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FluteA Brief History of the Flute

The early history of the flute is largely unknown, but most historians agree that it is one of the oldest musical instruments and that it originated somewhere in Central Asia. It was first made of wood with only tone holes to change pitches. In the late 1600’s the Baroque Flute was built in three sections and had seven tone holes plus a key for the little finger.

Later in 1847, a German flutist completely redesigned the flute. It began to be built of metal and had an extensive system of keys. This new flute had a much improved tone and more accurate intonation. The flute has remained essentially unchanged to the present day. The flute is the highest pitched instrument in the Beginning Band and is a member of the woodwind family of instruments.

Things to Consider in Choosing to Play the Flute

Below are some factors one should consider when choosing the flute. While it is not mandatory that a student wishing to play the flute possess each characteristic listed, the chance for success will be greatly increased if a number of these factors are present.

  • Arms and fingers are long enough to hold the instrument and cover the keys correctly.
  • Upper lip characteristics are conducive to a proper flute embouchure. (A short upper lip, or a “teardrop” lip make it very difficult to form a correct embouchure.)
  • Straight teeth with no gaps.
  • For some students, braces are a hindrance to forming a correct embouchure.
  • A clear tone is easily produced on the head joint.
  • Small motor coordination is important.
  • Reading skills are above average.
  • Work habits are strong and achievement is high.

Suggested Brands

Instrument brands listed in bold are the director’s recommended brands. Currently, I believe the Yamaha product is the best student-line instrument available today. Based on my many years experience teaching Band, Yamaha has proven to be the most consistent and well-built instrument for the middle school band student.

Yamaha, Gemeinhardt, Armstrong, Selmer