Learn how to play flute

Flute is an ancient musical instrument. The oldest flute found in Germany was said to be over 40,000 years old.

There are many types of flute being played in many cultures from the bamboo flute to concert flute. In this tutorial you will learn how to play the simplest 6-hole fingering system for Irish flute, Celtic whistle, American fife, Indian bansuri or Chinese dizi.

Irish flute

The Irish flute, also known as Celtic flute is typically made of wood. It can be diatonically tuned or multi-key. The standard key is c.

Celtic tin whistle

A tin whistle, also known as Irish whistle or penny whistle. They are typically made of brass, nickle or tin. Is it a diatonic instrument with keys from b flat, c, d, e, f and g. The standard key for beginners is d.

Fife

A fife is a small high-pitched flute, similar to a piccolo. It originated from in medieval Europe and used in military and marching bands. It is diatonically tuned typically in the key of c.

Fingering chart

All 6-hole Irish flute, Celtic whistle and American fife use the same fingering system. It is the simplest fingering system and the easiest to learn and master. They typically play in two octaves. Note that 1 for the second Doh shown below is in bold print. We use the bold print to indicate a higher octave note throughout this tutorial, which also means that you will need to blow slightly harder to achieve the higher octave note.

How to hold the flute/whistle

Hold it with both hands, with the left hand nearest the mouthpiece/fipple (blow hole of whistle) or embouchure (blow hole of flute). Rest the instrument on your thumbs to support it, and use the finger pads to cover the six holes. Make sure the holes are completely covered with no leak.

Ready to go?

Practise on the fingering chart shown above. Make sure you get the clean notes going up and down the scale, in two octaves. The key is to practise regularly. Now try your first song below.

Twinkle twinkle little star

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Flute note – la paloma

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