Your child loves music, you’ve tried piano lessons and you bought that plastic recorder, but the interest seems to be fading and the musical community and fun you hoped for is nonexistent –now what?
Playing the Flute – What Age is Best?
A child as young as three can start the violin, so why not the flute? The answer is complex, and I do have colleagues that begin students as young as three, but I think five or six is a perfect starting age for flute lessons. A youngster at this age will respond very well to the mix of familiar pattern and open-ended creativity to be found in learning to play the flute. They will be able to focus for short bursts of time. And of course, the benefits of music and instrumental instruction to the developing brain are well documented — click here for more: 6 Benefits of Music Lessons
What kind of flute?
Jupiter Prodigy Flute – ideal for very small children
Trevor James 10x flute comes with both curved and straight head joints
A young flutist can usually handle a “real” instrument –that is, one with a curved-head joint that fits the child’s hands and body. There are several flutes on the market geared towards young children. Although there are instruments available with only a body and head-joint (such as the Jupiter Prodigy pictured above), I recommend getting a complete flute (such as the Trevor James or similar), as it can be played for many years without need for a step-up or replacement instrument.
Posture, breathing and hand position.
A young flutist learns a series of movements not unlike a little dance –we stand, smile, bow, adjust our feet, and float the flute above our heads before even playing a note. Performing this ritual before each song instills a sense of calm, steady relaxation and sets up the child in an attitude of openness and readiness to play.
Developing the practice habit.
Parents, you must take up the gauntlet here! It is a rare child who will set their own schedule and find time for regular practice sessions. Just as you set up play dates, dinner time and transportation to school, it is your responsibility to create a little space for music in your busy family life. That could mean having books, stand, instrument, etc. set up in a corner of the living room, and making sure there is time during day for practice. You can listen to your child play their songs and count their repetitions, or ask them to explain a new concept that only they understand. Or you could do a flute set-up with them – keep an eye on their pinky to make sure it’s going to the right place. A partnership is needed here – practice time only takes about 15-20 minutes a day, and will add incalculable benefit to your child’s musical life. And when grandparents come to town imagine their delight when they get hear a new piece!
Group classes Available Through KidzCentralStation.com:
Flute lessons at NYC Flute provide a built in community of peers –there’s always someone to look up to, and someone to show off for in group class! During private lesson the young flutist learns one-on-one according to their own particular strengths and needs, but in group class a whole new set of music-making skills come into focus that can’t be duplicated in any other way: Listening, ensemble skills, performance confidence –and getting to play with your friends, what could be more fun?
Author: Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson, flutist & educator
Laura Thompson grew up in New York City. She began recorder lessons at the age of six at the Bloomingdale School of Music, and piano lessons at age eight, she played french horn in middle school, and finally settled on the flute at age thirteen. Laura studied flute performance at Queens College, CUNY, where she received both her Bachelors’s and Master’s in Flute Performance, later traveling to Europe to study historical performance on the baroque flute.
Laura has worked as a freelance musician for over 15 years, she has founded several chamber music groups, including the Zephyr Trio which specializes in music for weddings and other events, and Bacchanalia Baroque Ensemble, which is devoted to performances of early music on period instruments. Laura enjoys playing with diverse groups ranging from full orchestra to chamber ensemble. She currently teaches private lessons and group classes from her home studio in Manhattan and at Brooklyn College in the Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts.