Lesson Plan ideas for the Flute and Piccolo

Here are a few lesson planning ideas for teaching students about the flute and piccolo. This is an excerpt from a music lesson plan from the fun music company on instruments of the orchestra.

Hi-Lo Game: Play or sing a variety of melodic intervals, both ascending and descending. Then ask the students to tell you which note was first by saying flute-piccolo if the first note was lower, and piccolo-flute if the first note was higher. This will help develop the students’ pitch discrimination and will reinforce the relative ranges of the flute and piccolo at the same time.

Find a bottle with a narrow neck and blow across the top with a focused stream of air to make a musical tone, like a flute player. You can then vary the sound by filling the bottles with a few inches of water, and asking the students to predict what will happen to the pitch 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

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 wolf by the horns and the hunters by the timpani.

The story is told by having each instrument describe each character and the plot unfolds as the melodies interact

Here are some questions for discussion:

What qualities (timbre, range, etc.) of the instruments make them good choices for the characters? (E.g., the reedy, piercing quality of the oboe actually sounds something like a duck’s quack; the loud, sharp sounds of the timpani are like the sounds of gunfire.)

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?