Saturday, January 17, 2009

What are some good flute pieces?

Update: 2017 (eight years after this post was originally written):
Hi there, Jen here.  In this post, I am making the mistake of attacking someone's lack of clear language when asking questions on the Internet from 2001 to 2009. This was an era of message boards and list-servs. What had happened is that a younger person had worded their question in such a "careless" way that it would take anyone too long to answer them.
As we were answering for free, we wanted to ask them: Please ask your question in a way that will serve the reader better.
This instead came out like I was attacking someone's grammar.
I realize too, now that not everyone speaks English as a first language, and yet might not indicate that when they post a question. So I apologize for my tone, back at the time. Sorry. Best, Jen

Original text: 2009

Many a time and oft, flute teachers receive one of the following email questions:

1. Do U know of any good flute songs?
2. Does anyone know any good flute pieces?
3. I have a student who's x years old who needs more bouncy & Baroquey? Any ideas?
4. I'm entering a competition or doing an audition and I need an "X" type of flute piece, can anyone suggest titles?
5. I need some free flute music. Help?

Here's some help for each.

1. Do U know of any good flute songs?
This type of email is not worded well enough, I'm afraid. It's a bit like asking a professional baker if they got any 'wunder-bread'.

Firstly, "Songs" are sung by vocalists and have lyrics.
Flute pieces are called flute "pieces" or flute "works" or "Flute solos with piano accompaniment" or "Flute Solos that are Unaccompanied". Printed pieces of music on paper are called "sheet-music".
You is spelled "you".

Additionally anyone who answers this query who is over the age of 14 may want to give a really good answer, and not just say:
"Hey, play this really difficult piece that I'm trying to play right now. It's called The Great Gooshiesmooshie..... and I love it!". An answer like that is probably just another student, not someone who actually knows all the best pieces or the most appropriate pieces for each individual flute student.

Flute education specialists who are in the know about good flute pieces will also need to know what style of music you are seeking, what titles of flute pieces you can already play well, and what kind of music for flute is suitable for your upcoming performances. (Do you need a Concerto or a Duet for flute and Clarinet? Do you need a Modern, Romantc, Classical or Jazz piece? Do you want something happy, sad, pensive, melodious, barn-burningly exciting? Do you need it by tomorrow, or for next year's big show? Can you afford to wait six weeks for it to be delivered from a specialty publisher?)

Please tell more about yourself and your needs when asking a VAST and HUGE sheetmusic question like this. It is indeed like asking a top-chef baker for a good bread recipe. The baker needs to know exactly what kind of bread and what ingredients, what kind of oven, what other foods will be served, what are your time-limits and skill levels you'll be using to make the bread? etc. Otherwise he/she might just write back: "Get a bread book from the library and try them all." :>)

It would be far far better to write:
Hello, I'm hoping to get some help in choosing some new flute pieces. I've just completed Telemann's Sonata in F in my flute lessons, and I enjoy this happy Baroque style.
Could anyone recommend a piece similar to the Telemann at just a slighly more difficult level?

Could you suggest a piece that's fun, uptempo, and would suit my flute students who are in their third year of private lessons?
Is there a book that contains an assortment of these kinds of pieces that would give me several in one book? we're all on a budget.

The next thing to do would be to double-check also with your private flute teacher for their recommendations. No two flute students are alike. Your own flute teacher is your best asset in choosing new music.

If you don't have a private teacher, the next step would be to find one. Why waste money on a sight-unseen published flute books or various flute pieces that may not be right for you? Spend your hard-earned money on private lessons and Eureka(!) the "right music for you" will likely start to appear. :>)

2. Does anyone know any good flute pieces?

This type of email sent to an online flute discussion board may get you 50 different answers. Good luck knowing which ones to believe in. :>)
You'll be sifting through about 5 to 50 miscellaneous answers and you'll still be wondering what half the email-senders were talking about.
It's far better to consult some basic flute repertoire lists, and even better, look for GRADED repertoire lists so you can figure out what level of difficulty you should be tackling.

And here's how to do it:
Firstly, find out approximately what grade or level your flute playing currently is, in order to narrow down the huge number of appropriate flute pieces that might suit you.
You can ask your flute teacher what level of playing you're at, and you can consult a flute chart of levels.

Secondly, once you know your approximate skill level, then cross-reference it with the various online graded repertoire lists. They may be grade 1 to grade 10 or they may be A to J. They might be I to III or A to D. Figure out the grading system and then choose titles at your current level or just slightly higher.

And, hey, there's no point playing the most difficult pieces in the world if you don't have the tone, the tonguing or the fingers.
Suit the pieces to your own level. Your flute teacher will explain that to you too. :>)

So here are some basic repertoire lists for flute.

There are some straightforward flute repertoire lists online, including those from the United Kingdom that have some great graded selections to choose from.
If you require "flute with band" or "Flute concertos" use the search button on my site.

Also, there is a $7 booklet that lists very high quality "Selected Flute Repertoire" that has been compiled by a fine group of flute experts. Each entry is cross-referenced with a list of flute skills appropriate to that level of piece.

Also, here, if you scroll down on arrival, is a Flute World "send me a catalogue" button that you can click on to have a full, detailed, graded flute cataloque to be sent to your door that grades every piece of flute music from 1-5 in difficulty.

Here is an online Alry catalogue of contemporary and folk-based flute pieces that aregraded from I to IV (1-to-4) in difficulty. And here is the Fluteworld catalogue online with a composer search button. Each Fluteworld piece is graded from 1-4 and they use 5 to identify pieces using "extended technique".

Here is an "Editor's Choice" feature from the great U.K. store called Just Flutes where quite a bit of really good sheetmusic is reviewed by a knowledgable flute expert. You can search by pop music with playalong CD or music for four flutes, whatever suits your fancy.

If you are in University and studying flute performance, Leonard Garrison's graded flute repertoire list uses the same A to J grading system that the NFA booklet of selected flute repertoire does.

If you're in highschool or first year University, you may want to see My Fave Repertoire, where the most popular pieces for that age group are listed and graded.

Flute Magazines such as Flute Talk or Pan Magazine also publish lists of newly published flute music and give reviews of each title. Keen flute players might wish to subscribe to one or both of these publications. They have terrific articles as well as flute CD and sheet music reviews!!

Go ahead and bookmark all of these sites, and read about various pieces of flute music on concert reviews and "new publications for flute" reviews online. Google the flute work's titles and add the words program notes to find online descriptions and reviews of the various works. You will become knowledgable, and you might even get very excited about how MUCH good music there is out there.

But once again, ask your private teacher about which pieces are best for you right now. Above all other methods, your teacher will be your best resource to finding appropriate skill level pieces for you to play next.

3. I have a student x-years-of-age who needs more bouncy baroquey? Any ideas for whole books?

This email I received from a grade 10 student of mine who now teaches children. And smart flutey-dude that he or she is, they had first consulted the Canadian music exam syllabi (or syllabuses) that have published lists of flute works and ordered them by grade and style. (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern etc.)
My answer was:

Forty Little Pieces for Beginners is a standard grade 2 flute book. Edited by Louis Moyse, published by Schirmer.
I use it with almost every new Beginner just to cover all the bases. Almost every single piece bouncy and Baroque or smooth and classical, but EASY enough for small children.
They are short, they are recognizeable, and they are appealing.
Totally worth having as a basic all around book for grade 1+ to 2 to 3. I don't necessarily ADORE every single piece, but each one teaches well while being fun and basic.

There's also quick and easy guide to inexpensive or "good-buy" flute books for each grade level and a "Favourite Repertoire list" for older students on my website.

But by far the best book I can imagine for the student you describe (bouncy baroque) is this one by Schirmer. It has a playalong CD plus full piano parts in the book, and a separate flute insert.
So many the pieces are bouncy Baroque-esque.
I bought a $7 booklet called "Selected Flute Repertoire" from the NFA website (National Flute Assoc. in U.S.) which is available under NFA Store at their site:
When the booklet arrives by mail, scan levels C and D which correspond to grade 3 and 4 for Canadian exams. The NFA also has another little booklet of etudes as well.
Having these two guides is really useful!!!
I also always check the ABRSM and other U.K. repertoire lists by
grade. You can link to the U.K. flute exam repertoire lists here

4. I'm entering a competition or doing an audition
and I need X-style or type (Baroque, strings and flute only, Romantic, full orchestra Concerto, is a 5 minute showpiece...etc.etc.) of flute piece, can anyone suggest appropriate flute pieces for this?

This question is asked well, as long as the qualifying descriptions are made very clear. This is the kind of question that usually gets intelligent answers from knowledgable flute-repertoire experts.

If you ask this way on FLUTElist, Flutenet or Galway-Flute-Chat you will sometimes get very helpful advice, so go ahead and practise being precise in your descriptions.

Often you'll find out which pieces are:
- least expensive
- currently in or out of print
- most successful in recitals or flute competitions
- have the most audience appeal etc.
More on this topic in the future. But let's get to....

5. I need some free flute music. Help?

Once again, wording this email politely and informatively (write about yourself as in no. 1 above) will likely get you better assistance from the flute teachers and players who are speed-reading your email.
So do please spell out actual words (Please use whole sentences and real english!:>) and give plenty of details about your flute playing and your musical interests when you email a big group of flutists.

Otherwise educated flutistic specialists who would normally have tried to help you may instead suspect that you likely need private lessons more than you need "free music" or "music notes" for your fave pop songs. Plus the more details you give, the more likely you'll meet another student flutist with similar likes and dislikes in flute music.
Finally, here are some additional helpful facts to consider in your hunt for free music, or "popular" music:

- There is very little free and good music on the internet. Most high quality sheet music for flute has to be purchased from a music store, sheet music outlet, or publisher.
Free pieces are usually simplified, short, incomplete or pirated.
If there was a treasure trove of honest-to-goodness great free sheetmusic on the net, all the flute players would already know about it. See my own list of findings here.

- Some students are disappointed when they go to a local store to find "Pop" music books, such as Disney movie flute books or popular song collections written out for flute.
Many of these Disney and Pop books are actually very poorly written for flute, and are simply mass-marketed without any thought to how to play the notation that's printed. You may be dismayed by overly difficult rhythms, strange key-signatures (that don't work when yo play along with your "Lion King" DVD), and strange approximations of tunes that don't quite work.

If you want popular music for flute, read about these books in advance, or look for the "editor's choice" flute sheetmusic reviews about the best ones.
Better yet, consult your flute teacher about which books of music are high quality from the "pop" genre.

- If you want to play the flute well, the fastest method is to take lessons with a qualified flute teacher who will assist you in all the special skills of flute playing as well as finding appropriate sheetmusic that you enjoy.
One of the side-benefits to lessons is the likelihood that your new flute teacher will be a font of knowledge about great flute sheetmusic and can show you the published pieces so you can preview them during your lessons.
They will also be able to suit your tastes and likes and dislikes after they get to know you better, while keeping the level of skill appropriate.

And finally:
If your current flute teacher does not seem to find much music for you to play there may be a reason.
An email the other day on one of the email discussion groups stated:

"My flute teacher doesn't give me much music to play and I need orchestral excerpts for a youth orchestra audition. Which ones should I get?"

then perhaps this young flutist either...

a) needs a more knowledable flute teacher (try the University flute teachers in your area if you want someone who really knows their stuff) or

b) may need to communicate more clearly with their flute teacher (I really want to learn orchestral excerpts and do the audition. Can you help?) or

c) needs to learn the current level of pieces their flute teacher has already asked them to learn before ambitiously seeking "new pieces" that the teacher doesn't know about.

Sometimes a combination of all the above things may help a student match themselves with a teacher who clearly understands the student's needs.

Hope this helps,

The weary repertoire-list advisor to the flute groups,

Jen :>)
Comments (8)
Blogger Sheila said...

Ah, good. I hope that this is read many times over. The proper question-writing goes not only for the online world of flute, but the online world of everything else. People's language skills have definitely deteriorated.

And good gosh! I REALLY want to play 'The Great Gooshiesmooshie' in my next performance. Please? It sounds so darned inspiring. :-P

Thanks a bunch,

Sunday, January 18, 2009 6:14:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hilarious! GooshieSmooshie is one fantastic piece of flute music. I read somewhere that it originated as a free-form improv by a 94 yr. old flutist who fell in love very very late in life. Great flute piece! Lots of freely improvised cadenzas....hahhahaha.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 8:37:00 PM

Blogger Sheila said...

Oh boy, those 94-year-old never can tell, can you? :-P Hahahahaaaa!!!


Monday, January 19, 2009 4:38:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

It's 2014 now; the above article was written four years ago.
Today on one of the flute email discussion groups (in 2014) I read this:

Dear Flute Teachers,
What would you recommend as favorite pieces that truly inspire 1st,
2nd and 3rd year students?
(Enthusiastic, Fun, Energetic, Beautiful, Lyrical, Etc... Loved by students
and teachers as well...)

And that was all the email said.
No one answered.
Not enough information.

I answered this, in two emails:
First answer:

As you likely well know, there are no two students alike. :>)
A piece that is fascinating and lovely to one, may be corny and hokey
to the next.
(Example, the theme from Carmen is usually universally popular, but
you will still find the odd grade 3 student who thinks it's corny,
while all the rest go into a swoon when they play it.).

A "classical" (academic composition) flute and piano solo piece of
true quality, may be not to the taste of a student who only wants
emotional romantic music, or who craves folk song style music. The
students change as they age, and progress too.
(Some rare individuals also like pieces that the teacher doesn't care
for, and it always comes as a surprise when they pick one that the
teacher has discarded.)

So, at least in my mind, there's no way to pick out those pieces that
are universally attractive, and then to narrow it down to the first
three years of flute study.
Perhaps what you are looking for are titles of popular collections, so
that the student can own one book and play out of it for several
months, choosing quality pieces as they explore....
continued next comment down

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 10:02:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

cont'd from above:

I go through around three to six pieces with each student whenever
they are choosing something new. I give lots of choice. I demonstrate
several solo works, and let them choose.

But again there are many differences between students.
Some students are developing quickly and by second year can play grade
5 pieces, where as other students progress quite slowly and by third
year are still playing grade 2.
So here's what I do.
I consult repertoire lists that have been vetted by collections of
other flute teachers.

See replists here:

Here are books that list graded works that are consistently popular:

One of the most concise and only $5: Graded flute repertoire by the
National Flute Association:

This book contains a concise list of skills for each grade which is
It also recommends "collections" or books that contain several great
pieces for each grade.

Here's one of the richest lists of graded repertoire in terms of
current styles and pieces that are attractive and newer: from the UK:

Here's a standard Royal Consevatory flute graded syllabus:

If you have many of the grade 1-3 pieces recommended at the above you
will know what other teacher's choose over their long careers.
Obviously certain works are both pedagogically sound and popular.

But there are students who also enjoy folk tunes, rock tunes, celtic
tunes etc, and these are not usually listed anywhere, and also require
the teacher (usually) to write them out to make them match the
student's skill level.
Best, Jen Cluff

2nd email from Jen:
More clarification may be needed for your question above:

Students: What age?
Class teaching or individual teaching?
Progressing at same rate, or individual rates of progression?
Does 1st to 3rd years equate to grades 1 to 3 in flute exams?

Pieces: In books of "collections for flute" or purchased individually?
From the classical repertoire or including popular, folk, celtic, rock
Suitable for children? Or for adult beginners as well?
For flute solo, flute duet or flute and piano, or flute and other

Teacher: Does the teacher already own a library of repertoire or are
they purchasing all new?
Does teacher have repertoire lists that are graded that they are
already using to choose pieces?
Is the teacher new to teaching or experienced?

General: What's the situation exactly?

If you clarify, more people may be able to answer.
Best, Jen Cluff

This is an update with newer links, so I copied it here in the comments.

Happy repertoire hunting.
It's a lifelong job.

Jen Cluff Sept. 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 10:03:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think trying to understand the question as it is, is much kinder than ripping apart their spelling and grammar and such. When someone is asking for help or advice, I would never expect that they would looked down upon for doing so. This is just my opinion, no need to take it to heart.

Monday, October 23, 2017 6:46:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
Of course you're right; ripping apart somebody's grammar isn't fun and doesn't help.
But way back when this was written, there were still message boards where kids and teens left questions, and they were wondering why nobody was taking the time to answer them. Several of us who answered questions for free became frustrated by how little effort the kids were putting into asking the questions. Of course, it never crossed our minds that lots of kids don't even speak English as a first language; we just assumed they were being lazy. Well, I know a lot more now about the internet than I did in 2001 when I first started answering questions for free.
So I've made my mistakes; you are correct.
Best, Jen

Monday, October 23, 2017 7:27:00 PM

Blogger shreya satyal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, August 26, 2019 3:46:00 AM


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