Learning the flute

I have always been enamored of the etherial sounds of the flute.  It’s such a basic musical instrument that it seems to have been invented by every culture.  

I’ve never had music lessons, as I grew up in a family that was not so well to do.  My parents threatened to enroll me in accordion lessons once, but nothing ever came of that.  My mother had an electric organ in the living room.  I remember that it was a really big deal when it arrived.  Mom took lessons and played it with enthusiasm and skill.

Out of curiosity, I sat down at the organ and played with the keys, and read some of the beginner books, and thus became familiar with sheet music.  I picked out some Beatles tunes with the right hand, but that was the extent of my musical education.

I have always envied friends who could play musical instruments.  Some friends can play multiple instruments. A couple of my friends are professional musicians.  My youngest son plays a half dozen stringed instruments.  I always figured it would be too much effort and too much money to learn an instrument myself.

But a strange thing happens when your children leave home — you suddenly find that you have a lot more time on your hands.  My parents responded to this by watching a lot of television, going to bars, getting drunk a lot, having affairs and getting divorced.  Now, I love my parents dearly and I refuse to judge them.  However, I could suggest that this was not the most beneficial or healthy way to spend their middle-aged years.

 I responded to this by learning a lot of new skills, including the sword.

Well, it might be time to put the sword on hold.  In order to continue in my education of that martial art, I’ll need to invest in armor and start competing.  This doesn’t appeal to me so much.

My spouse and I were talking about music last week, and I mentioned that I have always wanted to learn the flute.  She said, “What’s keeping you?”

A very good question.  After doing some research via the telephone, I discovered that the local music store will rent me an instrument for $25 a month, and that lessons are $30 for half an hour.  We stopped by that music store on Saturday, talked to the owners for an hour or so, rented a beautiful Armstrong flute, and made arrangements to take lessons.  The shop owner also gave me a beginner’s book and a DVD with some instructions.

I was warned that forming the embouchure is a difficult skill to learn, but I figured it out in about five to ten minutes.  I believe the reason it’s considered difficult is that most students start learning it when they’re 10-years old.  I have a much more experienced mouth.  Perhaps being an old dog can be an asset when learning some new skills.  And speaking of old dogs, I’ve heard that learning music helps prevent Alzheimer’s.

Using the book and the DVD, I have learned the F Major scale.  I don’t play it rapidly or with any facility, but at least I know it.  While I practiced, my spouse dusted off her old alto recorder that has been sitting in the closet since college, and we managed to make some music together.  I wouldn’t call the cacophonous noise from that session a “jam” but it’s a start.

I hope I’m ready for the first lesson tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’m off to watch some Jethro Tull videos on YouTube.



3 Responses

  1. I know what you mean about having time once the kids are gone! Not that we don’t adore them, but it was incredible how much time they suck up. Congratulations on starting flute. I think you’ve picked an excellent – and light weight – instrument. Much less cumbersome than say, contrabass or tuba. Stick with it!

  2. Congratulations on learning to play the flute. It’s an amazing instrument. For me, playing the flute is like therapy. For part of the day, I don’t have to be mom/teacher/friend/daughter/Indian chief/whatever; I get to escape into my own mind and be a “professional” musician.

    As soon as you can, see if there is a community band near you. Community bands are generally made up of old band geeks who just can’t let it go. Most of them are open to players of all levels. Nothing will help you learn to play faster and better than playing with a group.

    Good luck!


  3. Jethro Tull was the first rock concert I ever went to. Ian Anderson is flipping amazing. Thanks for posting this video. I was blown away once again! May have to go dust off “songs of the wood” as the sound track for the rest of my studio time tonight.

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