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Four Essential Steps To Starting Your Journey With The Native American Flute

Four Essential Steps To Starting Your Journey With The Native American Flute

Hello there! I'm excited to introduce you to your very first Native American flute lesson. My name is Jonny Lipford, an acclaimed artist known for performing, recording, and teaching the Native American flute. My own musical voyage began on Christmas day in 2002 when I was just 13. Despite having no musical background, the enchanting sound of the flute captivated me instantly, much like the intrigue that has brought you here today.

Embarking on Your Flute Journey: Four Essential Steps

In our initial lesson, I aim to equip you with four essential insights to kick-start your adventure with the Native American flute. I've categorized these insights into four key areas for easy understanding. First, we'll explore how to select your initial or the perfect flute. Next, we'll discuss the fundamentals of posture, hand placement, and the positioning of the mouth. Our third focus will be on fostering creativity and finding inspiration in your practice. Lastly, we'll touch upon putting your newfound skills to practical use. Now, let's dive into each of these four pivotal steps.

Choosing The Right Flute

Choosing the right flute as a beginner can be tricky, especially when it comes to size. Many new players opt for larger flutes, attracted by their deep sounds, only to find themselves struggling to reach the lowest holes comfortably. This can lead to frustration and discomfort, potentially dampening their enthusiasm for playing the flute. Today, I want to highlight the importance of selecting a flute that feels comfortable from the start, ensuring a smooth musical journey.

Among the flutes typically encountered in our industry, the A flute stands out. It comes in two variants - the mid-A, which is of standard size, and the high-A, often referred to as a "pocket flute." The key difference between these flutes lies in their size and the pitch they produce; larger flutes yield lower tones, while smaller ones offer higher tones. For instance, comparing a standard A flute with a pocket A flute reveals a stark difference in pitch, despite them being in the same key.

Many beginners mistakenly purchase a pocket A flute thinking it will sound the same as its larger counterpart, lured by its compact size and portability. And indeed, the pocket flute is an excellent choice for those who love to blend their music with the great outdoors, given its ease of transport in a purse or a small backpack. For beginners starting their flute adventures, the keys of A, G, and B are popular choices, with the B flute being a viable option for individuals with smaller hands or those who find the A flute slightly too large.


Posture & Hand Placement 

When you're learning how to play the Native American flute, one common challenge might be managing the tension in your hands, especially when lifting your fingers. Instead of curling them or tucking them under, which adds unnecessary strain, it's best to allow them to rest lightly. This approach not only reduces tension but also improves your finger placement and agility, which is crucial for playing Native American flute music beautifully.

Starting at the top of your Native American flute and working your way down, placing your fingers one by one, is a method that promises better success. If you find it hard to locate the right spots, one helpful strategy is playing in front of a mirror. This visual aid can be incredibly useful. However, an alternative method that enhances your tactile familiarity with the flute is to close your eyes while playing. This allows you to focus on the feel of the instrument, helping you to master the positions without relying on sight. You want to ensure to use the pads of your fingers and not the tips. I encourage students to try and keep their hands relaxed and flattened like an “F” instead of curling up like a “C”. Remember, “F” as in flat, not “C” as in curled.

Incorporating these techniques into your Native American flute lessons will not only improve your playing skills but also make the learning process more enjoyable. Paying attention to your posture and handling the flute, especially focusing on common areas of neglect like elbows and finger positioning, is vital. These tips are designed to help you create beautiful Native American flute music while maintaining a comfortable and effective playing stance.

Remember, the key to mastering the Native American flute is patience and practice. By focusing on the right techniques from the start, you'll find yourself making beautiful music in no time. Whether you're taking Native American flute lessons or learning on your own, these tips will set you on the right path.


Finding Creativity & Inspiration 

Each time you play, the music can be different because you have a variety of notes at your disposal. I encourage you to experiment and improvise, using the foundational scale as your guide. This process itself is a source of inspiration and a stepping stone to unlocking your musical potential.

The basic scale alone offers numerous possibilities for creating music. As you progress, you will learn about advanced techniques such as cross-fingering and half-holing, further expanding the range of sounds you can produce. But even with just a few simple notes, the creative possibilities are vast.

Exploring music through playing scales is just the beginning. Imagine playing a song inspired by the horizon—notes climbing as the tree line or mountains rise and descend as the landscape evens out. This approach allows you to adapt the music to your surroundings and pace.

Many people, myself included, love taking their flutes into nature. Whether it’s by a tranquil lake or on a serene hike, moments of rest are perfect for bringing out your flute. Playing in natural spaces, especially those with canyons or caves, adds a unique echo to your music, enriching the experience.

The flute isn't just an instrument meant for indoor play. Its music extends beyond four walls, inviting you to explore and engage with the world. Creativity and inspiration can be found in everything around us, and the flute is a beautiful tool for connecting with that endless source of wonder.



The transformation of the Native American flute from a relatively obscure instrument to a versatile mainstay in various music genres and healing practices mirrors a broader change in the availability and application of musical resources. 

Fast forward to the present, and the flute's soulful melodies can be heard in television shows, wellness centers like spas, and on streaming services such as Pandora. Its adaptability is further showcased by musicians who seamlessly blend its sound into jazz, electronic dance music, and more.

Interestingly, many have found the Native American flute invaluable in therapeutic settings, playing for hospice patients, in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, yoga studios, and meditation classes. It's hailed for its sound healing properties and as a tool for personal meditation and healing practices. 

For me, the flute started as a personal journal of sorts—a way to express feelings I couldn't put into words, which proved to be a profound tool for self-exploration and growth. This personal impact led me to wonder about its potential effect on others. Gradually, I began sharing my music, first with family, then at public performances. This journey with the flute has been incredibly fulfilling, and it's a story I'm eager to share in more depth in the future.


What’s Next For You?

If you’re feeling a deep connection with the serene and sacred sound of the Native American flute… If you’re envisioning yourself not just playing but truly embodying the soulful melodies that this beautiful instrument can offer, here’s your next step…

Join us for a serene exploration of the Native American flute with our Beginner Bundle. For $97, you’ll receive a comprehensive guide to the art of this beautiful instrument, a cozy fleece bag for your flute, and a traditional cedar flute to begin creating beautiful melodies. If you already have a flute, you're welcome to join our community at a reduced rate and further hone your skills. 




This course is more than just learning; it’s an opportunity to connect with a deeper part of yourself and share sacred sounds with the world. We invite you to start this musical adventure, immersing yourself in the soothing world of the Native American flute. Click here to start your musical journey.

We’re excited for you to join us and start sharing your unique sounds with the community.

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