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Song flutes are a plastic version of soprano recorders. The recorder is an early wind instrument. One blew into the top of a hollowed tube, and made different notes by using different fingered patterns on the holes down the front. Unlike a flute, song flutes are held more like a clarinet.
Children are often introduced to song flutes in grammar school music programs. They may learn basic notes but the results are not always universally charming. Especially with the inexpensive models played by children, it is extremely easy to play notes flat or sharp by blowing into song flutes too hard or too softly.
This can also be achieved with more expensive wooden recorders, but the cheap make of the plastic ones predisposes them toward sounding somewhat shrill. Results in song flute classes for kids depend on how much the children are willing to practice, and how well versed the teacher is in conveying the importance of breath control. Children who get to own their own song flutes tend to have more opportunities to practice.
Song flutes or recorders come in a number of sizes. Most children learn on soprano song flutes. Larger recorders that feature alto, tenor and bass sounds can give impressively deep sounds. Tiny recorders like the sopranino reaches notes similar in height to a piccolo. The 19th century largely neglected the song flute in preference to newer wind instruments, but many famous composers have numerous duet, trio and quartet pieces for the recorder.
Renaissance composers, especially experimenting with the concept of multiple harmonies produced a great deal of music for the song flute. A few key recorder composers of the Renaissance include Heinreic Issac and William Byrd. Later composers like J.S. Bach and Vivaldi would compose several pieces for differently sized recorders.
If a child is actually interested in learning the song flute, it can be one of the more fun instruments to learn. There are many books which can help the child learn at his or her own pace. If two children are interested in playing, you might look for books that teach fingering and tunes for both alto and soprano recorders. This way, your children can learn duets from the onset.
When children show talent with song flutes, you might consider purchasing slightly more expensive wooden recorders. As musical instruments go, wooden recorders for students are some of the least expensive instruments. You can often find a used wooden or wooden with plastic tipped recorder for less than 50 US dollars (USD). Generally, a slightly better quality song flute than those made for students will produce a pleasant sounding tune when played properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a song flute and how does it differ from a regular flute?
A song flute, also known as a tonette or a pre-band instrument, is a simple, end-blown musical instrument often used in music education for children. Unlike a regular concert flute, which is a side-blown aerophone and requires a more complex embouchure (mouth position), a song flute is played by blowing directly into the end of the instrument. This makes it easier for beginners to produce a sound and learn basic musical concepts before transitioning to more advanced instruments.
What age group is the song flute most suitable for?
The song flute is particularly suitable for young music students, typically ranging from 5 to 10 years old. Its design is tailored for small hands, with finger holes positioned to accommodate a child's reach. The simplicity of playing the song flute makes it an excellent introductory instrument for early music education, helping children develop rhythm, pitch recognition, and fine motor skills in a fun and accessible way.
Can you learn proper fingerings and music theory with a song flute?
Yes, the song flute is an effective tool for teaching the basics of fingerings and music theory. While it has a more limited range than many other instruments, it allows students to practice the coordination of finger movements with musical notes and scales. The skills acquired on a song flute can be a foundation for learning more complex wind instruments in the future, as the fingerings are often transferable to recorders and, to some extent, concert flutes.
Is the song flute used in professional music performances?
The song flute is primarily an educational tool and is not commonly used in professional music performances. Its primary role is to serve as a stepping stone for young learners to grasp the basics of music and prepare them for more sophisticated instruments. However, its sweet and simple tone can occasionally be featured in compositions that seek a child-like or whimsical sound characteristic.
Where can I purchase a song flute and what is the typical cost?
Song flutes are widely available at music stores, online retailers, and educational supply companies. They are quite affordable, with prices typically ranging from $5 to $20, making them an accessible option for schools and parents. When purchasing a song flute, it's important to look for models made from durable, non-toxic materials, as they will be used by children who may be sensitive to certain plastics or metals.