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Is this how the flute is taught now?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Doitforfree, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    I hope someone can help me here. A friend's daughter is learning the flute and the book she's using (sorry, I can't remember the name, I only got a quick look at it) teaches the notes D, E flat and, I think E and D flat (an octave above middle C) as the first notes. It then has lots of the usual sorts of tunes on two or three notes, but with key signatures of one or two flats. I didn't have time to see how it goes on after the first two or three pages but the little girl in question (who is bright)is having difficulty understanding the flats on top of learning the notes on the flute and on the music. It's putting her right off playing.
    Anyway, my friend asked me about it and I didn't really know what to say. I imagine there is some logic behind it, but I seem to remember, from my brief foray into flute playing, that we learnt the scale of C first and went on from there, which seems more logical, although that could be because I already played the piano.
    Has anyone come across this system? What are its advantages? Is there anything helpful I could suggest to my friend to help her daughter? She plays the piano to a reasonable standard herself.
     
  2. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    I hope someone can help me here. A friend's daughter is learning the flute and the book she's using (sorry, I can't remember the name, I only got a quick look at it) teaches the notes D, E flat and, I think E and D flat (an octave above middle C) as the first notes. It then has lots of the usual sorts of tunes on two or three notes, but with key signatures of one or two flats. I didn't have time to see how it goes on after the first two or three pages but the little girl in question (who is bright)is having difficulty understanding the flats on top of learning the notes on the flute and on the music. It's putting her right off playing.
    Anyway, my friend asked me about it and I didn't really know what to say. I imagine there is some logic behind it, but I seem to remember, from my brief foray into flute playing, that we learnt the scale of C first and went on from there, which seems more logical, although that could be because I already played the piano.
    Has anyone come across this system? What are its advantages? Is there anything helpful I could suggest to my friend to help her daughter? She plays the piano to a reasonable standard herself.
     
  3. that sounds very wierd!
    get a copy of Flute Basics - highly recommended.
    good luck
     
  4. I have been playing for twenty years and have taught for a long time- this seems a very odd way of teaching! Usually start with G,A and B (left hand notes if you get me, with the right hand just supporting)

    Is she learning in school with a group? Some peri's teach 'woodwind' and may not be flute specialists? I would suggest another teacher to be honest as that just sounds odd!
     
  5. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    Thank you! I think it is a group lesson with other woodwind, not all flutes. I'll pass on your comments to the mum. At least she won't think it's just that her daughter's not cut out for the flute.
     
  6. I agree, that sounds very strange. I would also start with g,a, b etc. maybe introduce Bb and therefore f major after a few lessons (but only for a bright child). but not what you described!
     
  7. sah79

    sah79 Occasional commenter

    If she's being taught in a mixed woodwind group then that could be the reason - clarinets and saxophones will use different key signatures and notes in order to sound the same so pieces in a staight forward key for flutes may need be written in a key signature with many more sharps or flats for a clarinet and vice versa. So the reason why your friends daughter has been taught these notes and key signatures at this point is simply to make it possible for the different instruments to play together. This is why (in my opinion obviously!) mixed woodwind lessons are a bad idea. Could she have lessons just with other flute students, or an individual lesson?
     
  8. That's it, as explained by sah79. The book is probably Standard of Excellence. It's a band method, geared for a group as a whole rather than the individual pupil, and I don't like it at all.

    Flute Basics is very good, and Abracadabra for Flute is pupils' favourite because it contains a lot of material that is familiar to them. It also contains the scales and arpeggios for ABRSM grades 1 - 3. They have good CDs too. There's never enough material in one book so I start with Flute Basics and then add Abracadabra when the pupil has got the feel of the instrument and a good understanding of the first few notes.

    In my opinion, tuition in mixed groups of instruments can't work anyway.
     
  9. Alphaalpha

    Alphaalpha New commenter

    If it's a Band Method book, such as Standard of Excellence, or Essential Elements, which is being used in Somerset in some schools, it's hell for flutes to start, but having taught it for 20 odd years it does work!!!

    The whole American Band ethos is to get kids playing together and it does work!!

    The reason for the odd start notes is to be in line with the Bb and Eb instruments. Not ideal, but again it does work.

    If it is being used as a stand alone - wrong!!

    I could never put my flutes in for ABRSM Grade 1, as the kids knew none of the notes for it!

    Flute are tricky to start - some kids get it immediately - some take 6 weeks.

    Good Luck!!
     
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    That makes a lot more sense, if it's a band method. I didn't even know there was such a thing! I think it might be Accent on Achievement. If it's a difficult way to start the flute, are there any tips for making it more manageable? She's been learning for over a term and still only knows three notes.
     
  11. The first note my flute teacher taught me (a fantastic old lady of the old school!) was D because she said it was the most "stable" note.
     
  12. It was the major problem with flutes in SoundStart. They were all going to play in the same key, and the first three notes for a clarinet and a trumpet were "their" C D E and G A B for the alto sax which was nice, easy fingering. So the flutes started off with D, C and Bb. Right over the break!

    Brendan LePage who wrote the scheme said he was aware it wasn't ideal, and was working on the idea of using Eb fifes instead.
     
  13. Yeah. That is very odd. The basics are G, A, B, and D. Tell the mother to transfer the kid to a diff. teacher or school, the kid might have a potential to be a great flutist.
     
  14. I've been reading through the posts with interest.
    The teacher is obviously teaching a mixed group or a band class. Those who have been quick to suggest that another teacher should be found should remember that this may be a contractual obligation for that teacher and/or that without this method of teaching children may miss out on the opportunity to access instumental tuition.
    There's actually no indication from the OP as to the age of the child or geographical area etc so it's very difficult for anyone to make judgements.
    To the OP:
    1) Whether the child is 'bright' or not is not the issue. Many beginners struggles in the early stages of learning an instrument regardless of whether they are labled 'bright' or not.
    2) The publication is probably one of those mentioned in other posts,
    3) Mixed group teaching is not a second class service despite some of the responses in previous posts. Also it may be the only method available at the school so should be supported.
    4) There is a massive push for LEAs to provide as many children as possible with the opportunity to have tuition on a musical instrument. Band classes or mixed family instrumental lessons are methods being used to fulfil this.
    Schools of thought will be divided, but in reality we all have to open our minds to new methods and allow greater access to instrumental opportunities for a greater number of our young people.

     
  15. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Considering that the original post was made more than three and a half years ago, I should think the problem has been resolved (one way or the other).
     

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