DD keeps asking to learn the flute

(26 Posts)
bubblesinthesky Tue 23-Apr-13 20:06:02

Only trouble is flutes cost a fortune though she can borrow one from school for first academic year to see how she gets on (big relief there then)

Music lessons cost a bomb even through school - £14 for HALF AN HOUR

I am utterly unmusical so I can not even help her with the basics. She however takes after her dad and is fairly musical. He could help but he's always so busy I know he'd start and not carry on as he'd get exasperated if she found it diffiuclt

Is there any way of doing this on a budget. Not on benefits, middle earner but can't see this being anything but expensive.

Any ideas please? Thank you

I've been watching this thread with interest. Dd1 (8) is keen to learn the flute.
I am not at all musical, the school service locally tell me that its unlikely they can offer lessons as it isn't a popular instrument and of the 2 musical people I know, one suggested the recorder (dd tried but the teacher kept postponing lessons at last minute etc) and the other couldn't suggest anything.

Can anyone suggest a good place to find a reliable teacher? Bearing in mind I am completely out of my depth with anything musical blush

Theas18 Mon 29-Apr-13 16:24:45

Both my girls are clarinet playing 1st study recorder players.

Mind you that choice was made because the main reason to take up an orchestral instrument was to play in larger groups and every secondary school worth it's salt that is girls only, is awash with flute players..... and the flute choir is the most likely ensemble you'll be in....

Wafflenose Thu 25-Apr-13 15:46:19

If she is 7 and wants to learn the flute, she can jump straight to flute. Only let her learn the recorder if she wants to learn the recorder! Yes, a few of the fingerings are the same, but the blowing and tonguing are a bit different, and the recorder is an amazing instrument in its own right! (But then I am biased).

My DD started the flute a year ago when she was 6, and loves it. I have just sold her curved flute unfortunately, but many beginner flutes come with both a curved and straight head. At 7, she is now on a straight one anyway. But get your DD measured in a music shop, to find out which one she needs.

QuanticoVirginia Wed 24-Apr-13 22:47:48

DS has just started learning the flute. He's 8 but started off on a fife (basically a light weight plastic flute). Our lessons are £15.75 for 35 mins. Yes bloody expensive but he's loving it, he's doing really well and it's done wonders for his confidence. We're not a musical family and it really is a struggle financially but it's been worth.

We have just bought a curved flute from Just Flutes called an Apprentice Flute for £140 but you can spread the cost over 12 months.

Sorry, I didn't express it properly at all. blush I was trying to say that for both instruments she has had to use her tongue to separate the notes. Not that it was the same technique for both.

I'm glad you said that about the recorder and clarinet. DS2 also plays the recorder (approx grade 2 level) and is extremely keen to start learning the clarinet. He had a trial session and was able to play a few notes on the clarinet straight away, but is waiting for a space to become available with the teacher.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 22:02:07

There's absolutely no reason not to continue with both. smile It was just, when you said that it was the same technique my mouth just started twitching uncontrollably in some sort of sympathetic outrage! it's still doing it actually and since I'm away with work at the moment I can't go and do some playing to sort of snap myself out of it! I am of course completely bonkers but that is what sitting in a hotel room will do for you! grin Both my DDs play recorders and flute and of course so do I. There's no problem with playing both but as things in their own right - being really good at the recorder doesn't mean you will be able to pick up the flute and just play, and vice versa. Recorders and clarinet are a good combo too, as Morethan pointed out. I know several excellent recorder players (some professional) who also play the clarinet. In fact I know more clarinet/recorders combos than flute/recorders. smile

Yes, DD is still at beginner stage at both, so from what you say, not yet at the level where it would be an issue. Her flute teacher says her embouchure is good, so hopefully she'll be able to manage the different type of tonguing needed for the flute. She is enjoying both instruments, so unless confusion becomes a problem, I'd like her to continue with both if possible.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 21:39:46

It's really very different. But I suppose it's much more evident further down the line, not at beginner stage.

Sorry I didn't describe the tongue thing very well. It's more the distal part of the superior surface, rather than the tip. The point I was trying to make is that DD was able to transfer that skill from the recorder to the flute. It possibly helped that she has a very good recorder teacher as well as a good flute teacher.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 24-Apr-13 21:32:40


You are entirely right, I shouldn't generalise on my experience locally. My dh started as a peri after college and although a little inexperienced was quite conscientious.

I started playing the recorder at 7 and found it a huge advantage when moving onto clarinet and saxophone a few years later.
I don't agree that the recorder is a starter instrument for woodwind though, it may seem like this because many go on to play other instruments. After hearing recorder ensembles playing at very high standards it is evident that it is an instrument capable of sustaining a life times work, if the musician was so inclined.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 21:21:06

Bike makes a good point about curve heads - if in doubt by a flute with both types of head. Or, one which you can get a straight head for later (this rules out the ultra cheap Chinese models in the main).

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 21:19:53

Ahem. The recorder isn't 'something basic'! shock the articulation is in fact different between recorder and flute - or it should be. You need a softer tongue (and definitely not the tip!) for the recorder otherwise you can over articulate with unfortunate consequences. There are also differences in breathing - techniques to avoid overblowing are different between the two instruments. With regard to fingerings - you need to know 25 notes for grade 2 flute (I think it's fewer for grade 1 but I can't remember for sure). Of those 25 notes, the fingering on a descant is different for 6 of them (if you ignore the almost always present little finger of the right hand for the flute, which isn't replicated on the recorder (unless you have intonation issues which isn't something a beginner will be expected to correct). So, there is one very useful similarity but one difference which is often underestimated - however it is true that many fluters started their musical lives playing the recorder. I would never not recommend anyone to play the recorder (it would be a bit weird for me to do that) but I get sad when I see people referring to it as if it is a starter instrument. sad

BikeRunSki Wed 24-Apr-13 19:38:37

At 7 she may need a curved head flute. They are shorter, for shorter arms.

Is she tall for seven? Not all seven year olds have long enough arms to play the flute comfortably, but many do.

Things that are transferable from the recorder would be reading musical notation, using the tip of your tongue to separate the notes, and a few of the finger positions.

Things that aren't transferable would be the shape of the mouth when you blow, and most of the finger positions.

DD learned the descant recorder at music school for a year before she started the flute and now plays both (not at the same time, obviously!).

bubblesinthesky Wed 24-Apr-13 17:11:46

Thank you this is all helpful.

She's 7. Would it be helpful for to learn something basic like the recorder first or is it OK to start immediately with the flute? I think I'd like to see her showing some commitment to learning an instrument before moving to a more expensive one and I've got some kind of idea that recorder knowledge will help her with the flute. I'm probably wrong grin

I've had a look and there are students who teach and charge a bit less so may well go down that route.

I have seen Yamaha 211s go for less than £200 on eBay, but this one came serviced by someone we trust, tried out by a friend who is a flute teacher, and guaranteed for a year, so I think that £285 was reasonable. DD makes a lovely sound when she plays it, which encourages her to keep practising.

titchy Wed 24-Apr-13 13:09:45

Agree with russians. £14 fairly standard I think - I pay £18 for half an hour through our county music service! See if they do 20 min lessons, and also check how many weeks they teach for - ours only teachers for 10 weeks a term which makes it slightly more bearable financially.

If you do buy an instrument don't forget you can trade the old one in when a better model is needed. (I managed to get £250 for a Yamaha S which cost me £100 on EBay and took dd to grade 2)!

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 12:52:46

I would say that £300 for a second hand Yamaha sounds incredibly steep!

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 24-Apr-13 12:50:05

Morethan I'm not going to blast you but I would point out that while your experiences may be true for where you live it isn't necessarily true for everywhere. Where I live - and also, where I grew up, which is nearly 200 miles away - the peris in schools are often exactly the same teachers doing private lessons and teaching in private schools and teaching on conservatoire/equivalent schemes too. Not all LAs employ peris, where I live the arrangement is usually purely between the teacher and the pupil, although the school may take a cut, and while the school often 'chooses' the teacher if there are a good handful of kids wanting to learn from a particular teacher and the teacher is fine with it, the school might then allow the teacher to come in as a peri in addition to the existing ones (this normally but not always happens with a 'new' instrument - ie one not already covered). I have 3 kids learning (between them) 5 instruments 'in school' at 3 different state schools all in the same LA, and only one of them has the lessons billed through the LA. Of the private teachers we also engage for their other instruments, two also teach in some state and private schools in the area, just not the ones my kids attend, and one of them is also the lead instrument tutor for the conservatoire scheme (we live very very far from a real conservatoire).

There are of course some teachers teaching in the schools they attend who I don't think are very good. But there are some who are clearly superb. I don't think it's sensible to generalise.

Regarding the cost of the lessons and the instrument - both my girls started off with (the same) £100 ish cheap chinese instrument. It was fine for up to grade 3. They then moved on to the 'standard' Yamaha (although Trevor James do a good starter flute too) and the oldest now has an eye wateringly expensive Miramatsu. But when considering costs, you should factor in the instrument purchase scheme which applies for kids learning instruments in state schools, and which means you can buy them VAT free. Which can be significant. £14 for half an hour for a single lesson sounds about right to me, however for an absolute beginner, especially a very young one, 20 min lessons might be a possibility. Some people like group lessons, too (personally, I don't, but if you get a good combination of kids who all progress at the same pace then they can be very good).

morethanpotatoprints Tue 23-Apr-13 22:07:01

I think its swings and roundabouts OP.

I may be blasted here for our bad fortune but as yet have rarely met an LA employed instrumental teacher worth this much money.
A private teacher will cost you no more than this, although the flute won't be free.
I know music shops do good hire schemes and if you wait until you have a teacher to recommend a particular model, you may get one on ebay. Some people say its risky buying this way, it most certainly is if you don't know what to look for. A good teacher or even a one off payment to a pro musician to find you a good deal, could be worth it.

We paid just under £300 for her flute (second hand beginner Yamaha)

DD shares a lesson with one other child. It costs us £11 per half hour lesson. She has been learning for two terms now and can play about ten notes, can make quite a nice sound and play a few simple pieces. She practises for between five and ten minutes a day. To start with, practising made her arms and fingers tired and she didn't seem to have enough breath to do more than one note with each breath, but it's got easier in the past month or two.

blue2 Tue 23-Apr-13 21:29:46

Bubbles - I'm about to put my flute up for sale... PM me if you think you may be interested!

LadyLech Tue 23-Apr-13 21:27:22

Wow, £14 per half hour is really expensive. Are you not able to do joint lessons?

My DD pays £50 per term and this is for a group lesson of half an hour a week (this is through the school). Could you get it cheaper elsewhere? Group lessons? What about asking a music student to teach her?

Also, the county music service here provides some sort of youth orchestra which children can join and that is either free or cheap. If you had a student to start her off, could she do this to supplement? I know they offer it here to supplement lessons.

Sorry, that's probably not much help is it?

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