Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
The typical practice in flute pedagogy is to start teaching the beginning flute student at approximately ten years of age. When compared to many other instrument disciplines, such as violin and piano, this is a relatively late starting age. The delay is primarily due to the large size and weight of the modern orchestral flute, as well as its lung capacity requirements. Not only do the physical limitations of the modern flute make early study difficult, but if disregarded, they also may pose health risks for the young beginner. This paper will discuss the importance of early childhood musical study and the related learning needs of young children. The impact of a delayed starting age on musical development will be discussed, as well as how the use of smaller alternative types of flutes, such as the recorder, the Irish whistle, and the fife, can allow the student to begin flute study at an earlier age. This document also will explore various physiological and medical reasons that restrict early study on a modern flute, such as hand span and lung capacity requirements, and the size and weight restrictions of the orchestral flute. The modern flute’s physical requirements will be presented in contrast with those of proposed alternative flutes. This paper will demonstrate how these alternative instruments are easily integrated into a flute teacher’s repertoire and will, therefore, allow younger beginners to commence flute study earlier. The durability and financial accessibility of child-friendly flutes will also be discussed, including examining how these instruments are durable, relatively inexpensive, virtually maintenance-free, and realistically compatible with a young child’s needs. v Using these smaller, lighter alternatives to the modern flute will provide potential educational, physical, and accessibility benefits for young flutists and flute pedagogues alike. Flute teachers will be able to easily learn and teach these flutes, and students will benefit from the opportunities associated with early instrumental study, such as an increase in the ease of learning and heightened musical absorption.
Murphy, Erin, "Early Flute Pedagogy: The Utilization of Alternative Types of Flutes for Young Children" (2012). Dissertations. 88.