Flutes and Piccolos in the music classroom

Learning about the Flute and Piccolo in music class? here are a few ideas

Hi-Lo Game: Play or sing a variety of melodic intervals, both ascending and descending. Ask students to discern which note comes first, the high note or the low note, by describing the interval as flute-piccolo (low-high) or piccolo-flute (high-low). This will help develop the students’ pitch discrimination and will reinforce the relative ranges of the flute and piccolo at the same time.

Demonstrate how the flute makes its sound by choosing a bottle with a small neck and blowing over it with a stream of air. Fill the bottle with a few inches of water and ask the students to predict what will happen to the pitch when you blow again. You can then explain that this is exactly what happens when a flute player lifts their fingers from the finger holes – its just like shortening the tube.

You could then make a home-made instrument by filling several bottles with varying amounts of liquid, and tuning them to notes of a scale. (you can even borrow some pipes or test tubes from the science teacher!) Students will love playing their own tunes on the bottle instruments

This is part of a lesson plan from the fun music company all about orchestral instruments.

Listen to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, a work for orchestra with narration. In this work both the flute and piccolo are featured as well as all the woodwind instruments, the timpani and strings. You could use this piece in several sections in many classes when learning about the orchestral instruments

In Peter and the Wolf, each character is identified timbrally by a specific instrument or section. The strings are peter, the flute represents the bird, the duck by the oboe, the cat by the clarinet, the bassoon represents grandfather, the horns are the scary wolf and the hunters by the timpani.

Prokofiev also identifies characters thematically with characteristic melodies, and conveys the plot through the music.

Here are some questions for discussion:

Why do you think the composer chose those instruments for each of the characters? (for example the low, reedy sound of the bassoon sounds like grandfather, the piercing sound of the oboe sounds like a ducks quack)

What else in the music conveys the personality of the characters? (E.g., the bouncy, major-key theme for Peter exudes boyish confidence; the minor-key theme for the wolf is powerful and ominous, like the wolf himself.)

Take one section of music and discuss how it conveys the plot (for example when the cat scampers up the tree it is showed by arpeggios rising rapidly

During the Victory Parade, why do you think the composer switched Peter’s music from the strings to the horns?