Casual flute self-study to Beatles and downtempo pop?
December 27, 2007 1:56 AM   Subscribe

I want a casual beginner's flute regimen that won't bore me to tears.

My goal is to be able to play a collection of simple pop melodies that I enjoy (Beatles, Zero 7, Air) and have enough skill in notation to write down simple melodies that get stuck in my head. You see, I'm an avid whistler and I am wonderfully happy repeating short phrases from whatever song I'm obsessing over at the time. I would like to parlay this into a meager aptitude for, and comfort with, my flute.

I had a small measure of success with one of the 50s era beginners books, enough to produce a handful of notes in the easiest register and get comfortable with the mouthpiece, but I gave up in short order since I have zero patience for those dated and unmoving songs. I'm willing to go through scales and other wrote exercises, but I'd like to be able to jump into "Hey, Jude" or whatever if my interest wanders. I'm also eager to get some private lessons, but I'd like to have a grip on music that's familiar and beautiful to me first. Where do I start? Better beginner's books? Blank sheet music journals and sound everything out? Look for piano sheet music to bands I like?

Some details on my background if it helps: 2 years of clarinet in HS; I can read and hum a simple piece of sheet music, but can't reliably recognize notes audibly. I own a new Gemeinhardt SP2 (closed hole, key of C) student flute.
posted by cowbellemoo to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll just say it drives me nuts when people don't want to take lessons to begin with. It's the best way to learn an instrument, can save you tons of time, and with the right teacher, can be really fun.

When you are learning music for the first time, it's like you are lost in the wilderness, and blind. A teacher can lead you somewhere nice.

There are gobs of flute teachers in the world. They need work.

You can tell your teacher exactly what you want to do and have them show you.

That's my $.02
posted by sully75 at 5:08 AM on December 27, 2007

Best answer: Well, today there are a number of sheet music options available - especially at the beginner range. So first, I'd say hop over to your nearest store and ask them to send you to the beginner pop-music section. There will be a lot of stuff there to work on, but it wont generally give you a good foundation on how to play correctly. The transcribers who write those books are interested in helping you with technique, just making some cash on a popular tune or two.

I've got more classical training, so if you are interested in going that route, I can help you out there. There are some really mind numbing exercises that you should avoid at all costs if that isn't your cup of tea. But there are some great options for easy and simple classical music that you could sound out pretty easily even with rudimentary flute skills. Check out They have a huge selection (especially of less formal music), and it is easy to navigate around the site. From there you'll find things like some easy traditional Irish stuff, movie music (like Lord of the Rings-y things), and some other stuff that might keep you playing for longer than an afternoon. While you are at it, pick up a couple of books like Rubank's Elementary Method, or a book of Melodious and Progressive Studies (both of which will help firm up your playing and keep you progressing so that you can focus on more complicated stuff eventually!

Good luck!
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:14 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just save yourself the trouble and get lessons.

Bad habits and techniques are easy to form and hard to get rid of.
posted by BeaverTerror at 8:38 AM on December 27, 2007

Best answer: When I was in middle school and played the flute I absolutely HATED the boring crap we played during the first year. Somewhere I came across a book of Irish jigs. Those were just different enough (and fast enough) that I really enjoyed playing them. It was a beginner level book filled with simple Irish jig music - I have no idea what the book was actually titled.

However, I don't think it would be too hard to find a book of beginner Irish music.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:13 AM on December 27, 2007

Download some midi files and run them through something that can transcribe them into notes you can read. For example, here's a page of midis that includes Hey Jude. Play it through Anvil Studio, and you have on-screen sheet music (select View/Composer). On that particular version of Hey Jude, Track 1 (vocals) should give you notes you can play (or at least quickly learn).

GeoCities and a framed site. Old School, but that should keep you busy for the afternoon. And you're really making me miss my flute.
posted by sageleaf at 9:59 AM on December 27, 2007

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