Native American Flute
Become a Native American Flute Player Quickly
Are you ready to pla the Native American Flute fluently in a couple of weeks? If so, grab your 6 hole Native American flute and follow this tutorial. I recommend to start with a F# key flute.
Native American flutes come in different keys such as A, G, F#, F, E, D or C. The key A is the shortest in size with the highest pitch, G is the middle size, and F# is longer with a lower pitch. The long flutes can be more difficult to hold and play, because they are heavier and the holes are further apart. Therefore it is better to start with a comfortable sized flute such as an A, G or F#. The most commonly played Native American flute is an F# flute, which has a low pitch meditative sound and the holes are not much far apart.
So let's get started.
How to Play?
In order to play the Native American flute, all you need to do is to cover some holes with your finger pads (not the finger tips) and blow into the end of the flute.
Use your left hand to cover the upper holes, and your right hand to cover the lower holes. In each hand, your thumb should hold the flute and your pinky finger just stays relaxed there. The remaining three fingers are used to cover the three holes.
The exact way the fingers cover the holes depends on the hand anatomy. However, it is easier to cover the holes, when the fingers are not exactly 90 degree relative to the flute, but pointing somewhat downwards. This is particularly important for the right hand when covering the lower holes.
I personally (as a woman having smaller fingers compared to men) found the following points really helpful:
- I noticed that I have to really stretch my ring finger in the right hand to cover the last hole perfectly.
- I noticed that I was placing my thumb too high on the flute. Placing it below the index finger worked better for me.
- I noticed that my fingers in the right hand should be really poining downward, so that the side of my index finger touches the flute body.
Here, I show you the best finger positioning that worked for me. You may find a slightly different positioning work better for you, depending on your hand anatomy.
Minor Pentatonic Scale
A scale is a set of notes that are used to write songs. Most of the songs for Native American flutes are written using only the following set of notes, which is called the Minor Pentatonic scale.
We display the holes of the flute with circles. When a circle is filled with black, it means that the hole should be covered. Otherwise, the hole should be open.
In this scale, the third hole from the top stays always covered. For the remaining notes, start from playing with all holes open, then play with covering only the top hole, and then play with covering the next hole as well.
Find your best finger positions to generate a nice and clear sound for all notes. The most difficult note to play is the last one with all holes covered. The points I mentioned in the previous section may help you find your perfect finger positioning.
If you do the following exercises 15 minutes a day, you will become fluent in playing the Native American flute in a couple of weeks. Try to play the note shown with a smaller flute as fast as you can, as long as the sound of each note can be heard nice and clear. The important point is not to play in haste. Your main focus should be on generating clear sounds as you gradually increase the speed.
These exercise are not only a good start for building dexterity in your fingers, but also they can be used as ornaments when you play the small notes (grace notes) fast enough. That means they help you turn from a beginner into a professional player as well.
In this exercise we go up in the scale.
In this exercise we go down in the scale.
In this exercise we go from one note lower in the scale, to the note.
In this exercise we go from one note higher in the scale, to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note higher in the scale, and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note lower in the scale, and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note higher in the scale, repeat (as many as you want), and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note lower in the scale, repeat (as many as you want), and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note higher in the scale, back to the note, to one note lower in the scale, and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go from the note, to one note lower in the scale, back to the note, to one note higher in the scale, and then back to the note.
In this exercise we go down in the scale, and then we go one note back (higher in the scale).
In this exercise we go up in the scale, and then we go one note back (lower in the scale).
In this exercise we go from a very high note in the scale, to the lowest note in the scale.
In this exercise we go from the lowest note in the scale, to a very high note in the scale.
Where to Go from Here
Congratulations! Now, you are ready to play most of the native American flute songs with grace. You can find some popular songs online. I developed the following app which may help you a lot. I am going to update this app for more features and I will be also writing more advanced tutorials in future.
Come back soon!