Is The Flute Easy To Learn & Can You Learn To Play It?

One of the things most people ask is, is the flute easy to learn? To answer this you need to know compared to what? What are your aims for learning the flute? Are you willing and able to put in the practace? And how badly do you want to learn to play?

The flute is a medium-difficulty instrument to learn. However, it is easy to learn once you have mastered a few basics like embouchure, breathing, and holding the flute. The first octave is easy after that, however, students need further practice and skills to get to higher notes.

Although the flute is classed as a mid-range difficulty instrument to play as it needs some technical skills. It is more than achievable for most people. It is much easier to get sound out than some woodwind instruments and easier than having to deal with a reed. Although embouchure and breathing have their challenges.

Is it Easy and Can Anyone Learn the Flute?

I would say that almost anyone can learn to play the flute as it is no matter what their age if they are fit and have all their cognitive abilities. Adults learn the flute well as they are more disciplined than many youngsters and want to do it.

So, if it’s something you want to don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. I’ve heard stories of 80-90-year-olds learning. This article shares more on learning the flute at any age.

If you have difficulties please see the paragraph further down the article.

The Top 6 Difficulties In Learning To Play The Flute And How to Overcome Them

Everyone will experience different challenges when learning to play the flute. This may depend on age, abilities, or physical issues. Making sure you learn the things mentioned below it will make learning and progressing with your flute playing much easier and faster. Concentrate on getting these right and the rest will follow.

1. One of the main challenges most students have is the embouchure. It’s important to get this right early on. You don’t have to worry about the embouchure with all wind instruments and it can be a challenge for most people. If you don’t get it right you don’t get sound or a very bad sound.

Here is an embouchure lesson from Sir James Galway on YouTube.

2. For me taking it back up after a break the main challenge was actually holding the flute up. I suffer from back issues so holding the flute up to the side rather than simply downwards caused a few issues. You have to hold the flute correctly for the sound to work and I found it was pulling away from the mouth.

  • If you are having difficulties with this first make sure you are holding the flute correctly as this helps position the flute.
  • Make sure you are standing or sitting correctly (most people stand where possible). Ask your tutor or take a look at some videos on youtube.
  • The other thing you can do is only play for a short while and build up your strength in your arms.
  • I also used the TV reflection to keep an eye on my posture when practicing.

3. The other difficulty I have especially now that it’s hot weather is the slipping of the mouthpiece from my lips. Your mouthpiece is important. There are many different types and you can get ones that help with this issue in the design.

4. Positioning of the hand is also important. The flute is fairly easy to hold for most people. However, certain notes are harder for beginners to play, this is why it’s important to get a beginner’s flute as they are designed to help with the difficult notes. I find my pinky finger is a tad on the weak side, this is just practice and strengthening your finger.

5. Breathing properly and releasing the right amount of air is a challenge for most people. You can watch more on breathing here on Youtube. I find the Flute Channel an excellent source of information. If breathing is an issue don’t try the harder notes until you can master the easier ones.

Once you go up an octave it is much more difficult to play until you have practiced. Also what I’ve found is it is easy to strain your throat and get into bad habits. Again this is explained on Youtube. How I fixed my student’s note in 10 minutes is a great video from another good YT teacher. . It’s particularly important to learn methods on Youtube (or other) if you have decided to learn the flute alone without a tutor.

6. Confidence can hold many people back, especially adults. Don’t let this be you. Allow yourself the right to fail as it’s only through failure that we learn.

How Long Will It Take To Learn The Flute?

That really depends on what your aims are, how quickly you learn, how often you intend to practice, how good your teacher is, etc.

  • It can take a few minutes or hours to get sound from the flute head. (believe me that makes you feel good in itself because once your know you can make a sound the sky is the limit (or at least) the 1st octave!)
  • A few hours or days to start to make simple tunes
  • A few months to get to a decent sounding level for the basic tunes in the first octave or higher
  • To get to a reasonable level it can take between 2-3 years for most people to learn to play the flute.
  • A lifetime to become a master

While we are all keen to learn and progress and have other commitments. I do feel this while is a question we all ask is the wrong one. Unless you are a student wanting to be in a concert and pass exams does it really matter how long it takes you if you enjoy playing?

Can You Learn To Play The Flute If You Are Disabled or Have An Illness?

If you have an illness or disability that may hinder you possibly. For instance, I struggle to hold the flute up nowadays due to a persistent back-issue due to injury. My sister couldn’t hold the flute up at all. If this is the case then you could use a different flute head that allows you to hold the flute like a recorder instrument. There are also instrument adaptions that you can have that allow for things like missing fingers, etc.

There is also something called the magical Flute that allows people that cannot hold instruments to play instruments. You can find it here. However, they are limited to where they can send it. I feel it should be more readily available.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people are very innovative and can pretty much do anything they put their minds to. Combine that with modern technology or instrument creation methods and the majority of people are covered.

Here I am discussing the concert flute as that’s what most people mean when they say the flute. Remember though that there are many different types of flute. If you can’t get an adaptive head, for example, try a different flute that is verticle rather than horizontal. There are lots of options.

My sister can’t read the sheet music while playing (her clarinet or ocarina) as it is too small so she either uses her large TV or puts large letters over the sections. Or she memorizes the tune, something I struggle with.

Other Questions People Ask

Are flutes good for beginners?

There are many different types of flutes some are better for beginners than others. The best flutes for beginners are the recorder and the ocarina. They are easy to play and progress is fast. Particularly the ocarina (note though full-sized ocarinas are not good for children due to the hole sizes.

If you want to learn the concert flute you can get ones that are suitable for beginners. There are fun plastic ones that are very basic for children and adults, or if you prefer the traditional route you can get beginner flutes like the Trevor James 10X, Jupiter JFL 511, or the Yamaha 212. These don’t have holes in the middle of the keys and have an Offset G key and Split E-mechanism.

These range from around $368-$613 US or £300-£500 new. (you don’t have to buy new you can buy used and you may be able to rent).

Can I Learn To Play The Flute By Myself?

The answer is yes absolutely. I cover this in my article on learning to play the flute alone.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Playing The Flute?

You have to be consistent and make time to practice every day no matter how you feel or how busy you are. You have to forgive yourself when you just can’t do that as life happens.

There’s a lot of hidden pressure in flute playing, or maybe that’s just me. When I play the ocarina those feelings are not there, but with the flute, there’s always that feeling there needs to be a high standard. Perhaps because it’s a concert instrument.

What Is The Easiest Flute To Play?

The easiest flute to play if you are talking about the main types of flute is the concert flute. The one most students. The smaller flutes like the piccolo are much harder to get the sound to form and the larger ones are harder to get the notes to form and need much more breath.

If you are including all flutes then the easiest of them all to play in my view is the ocarina.

Is The Flute Easy To Pick Up?

If you learn the basics and can get a good sound the fingering is easy to pick up. If you have played the recorder it helps you learn the flute in my view. Once you learn one woodwind instrument you can transfer those skills onto other woodwind instruments according to Sahra Jeffery (The recorder player on YouTube) I tend to agree with that statement.

What Is The Easiest Instrument To Learn? It’s Not What You Think!

Does the triangle count? lol. I’m sure that many believe it is the recorder instrument due to its popularity in schools as a beginner instrument. Taught due to its ease. And if you are planning on progressing onto the concert flute that may be the way to go.

Actually, I found the ocarina to be far easier than the recorder and pretty much easier than most of the instruments I have tried whether they are woodwind or not. Allowing, that I just learned the alto recorder as a comparison. And the ocarina is so much more fun to play.

You can learn the basics in only a few minutes to an hour. It’s difficult to judge when not starting from scratch but the ocarina is mostly just lifting a finger and going up the scales – mostly!

You can read more on the easiest flute to play here in this article.

To be honest the easiest instrument to learn to play is the one you really want to play even if technically it’s harder. This is because you will put your heart into it and want to practice. Don’t just pick an instrument because it’s easy, go for the one you will love the rest will follow provided you put in the effort. Although you may surprise yourself. I started to learn the ukulele and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

I’ve put a guide list below. I’ve included other instruments as a guide as some people will have experience with them and can compare.

This is the standard view or my view of the difficulties, however, different peole have differnet views on this. I’d say the bagpipes are hard and the teacher on youtube is going no it’s easy, when he broke it down it certainly looked much easier than I’d imagined.

InstrumentDifficulty LevelDifficultiesEase
Recorder Instrument*EasyThe sound, larger recorders are harder to stretch the fingers for many.Basic easy notes no embruchure
Ocarina*Very EasyHoles on some ocarinas can be too big for small fingers (including adults). Only an octave limits musicEasy note sequence, fun to play, no pressure. Only an octave to learn.
Flute (Concert)*MediumHolding it to the side, learning embouchure, getting sound from it. Note sequences, the first octave.
Clarinet**Medium easyInitially getting air/sound out and getting to grips with reeds. Holding the instrument as it is long. Putting it together without breaking it. Holding it with your thumb can hurtYou hold the instrument vertically which makes playing easier. There are lots of resources and lessons.
SaxophoneEasyNeeds more air than other instruments. Learning about reeds.If you’ve played the recorder you can adapt to the sax. Fingering is easy to learn.
ViolinVery HardFingering is hard and there are no fret markers so you have to know where to put your fingers. Said to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Holding the instrument. Lots of practice, starting young
Guitar*MediumHas 2 more strings and harder strings than the Ukulele which makes pressing them down harder for beginners. Also means more complex chordsGetting the right size guitar for you, if you are smaller you can get 3/4 sizes. Getting the right learning resources.
Ukulele*EasyPlacing fingers on strings and holding the instrument correctlyAnother fun instrument has fewer strings and softer strings than the guitar which makes the chords easier. If you are an adult getting a concert or larger might be better than a soprano.
Keyboard*MediumYou have to learn the chords and fingerings and stretch to the keys. Easier than the piano can get ones with fewer keys, can program in sequences and play back what you have played and can change instruments.
Piano*Medium-hardHaving to use foot pedals has quite a lot of keys and needs a good stretch. You need the room for it. A classical instrument with a lot of background and useful materials makes access easier.
Bamboo FluteMediumEmbroucher and blowing at the beginningNote sequences can have a side flute or a verticle one. Lots of different ones to choose from
Cornet*MediumI found it took a lot of air. high lip control.Tunes are easy to play.
PanpipesHardSkilled players have up to 30 pipes. Blowing over them and in the right amount takes practiceYou can start off with only 13 pipes as a beginner. More on panpipes here.
Piccolo HardGetting a sound from itIf you know another wind instrument it makes it easier
FifeHardGetting a sound from it, very strong embouchureIf you know another wind instrument it makes it easier
BagpipesMedium breathing, getting a sound from them (the trick is to play without the bags to start)only 9 holes, only 1 octave + one note to learn, you can learn in sections by dismantling the bagpipes which makes it easier.

*I’ve put stars by the ones I either play or have tried to play even if only briefly. So I have personal experience with these although not always to a high standard or the same amount.

** I’m still not convinced it’s easier than the flute, I’ve been with my sister when she was learning and it looks harder to me. Most people say it’s easier so until I get the chance to try it I’m deferring to their greater wisdom.

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