Flute Level Objectives

The following represents a generally recommended trajectory for serious students of flute playing. Students wishing to study music at the college level will need to complete all six levels by the time of high school graduation. Since most students will study flute for 9 to 10 years prior to graduating, each level is meant to span more than a single year. It is also important to note that individual players may follow a modified plan, depending on personal goals or expectations, as well as aptitude or learning style. Obviously, not everyone plans to become a music major. The important thing is that the student is continually progressing through these levels and achieving objectives on a consistent pace. To quote the godfather of all modern flutists, my grandteacher and yours, Marcel Moyse, “It is a question of time, patience, and intelligent work.”

Flute Level 1 Objectives:

  • Learn to produce sound on headjoint
  • Learn tonguing
  • Learn to correctly assemble and clean / put away the flute
  • Learn to balance the flute, using correct hand position and posture
  • Rhythm reading: whole notes / rests, half notes / rests, quarter notes / rests / eighth notes / dotted quarter to eighth notes
  • Meters: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4
  • Note reading / range: low C to D above staff, incl. chromatics
  • Scales / keys: major scales, one octave, in 3 flats to 3 sharps
  • Theory: conceptual knowledge of whole / half steps, construction of major and chromatic scales, intro to major triads
  • Repertoire / performance: simple accompanied solos, play for recital

Flute Level 2 Objectives:

  • Tone production development through study of overtones and long tones
  • Rhythmic and metric concepts: compound meters, triplets, 16th notes, syncopation
  • Notes / range: low C to high A
  • Scales / keys: 4 flats to 4 sharps, major and minor (harmonic and melodic) in two octaves
  • Theory: intro to interval terminology, more exploration of major and minor triads, and relationship to key, construction of natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales
  • Repertoire / performance: simplified “classical” repertoire (and / or whatever interests the student); play for recital
  • Correct any problems with hand / flute / body position and posture

Flute Level 3 Objectives:

  • More in-depth study of major and minor keys to two flats and two sharps (incl. scales, patterns in thirds, arpeggios, etc.)
  • Range: low C to high B
  • Introduction to nuances of musicality, such as articulation, dynamics, phrasing, etc.
  • Development of technique through short etudes and work with difficult fingering combinations
  • Introduction to ornamentation
  • Continued tone study / development, especially in the high register, and over larger intervals
  • Theory: understanding of tonic triads, dominant 7ths, and diminished 7ths, as well as beginning to analyze chord structure within music; understanding of how this is relevant to technical proficiency
  • Repertoire / performance: preparation of solo repertoire from all four major style periods; recital performance; solo / ensemble or other adjudicated performance
  • Time to consider moving to a “step-up” flute

Flute Level 4 Objectives:

  • Student should be using an intermediate or semi-pro model of flute, and learning to play with open holes
  • More in-depth study of major and minor keys to 5 flats and 5 sharps
  • Range: low C to high B, with further facility in the upper half of third octave
  • Continued exploration of musicality, greater difficulty of repertoire and studies
  • Continued technical development, esp. through harder keys
  • Review / improved execution of ornamentation
  • Tone development and pitch control through all registers at all dynamic levels; with flexibility over all intervals
  • Theory: continued study / memorization of keys and key signatures, relative major and minor keys, major minor and diminished triads, etc.
  • Repertoire / performance: preparation of solo repertoire from all four major style periods; recital performance; solo / ensemble or other adjudicated performance; chamber music (small ensemble playing) if possible

Flute Level 5 Objectives:

  • Develop ability to play with equal facility in all 24 major and minor keys, throughout range
  • Range: C to shining C
    Technical development through some of the common flute etudes—Gariboldi, Kohler, Andersen and the like
  • Tone development: Back to basics with long tones, throughout the range, and in various intervals, at all dynamics; vibrato control and development
  • Intonation: student should be able to self-correct for pitch, and should have a strong working knowledge of the flute’s pitch tendencies, as well as the players’ own pitch challenges, and should actively work to overcome these
  • Theory: student should have a strong working knowledge of the circle of 5ths, chords and chordal analysis within keys, and should be able to use this knowledge in practice to improve their playing, and understanding, of repertoire
  • Repertoire: Many of the more common pieces from the flute repertoire should by now have been studied; student should prepare pieces from all four major style periods, including a concerto, and preferably, an unaccompanied work
  • Performance: student should be participating in small and large ensembles, as well as performing as soloist in two or more adjudicated events, and one or more recitals; All State or All Northwest audition should be recorded and entered; youth symphony participation is highly recommended

Flute Level 6 Objectives:

  • Technique development through extensive study of the Taffanel & Gaubert Daily Exercises
  • Etude study of the level of Berbiguier, Donjon, Karg-Elert, etc., with the goal of achieving fluidity, technical accuracy, and musicality
  • Tone development: Extensive study of the Moyse De La Sonorite should be employed at this stage
  • Intro to extended techniques (singing and playing, multiphonics, key slaps, overtones, whistle tones, fluttertonguing, etc.)
  • Intro to the altissimo range (fourth octave)
  • Piccolo study recommended, if not already
  • Any “gaps” in the student’s repertoire, with regards to the major selections from the common flute repertoire, should be filled in at this point (Bach Sonatas, Mozart Concerti, French repertoire, Debussy Syrinx, etc.)
  • Student should maintain an active performance schedule
  • Graduating seniors should consider a full “senior recital”