Choosing a Method Book

Method Books for Flute

Flute students typically begin playing in the 5th grade band. Along with the rest of the new instrumentalists, they are given a band book, such as Standard of Excellence or Essential Elements, to use during practice. These books, while good for learning to perform with others, are not the greatest books to use alone for new musicians. When looking for a method book for flute players, or woodwinds in general, Rubank Method books are the most popular.

The Rubank Method books for flute have been around since 1934 and they start with Elementary Level, then Intermediate, and Advanced Volume I and II. The Elementary level method books cover beginning notes, rhythms, scales, dynamics, and fingerings, along with duets and a solo at the end. The Intermediate Method covers trickier rhythms, arpeggios, articulation and tonguing, and beginning musicianship. These books can be used by a flutist on their own, but working with a flute teacher will garner the most benefits. Pairing these books with the Hal Leonard Pares Scales for Flute and Piccolo will give extra attention to major and relative minor scales up through four sharps and four flats and chromatic.

The Rubank Advanced Method I and II is a two part series that covers all major and minor scales, double and triple tonguing, trills, appoggiaturas, and mordents, duets that are equally difficult in each part, and contest solos. Volume II is often used the first two years of college for flute majors. Rubank has also produced many flute solo books for different levels that include piano accompaniment.

Andrew Scott's "The First Flute Method" is for beginners and includes diagrams of the flute itself, how to put it together, how to form an embouchure, and making sounds. His book also teaches notes, rhythms, and includes a CD with 170 playalong tracks. This CD also includes a nice extra for the new student to learn how to tune the flute. This method book is detailed and written clearly enough for a beginner to use without a teacher if they choose.

Those at the upper advanced levels will benefit from Etude books. Etudes are short musical pieces (sometimes up to two pages) that are usually pretty difficult, and the main purpose is to practice a certain skill, such as a specific articulation or technical exercise. These are unaccompanied, but are often performed in studio/master classes. One of the most popular etude books is "24 Etudes for Flute, Op.33" written by Joachim Anderson. This book contains one solo for each major and relative minor key. The etudes are complex, but enjoyable to play.

Professional flautists still need to practice, and many recommend G. Schirmer's "The Flute Detache Book" which also contains piano accompaniment. This etude book focuses on articulation, and contains 88 studies, including solos and caprices. There are also concert solos and excerpts from orchestral works.