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Flute Information - Care & Maintenance

Flute Information - Care & Maintenance

Flute Booklet

Information about caring for your flute: how to put it together, take it apart, look after it while it's not in its box! Tips about the embouchure and how to play, and also what flute accessories you might need when just starting out. This is chiefly aimed at new flautists, and so mostly about the C flute (the most usual student beginner instrument). Includes easy links to follow for some necessary accoutrements to the craft. Flute Care & Maintenance Booklet

History of the Flute
The origins of the modern flute can be traced back to the most basic form of instrument - a single note whistle made from reindeer bone dating to 10, 000 BC. Tin whistles, flageolets and fifes are similar to the modern flute, and evolved from the Simple System flute - six holes and little or no keywork.

The modern flute comes in three sections: head-joint, body-joint and foot-joint. The head-joint has a mouthpiece with a blowing-hole near the closed end. The foot and body-joints contain the keywork. This key system is more advanced - the 'Boehm System' - allowing for a greater octave range, and ease of playing, to cope with the demands of modern music.

Basic Training
Begin training with the head-joint only. By holding the head-joint up to the mouth with the greater part of the tube extending to the right, placing the right hand across the open end of the tube (making it airtight), and tucking the lip plate beneath the lower lip, an airy and pleasant "toot" can be obtained from blowing across the air-hole. A common mistake here is to place the lip plate too high on the lower lip.

This action should be supervised, and the sound produced quickly, as prolonged blowing may lead to hyperventilation… Beginning in this way helps establish a correct muscle memory of lip to head-joint position

Age and Suitability
The flute is more difficult to hold/manage than its relatives (clarinet and saxophone). This is due to the arm length needed while holding the flute in playing position - arm length is a key element in determining suitability for the younger player. Initially, the arms may feel tired, but it will get easier - held correctly, flute playing can aid posture!

Some flutes come with curved heads, shortening the overall length of the instrument. These can be replaced with straight heads as the child grows.

Understanding Flutes
The many options available (finish, hole type, etc) can make obtaining a flute a daunting prospect. For a beginner, the best options are:

Silver plate finish - which should shine with "white" brightness. If there is pitting or blistering, leave well alone.
Off-set G - the G key is out of line, to accommodate hand position.
E mechanism - a bar attached to the key-work, which pushes down the lower G key. This allows the instrument to pitch the note more accurately. Most UK teachers like their students to begin on a flute with this mechanism.
Closed hole - makes playing easier for the beginner - open-holed flutes require more expertise.

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