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What is a Flutophone?

A flutophone is a lightweight, pre-band instrument often introduced to children as a precursor to more complex woodwinds. Its simple design and ease of play make it an ideal starter for grasping musical concepts. With its sweet, recorder-like sound, the flutophone opens a world of melody and harmony. Ready to explore how it can spark a lifelong love of music?
Nychole Price
Nychole Price

A flutophone is a wind instrument made of plastic, and often referred to as a plastic flute. It is the ideal instrument for children, as it is affordable, while still being able to play the full chromatic scale. The flutophone is often used to gain a child's interest in music before transitioning her to the recorder.

Flutophones are among the least expensive musical instrument you can purchase, averaging around three US dollars for a brand new instrument. You can purchase this wind instrument at any music store or online. There are a variety of colors to choose from.

The flutophone is a plastic, lightweight instrument, making it very easy to crack. Consider purchasing several of the plastic flute, so that your kids can share them with their friends and keep a couple of extra tucked away in case of breakage.

A flutophone may be washed in soap and warm water.
A flutophone may be washed in soap and warm water.

Teaching children to play music has never been easier than it is with the flutophone. To play the plastic flute, hold it so that the mouthpiece is facing you and the holes are on top. Cover the thumb hole with the left thumb and the top holes with the ring, middle and index fingers. The right thumb is positioned on the thumb rest.

Proper posture is important when playing the flutophone. The musician should sit upright with his back straight, but relaxed. He must relax his arms, hands and fingers to prevent the sound that emerges from being high pitched.

Playing the flutophone involves blowing it softly with a "dahh" sound and tonguing each consecutive note. To play the middle C note, all the holes are covered. The G note is played by covering the thumb hole and first three holes with the ring, middle and index fingers of the left hand. By lifting up the third finger you can play the A note. Removing the second finger, so that only the thumb and first hole is covered, allows you to play the B note.

Once children learn how to produce the proper notes from the flutophone, they can move on to playing songs. Songbooks can be purchased at music stores or online. You can also download music sheets off the Internet.

Cleaning this wind instrument is important for it to continue producing a beautiful sound. You can wash it in soap and warm water. Allow it to drip dry on a draining rack. It can also be washed in the dishwasher, as long as the heat drying mode is turned off. Clean it after each use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a flutophone and how does it differ from a recorder?

A flutophone is a lightweight, plastic wind instrument similar to the recorder but with a slightly different fingering system and a more conical shape. It's designed for educational purposes, often used in music classes for young children. Unlike the recorder, which has a more complex tone and wider range, the flutophone produces a clearer, more piercing sound, making it easier for beginners to produce notes and learn basic music theory.

Is the flutophone suitable for young children to learn music?

Yes, the flutophone is particularly suitable for young children as an introductory instrument. Its simple design, durable construction, and ease of play make it an excellent choice for teaching the fundamentals of music, such as rhythm, melody, and pitch. The flutophone's affordability also makes it accessible for school programs and parents looking to encourage musical interest without a significant investment.

Can playing the flutophone lead to learning other instruments?

Playing the flutophone can indeed be a stepping stone to learning other wind instruments. The skills acquired, such as breath control, finger placement, and reading music, are transferable to instruments like the recorder, clarinet, or flute. Starting with a flutophone can build a child's confidence and musical foundation, which can facilitate a smoother transition to more complex instruments later on.

What types of music can be played on a flutophone?

The flutophone is capable of playing a wide range of simple melodies and is best suited for folk tunes, children's songs, and basic classical pieces. Its limited range and tonal quality make it ideal for beginners to practice and perform straightforward compositions, providing a sense of accomplishment as they master each new piece.

Where can I purchase a flutophone and what should I look for?

Flutophones can be purchased at music stores, online retailers, and sometimes through school music programs. When looking for a flutophone, consider the instrument's build quality, the reputation of the manufacturer, and the availability of instructional materials. A well-constructed flutophone should have smooth edges, easy-to-cover finger holes, and be made of durable, non-toxic plastic.

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Discussion Comments


The two instruments are different, but not as different as some may claim. As the article points out, the Flutophone can play the full chromatic scale, just like a recorder, and not be stuck in the key of C, as some sites have claimed.

If the recorder is a real woodwind instrument, with a real reed, it should produce a richer sound than the Flutophone, especially if the body is also made of wood. However, its use and care (and initial expense) might not make it the ideal instrument with which to introduce a young child to the joys of music making.

However, most of the recorders I have seen in elementary school bands were only made of plastic colored to resemble wood. If they use plastic reeds as well, then the only difference between the two instruments is their lower diameters, which would have little effect on how they are played and how they would sound.


A flutophone and a recorder are different instruments. Although they are quite similar, there are differences and are not simply different names for the same thing.


@SZapper - I'm sure your parents didn't mind-much! I played the recorder in school and I liked it so much I talked my parents into letting me play in the band. I learned how to play both the flute and the clarinet.

I found my experiences in band pretty rewarding, so I'm glad I was introduced to the flutophone at a young age. It makes me really sad when I hear about schools cutting funding for music programs and classes. Every child should have a chance to learn to play a musical instrument!


The flutophone is also known as the recorder and I think every American is familiar with those! When I was younger we learned to play the recorder in music class. I think we did a unit with the recorder just about every year!

I had lots of fun playing the flutophone, but I feel bad for my poor parents. I practiced and everything, but I don't think I was every very good at the flutophone. I can only imagine what it must have sounded like!

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    • A flutophone may be washed in soap and warm water.
      By: tab62
      A flutophone may be washed in soap and warm water.