, then I would suggest discussing it with your teacher. Explain that you won’t be able to book too many lessons. They will then set up the lessons to accommodate that. And if you get stuck with something, they are just on the end of an email or phone.

For now, though, we want to learn notes for flute beginners. How can you do that? Let’s take a look. There are some basic steps to learning the notes, but you do need to take your time.

One At a Time

Don’t try to rush it and take just one note at a time. As you will be aware, every note has different keys to push and different fingers to use to depress them. Trying to learn more than one may get confusing.

Just learn one note. And then, as you carry on doing one each day, spend a little time reviewing what you have learned so far. Do this by going back to the very first note and playing them all through to where you are now. The eventual goal is to be able to place your fingers to create the notes without even having to think about it.

Have a Logical Learning Program

It can sometimes help to have a pattern of learning. An example of a logical pattern is to learn the notes of the scale as it rises. For instance, you can start by learning the scale of C one day at a time. That would be a C on day one, a D on day two, an E on day 3, and so on.

Finish this learning curve with a C an octave above the first note you learned. Spend some time making sure all the fingerings are right. Play the scale ascending first. Then descending. And then alternate between the two.

The Next Scale

Make sure you know the notes that each finger setting is creating. You can then move on to learn another scale. This could be, for example, a B flat scale. I choose that because it has some of the notes you have just learned.

The B flat scale has a C, and a D, and F, G, and an A. In a short time, you will be playing these scales, knowing the finger settings and what notes they create. 

Targets and Checks

Make sure you are always checking what you are doing. It is sometimes easy to press a key you didn’t mean to. Go back and do some revision and set yourself targets for dates for checking yourself.

Kinetic Memory

Kinetic Memory

Much of playing an instrument like the flute relies on Kinetic Memory. It is a complex function, but it can be simply explained. It is training your mind to tell your fingers to do certain things automatically through recognition. 

So, when you see a C or a B flat, you don’t have to think about it. Your fingers go to the right place automatically. That is one reason it is so important to make sure you get proper flute fingerings all the time. Needless to say, it takes plenty of practice and won’t happen in five minutes, but it will come.

Charts For Finger Positions

That could be a worthwhile investment since they will always be on hand. One excellent option is the Flute Fingering Chart. This includes just about everything you will ever need, including fingering charts for every note, plus all the chromatic, major, and minor scales. Or, for something incredibly inexpensive, try this Kindle C Flute Fingering Chart, which shows the finger positions for a ‘C’ Flute.

If you are thinking about taking up the Flute, it is a great instrument. There are, of course, different instruments with different price points. I have enclosed three options at the end.

I haven’t included the very expensive solid silver Flutes; they are usually for the pros. However, Cecilio makes a range of decent-quality instruments for the starter. For a good option, there is this Cecilio High-Grade Student C Flute Package. A good quality mid-price range flute is this Prelude FL711 Student Flute.

On to a company that always produces real quality instruments is this Yamaha YFL-382H Intermediate Flute.

Interested in the Flute or Other Woodwind Instruments?

We can help you find what you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Flute, the Best Student Flute, the Best Soprano Saxophones, the Best Alto Saxophones, the Best Tenor Saxophones, the Best Beginner Saxophones, the Best Yamaha Saxophones, the Best Trumpet, and the Best Student Trumpets you can buy in 2023.

You may also enjoy our handy articles on A Complete Guide To Major ScalesA Guide To The Chromatic ScaleRelative vs Parallel MinorDiatonic Scales, and the Best Music Theory Apps for more useful information.

How to Learn Flute Notes for Beginners – One Final Word

The sooner you can start to read the musical notes written down, the better. Musical theory can be quite daunting, but it will pay real dividends. And if you are serious about learning the flute, it is something you will need to do.

Until next time, let your music play.

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