Friday, December 29, 2006

Teaching headjoint-only & "Right Hand on the Barrel"

Hi Flute Teachers,

A highschool student asked a question yesterday (see next blog entry down) about a 12 yr. old who had played two years and still had very few flute skills.
I answered the question with all kinds of rhythm book titles, and beginner book titles and some general advice.
However, in the effort to give good hands-on advice, I made a quick video of what PHYSICAL skills can be taught to a band-flutist who needs remedial work. It includes headjoint-only work, and the very useful "Right Hand on the Barrel". The latter topic will appear in a future video as well, and originally comes from flute teacher Patricia George, who often offers teaching breakthroughs.
Sorry about the clicking and clipping sound track during the flute playing---will have to fix that in future videos.
Also, you'll want a copy of the pdf document mentioned in the video:
Mary Byrne's handout on "Teaching the First Flute Lesson".

Please have a look at my 7 min. video for novice teachers teaching novice band students. I emphasize that the purpose of the video is to give greater skills to the novice teacher; skills that I've learned from 15 years of teaching. If you don't feel comfortable with teaching these things, of course, consult with your own private teacher. I suggest that all highschool flutists who are asked to teach do so only under the guidance of a highly experienced professional flute teacher.

Oh, and *please do* leave your comments below as to whether or not this info. was useful, to help me add to the knowledge bank in the upcoming videos. :>)
Thanks, Jen

Jen's other videos on flute skills:

Flute assembly to avoid repairs.

Cleaning & Marking the flute
Comments (10)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Thank you for sharing this! I don`t have any experience teaching yet, but I hope I will get some students within the next couple of years.

I just wanted to let you know that your tips are really helpful and inspiring :D

kind regards from Norway

Saturday, December 30, 2006 10:07:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks so much Simon!!!
There's a great teaching book called "The Illustrated Flute Player" by Soldan & Mellersh. I highly recommend it!! It has zillions of drawings and pictures of the body language needed to play flute well.
Jen :>)

Saturday, December 30, 2006 10:11:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Very interesting! I always thought it was neat that you could do so much (even play 'Mary Had a Little Lamb') on just the headjoint. What a breath of fresh air for kids who are struggling in band!

This video/commentary was very helpful and interesting! I have seen that Mary Byrne sheet before, and I love how lcear it is! It takes the lesson slowly, and rewards the student with a feeling of accomplishment after each step.
Thank you!

Saturday, December 30, 2006 1:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a band flautist. Would you mind if you upload the video on some where like For some reason youtube doesn't work for me now /:

I've watched your other videos before so I would like to thank you for all the tips you've given me! (:

- Mindy :D

Saturday, December 30, 2006 9:23:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again. I`ve actually used that book in one of my bachelor degree assignments. I really enjoyed the illustrations:D

Do you use the illustrations to emphisise your teaching to your students?


Monday, January 01, 2007 1:47:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi again Simon.
Do I use illustrations???
Yes, I draw the same dozen flute diagrams in my student's notebooks and in pencil on their music over and over again. They're like "reminder cartoons".
For most physical demonstrations, I physically, actually perform the skill, because a demo is worth a thousand words/pictures.
For a good book full of illustrations that teachers and the self-teaching can use, I highly recommend "The Illustrated Fluteplayer" by Soldan & Mellersh.
It's a breakthrough of a book.
There are also some diagrams in the following books that are great:
Nyfenger: Music and the Flute
Wilkinson: The Physical Flute
Debost: The Simple Flute
Kujala: Flutist's Progress.

Can you be more specific in your question?

Monday, January 01, 2007 11:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That answered my question. I will check out the other books you mentioned as well :D


Tuesday, January 02, 2007 11:35:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

You are a Godsend! I LOVED your video! I taught back in high school and now 20 years (ahem) later, I am trying again...after a few kids, teaching public school, etc!
THank you, thank you, thank you for this and all you do!!
I pledge to be more fun!
PS I am using Rubank because that is what I learned on. Do you have any other suggestions? My student is 10 and total beginner/novice!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:03:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Well yes, use Rubank if you think it works; but about 25 new books have come out that are tons and tons better and more inspiring and more fun!!
An inexpensive list of books is here: and I would also check the adult-beginner books for flutists at:

If it were me and a grade 10 beginner:
I would use Karen Smithson's "Play the Flute" volumes 1-5 if the student was serious about fast progress.

Or if the student is just playing "for fun", and doesn't yet read music, I'd use:

Trevor Wye's Beginner book vol. 1

Louke-George "Flute Basics 101" from Fluteworld

or any of the beginner books that come with playalong CD listed on my blog and at:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:57:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

P.S. A literal TON of beginner flute books recommended in a previous blog post here:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009 10:34:00 PM


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