The metal flutes seem to be the popular flutes nowadays. Yet, many flutists are still quite fond of the wooden flute. Moreover, there are advantages concomitant with the use of the wooden flute. One of these advantages is that of producing better and richer sound compared to metal flutes. Besides, wooden flutes seem to be rarer nowadays. However, the obvious downside of playing wooden flutes is the need for more power on the part of the flutist.
Wooden flutes can either be transverse or end-blown flutes. Some people think that transverse flutes are trickier to play. Yet, it is much easier to play than you think. If you want to master it, you can begin by availing of an excellent bamboo flute.
At the onset, as a beginner flutist, you may end up trying too hard. You may tend to cover all the holes and make a whistling shape of your lips and blow hard on the mouthpiece. In so doing, you may end up losing enough air. But if you want to master the wooden flute, you need to relax and take a good breath. Then, learn the basics while enjoying the playing process.
Steps & Techniques On How To Play Wooden Flute
The Simple System flute is the direct precursor of the Beohm system flute. It is the flute type that most classical European musicians favor because it was popular during the Classical Era. If you’re desirous of knowing how to play the Simple System Folk Flute, you can learn the following steps:
Step 1: Take the Right Position of Holding the Flute!
The foremost thing you should learn is how to hold the flute with your hands. The left hand should be closest to the mouth hole, whether you are right-handed or left-handed. The flute should point to your right with open finger holes. Position the mouth hole edge against the lower lip’s center. Then, hold the flute, making it parallel to the ground.
Most wooden flutes, of course, are played on a horizontal position. So, keep out your elbows to your sides. Don’t pinch them too close to your body. Moreover, it will help not to hunch your shoulders. Ensure that you sport a loose and relaxed form. You can also practice in front of the mirror to ensure that you see your posture and your hands.
Step 2: Sport the Right Position for Your Lips!
It will help if you learn how to make small and flat lips opening to let you blow a steady stream of thin air onto the mouth hole. You can achieve this by closing your lips together and then breathing deep. Then, pronounce the word “phuuuu” while blowing hard at the onset and backing a bit off.
Avoid bringing your lower lip in. Let it proudly stick out, allowing it to cover around 1/4 of the mouthpiece, and let it get the feel of the mouth hole. Moreover, the ideal thing to do is to divide the air stream into half. Roll back and forth the flute to figure out the right angle for catching air.
Step 3: Left-hand Position
As a beginner, it will be useful to note the left-hand position. Your left hand will cover the primary finger holes. Start with the nearest hole to your mouth. Ensure that each finger covers each hole completely to avoid producing a weak tone. Then, position your left hand outside of your fingers to let your fingers curl inward.
Your left-hand palm should be facing your face. Cover the first, second, and third holes using your index, middle, and ring fingers, respectively. You will not use your pinky fingers to play the flute. Yet, it will be a good substitute if you lack one of your fingers. Go down the scale, covering and blowing for every note until you could cover the three holes.
Step 4: Right-Hand Position
Once you’ve positioned and covered the first three holes with your left-hand fingers, you can then proceed with your right hand. Position your right hand in such a way that your fingers extend outward. Make sure that your right palm points away from you.
Utilize your index, middle, and ring fingers to cover the fourth, fifth, and sixth holes, respectively. You will notice that the holes 5th and 6th are farther apart. Thus, you will need to extend your ring finger farther to reach the 6th hole. Utilize your thumbs to prop the flute’s weight and maintain the right position.
Step 5: Proper Standing Position
To allow for the best airflow, you need to sport the correct standing position. So, stand straight and hold your shoulders back a bit. Try to maintain a good posture so that you can breathe from your stomach. With proper breathing, you can generate the best flute sound.
Keep your legs and feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees a bit to allow for better blood flow to your legs. You can also play the flute while seated. However, when seated, you should keep your feet flat on the ground and position your thighs parallel to the ground.
Tilt your head a bit toward the blowing hole. Yet, it will be useful to try to maintain your neck, shoulders, and spine in a straight position as possible.
Step 6: Cover the Hole with Finger Pad
The right way of covering each hole is to cover each entirely with your finger pad. Don’t cover them with the tip of your finger. To make the wooden flute sound well, you should ensure that each hole is covered well.
Don’t let any leak out of the air so that you can make the flute sounds excellent. Moreover, use the entire pad of your finger and fit it onto the hole. Don’t slide your finger into place, nor use your fingertip to plug the hole. Of course, you may find it hard at the onset to do so; yet, with constant practice, you can achieve it.
You may also find it hard to position your finger on the 6th hole because the 6th hole is farther away from the 5th hole. So, more often, beginners will fail to cover the 6th hole entirely. As your ring finger reaches out for the 6th hole, you should keep the middle finger firmly entrenched on the 5th hole. If your fingers are small, it will help to choose a smaller bamboo flute.
Step 7: Start Blowing the Flute
The right opening of your lips will matter most when you blow air down the mouth hole. At the onset, make sure that you can produce a clear and ringing sound. Direct the air onto the edge of the mouth hole. Adjust the airstream power until you achieve playing a note. Remember not to force air onto the mouth hole to produce sound. Just blow enough air to make a ringing sound.
The initial tone may sound breathy and weak. Yet, with constant practice, you can achieve a clear and ringing sound. The goal is to produce that clear and rich sound. Take a deep breath. Then, exhale a bit to create consistent pressure. You will soon feel confident with your tone and learn to play several notes using the wooden flute.
Other Tips When Playing Wooden Flutes
Aside from the abovementioned steps on how to play the wooden flute, it will be useful to learn the following additional tips on playing the wooden flute:
- Avoid attempting to cover the next hole until you have achieved a clear tone on the last hole. Failure to reach the next note may indicate that you have failed to cover entirely with your fingers one of the spots.
- Try to blow more softly onto the mouth hole if your flute went down or up in pitch.
- If you want to play the higher octave, try to pinch your lips tighter without making a whistling shape with your lips. Try to make a “phuuu” sound. Produce a bit more air pressure to make the note jump an octave.
- Don’t be impatient with yourself as you learn the rudiments of playing a wooden flute. Remember that nothing is achieved without sacrifice. So, it may take sometime before you get the hang of playing the wooden flute.
The contemporary flutes that we play today do not bear much resemblance to the flutes that were crafted several thousand years ago. Moreover, it was only around 1877 when the first metal flute came into existence, and before that year, most flutes showcased wooden or ivory materials.
Wooden flutes, of course, come in a wide range of wood materials, including Grenadilla, Mopani, Boxwood, and even bamboo. It’ll be useful to note that the wooden flute’s sound seems to be more solid than that of the metal type. For this reason, you will enjoy the use of the wooden flute once you have gotten one for yourself.