"The aim and final reason of all music is nothing
other than the glorification of God and the
refreshment of the spirit . . ." J.
key should I get?
far as the key, I would suggest you start with a key that
is easy to play. The larger (deeper) the flute is
the harder it is to play. The dimensions and finger hole
spacing is noted with each flute listing. You can use a
dowel or a rolled-up piece of paper to mark down the
finger holes to see if you can comfortably play a
particular flute. Even
people with small hands can usually play a flute in the
key of A so that is the key I suggest you start with.
In order of size starting from the smallest
(highest) are: High F#, High D, High C, B, A, G, F#, Low
E, LOW D.
can compare the sound of all the flute keys here.
Even if you've never played a woodwind before you should
quickly adapt to most any key except the lowest ones. If
you have any woodwind experience, you will be able to
master any Native American style flute. Flutes in the
highest range (High D, High C) have a piping, Irish
whistle quality, while flutes in the lowest range have an
airy, hollow mellowness to them. Experience has shown us
that people usually want the deepest tone that is
comfortable to play. The A and G flutes are good middle of
the road flute keys, still very easy to play and have a
deeper sound than the smaller ones. The F#, low D and
lower, being larger flutes, need more practice to master.
They are not so difficult to play as it is a matter of
breath control. Again, most players I know have many
flutes of different keys and woods.
would recommend the key of A for
people who have never played an instrument before.
have Native American Flutes Songbooks to get you started,
wood should my flute be made in?
hard woods have a clearer tone and are more responsive.
Softer wood like cedar and ponderosa pine is more fragile,
but smells nice and creates a warmer, mellow tone. But for
beginners subtle tone differences like these are not
really an issue.
It is a personal preference as to which is better, and
many or most Native American flute players have some of
Hole or 6 hole flute?
You easily can cover the 3rd hole from the mouthpiece with
painters' tape, a piece of wide ribbon, or leather and
convert it to a 5 hole flute.
All the flutes are based on the minor pentatonic scale.
When used as a 5-hole flute it is in the minor pentatonic
When used as a 6 hole the flute will play the relative
major key in both the Diatonic and Chromatic scales.
A 5-hole flute is easier to play because it is based on
the pentatonic minor scale. (5 notes to the next octave)
A 6-hole flute allows for an extended range of the
instrument and different scaling.
is the difference between a Major and Minor Scale?
Native American flutes are in the Minor
scale, there are a few exceptions, and they are
clearly indicated. What is the difference?
Without getting all technical a major scale is brighter
and happier than the minor scale. A minor scale is more
meditative and contemplative. Think of the opening of
Beethoven's Fifth in C minor or the Brahms Symphony No.1
that starts out with those pounding drumbeats.
Then think of the opening of Prokofievís Classical
Symphony - D major. Without knowing about major and minor
scales, you instinctively know that the Prokofiev is
happier than the Beethoven.
That's what major and minor scales do
is the difference between a Plains Flute and a Woodland
difference is the construction method used to make the air
channel between the animal block and the flute body.
style cuts the air channel in
the body of the flute under the animal. The base of the
animal is flat.
style flute construction method
cuts the channel in the bottom of the animal or bird and
the flute body is flat where the animal sits.
High Spirits, Stellar Flutes are Plains style.
Jonah Thompson flutes are Woodland style.
As far as playing and owning a flute this is something you
do not need to worry about and both style flutes play and
sound the same. One is not better than the other.
Where are your flutes?
answer is here.
there song books for Native American Flutes?
American flute music has traditionally been 'made up' on
the spot, by playing what one feels. It is a wonderful
tool for self-expression. However, my wife made some song
books designed for those who might want to learn to play
specific songs on their flute. No music reading skills are
necessary, as all the notations are graphics of the
flutes, the dark holes being the ones you must cover with
your fingers to make that particular tone.
See our song
come I cannot see through my flute to the mouthpiece?
Native American style flute is unique in that it has two
separate air chambers, one you blow into and the air flow
is directed out a hole into the other chamber which makes
the sound. So the flute does the work for you.
do you offer FREE Bibles?
the Bible has literally changed our lives, so as part of
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really important things in life are in the scriptures.
do I get fingering charts?
See the various fingering
Native American style flutes hard to play?
you can play notes in tune the first time you pick it up,
see the next question below.
if I have no musical experience and just want to play for
you cannot read music and have never played an instrument,
consider the Native American Style Flute. They have some
great advantages over other musical instruments. They are
very easy to play, and they are inexpensive. You do not
have to read music to play one as the Native Americans,
like all tribal cultures, never had a written music
language. They developed instruments that were naturally
harmonic. No musical background is necessary to play these
flutes. To produce the sound, one simply blows into the
instrument; the unique design easily creates the music.
They are also inexpensive allowing you to own and enjoy
various models made from different woods and in different
keys. The Native American style flute is constructed with
two chambers, one you blow into, and the air flow is
directed out a hole into the other chamber which makes the
sound. The length of the flute determines the key. It
is a wonderful tool for self-expression requiring very
I need help playing are there instructions available?
our How to Play Book - "The
Native American Flute Book 101 with Songs"
there are lots of free information to download here:
Downloads click here.
flute is not playing properly, what should I look for?
could be caused by a number of things:
Shaving in Air Chamber:
If your flute is new sometimes a wood shaving or
chip from the crafting of the flute comes loose in the air
chamber and partially blocks the air flow. To
remove it slide the animal block back a bit and blow into
the flute. This will dislodge the chip out of the
Holes not completely covered:
Every hole that you are covering must be sealed completely
with your finger pads. If not, air will leak out and there
will be various symptoms. See the instructional materials
Also, if you have a leather 3rd Hole cover make sure it is
tight and completely covering the 3rd hole.
If you have been playing the flute when it happens,
moisture build up is the most likely cause. As you play
any wind instrument (flute, sax, trumpet, etc.) the
moisture from your breath builds up in the instrument.
This is just condensation caused by temperature difference
and is a normal part of playing any wind instrument. You
can just shake out the moisture or blow into the fipple
hole (square hole) to clear it out.
The air flows through the bird channel in the bottom of
the bird block. If it is not positioned just right it will
cause the flute to play improperly. The ideal position is
a little behind the fipple hole (square hole). It should
also be right in the center and aligned to the length of
the flute, not at an angle. You can move the bird block
back and forth to find the ideal spot. Also, the bottom of
the bird block should fit tightly to the top of the flute.
Even a slight space would cause air leak.
Hold the flute so light shines through the finger holes
and look in the end to see if you can see clearly to the
fipple hole. See that no foreign objects are blocking the
bore. Now the Native American style flute does have 2
chambers so you will not be able to see clearly through to
the other side, but to the fipple hole. You can get a
better look if you untie the bird block and check both
directions, toward the mouthpiece and toward the body end.
Look down the barrel and mouthpiece with a
As you can see the Native American style flute is very
simple and if there is no obstruction or moisture build up
it must be something physical. A loose or warped bird
block bottom, or a major split or crack. Some flutes do
develop a crack or check line from moisture, but the flute
will still play fine for generations, and this would not
normally be a cause a flute playing poorly.
is the thing (bird, animal, etc.) on the top called and
what does it do?
is called a bird, a block, a fetish, or bird block. It can
be a simple stylized shape or an artistically carved
animal. It is more than decoration. The native American
style flute has two chambers that are not directly
connected, one at the mouthpiece end and the other larger
one where the finger holes are. Air blown into the
mouthpiece chamber goes up a hole to the bottom of the
bird block. The bird block has a groove cut into it to
channel the air over the fipple hole where the air stream
is split creating sound. The 2nd chamber with the finger
holes gives the flute its key and tone.
I swap animal blocks from one flute to another?
are 2 major ways to match an animal block to a flute,
Planes and Woodlands. We covered what the differences are
in one of the questions above but the animal blocks do not
Even if they are the same, say both Planes type, each
maker has different construction methods of matching the
animal block to the flute.
generally, if the flutes are made by different makers
the answer would be "No".
And it gets more complicated. Even the flutes among a
particular maker may not fit due to different sizes of the
flute body and animal block with different keys.
However, if you lose or break an animal block, I can
generally get you one if it is a maker I am associated
is the danger of buying a Native American Style Flute?
people who purchase a Native American style flute love it
so much they buy more flutes in various keys & woods.
You can't say I did not warn you.
do I learn to play with vibrato? (By Elisabeth
easiest way to think about how to make vibrato is this:
vibrato uses the very same muscles that you use when you
whisper, "ha ha ha." It should sound very
free and relaxed, but to make it sound natural, you have
to practice it like anything else on the flute, until it
becomes second nature. This way, you will be able to
control every aspect of your vibrato, including both speed
Some vibrato practicing tips:
First, get comfortable whispering "ha ha ha"
very evenly. It's not like great huffs of air as in
belly laughing, but gentler. Think of a dog panting
- that shallow kind of ha ha-ing, nothing too big or
disruptive. Feel what muscles are involved in
this: you should feel your throat pulsing the air rather
than huffing it from your stomach (or your diaphragm, as
some flutists prefer to think).
Then, if you have a metronome set a very slow tempo at
first, maybe around 80 or 90. Using triplet groups, do
three pulses to a beat. Work for absolute control and
evenness. In performance, you won't want
machine-like vibrato, but the more you can control it and
make it sound exactly alike now when you practice it, the
more you'll be able to vary it the way you want to in the
Speed up as you get comfortable... the average vibrato
speed is generally around 116-120 on the metronome (using
3 pulses to a beat). Vibrato speed can also vary
depending on the style of the piece you're playing. Despite
how technical creating vibrato is, using it is entirely an
artistic judgment, so it's up to you how fast or slow you
want it to be for everything you play, but just be careful
that you don't get TOO slow, or else it will sound like
"waah waah waah"... And too fast, and
you'll sound like a nanny goat. :)
Once you have more control over the speed, you want to
think about the depth of the vibrato, too. Vibrato is
actually made by pitch bending, although it's fast enough
that we don't perceive it as a bad kind of pitch bending.
To visualize what vibrato is, try thinking of the note
you're playing as a straight line and the vibrato as a
wavy line juxtaposed on the straight line. You can have
several different types of vibrato:
A) Vibrato that spikes above the note (so the wiggles of
the vibrato line would push above the straight line).
B) Vibrato that dips below the note (wiggly parts going
below the straight line)
C) Vibrato that's in between (wiggles bisecting the
straight line to wave both above and below the line)
It's good to be able to use all kinds of vibrato as
there'll be different situations in which a certain kind
is better than the others. What vibrato you'll use
will vary from piece to piece, and from musical character
to musical character within each piece. Some pieces
will call for full, rich vibrato, others will need fast,
brilliant vibrato, others shallow, barely-there vibrato,
etc.... the varieties you can create are endless!
Always be creative with it. :)
Vibrato that pushes the pitch up rather than down (type
A), is good for low register notes, when we have a
tendency to go flat. Vibrato that dips below the main
pitch of the note (type B) is good for high register
stuff, to keep us from going sharp. This type
of vibrato makes a very rich, warm sound, and is the kind
that flutist Julius Baker often used. And type C
vibrato is your general, in-between kind.
So, thinking of vibrato as both speed and depth, you
should be able to get vibrato that you can control to
beautify and vary your sound.
When to use it:
Next, there's the question of when to use vibrato. Your
goal is to have vibrato that you can bring in and out of
notes, so it's not like you have an "on" and
"off" switch. Vibrato on every note is too much,
so choose when to use vibrato very carefully. Sometimes on
long notes, you might try adding vibrato late, or starting
with vibrato and taking it out... there's a whole world of
possibilities to try, so try switching it up a lot,
according to what sounds right for the kind of music
The best way to learn when to use vibrato and how it
should sound is by imitation, so I highly recommend
checking out some CDs of Native American flute players
like Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach, Charles Little
Flutists aren't the only ones to listen to, either. Violinists
always have great vibrato (although it's typically faster
than what sounds good on the flute but listen to how they
use it). And singers, too - jazz singers are great
for this, as well as popular singers, too.
what Hymns Arrangements are Available in which book Here.
to Piano Hymn Arrangements in our Books Here.