New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Hello I just got my first flute today, and I love it to bits, but I’d be lying if I said I could get a decent sound out of it lol. I know I need to talk to my instructor and all that, but just thought I’d ask some of the people I’ve come to "know" over the past 6 months or so. Does anyone have any advice?

Also, I’m a bit worried about splitting my time between flute and whistle, and I would like to know if this is justified.

Thanks!🙂

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Congrats Kellie.
I’m in a similar situation myself as I’ll be taking up the fiddle soon. Which is going to require a reschedule of banjo time to fit the fiddle in.

I’m sure you’ll be flying with that flute in no time.
Best of luck
Shane 🙂

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Start with your embouchure. I’m not sure how much you know about directing your air into a flute. But if you have ever blown across the top of a coke bottle and sounded a tone, that’s the basic concept.

You can begin by playing a G note, something where you don’t need to cover all the holes and you’re not trying to hit anything to high or low. If you’re not covering the holes completely, or if you are gripping too tightly you might get some fuzzy tone.

Those are where you can start; embouchure, holding the flute and tone production.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I would be amazed if you could get a decent sound out of it so soon. That’s your first hurdle, and then you’ll be away. I think it will only be after that, i.e, once you can settle into actually playing tunes on it, that you can decide how you want to split your time. Despite how the impatience that comes from enthusiasm may be making you feel, you really have lots of time to ‘split’, and I don’ think practising playing the one thing could be detrimental to playing the other. In the long run I’d say that it’s just the opposite.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I find them very complimentary. You won’t ruin one by spending time on the other. The flute is much more of a physical challenge. On the other hand, the whistle, like the harmonica, is a great example of the difference between "simple" and "easy." Almost anyone can get sound on the first try. Music takes a bit more time and effort. Enjoy your journey! Listen broadly, and not just to the current hotshots. And try to pay attention to pitch! Good luck!
Bill

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Cheers Shane! Good luck with fiddle!

Thanks AB! I’ll get to work on those 3 things. Any exercises that I can use to practice them?

Thanks Gobby!

Thanks Bill!

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

There are tons of exercises, Kellie. But I don’t know what you’ve tried thus far, much less what tone you’re getting.

Seriously, my advice is the same as before, contact Brian and schedule a lesson. At the very least contact him
since he probably knows your abilities better than any of us.

In the meantime; are you able to sound a solid tone with just the headjoint? How comfortable is your grip
(body attached) with a few holes covered on the top hand, not sounding a note?
Does the flute feel balanced as you lift fingers?

I’m willing to give advice but not without knowing a few details about what you knew going in and how you’re progressing on the new flute.

Ben

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Ok so I can get a "decent" (at least in my opinion) sound out of it but It’s far from consistent http://vocaroo.com/i/s0WaE6Aoyv1n

EDIT: this one’s better, but it illustrates my point that I can get a "decent" sound out of it, but I’ve no idea what position makes it sound "decent" http://vocaroo.com/i/s00nLxHHRhr3

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

This ones even better and again illustrates my point it’s not consistent

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1ePC6LCNf23

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Learning the flute made me a better whistle player.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Should I be holding the flute with what we call "piper’s grip"?

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Kellie, did you see the questions I posted up the thread?

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

"are you able to sound a solid tone with just the headjoint?"

Yes

"How comfortable is your grip
(body attached) with a few holes covered on the top hand, not sounding a note?"

Well it’s different than whistle of course, but it’s relatively comfortable. Question though do I use my shoulder to support the headjoint? Also, is the shoulder what you mean by (Body attached)?

"Does the flute feel balanced as you lift fingers?"

Yes

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Ouch!
Call Brian, he can lift some weight off your shoulder(s).
Call him; maybe not tonight, maybe not tomorrow but call him before end of day on Monday.

That’s my best. He will have answers to help you start off right on the new flute.

Call Brian!

Please?

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

What are you talking about? It’s not that heavy. It certainly doesn’t hurt. My next lesson with Brian won’t be for a while I think, I’ll ask him if he can do Monday.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

It hurts me because you are asking for help before consulting your local instructor.
I truly think it is worth waiting to find out how he wants you to begin learning flute.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Fair point.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Getting used to holding the darn thing was my first hurdle! I don’t hold it on my shoulder. It gets comfortable holding it normally (I don’t use a pipers grip, either. My hands are plenty sizable enough).

Your instructor will have good and better advice, I’m sure.

Getting a sound at all out of it wasn’t an issue for me, but getting the rich, reedy tone took a while (if I’m even there :p )

I’m of the opinion that whistle and flute are complimentary, not competing. Whistle is like my "finger precision" workout. I find it easier to smudge things on flute.

What kind of flute is it you’ve got, Kellie?

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

A 5 piece Delrin Gary Somers Pratten.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

"Any advice?" Overcome your reluctance to have regular lessons.

Congrats on the flute.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

The thing is I can’t have regular lessons.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

So it’s not a reluctance to have regular lessons. I’d love to be able to have regular lessons, but it just doesn’t work out.

Also thanks!

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Yeah congrats on the flute. I’ve never tried a Somers, but have heard great things about them when researching for my own flute. I eventually want a delrin to not worry about when traveling.

As far as the inability for regular lessons, I share your lament. Very difficult for me to find time or money. I’m sure you’ll do fine, anyway.

I’ve found it’s great at my session to have both the flute and whistle. The whistle is for when my lungs get tired, haha.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Oh, and one piece of advice for developing tone (again, follow whatever your instructor says once you get a lesson!): practice long, single tones. Just play one note at clear and long as you can. Start with your easiest, strongest note.

Anyway, goodnight! Welcome to the wonderful world of flutes.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Kellie, I’m in a similar situation in having started on Irish flute in a backwater area with few instructors around. I’m completely self-taught, still struggling (and a LOT older than you), but making progress. It helped that I’ve been playing Irish trad for about 8 years now on mandolin, so I already have tunes in my head, but flute is a mechanically demanding instrument, very physical. It just takes time to get there. Here’s what helped me the most:

Books — pick up Conal O’Grada’s "An Fheadog Mhor, Irish Flute Technique," and also "Timber" by Fantan Vallely. The former more as an actual tutor (with music examples on CD), and the latter for a wealth of information on the history as well as technique.
https://www.amazon.com/Timber-Flute-Mel-Bay-Publications/dp/1857200322
https://www.conalograda.com/

Online help — Lots of sources, but for a small monthly fee you could sign up for the Online Academy of Irish Music, which has helped me dip in and out of lessons to pick up technique pointers:
https://oaim.ie/

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Flute is not like whistle where you can just blow notes and sound reasonably okay from almost the beginning.

Seriously. If you care about becoming a good flute player, you need lessons on flute, and the initial ones need to be in person so the teacher can actually see what’s going on. Otherwise you WILL pick up bad habits, and then you will take twice as long to learn and you’ll pay for twice as many lessons.

It doesn’t need to be a teacher of Irish flute. A classical flute teacher is fine to help with the embouchure issues beginning flute players have. It takes months to slowly build up the fine muscle control in the your, which is just part of the process (and also why you can keep up both whistle and flute). Volume, good control, good intonation will eventually come in, but much depends on your initial foundation.

You asked for advice; I don’t think a single person here said you can get by without lessons.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

There are some good free lessons for absolute beginners given by Steph Geremia on youtube, giving instruction on holding the flute and about the embouchure:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goCd1mEWsWs


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P … 1mpNFIzDHq

I also recommend, if you can find a used copy somewhere (I don’t think it can be bought anymore), Seamus Egan’s Mad for Trad Irish Flute Tutorial. This is a series of very carefully graduated tunes to develop your playing ability. Also included are examples of scales, cuts, taps (I think he calls these tips), and rolls. After you’ve worked through these, then it would be worth your money to do the lessons by Steph Geremia (Beginner’s Flute) and Kirsten Allstaff (Flute Foundations) on OAIM.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

"Seriously. If you care about becoming a good flute player, you need lessons on flute, and the initial ones need to be in person so the teacher can actually see what’s going on."

So what you’re saying is that I’m screwed from the very beginning.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

"Seamus Egan’s Mad for Trad Irish Flute Tutorial." CD-Rom. copyright 2001.
Surprisingly, I can verify it works in Windows XP, and Window 8.1

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Thanks kkrell, but I don’t know if I can get very far with pre recorded lessons. Apparently I need them to be in person.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I think people are trying to stress the ideal situation for learning the particular requirements of playing flute Kellie, but we all know many of us don’t have the ideal situation within our reach and it’s not the end of the world. Because you are very keen to get started with your new flute, I can’t see it would do any harm to have a few goes at trying to get the best sound you can until you can get your instructor’s advice, but don’t overdo it and make your muscles too tired or get discouraged. Since you have tried a bit of a tune with the body on, you can try a few different medium range notes to get an idea of how things change with different notes. Say up to 15 minutes each day or every other day for argument’s sake. With an ordinary flute hold. Then let your instructor advise you what to do next.

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Congratulations on beginning your flute adventures. The Somers is a good flute. I bought one early on and it’s my travel flute. It won’t hold you back. Patience and practice the fundamentals. You already know the fingering and some tunes from the whistle. You can’t do much with them until you get some control of the basics. Long tones, scales, arpeggios, slow and deliberate focus on tone. An instructor would give you a good start, but there are some very good materials on line and in print/CD. Be patient and enjoy the journey.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

One tip I found useful was to play in front of a mirror. It helps you hear the sound more as it is from the front and you can see your mouth and posture.

If your hold, embouchure and overall posture look much different from that demonstrated by Steph Geremia think about whether you might change them.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Kellie, lessons are ideal. They might help you catch bad habits and progress faster. That said, it is possible, albeit harder/slower, to learn on your own in my opinion.

I have gotten to the point on flute where I can play in a session just fine. I’m not Kevin Crawford, by any means, but I can play with people on tunes I know with no issue. I have not had any lessons, though I’d like to and wish I’d had the opportunity.

Definitely utilize any free lesson sources you can. If you’re able, take in person lessons. But do keep playing.

Do you go to a session? I haven’t followed your trad adventures on here close enough to know.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Yeah currently I try to get out to at least 4-5 sessions a month

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Any flute players at them? You can listen to them. If you bring your flute to the session once you have a bit of tone coming through, they might be more than happy to see you take up the flute and offer advice.

Again, though, I’d treat your instructors advice as the end-all at this point.

Once you can, playing at a session will likely help.

All this is my humble opinion. I myself am still working on things. Hence not much specific advice.

Good luck, Kellie.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Kellie, rummage around in the Clare FM archives and find the interview they did with Jack Coen a few years ago. It is part of ‘The Kitchen Session Interviews’.It is funny, and informative about starting the flute in a relative backwater (County Clare fer cryin’ out loud!).
He shares a story of telling one of his mates in the local fife band that his instrument didn’t have the second octave. . because no one had shown him how to achieve it!

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I don’t think the original interview is available or archived on the internet, postie.
Someone here or on the ‘chiff may have a copy.

There is a good bit about Jack Coen on firescribble though, including this quote which I borrowed,

"Remember to "slack off your breath" and blow easier in the high octave than in the low. The flute is not like a whistle — you don’t get the second octave by blowing harder. Instead, you tighten your embouchure. In Jack’s playing, the low octave sounds slightly louder than the high octave, especially when he heads down to the grand D at the bottom. Speaking of octaves, Jack complained that many of today’s players overblow the low octave so it sounds like the whole tune’s up in the high octave. In Jack’s view, this destroys the melody."

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I know, postie, but the audio does not appear to be archived. I even have the original links from 2009. That is why I was thinking someone may have an mp3 copy.
Cheers!

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Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Check yer pm’s.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Probably you can find Boehm flute teachers in your area ? Of course they would show you how to produce a different tone than typical "Irish" one. But I am sure, some lessons could help to get started, or to get a better understanding how to produce the tone, hold the instrument… just to get some basic ideas ;)

Just a couple of lessons, so you can learn how produce a tone with the right pitch etc.
I am by no means an upper class flute player, but I think, learning to play the boehm flute at least helped me, to produce a nice tone.
From what I saw at sessions and workshops, my impression is, that self fought flute players often tend to produce a relatively weak and nasal tone, although they are really good musicians in general, with an excellent rhythm, big repertoire, the ability to transcribe tunes really fast etc.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

Kellie, you asked if you was "screwed" if you didn’t get lessons.

The answer is maybe yes, maybe no. The problem is that you have no way of knowing whether you are screwed or unscrewed. That is why a teacher is so valuable. I guarantee that with a teacher you will discover problems before they screw you, and regular (even occasional) lessons will double your progress. Do you want to learn flute in 5 years or in 10 years?

I’m as self-directed as anyone, and started flute on my own. One month in I realized that my lips had a "tear drop" shape, including an old scar. I had to start completely over, blowing crackers instead of notes, until I figured out how to use a side embouchure. I figured this out by luck and by chance (basically, I couldn’t hit any notes in the upper register) and fortunately, I only lost a month, but I might have lost a year, or quit in frustration.

Frankly, I have only had a few lessons, but by gosh each one has really helped. The first one I doubled or tripled my volume . The second one, I discovered a number of bad habits, including vocalizing on certain notes. My point is that an experienced teacher will spot three, five or ten basic issues that a newbie doesn’t even know might be problems.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I had to learn Irish flute on my own.
There were no players around, period.
This was before the Internet.
So, all I could do was get a flute (which here in the USA, back in the 1970s, meant either an antique flute or a Ralph Sweet flute) and start a-blowin’ on it.

What I did do was take a few lessons with a couple different Boehm flute teachers.
Embouchure is embouchure, focus is focus, good tone is good tone, and there’s nothing they teach that won’t help you, nothing they teach that will hurt you.

An example of this is when one of these teachers, who was interested in the fact that I was learning a type of flute and a sort of music she knew nothing about, asked me for some recordings so she could understand what it all was supposed to sound like. She immediately picked out Matt Molloy as having outstanding tone.

So if I were you, and there are no ITM fluteplayers around who have great tone to teach you, I would take some lessons from an openminded Boehm flute teacher. I’ve not encountered one who wasn’t.

They will give you tone-development exercises which will improve your tone immensely.

About negatively affecting your whistleplaying, well, learning flute takes a lot of practice time so you’ll have less for whistle. If you really get into flute, you’ll find whistle less interesting to play, at least for a time.

Re: New to flute, any advice? Will learning flute negatively affect my whistle playing?

I started when I was about 16 or 17 with absolutely no lessons whatsoever, working entirely off of the Internet posts (long live Chiff and Fipple) and Grey Larsen’s enormous treatise on flute and whistle playing ("Essential Guide"). It continued that way for many years before I moved to Milwaukee for college and found out there was actually kind of a scene for this sort of stuff, and managed to get my first formal instruction.

The lessons revealed many bad habits tone-wise, technique-wise, and other-wise that I had picked up in my self instruction but also gave me a solid road map for correcting them, which, with practice, I like to think I’ve mostly succeeded at (still a long road ahead for me, of course..). I’d say what others said is correct: regular lessons, especially in the beginning, are ideal. But if that isn’t possible, be it for financial, geographical, or other reasons, "touching base" with a one-off lesson once in a while can still do wonders and give you plenty of stuff to work on for months to come. You just have to make the most of it.

So I wouldn’t get discouraged if all you can make is a lesson every few months, you certainly aren’t "screwed"; you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

Best luck,
Chris