10 Things You Might Not Know About the Flute

If your daughter or son decides that they would like to learn to play an instrument for the school band, it can be a good idea to do a bit of fact-finding upfront. Not only so that you go in prepared, but because the better your child knows their instrument, the more likely they are to stick with it. It can also be fun. And it’s a nice thing for you to do together.

To help you on your discovery journey, we’ve put together our favourite facts about the flute.

10 Things You Might Not Know About the Flute

Early beginnings

Flutes have been around in various forms for millennia. There is evidence to suggest that a variation of the instrument was played by ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians, and within ancient Indian, Japanese and Chinese cultures.

What’s in a name?

Throughout time, flutes have been known by various names. But the earliest known recording of the word ‘flute’ is attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, at around 1380, in his poem, The House of Fame.

A simple thing

Any open tube that you can blow into can be classed as a flute. It could be the tube inside a roll of paper towel or a hollowed-out stick! Of course, the flutes that you play in an orchestra are somewhat more sophisticated than that, but the premise still stands.

The contemporary flute

Although flutes have been around for a seriously long time, the modern flute is credited to Theobald Böhm. A German instrument maker, Böhm redesigned the flute in the mid-1800s, changing the size and position of the holes to make it easier to play and produce a sweeter sound.

Many materials

While we know the flute as a woodwind instrument, it is usually crafted from silver-plated nickel. And over the years they have been created from numerous different materials. The world's oldest known flute was made from the bone of a bear about 45,000 years ago. There are also examples made from ivory, glass, silver, gold, platinum, jade, and, of course, plastic.

There’s more than one size of flute

There are many different instrument sizes within the flute family. Ranging from the smallest piccolo, which is usually about 12 ½ inches. Through the alto, tenor, bass to the double contrabass flute, which can measure up to 18 feet, and is rather more difficult to fit on to the school bus!

The music of creation

In the Hindu religion, it is believed that Krishna created the world through the exquisite music he played with his flute.

Deep breaths

Despite its relatively small size, because the flute requires a continuous flow of air, flute players need to develop the greatest lung capacity of almost any musician.

Every flute is different

You might be forgiven for thinking that a flute is a flute is a flute. But it has been found that different flutes produce different sounds, influenced by the material it’s made from and the thickness of that material, among other things.

What’s in a name #2

If you play the flute, you may find yourself called by a variety of names, including: flute player; flutist; flautist; fluter; or flutenist.

So, there you have it! These are our top ten favourite flutey facts, but there’s plenty more to find out. So, why not have a bit of fun researching with your future musician?

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