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Can I teach myself the flute?

(30 Posts)
zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 19:41:53

Two of my DCs have recently begun to learn instruments (clarinet and euphonium) and I have gone and impulse-bought a flute on ebay with the intention of teaching myself. As a child / teenager I played the clarinet, recorder and piano, but gave up because I felt I wasn't learning for myself (made to do an hour of practise every day when I was quite young). I got to quite a good standard on the clarinet and recorder. Anyway, I now feel I want to play an instrument just for myself and settled on the flute. Will I get very far without having a teacher?

MyFriendsCallMeOh Mon 22-Jun-15 19:45:05

My dh taught himself to play the guitar using YouTube videos. He's never going to be Eric Clapton but he's not too bad and enjoys it. Remember that a good teacher will not only teach you but also motivate and encourage you so if you can live without that, why not? Start teaching yourself, you might find you'd like a lesson every few weeks as you go on.....

Ferguson Mon 22-Jun-15 20:17:49

The FINGERING of most woodwinds is similar, if not identical, for recorder, clarinet, flute, saxophones etc.

The BLOWING part obviously varies between them, but you should be able to manage, though flute of course you blow across, and there is no reed.

What sort of music are you aiming at, and what tutor books are you considering?

spad Mon 22-Jun-15 20:18:57

Good luck, I tried but couldn't get a sound out if it. and I used to play the clarinet at school

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 20:25:51

Thanks for the replies. I have tried on friends flutes before (years ago!) and bought myself an aulos fife which I tinkered on (again as a teenager) and managed to play a few tunes so I think I'll be ok as far as blowing is concerned. Can you recommend any tutor books Ferguson? I was just going to google and pick one. I had an idea that I would like to work my way through the grades as my DCs start doing theirs. I like having something to aim for.

Knottyknitter Mon 22-Jun-15 20:28:40

Yes you can. I did at about 14. And recorder at 5. I had lessons from about grade four level.

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 20:30:11

MyFriends a lesson once in a while might be the way to go, just to make sure I am using the right technique. I would hate to have to unlearn a bad habit.

Ferguson Mon 22-Jun-15 20:31:31

Let me know what sort of music you want - is it just the standard Classical repertoire, presumably it will be to do Grades.

But for entertainment, you might want 'lighter' stuff.

I'll have a look, and come back sometime.

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 20:32:08

That's great to know Knotty. Did you find it reasonably straightforward?

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 20:34:28

Yes Ferguson, just standard classical stuff with the aim of doing grades. Appreciate you lookingsmile

MissMuffetisin Mon 22-Jun-15 20:41:31

I learnt at school, then tried again 35 plus years later ! I used the good old " tune a Day " book which has the usual scales and arpeggios , and some abridged prices of classical stuff. When I got a little better I bought some 100 top tune type books, and books with Adeles album songs, and the Beatles . Ashamed to say it's dropped by the wayside a bit now - I think I need to wait until I'm retired and have time to take lessons and perhaps join a local orchestra

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 20:52:54

Ah yes, the Tune a Day book. I think I had that for the clarinet. I remember seeing a television programme about a woman in her 30s who taught herself the piano from scratch and got to grade 8 standard in 3 years. Very impressive.

Fleurdelise Mon 22-Jun-15 21:42:51

Good luck! I plan to teach myself piano starting September. I was wondering if there is such thing as a support group for adults learning instruments to keep them motivated.

Wafflenose Mon 22-Jun-15 22:00:19

I have used Learn As You Play with adult and teenage beginners, and students who can already read music. It moves reasonably fast, and isn't full of cartoons. Flute Basics or Abracadabra would be a bit more gentle.

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 22:09:31

Best of luck to you too Fleurdelise. I haven't heard of a support group, but it's a nice idea!

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 22:12:08

Learn as you play sounds like the kind of thing I'm after. I'll have a look online - thanks Wafflenose.

Delphine31 Mon 22-Jun-15 22:18:34

I would recommend looking up good posture for flautists online as you could do mischief if you assume an awkward playing position (it's an awkward enough playing position as it is without forming bad habits!).

I second the suggestion of Learn as You Play.

In your situation I would go and have a couple of lessons just to get you started on the right track and then maybe just have one lesson a month so that you can troubleshoot, check you're not forming bad habits, and just because lessons with a good teacher should be informative, fun and inspiring!

Some teachers aren't keen on teaching students who won't commit to a weekly lesson, but I love teaching adults so would make an exception in order to help someone like you get started and get the most out of playing the flute. There will be other flute teachers out there who feel the same.

zen1 Mon 22-Jun-15 22:58:03

I have looked at Learn as You Play and it looks ideal so I'll be ordering a copy. Delphine, getting into bad habits is the one thing that was worrying me about teaching myself, so I take on board your suggestion of a couple of lessons to check I've got the right idea. My kids are both learning their instruments at school, so I'm not sure how to go about finding a private teacher.

JulieMichelleRobinson Mon 22-Jun-15 23:13:14

I self taught flute at about 17yo. Abracadabra in 2 hours. But I played a lot of bottles and recorder fairly seriously. When I'm in practise I have okayish tone, can't play fast bits and can't double tongue. But I can footle around on it, so it depends what you want from it. I would recommend getting a few lessons at least, for basic technique and positioning. For tone quality... I'm an experienced string player so I know what to look for in the sound and automatically correct for tuning. And I sing a lot, so can control breath. I play decently and have played proper gigs but would never take a flute student even though I've been asked. With no musical background if would be much harder.

Wellthatsit Mon 22-Jun-15 23:28:18

Clarinet is very different from the flute - don't be surprised by how much air you will need for flute. It is a lot more than any other woodwind instrument.

I would second the recommendation to have a few lessons. you might be lucky and be a natural, but it's very easy to play the flute badly (like any instrument).

Check out to find a teacher.

Delphine31 Tue 23-Jun-15 07:50:38

Where abouts are you OP? I might be able to suggest someone for you.

Otherwise, as a pp suggested do a search on

Always have a trial lesson to check you click with the teacher before committing.

zen1 Tue 23-Jun-15 16:45:53

Thanks for the musicteacher website recommendation. I will pm you Delphine.

ShellingPeasAgain Tue 23-Jun-15 16:49:59

The best thing you could do is have a few lessons first and then take it from there. The worst thing to do is to watch dodgy videos on YouTube and develop a tight and inflexible embouchure. James Galway has an excellent clip on forming the right kind of embouchure (sad clown) as opposed to a tight "happy smile" shape which a lot of self taught flute players develop. This will eventually inhibit your ability to play flexibly between the different octaves with good tone.

I have had quite a few adult beginners and I usually advise 3 or 4 taster sessions to see how they get on. Some can cope admirably on their own after an initial block and then come every now and then for a check up lesson, other decide to have regular lessons and some decide that, acutally, flute playing's not for them!

Best books - if you've prior musical knowledge then Learn as You Play the Flute is good, but it moves very fast. I also use Flute Basics with adults who haven't played an instrument before - not too full of mad cartoons and has good pieces and comes with backing CDs. A Tune a Day has some good things but has shockingly bad pictures of someone with a really tight smiley embouchure and is a bit misleading in places. Trevor Wye's Beginner's Book for the flute series are good, very sound, but a bit dull and dated.

ShellingPeasAgain Tue 23-Jun-15 19:09:02

Another place for sourcing flute teachers is the Just Flutes website. They have a 'find a teacher' search. The entries are vetted (up to a point) so a reasonable standard of expertise is expected.

zen1 Tue 23-Jun-15 19:15:30

Ii will look out for the James Galway clip, Shelling. Ive ordered Learn as You Play the Flute. It is good to know that it moves fast as that's the sort of thing that keeps me motivated. I'm glad there are some teachers who won't mind just giving occasional lessons.

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