Playing Your Flute


T.J. Thompson, a Native American living in Phoenix Arizona made your flute.  It is made in such a way that all the notes sound good together, making the flute an easy instrument to play.  It has five major notes that make up what is called the pentatonic scale. As you learn the basics you will be surprised at how beautiful music will flow from your flute.  You will have your own special music that comes right from your heart.


Here are some important things to remember while playing.


The fetish is the animal or bird that sits on top of your flute. If it gets knocked about and is moved off that special spot your flute will sound bad.  Make sure your fetish is in the right place and tight when you start to play.

You may experiment a little loosening of the strap. If the fetish moves back and forth tighten it. The fetish is sitting on what is called the bird’s nest. The hole in front of the fetish is called the fipple. When they are in the proper place your flute will sound good.  The proper place is called the “sweet spot”.


Close your lips and place the mouthpiece of your flute in the middle of your mouth.  Create an opening in you mouth large enough for air to escape.  Blow your breath into the flute as though you were trying to make a feather move with your breath.  There is no need to wrap your lips around the flute.  This only creates more moisture and your flute will wet out.


When a flute “wets out” the sound is distorted and you will need to clear out the moisture before you can continue playing.  You can remove the fetish and set your flute aside until it dries out, pull the fetish back and blow into the flute or use a can of pressurized air.  If you place you finger over half of the hole under the fetish and blow hard this will remove some of the moisture.  Sometimes I carry a can of compressed air to help push out the condensation that forms. 


When you place your fingers on the flute use the pads and not the tips.

It is important that the hole is covered completely.

The most difficult note to play on the flute is with all fingers down.  When you master this you will be able to play anything!

If you get a squeaky sound your fingers are probably not covering the holes all the way.  When you hear this adjust your fingers don’t press harder.


Breath control is very important in playing the flute.

If you blow too hard the notes will break and screech, too soft and they will sound flat.  Each flute has it’s own feel for your breath and as you play you will begin to notice just how you flute handles your breath and you will adjust.


The third hole down from the top (for right now) should remain covered.  This note is not in harmony with the others.  Later when you have played a while you can start to use this note but not now.


While playing the top notes make sure that the fingers below them are up.  When you play the bottom notes the fingers on top should be down.  Later you may break this rule but not until you know your flute very well.


Don’t be in a hurry.  Remember this is your music, play slowly then speed it up, slow it down, and play with ease.


Breathe when you need a breath.  The more you play the easier it will be for you to remember to stop and take a breath.


Experiment with different speeds, patterns and rhythms.


Play up and down the scale.


Change the breath by moving your tongue in different ways.

T T T or whisper too in to the flute (staccato)


TL TLTL Close your eyes and feel the notes as you go up and down on your flute.


Moving your fingers on the flute in different ways makes the sound come out in different ways.

Slide you finger slowly over the hole.  Move your finger fast on and off the hole.


Breath and fast movement of the finger off the hole makes a burst of sound.

Lifting the finger half off the hole gives a different sound.

Using the tongue to stop the air (tonguing) gives your music staccato sound.

Movement in the back of the throat makes the your music sound like it is shaking. (Vibrato)


Make up a rhythm pattern, repeat it, and make up another one.  Feel the notes as you play.  Make your own kind of music.  There are no rules as long as it sounds good to you. Try many different things.  Experiment! 


Enjoy!  Find a quiet place and practice playing.  The more you play the better your music will sound.  Just let the sounds come from the flute as you blow and move your fingers.  Listen to your own music as it comes from the flute.  The notes will sound wonderful because they all sound good together as long as you play remembering the things you have learned.


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