How to Play the Native American style Flute
his basic scale is the simple, natural scale of the Native American style Flute. Each vertical column of circles represents your six-hole flute.
he left hand is on top and covers the top three holes with index, middle, and ring fingers.
he right hand is on the bottom and covers the bottom three holes with index, middle, and ring fingers.
he black circles are covered, or closed, holes. The white circles are uncovered, or open, holes.
o begin at the bottom of the scale, start with the note at the left of the chart with all holes covered. Then uncover the lowest hole by raising the right hand ring finger. Slowly move up the scale as you get comfortable with each note.
ou may have trouble covering all of the holes at first, and the flute may squeak if all holes aren't completely covered. In this case, begin at the right of the chart with the high note (only one hole covered), and work down the scale, slowly adding fingers as you are comfortable.
his Extended Scale chart shows the chromatic octave (and minor third below) that most Native American style flutes can play.
s with the Basic Scale chart, the lowest note is at the left, the highest at the right.
his chart may help you if you are searching for a note by ear and can't figure out how to finger it.
asic Articulation: Tonguing is a wind player's technique that gives notes a defined beginning, and separates repeated notes. A combination of tonguing and slurring (moving from note to note without tonguing) makes for expressive playing.
o practice tonguing, say either "tu" or "du," without vocalizing, as you begin a note. To refine your tonguing, play a long note, tonguing several times as you hold the note. Only the strike of the tongue should interrupt the steady airflow; the air itself should not stop and start. When you are comfortable with this, try moving between notes, tonguing each note. Coordinating tongue and fingers may take some time and is best accomplished with slow, even practice.
xpression is the spirit of music, and perhaps its highest purpose. Technique is the mind of music. As it develops, it allows the expression of the spirit to blossom in a rich and satisfying way.
hen served by a well-rounded and able technique, music is free to soar to the heights of expression. Technique as an end in itself, though, is merely an exercise.
istening to a variety of good Native American style flute players will help you develop your own expression and technique.
lways remember, beauty can be found in even one note.