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The Flute


Fun Facts about the Flute

  • Throughout history, flutes have been made from many materials, including wood. Today flutes are usually made from silver, gold, or some other type of metal.

  • The flute is a member of the woodwind family of instruments.

  • A musician who plays the flute can be called a flutist, flautist, or just a flute player. 

  • A standard concert flute is around 26 inches long. 

  • A musician holds the flute in a horizontal position and blows across a hole (the mouthpiece) in the side of the tube, in much the same way you would blow across the opening of a bottle to produce a sound.

  • Arranged along the tube are 16 sound holes for finger movements. These holes are covered by the player’s fingers or by keys operated by the fingers called keyhole covers. The musician’s fingers open and close the holes to play different notes. When all the holes are covered, the instrument sounds its lowest note.

  • There are 2-4 flutes in an orchestra.

  • The flute section of the orchestra often includes a piccolo, which is a half-size version of a flute that plays twice as high! The word piccolo means “small” in Italian.

  • The flute is one of the earliest instruments still in existence. The oldest flute ever discovered can be traced to prehistoric times, dating more than 40,000 years ago!

  • There are a vast number of different types of flutes worldwide. They are found in many cultures, and include instruments such as the recorder, the fife, whistles, nose flutes, ocarinas, panpipes, many types of American Indian flutes, and many more. 

  • The flute is one of the two instruments in an orchestra requiring the most breath to play. The other is the big tuba! 


About the Woodwind Family

All members of the woodwind family:

 

  • have a similar shape—long tubes into which air (breath) is blown.  

  • were originally all made of wood. Today, the modern flute is made of metal and other woodwinds have some metal parts.

  • make different sounds by covering and uncovering holes along the tube with the fingers, or by pressing keys.



Where do you find flutes and the piccolo in an orchestra?
 


    • The woodwind section is located in the center of the orchestra.


Listen to the Flute 


Here are two wonderful music selections featuring the flute!


Johann Sebastian Bach – Badinage


Play

Johann Sebastian Bach – Badinage (1:17)

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


“Badinage” is a word which means “pleasant, fun conversation.” Can’t you imagine the flute chatting excitedly with friends?  


After you listen, make up a fun story about the music and write it down. Play the music as many times as you like while you create your story. Send it to us using the button below. 


Claude Debussy – Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun


Play

Claude Debussy – Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun (1:16)

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


A faun is a make-believe creature who plays the flute. The faun has just awakened from a nice afternoon nap in the hot sun. He’s still drowsy as he tries to remember a wonderful dream he had! Can you hear how dreamy the music sounds? 

After you listen, draw a picture to match the dreamy music. Play the music again while you draw! Send it to us using the button below. 



Click the button below to send us your drawing and story!

 

CLICK HERE TO SEND


Be an Artist!


Color in the flute and add a fun background, or draw your own flute. You are the artist and can use whatever colors or designs you like to make it special!

Click the photo to print and draw

 



Click the button below to send us your art! We will add it to our online KIDS’ GALLERY, 
along with these other fine examples of kids’ art:  

CLICK HERE TO SEND


Build a Wind Instrument


Lesson Plan for Teachers


More Music Featuring the Flute


Edvard Grieg – Morning Mood from Peer Gynt

Play

Edvard Grieg – Morning Mood from Peer Gynt (1:20)

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.


Ah, morning! Morning is a magical time of the day. It is quiet outside, and with the first rays of the sun, the sky begins to turn from dark to light. A bird sings to greet the new day. As you listen to this beautiful music, imagine a wonderful sunrise and think about the peaceful mood of early morning.


Felix Mendelssohn – Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Play

Felix Mendelssohn – Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2:56)

All sound clips are from San Francisco Symphony performances and are used with permission of the SFS Players Committee.
  • Felix Mendelssohn’s wonderful music describes tiny magical creatures playing games in a magical forest. The music is playful, quick, and funny! It features the flute, along with other instruments in the woodwind section—the oboe, the clarinet, and the bassoon.