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The flute is the instrument often considered to most closely mimic the human voice. Playing the flute is a personal experience and a unique extension of communication. Typically a young flutist gets their start on a student flute, which is typically a concert C flute. If their fingers are not quite large enough to reach the keys, curved headjoints are available to get them started. Also in the flute family are piccolos, Eb, alto, and bass flutes.
Flutes are some of the oldest instruments in history and have been found in numerous cultures. They have gone through a variety of changes over the centuries but a flute created by Theobold Boehm in 1846 has remained the standard since its creation. Boehm was the First Flutist in the Royal Bavarian Orchestra and also studied Acoustics at the University of Munich. His interests and skills uniquely joined when he began developing flutes. After a series of experiments and trials, Boehm developed a flute with a cylindrical body, tapered headjoint, and large toneholes covered by keys. He also tested many types of material but introduced his flutes in silver and a copper, zinc, nickel alloy called German silver. At the time of Boehm’s flute, wood was still the primary material being used for flutes.
The value and importance of a good teacher is incredibly important in the development of young musicians. Great flute teachers like Marcel Moyse have shaped generations of flutists based on the precedent they set with their own students. Marcel Moyse was a famous French flutist who performed widely and had many compositions written for him including the famous 1934 “Flute Concerto” by Jacques Ibert. Moyse studied at the Paris Conservatory under Phillippe Gaubert, Adolphe Hennebains, and Paul Taffand. Beyond his career as a performer, Moyse also founded the Marlboro Music School and Festival. He developed numerous studies and exercises that are still utilized by flute teachers today. Among his writings are works like “Tone Development through Interpretation.” Many flutists went on from Moyse’s tutelage to become quite successful including William Bennett and James Galway. Beyond all of the exercises and techniques that Marcel Moyse taught, his underlying emphasis was not on teaching students how to play the flute, but teaching them how to make music instead.
Today flute teachers draw from previous virtuosos and instructors like Marcel Moyse as they introduce the student flute to numerous young musicians. With the aid of the internet, more flute instruction and exposure to music can be supplemented. With websites like the one hosted by the Real Flute Project, flutists can play and teach online lessons. Nina Perlove, the founder of the Real Flute Project has an extensive career as a flutist and won the first prize in the Laurence Beauregard Competition. She was also the winner of the 2009 YouTube Symphony Competition. Her videos incorporate flute tutorials with samples of her playing and are encouraging flutists from the very young to the more experienced to ignite or renew their interest in the flute. Nina Perlove’s videos are widely popular with over 7 million views.
With the purchase of your first student flute, your child or beginner is entering a beautiful world of music in which they can learn the techniques and styles of their instrument through traditional and modern venues.