Either you're about to start learning how to play the flute or just feel enchanted with its sound, it would be interesting for you to discover some facts about this instrument. Below, you'll find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the flute.
1. What is the best flute for a beginner?
Since there are many options present on the market, first of all, consider your budget and the size of the player. Plastic models fit young players; they are good as classroom instruments. For those who can't hold a full-sized instrument, curved head flutes would be the best option. You can check products from well-known brands such as Trevor James, Jupiter, and Yamaha. Be careful with cheap flute models because they could be challenging for new players to start playing. Since they could also be badly made, they might need regular repairing.
2. What is the length of the flute?
The most common type of flute is the Western concert flute, which is about 26.5 inches (67 cm) long. This measurement includes the headjoint, body, and footjoint. The piccolo flute is approximately 32 cm. Apart from them, there are models of various length.
3. What family of instruments does the flute belong to?
The flute belongs to the woodwind family of instruments, which also includes clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone.
4. Are there only silver flutes?
Flutes have been constructed from silver, nickel-silver, and gold. The choice of material impacts the instrument's weight, response, and timbre. Most models are silver; apart from them, you can also find wooden flutes. A good standard for beginner is silver-plated flutes. Nickel-plated models refer to a lower grade of flute. The main advantage of them is their low price; however, they don't sound as good as silver-plated. A flute with a solid silver head on a silver-plated body can boast higher quality. Modern flutes may also incorporate wood, plastic, or a combination of materials to meet players' preferences.
5. How do flute players produce sounds?
Flute players hold the instrument horizontally and blow air across the embouchure hole, which is the small opening at the top of the flute's headjoint. The air stream splits against the opposite edge of the hole, setting the air column within the flute into vibration. The vibrating air column creates sound waves. As you might have seen, the flute has tone holes and keys along its body. By covering or uncovering tone holes with the fingers and manipulating the keys, musicians change the length of the vibrating air column.
6. What are the most common types of flutes?
The most widely recognized type of the flute is the concert flute (or as it's sometimes called Western concert flute), which is used in orchestras and bands. It is pitched in C and is about 67 cm long. The piccolo is a smaller and higher-pitched flute, about half the size of the concert flute. With its help, musicians add high-pitched accents to band music. The alto flute is larger than the concert flute and is pitched in G. It has a lower and mellower tone compared to the concert flute. The bass flute, which is larger than the alto flute and is pitched in C or F, is used to add depth to music pieces. The Irish Flute, known as a wooden flute, is used in traditional Irish music and is characterized by a simple system of keys.
7. How many flutes are there in the orchestra?
Two to four flutes are typically present in a standard symphony orchestra. The number of instruments is indicated in the score by the composer.
8. Is the flute one of the earliest instruments?
The flute definitely belongs to the oldest known musical instruments. Different forms of them have been played by different cultures. In the Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, there were their own variations of flutes. The Greek aulos and Roman tibia are examples of double-reeded flutes from classical antiquity. In China, a vertical end-blown flute called xiao dates back thousands of years.
9. Are there more male or female flute players?
The gender distribution of flute players varies due to cultural, regional, and individual factors. In fact, the flute is an instrument that is played by people of all genders.
10. Does the flute require the most breath for producing the sound?
The flute is considered to be the instrument that requires a significant amount of breath control. However, this amount depends on the size of the instrument, its design, the musician's technique, and the characteristics of the musical piece.
11. How should I call the musician who plays the flute?
You can use several names: a flutist, flautist, or a flute player.
12. How to care about the flute?
Use the clean and soft cloth to wipe off any moisture, fingerprints, and debris. Pay attention to the keys, pads, and the interior. To protect the instrument from dust, humidity, and physical damage, store it in the specially designated case when you don’t use it. Avoid extreme temperatures since flutes are sensitive to the environment. Store it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and heaters.
13. What case do I need to carry the flute?
Choose the flute case or a bag with a few carrying options such as handles or straps to carry the case comfortably in your hand or over your shoulder. Some flute bags are designed in a backpack style, so you can carry your instrument in a comfortable way on your back with your hands free.