Do you have a policy or even a personal philosophy about starting beginning flute players? For example, do you wait until they reach a certain age or grade level? Do you require that they play a different instrument first?
Every fall I am faced with the issue that most of my beginning flute players rarely progress at a level anywhere near the rest of my beginning wind players.
I’ve tried discouraging 4th graders from starting with flute. Essentially, I tell the parents of 4th graders that if they want to play flute, they will have to provide their own instrument; I won’t loan them a school-owned instrument. This has probably prevented some problems, but I’m not sure how effectively it’s improved my flute sections.
This year, I took a different approach with teaching fingerings to my beginning flutists. I taught them using the first 5 notes of the concert F scale instead of concert Bb. This eliminated the awkward C to D challenge, and made songs like Hot Cross Buns and Mary Had a Little Lamb more accessible. It’s hard to say how effective this has been.
Somehow, every year I manage to find a gem of a beginning flutist who stays right on track with the rest of the band, or even progresses more quickly than the rest of the class. (And no, it’s not because they have a different private music teacher!) So I don’t necessarily think my pedagogical skills are the issue.
Even with these preventative measures and crutches, I’ve had disappointing results.
Help! Any thoughts?