Karen North: The Young Flute Player Book 1
Updated: May 19, 2021
I’m not going to say a lot about this book because the author provides a great introduction. Hailing from “Down Under”, you may be under the impression this is a “foreign” book. I assure you it is highly relevant in the U.S. (or anywhere else for whoever is reading this). Throughout this book are black and white sketches of a variety of flute pictures, both with and without animals like kangaroos and monkeys. Right in the beginning is a full fingering chart for notes C1-C4 with a flute body and foot as the actual guide. There are small writing and guides in these books, making the teacher the guide to most of the exercises, though there are hints and pictures throughout to help. New rhythms are introduced as common songs with lyrics rather than as counting or rhythm exercises. The lyrics also provide an opportunity for phrasing, breathing and musicality through singing a piece first. Throughout the book are challenges for naming notes as well as a few lightly guided composition projects. In the back of the book are excellent guides with instructions and more pictures for assembling and cleaning the flute! A must for any beginner and their parent/guardian supervising.
From the Author:
It’s nearly 30 years since I wrote the first book in The Young Flute Player series, and it seems to have stood the test of time! Back then, I couldn’t find method books suited to the younger students I was teaching, so I wrote this book for my own students.
I wanted a method book which would be visually appealing to young students, with easy-to-read notation, a clear layout and fun illustrations. We sometimes forget that a page crammed full with notes can be overwhelming to our beginner students, so I like to have plenty of white space on each page. For this reason, I have the piano accompaniments and duet parts in the teacher’s book, making the student book more accessible.
Each new note is introduced with a fingering diagram, and a scale or exercise to practise the note before it is played in pieces. The progressive units bring in new material gradually, for example, when the slur is introduced, there are no new notes, allowing the student to focus on mastering the new tonguing pattern.
All the exercises and scales are directly related to the pieces, for example in Unit 14, the F major scale helps students prepare for playing the Can Can and French Folk Song, both of which use this scale in their melodies.
I think it’s really important to have a variety of fun activities in lessons, so I include note recognition games and little composition activities. There are also tone exercises to encourage young players to improve their sound, and an extra section of studies for technical development. I have included words for many of the songs, as I find this is the best way to help young students understand breathing and phrasing – often I will ask a student to sing the song before playing it. To help young players practise, there are free YouTube recordings for every piece, as well as piano backing tracks and duet recordings – these have proved invaluable, particularly for teachers in online lessons.
I try to avoid being overly prescriptive or having lots of directions, to enable teachers to use their own approach. There are many valid ways to teach each aspect of flute playing, and every student has individual needs. For this reason, I include a fingering chart for every note of the flute, not just the ones in the book, and spare manuscript paper where I might write extra exercises, or an additional scale, maybe some extra rhythm practice, or even extra pieces. Whilst I give tonguing suggestions in the first lesson headjoint exercises, I wouldn’t necessarily use them with every student – it depends very much on their age and how easy/hard they find it to product a sound on the headjoint. I’m very much of the attitude “here are some suggestions, but do what works best for you and your student”!
For those wanting ensemble pieces to supplement Book 1, I also have a beginner book of duets and trios (The Young Flute Player Book 4), and for older beginners I wrote The Young At Heart Flute Player, especially for adult and teenage leaners. After completing the beginner method book, students can graduate to my second method book (red cover).
Further details including specifications and sample pages: https://www.theyoungfluteplayer.com/book-content
Introductory video for teachers – Book 1: https://youtu.be/uoh85dTZG-E
YouTube Playlist for Book 1: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-3CBlO-ABK2eT35nogdpXkh-ji7Jq77x
Graduation Certificates: https://www.theyoungfluteplayer.com/free-resources
Order of notes: B1, A1, G1, C2, Bb1, F1, D2, E1, E2, F2, G2, A2, F#1, F#2
· Time Signatures: 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, Common time, 6/8, 2/2, cuttime
· Key Signatures: no flats/sharps, one flat, one sharp
· Range of notes: E1-A2
· Rhythm: whole note/rest, half note/rest, quarter note, eighth notes, dotted quarter note, sixteenth note
· Other: Breath marks, slurs, ties, repeats, staccato, mezzo staccato, D.C. al Fine, accent
· Weekly practice charts
· Piano accompaniment in separate book (Teacher’s Book 3).
· Free recordings of pieces on YouTube
· Fingering chart at beginning of book shows fingerings on a flute body
· Suggestions for breathing, embouchure, posture bulleted
· Quizzes and challenges with placement for timing for this week and next week
· Scales introduced in 5-note form, later moving to one-octave
· Black and white sketch drawings of flutists with silly companions throughout
· Lyrics given for some songs to aid in and introduce rhythms
· Nice black and white descriptions in back to show dos/don’ts of putting together, and cleaning the flute
· Areas for student composition throughout with blank manuscript paper in back