Flute Trio Presentation
“High-velocity performance from the
highest member of the woodwind
Curriculum Package for Schools in the
Labrador West System
Susan Edmonds, Editor
Welcome to our discovery package about the flute. In it you will find information about the
various members of the flute family, different flutes around the world, different types of flute
music that we will be performing for you, as well some activities and projects for you to try. Feel
free to adapt the activities to suit the age range of your class. First of all, we will start off with
introducing you to the flute:
The flute is a wind instrument that falls into the woodwind category. You might find this strange
if you know anything about the flute, because most flutes aren’t made out of wood at all.
However, before being made out of metal, the flute WAS made out of wood, and this is
probably when it was included as a part of the woodwind family. The other members of the
woodwind family are the oboe, clarinet, saxophone and bassoon (along with their related
The flute is apparently the oldest manmade melody instrument, as they have found flutes made
out of bone that are 30 000 to 40 000 years old! When flutes were made out of bone, they
often hollowed out the tibia or leg bone and made holes in it.
Parts of the Flute
Can You Label The Flute?
body foot joint
embouchure hole keys
head joint lip plate
So How Does the Flute Create a Sound?
Often times, people find it harder to figure out how the flute makes a sound compared with
other instruments. With stringed instruments we can see the string vibrating, with brass
instruments the lips are vibrating against the mouthpiece, and with other woodwinds the reed is
helping them out. But what about with the flute? The tone on a flute is an example of an edge
tone. As wind is blown past an object, it often doesn’t go by smoothly, but rather it gets all
stirred up, or turbulent. This will make a rushing noise because the sound waves that are
created don’t have a specific frequency, so we don’t hear a definite sound. Sometimes,
however, the air will move side to side in a more regular way, making a whistling sound.
Picture from: http://www.bfs.org.uk/hoots1full.htm
When a flute player blows across the embouchure hole, the wind is stirred up in these regular
wave patterns which creates the initial sound. Then, just like with other instruments, the flute
needs some way to make the sound bigger and make it last longer. This is called resonance.
The tube of the flute acts as a resonator.
The Flute Family
As we can see in this picture, flutes come in all shapes and sizes. No
matter how twisted or funny they end up looking, one thing stays
the same – the bigger the instrument, the lower the sound.
The Concert Flute is the most common member of the flute family. It can be played as a solo
instrument, and it is also played in the concert band and the orchestra. The concert flute is
usually made out of silver, but can also be made partly or entirely out of gold or platinum.
The Piccolo is the smallest member of the flute family and sounds one octave higher than the
concert flute. While it is not quite as common as the concert flute, it is still often heard in
concert band and orchestra music and even has some solos written for it. It can be made out of
wood or metal.
The Alto Flute is a larger version of the concert flute. Since it is so big, sometimes it is made
with a curved head joint so that the player doesn’t have to stretch as far to reach the keys. The
alto flute sounds a perfect fourth lower than the concert flute and mostly plays in flute choir
pieces, although there are a few orchestra pieces written for alto flute.
The Bass Flute is even bigger and lower than the alto flute, sounding one octave below the
concert flute. The bass flute is the least common of the four instruments discussed here, and is
typically only seen in flute choir music.
The Puzzle Page
A Flute By Any Other Name...
This word search puzzle by Kim contains the names of 26 members of the flute family
(modern, historic, & ethnic) in various languages. The 26th name is a "Yankee Doodle
mystery". See if you can figure it out. Note that some names may be contained within
C O N T R A B A S S F L U T E
F L U T E E N S O L L F V N L
Z H Z I H C A H U K A H S E T
O S R E V A R T O T U A L F S
C G R O S S E F L O T E T I I
A M T T P D N L R N O T E E H
R D E Y A O O A E F P O R F W
I A N M N N H G C J I L Z P Y
N S O E P I P O O S C F F L N
A U R E I V I L R X C R L G N
R L F G P A S E D K O E O G E
E I L P E T I T E F L U T E P
F N U Z S T B B R X O Q E W Z
J G T E T O L F T L A J P S L
P F E V R O A L T O F L U T E
Albisiphone Flauto Traverso Panpipes Suling
Altflöte Flute Penny Whistle Sweggl-pfeifen
Alto Flute Flûte d'amour Petite Flûte Tenor Flute
Bass Flute Flûte en sol Piccolo Terzflöte
Contrabass Flute Grosse Flöte Querflöte ??????
Flagolet Ocarina Recorder
Flauto Piccolo Ottavino Shakuhachi
Flutes Around the World
Besides the Western Concert Flute, there are many other instruments from around the
world that consider themselves a part of the flute family. Within this larger flute family,
there are two categories of instruments: transverse flutes and end blown flutes. The
concert flute is an example of a traverse flute since the tube is horizontal, whereas the
pan flute shown here is an example of an end blown flute, as the tubes run vertically.
Bamboo flutes are frequently played in China, but can be found in
many other cultures as well. The set-up is very similar to the
concert flute, except that there are no keys and the embouchure
hole is farther down the flute. It also has a thin membrane
between the mouthpiece and first finger hole which vibrates to
create a reedy sound. To see a video clip of a Chinese woman
playing a variety of flutes, including a bamboo flute, check out
Bansuri is a North Indian version of the bamboo flute
and has six to eight finger holes. The slides between
notes that are common in Indian music are created by
partially covering and uncovering the finger holes. A
video clip containing the Bansuri can be found at
The Fife originated in Medieval Europe, and is mainly used in military bands. In
Medieval Europe, it was also used in some folk music traditions to accompany dances.
Similar to the piccolo, it is made out of wood and has six finger holes. You can see and
hear the fife at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqMryyZN4kE&feature=related.
Within the category of end-blown flutes, there are two subcategories: rim-blown and
fipple. In rim-blown flutes, the sound is created in the same way as the concert flute,
with the air hitting a sharp edge. Fipple flutes involve blowing the air into a mouth piece
after which the air passes over a sharp edge known as a fipple. If you’ve ever played a
recorder before, this is an example of a fipple flute. There are many examples around
the world of end-blown flutes.
There are many different countries that make
some variation of the pan flute and they come in
all sorts of shapes and sizes. Usually made from
bamboo or reeds, pan flutes can also be made
from bone, wood, plastic or metal. No matter
how it is arranged, a pan flute contains several
tubes, usually five or more, joined together.
Different notes are created by blowing across
the various tubes. Seen here is a circular pan flute. A demonstration of a more
traditional pan flute is shown at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyTlP9_3qJA.
The shakuhachi, an end-blown flute from Japan, is usually made from Bamboo and
contains four holes in the front and one hole in the back. The flute is placed under the
lower lip in a similar fashion to the concert flute, and air is blown across a crescent cut
at the top. The name shakuhachi means 1.8 feet which refers to its length. Although
the shakuhachi can only naturally play five notes, the player can bend the pitch up to a
tone to create many other pitches. A video of a Shakuhachi player can be found at
The nay is a middle-eastern instrument that is said to be as old
as the pyramids. It is the main instrument in middle-eastern
music and is the only wind instrument in Classical Arabic music.
It is made from a hollow piece of cane or reed and contains
seven holes – six on the front and one on the back. The nay is
usually played in nay orchestras, with each nay playing in a
different range. You can hear and see the nay at
Now here’s a funny one for you – the nose flute! That’s right;
this instrument is played with a person’s nose. Although this
picture shows the flute going sideways, which would put it in
the transverse category, the nose flute can also be an end-
blown instrument. Nose flutes are especially popular in
Polynesia and the Pacific Rim countries. Check it out at
This colourful instrument is known as the
ocarina and is quite different from the other
flutes we’ve discussed since it is globular in
shape. That means that it’s round like a ball
instead of being a straight tube like we’ve
seen before. The ocarina usually contains
four to twelve finger holes and a mouth tube
projecting out of the body. Variations of this
instrument have been found in countries all
throughout the world. As we can tell from the
category it falls into, the air passes over a
fipple to create a sound. Check out the Super
Mario theme song played on the ocarina at
The Penny Whistle, also known as the Irish Whistle or Tin Whistle
is a six-holed instrument in which the player blows air into the
mouthpiece and it passes over the fipple to make a sound.
Traditionally it was made of a brass tube with a lead fipple, while
the modern penny whistles are made out of brass tubing and a
practice fipple. Although the penny whistle is mainly heard in Irish
and Scottish music, there is also some music from South Africa
written for the instrument. A performance on the Penny Whistle
can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5gRIDEsgxg.
An exercise for you: Check out the sound clips on
and see if you can figure out which of these instruments is playing in each
song (unfortunately the answers aren’t given, but give it a try).
Some International Flute Music
Although the MUN flute trio won’t be able to perform on the different flutes discussed,
they do have some music from around the world that they’ll be playing on the concert
flute for you. Here’s an introduction to some of these styles of music.
Pennywhistle Jig: The jig is a folk dance, usually danced alone, that was popular in
England and Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries and has been popular in
Ireland since the 18th century. It is an improvised dance with fast footwork and a
straight upper body. The jig that the trio will be playing is intended to sound like
it is being played by a pennywhistle.
Tango: This dance originally came from Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay
and has since gained popularity around the world. There are many different
styles of tango and the dance has evolved greatly over the years. Tango music is
traditionally played by a sextet comprising of two violins, piano, double bass, and
two bandoneons (similar to the accordion, but with buttons instead of piano
keys). Earlier forms of the ensemble included a flute, clarinet or guitar.
The Arkansas Traveller: Although not representative of a certain national style, The
Arkansas Traveller is quite an historic American composition. Said to stem out of
American folk music, the song tells a story of Colonel Sandford Faulkner who got
lost in rural Arkansas and asked for directions at a simple log home. It was not
until the traveller played a tune on the fiddle for the inhabitants that they
extended him any hospitality. The Arkansas Traveller has been used for many TV
shows and movies and has also been made into the kid’s song Baby Bumblebee.
Shenandoah: An American folk song dating from the 19th century, this song has several
possible inspirations. There may be connections to either the Shenandoah River
Valley in Virginia, or the Missouri river in Shenandoah, Iowa. Regardless of
whether the song is actually being sung to the woman the storyteller loves, or it
is sung to the river itself, escaping slaves sang this song as a form of gratitude for
the river losing their scent.
Modon: Named after an accent Greek city, this selection depicts an outdoor Greek
market where the natives are having their fortunes told by the Gypsies. Modon,
which was also called “little Egypt”, is known for reviving the gypsy traditions.
This revival was possibly inspired by the fact that the common Greek men found
the colourfully dressed, dark-skinned women, who wore kohl (mixture of soot
and other ingredients used like mascara) around their eyes, to be quite
Theme and Variations
One of our selections is a set of variations composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, on the
theme La ci Darem la Mano. As the name suggests, when writing variations, the
composer varies something, or changes it slightly. Here we’ll talk about some things
that the composer might do in a Theme and Variations.
Theme: The theme is the main tune that the piece is based on and can be as short as
one line, or as long as a short piece. In a Theme and Variations, the theme is always
stated at the beginning in its simplest form. The theme does not need the variations in
order to make sense, rather it can stand on its own.
Variations: After stating the theme, the composer will have a set of any number of
variations. Each of the variations will make sense on its own and will be related to the
original theme. Often the variations are the same length as the theme, but this is not
always the case. There are many different ways that the composer may vary the theme,
and we’ll talk about some of these ways now.
Rhythm: Rhythm is the way that music is related in time. If you were to tap a song on
your desk, you would be tapping out the rhythm since you’re only worried about the
timing of the notes and not the pitch (or how high or low the note is). A composer can
take a theme with a very simple rhythm and make it more complex in the variation.
Tempo: The tempo of the piece is the speed of the piece. When writing variations, a
composer could take a theme that is played really fast and make it sound slow, or vice
Melody: Melody is the tune of the piece. It’s the part of the song that you would sing in
the shower. When a composer varies the melody, the variation may sound completely
different to you, since the melody is what we usually listen to.
Harmony: The harmony is the rest of the notes that aren’t a part of the melody. They
support that tune and make it sound even better. When the harmony is varied you may
find that the overall sound of the piece is different, even though the tune sounds the
Mode: The mode is a little trickier to understand, but usually a piece is either in a major
or a minor mode. If a piece is written in a major mode, it often sounds happy while the
minor mode sounds sadder. A composer could switch from one mode to the other.
Although there are other ways that a theme could be varied, these are some of the
major ones. A composer might change only one element or he or she may change
several elements all in one variation.
Listening Chart for Theme and Variations
As you listen to the performance, see if you can hear what the composer has changed in
each of the variations. Start out with describing what you hear in the theme. As an
added challenge, see if you can figure out which performer is playing the melody in each
of the variations. The piece ends with a coda, which is a separate section at the end to
bring the piece to a close. What do you notice about the coda and how it relates?
Beethoven’s Variations on "La ci Darem la Mano"
Other Activities for During the Performance
• Draw a picture of the image that the piece brings to your mind. If you are drawing
about one of the international pieces, think about what the landscape looks. If you
imagine people there, think about what they look like and what kind of clothes they
are wearing. Be sure to colour your picture since colours are a big part of music.
• Write a review of the MUN flute trio. What music did the group play? How did the
performance make you feel? What were things you liked about the show? Were
there things that needed improvement? Be sure to include your new knowledge
about flutes, world flute music, and Theme in Variations in the review.
• Choose one of the pieces from the performance and write a story, play or poem
• Keep a log of which performer is playing the melody. This will change from piece to
piece and may even change in the middle of the piece, so keep your ears open.
• Attempt to find the beat of the music. You can do this by lightly tapping one finger
into the palm of your other hand. Once you’ve found the beat for the piece, decide
if the beat is fast, slow, or moderate (medium).
• Choose which piece of the concert is your favourite and describe why you like it. Is
it the funky rhythms, or the soaring melodies, or the upbeat tempo, or simply the
feeling that the piece created? Try to use the new vocabulary you’ve learned as
much as possible.
• For each of the pieces, describe what action the piece makes you want to do. Do
you feel like dancing, crying, swaying, walking, running, singing, laughing, jumping,
skipping, yelling? What in the piece made you feel this way?
It’s a good practice to get into thinking about music when you’re listening to it. These
exercises should help you to think about the music in a way that you’re not just deciding
whether the music is “bad” or “good”, but making some informed decisions about it.
Some Activities for Another Time
• Make a poster advertising a member of the flute family. Be sure to describe the
instrument with as much detail as possible and advertise only its positive points so
that a customer would want to buy/play that instrument. Research into how much
that instrument would cost to buy it new and used.
• Take a map of the world and attach pictures of the different flutes we’ve talked
about to the country it came from. Try to find at least three other international
flutes to add to the collection. What category (transverse vs. end blown, fipple vs.
rim-blown) do these new flutes that you’ve found fall into?
• As a class, learn how to dance a jig, and then teach the dance to a member of your
family, or someone else you know.
• Think about the type of music that represents either Canada or Newfoundland and
Labrador. Try to make a list of provincial and/or national songs. What kind of
rhythm does the music have? What is the tempo like? Is it in a major mode or a
minor mode? Do people dance to the music? What instrument is the music played
• Try to find other sharp objects that will make a sound when wind is blown past it.
Since the objects will probably not have a resonator, listen very carefully to hear the
sound. If you can’t get a noise right away, try experimenting with the angle of the
air, or try an alternate wind source, such as a fan.
• Choose one of the composers from the performance, or another composer that you
know about, and write an obituary for him or her. Be sure to include all the details
of the composer’s life such as where and when he/she was born, parents’ names,
career, hobbies, spouse and children (if the composer had either of these), where
the composer lived, age at time of death (you can make this up if the composer is
• Take a tune you already know (or make your own up) and write a set of variations
on this theme.
Making Your Own Instruments
The simplest way to make your own flute-like instrument is to find some bottles to blow
on. When you make a noise by blowing across a bottle, this bottle then becomes an
end-blown, rim-blown flute. To be able to play several notes, be sure to collect many
bottles – glass ones are best, but plastic ones will work as well. The hole at the top of
the bottle must be relatively small, equivalent to the top of a pop or beer bottle. Place
the bottle beneath your lower lip and direct the air at a downwards angle so that is it
hitting the lip of the bottle on the other side of the opening. Try putting different
amounts of water in the bottle to create different notes. To see a beer bottle orchestra
perform, check out
There are also some handy instructions online of how to create your own
transverse and pan flutes out of everyday materials:
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Pan-Pipes - This is probably the simplest of the designs.
To make this pan flute, you simply require 6 straws per student, cardboard, two-sided
tape, and polymer clay (although I’m sure play dough would work just fine).
http://www.60thwpg.com/cubs/PDF/How%20to%20Make%20Pan%20Flutes.pdf – This
site also teaches you how to make a pan flute, but this time out of hoses. The difficulty
with this design is that specific lengths aren’t given so the notes that you will be making
on the pan flute are going to vary from instrument to instrument and the relationship
between the notes may not be ideal.
http://www.philtulga.com/Panpipes.html - This last example of a pan flute is made out
of PVC piping which is relatively cheap to pick up at the hardware store, but still not
quite as accessible as the above products. This would make a much more durable
http://www.markshep.com/flute/Pipe.html - This design is the most complicated and
will require power tools. It is a transverse flute made out PVC piping. The locations of
the holes have all been figured out for you, but it is a more difficult project to do in the
classroom because of the equipment needed.
Some Simpler Activities
A Colouring Sheet for you
And just for fun.....
Be sure to check out Greg Patillo, the amazing
beatboxing flute player. This is especially for anyone
who thinks the flute is a boring instrument! He has
several video clips online, performing both classical
selections as well as pieces like Inspector Gadget and
the Mario Bros. Theme song.
I figured with that plug, that I should also list some more serious Classical
flute performers that you can listen to.
James Galway (born in Northern Ireland)
Mathieu Dufour (principal flute of Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
Emanuel Pahud (born in Geneva)
Jeanne Baxtresser (played with Montreal & Toronto symphonies, now living in US)
Susan Milan (professor of flute at Royal College of Music)
Susan Hoeppner (professor of flute at University of Toronto)
Timothy Hutchins (principal flute of Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal)
Robert Langevin (principal flute of New York Philharmonic)
Camille Churchfield (flute professor at University of Ottawa)
William Bennett (former principal flute of London Symphony)
Jeffrey Khaner (principal flute of Philadelphia Orhcestra)
Paula Robison (former professor at Julliard School of Music)
An Introduction to the Performers
Susan Edmonds, born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, started her musical training at a young
age. With piano lessons at age 5, and recorder classes at age 9, Susan finally began playing the
flute at age 10. While continuing with her piano and recorder training, Susan rapidly progressed
on the flute which she started to learn through the beginner band program with the Chatham
Concert Band. Shortly afterwards she began private flute lessons in Chatham with Carol Verkaik,
switching part way through high school to Margaret Trethewey of London, ON. Susan received a
Bachelor of Music in flute performance from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she studied with
Dr. Amy Hamilton. She then went on to receive a Bachelor of Education from the University of
Western Ontario. Not satisfied with that, Susan is currently in her second year of a Masters in
Music, with a focus in flute pedagogy and performance at Memorial University of
Newfoundland. There she studies flute with Dr. Michelle Cheramy and plays flute in the MUN
chamber orchestra. During her studies at MUN, she has been involved in several chamber
groups and has enjoyed many performing opportunities.
Courtney Gallant, born in Summerside, PEI, has been actively pursuing a career in music for
several years. She is currently in her fourth year at Memorial University where she is continuing
her studies to receive a B.Mus. with a major in Performance, and a B.Mus. Ed. She was principal
flautist of the MUN concert band, and currently performs with the MUN Chamber Orchestra. In
the spring of 2007, she traveled with the orchestra to St. Petersburg, Russia to perform in a
national music festival, and in the summer of 2008, she performed with the Indian River Festival
and performed at Fanning Bank Province House in Charlottetown, PEI. She has studied with
Anne Inman, Dr. Christine Ganglehoff and is currently studying with Dr. Michelle Cheramy. She
has performed in masterclasses with Susan Hoeppner, Timothy Hutchins, Dr. Amy Hamilton, and
Dr. Sonja Boon.
Stephen Hynes was born in St. John's, Newfoundland where he has been active in the musical
community. He has been a member of the Gower Youth Band, The Eastern School District Band
and the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchetsra. In 2005, he travelled to Japan with the NSYO
as part of a Peace Education Tour. He has also competed in local music festivals and competed
for the Kiwanis Music Festival Junior Rosebowl in 2006. Stephen is a second year music major at
Memorial University with hopes of concentrating in music performance and music history. He is
the principle flautist of the MUN Concert Band and has been a member of various other
ensembles at Memorial. He has studied with Layla Roberts, Berverly Lane and Dr. Michelle
List of Repertoire to be Performed
Tango from Espana – Isaac Albeniz
Variations on "La ci Darem la Mano" – Ludwig van Beethoven
Modon – Christopher Caliendo
Rialto Ripples – George Gerswhin
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – George Frederic Handel
Arkansas Traveller – Ricky Lombardo
Shenandoah – Ricky Lombardo
Greensleeves – LeeAnn Giffen
Cancion Espanol – Caesar Giovanni
Pennywhistle Jig – Henry Mancini