As I’ve now added this blog to my website and I’m thinking about how I could be most helpful to my visitors, I’m realizing that my experience with beginner flutists is what will guide me the most for now, knowing that most of the emails I receive are from beginners without private instructors. When teaching an advanced student you can really get involved in perfecting every aspect of flute playing, but when teaching a beginner you have to be very careful not to overwhelm them with the task ahead. Some professional flutists have told me they only take advanced students and prefer not to work with beginners. I love working with beginners and they tend to stay with me from age eight to eighteen, so as a result I end up with very advanced students to work with too (See student’s accomplishments).
My first instructional video is (appropriately) how to get a sound out of your flute. Just from this video you will see that my methods are not very scientific and are designed for a beginner, especially between the ages of 8 and 11. This is who I have the most experience with and my primary goal, at the early stages of learning the flute, is to develop their love for music and the flute. Most kids are in it for the fun of it and few will decide to make a career out of it and so for me, because they are so young, I want to make sure they are enjoying the process of becoming a flutist. It might come as a surprise to you, if they are enjoying themselves, they tend to progress at a much faster rate.
Getting a sound out of a flute can be a daunting task because you’re asking someone to use muscles in their lips that they don’t usually use. Have you ever tried to explain to someone how to use a muscle they don’t know exists, like wiggling your ears? To get a sound out of a flute, you have to create a certain embouchure because you don’t blow directly into the mouthpiece, like most kids think, you have to angle an air stream across the bridge of the mouthpiece on the other side. Blah, blah, blah…. an eight year old doesn’t care (I save this information for a year or two later when we’re ready to pass through all octaves of the flute fluidly). Guess what an eight year old doesn’t mind doing….. perfecting their spitball technique. Guess what shape your lips are making when they launch that spitball…. a flute embouchure. You’ll see me demonstrate this in my video, also here’s a good reference to the Flute Embouchure I found on the web. Good Luck and feel free to comment.