Here are some quick, easy, and inexpensive tips that make teaching beginning flute so much easier. 4 flute hacks below!
1. Nail Polish for putting instrument together
One of the most difficult things for students to master is putting their instrument together properly. By putting a thin line of nail polish at the point where the headjoint meets the body of the flute, you can ensure accuracy every time. Without nail polish, many students have their headjoints rolled too far in or too far out. Remember, the tone hole should be in line with the keys. See pictures below.
2. Masking tape for hand position.
To help students achieve proper hand position, place 2 pieces of masking tape on the flute. One piece should be placed where the left hand index finger rests against the flute. Another piece of tape should be put where the right hand thumb rests. If the student cannot feel the masking tape, then they will know their fingers aren’t in the right place. See below for pictures.
3. Mirror use for embouchure checks
I know this sounds simple, but it’s helpful to require each student to have a mirror for band class. The music stand should be raised high with the mirror on the stand so that students can watch their director and then copy what they see. Many children are visual learners and this helps them be successful. (Here’s a post with sample mirrors that are ideal for band class.)
4. Plug removal from the beginning
I recommend starting beginners on open-holed flutes with plugs. Some people may not have the option to do so, but I think it ensures good success in creating proper hand position. After students learn to put their instruments together, have a “Farewell Plugs” day where each student throws their plugs into the trash can. This may seem difficult, but once the plugs are thrown away the students will never miss them. It’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. You will be thankful you did this exercise when your students have great hand position!
I hope you find these simple, easy and cheap tips useful in your beginning flute classrooms. Happy teaching!
A former teacher, Emily Moran directed JHS band in Odessa, TX and taught elementary music in Rockwall, TX. She has educated hundreds of students, grades 6-12, in master classes, sectionals and individual private lessons. Mrs. Moran has presented clinics at the Texas Bandmasters Association convention and the “Art of Teaching Band Symposium” in El Paso, TX. She graduated from West Texas A&M University with a Master of Arts in Music in 2004 and studied flute with Sally Turk, Dr. Gary Garner and Helen Blackburn.
Simple Steps to Teaching Flute Vibrato
4 Clarinet Hacks – Better Clarinets in 30 Seconds
Learning to Play the Flute in Tune
Flute Embouchure – Simple Steps to Great Success (Also by Emily Moran)
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