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Is The Flute Hard To Learn? (+ 8 Skills You’ll Need To Improve)

The flute is a favored instrument that plays crucial roles in many different ensembles.

Whether you’re playing in a professional, educational, or hobbyist setting, learning how to play the flute is a gratifying experience!

Here’s How Difficult It Is To Learn To Play The Flute

The flute is easy to learn with enough time, effort, practice, and the right mindset. However, it can initially be tricky to learn how to blow into the instrument properly, and this instrument takes a lot of breath control to play. These two things can make learning the flute a challenge.

The rest of this article will elaborate on what to expect while learning how to play the flute, so you can better understand the instrument and feel comfortable throughout the process!

Is Flute Really That Hard To Learn?

The flute is not really that hard to learn. In the beginning, it will take a little time to get used to blowing into the instrument and creating a sound, but it’s all downhill from there as long as you put in the effort.

If you dedicate enough time, effort, and consistent practice to learning this instrument, you can learn it with ease!

However, no two people are the same, and learning styles vary from person to person. It’s perfectly fine to need more time throughout your individual learning experience.

It won’t come easy for everyone, but with practice, it only gets easier.

What Can Make the Flute Difficult To Play?

Embouchure and the requirement for precise breath control make the flute difficult to play. Embouchure is the way you apply different techniques to the mouthpiece with your mouth, tongue, and teeth.

Without good embouchure or breath control, your playing will be audibly flawed.

One of the most common misconceptions about the flute is that it requires less breath power than larger instruments like the saxophone or the trumpet, simply because it’s smaller in size.

However, this is certainly not the case.

In fact, the flute is one of the most breathtaking instruments out there – literally. It requires extreme focus, perfect posture, strong lungs, and steady streams of breath to simply make a sound with the mouthpiece.

While you do get used to these things with time and practice, they can still be exhausting when undertaken every now and then.

This makes the flute challenging to play at times.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Flute?

How long it takes to learn the flute depends on the amount of time and effort you dedicate to practicing frequently and consistently. A big part of learning any instrument is developing habits, and with enough practice, you can learn how to play basic songs in a week or two.

It will take a lot of practice to develop the right embouchure to get a sound out of your mouthpiece.

From there, it will take more time and concentration to learn fingerings and get used to holding the instrument properly.

At Least An Hour Every Day Of Practice

However, if you’re already familiar with learning music and dedicate  to practice, in two weeks or so, you should be able to play very basic songs.

From there, you’ll advance as quickly as you allow yourself to.

Practice is directly correlated with progress, so if you want to speed up the process, I suggest practicing as much as you can.

Again, it’s also important to note that the time frame is different for everyone. For example, if you’ve never played an instrument before and have no previous experience with reading music, it might take you a lot longer to learn the flute. And that’s okay!

Thus, there is no standard amount of time to learn the flute. As long as you put in the effort, you can learn quickly.

8 Skills You Need To Get Good At The Flute

Here are some of the skills you need to get good at the flute:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Good memory
  • Concentration
  • Proper posture
  • Precise breath control
  • Decent arm strength
  • The correct embouchure

Let’s expand upon each of these skills in further detail.

Fine Motor Skills

To play the flute adequately, you need to have well-developed fine motor skills.

This is essentially the ability to move our hands precisely and effectively.

Playing the flute requires you to make a lot of quick and intricate movements, and without decent fine motor skills, it will be tricky to play notes correctly.

Good Hand-Eye Coordination

Good hand-eye coordination is another essential skill you should have if you intend to play the flute.

Playing an instrument is actually a great way to improve your coordination because it requires your brain and your muscles to work simultaneously.

Playing more complex rhythms or even basic songs will be challenging without proper coordination.

Here are some of the things you will need to do while playing the flute:

  • Read music and translate the score into notes and rhythms.
  • Take the translated notes and assign fingerings to the notes.
  • Press the right combination of keys to make certain notes.
  • Stay in time and assign rhythms to the notes.
  • Blow into the instrument.
  • Hold the instrument correctly, use the correct embouchure, and maintain proper posture.
  • Breathing strategically.

As you can see, playing any instrument – especially woodwinds and brass – requires significant coordination.

If you want to get good at the flute, try incorporating activities into your daily routine that boost your coordination.

Good Memory

Memory is another vital skill you need to get good at the flute.

One of the most important parts of learning a flute is memorizing the fingerings.

Fingerings refer to the combination of keys you press for each note, and how your hand is positioned over the keys to do so.

To play music smoothly, you need to memorize the fingerings for each note. By strengthening your memory skills, you can make this task easier.


Concentration is an additional skill that will make it easier to strengthen your flute-playing abilities.

Playing any instrument requires good concentration.

However, this is especially true for the flute, as flute music is often relatively complex compared to other woodwinds in symphonic bands and orchestras. Flutes play a lot of runs, complicated rhythms, and solos.

Playing the flute will be more challenging without the ability to focus decently.

Proper Posture

Posture is one of the most crucial aspects of good flute playing, and it’s vital for a number of reasons.

Posture affects the way you hold your instrument.

When you play the flute, it’s important for the integrity of the instrument’s sound to hold it up horizontally without resting your arms against your body.

Hypothetically, if you put a pencil inside the flute, it shouldn’t fall.

When you slouch, it’s harder to hold a flute correctly, which can negatively impact your overall sound.

Aside from affecting how you hold your instrument, posture also significantly impacts your lungs and breath control.

Slouching can make it difficult for your lungs to reach their total strength capacity, which is another thing that can negatively affect your sound.

Precise Breath Control

Breath control is essential in that it can help you improve your flute playing skills.

Controlling your breath will help you play the flute with a good tone. It will also make your sound more substantial.

Therefore, learning how to make breath adjustments is a great way to improve your ability to blend in with other sounds if you’re a part of an ensemble.

Decent Arm Strength

Playing the flute requires a decent amount of arm strength.

If you want to get good at the flute, I suggest making sure your arms are strong enough to support the instrument as long as you need them to.

You can do this by completing basic arm exercises or simply practicing more.

One of the most challenging parts of playing the flute is being able to hold it properly.

This can get tiring after a while because, ideally, you shouldn’t be resting your arms against your body.

If you’re playing the flute with an ensemble, you might have to hold up your flute for extended periods of time.

This is why it’s a good idea to ensure you have a decent amount of arm strength if you’re interested in improving your flute skills. Otherwise, your sound quality might suffer!

The Correct Embouchure

Having the correct embouchure is yet another crucial part of good flute playing.

Your embouchure is the way you hold your mouth while playing an instrument. Without proper embouchure, making an audible sound on the flute is difficult.

To get good at the flute, you must ensure your embouchure is spot on. Otherwise, your playing will sound airy, squeaky, and less full than it should.

Does Starting With Another Flute Help With Soprano Flute?

Starting with another flute can help you learn the soprano flute. By starting out with a standard concert flute, you can acclimate yourself to the basics of the instrument and move on to more advanced variations like the soprano.

While the soprano flute isn’t necessarily more complex than the concert flute, it’s not as common and is considered a more specialized instrument. It’s always a good idea to start simply and expand from there.

Tips on Making the Flute Learning Process Easier

Learning the flute is an enriching experience, but you should keep some important things in mind throughout the process.

Here are some tips for learning the flute:

  • Practice motor skills and coordination.
  • Manage your time well to give yourself the freedom to practice more often.
  • Practice as often as you can.
  • Stay consistent with your practicing routine.
  • Practice good posture.
  • Practice breath control.
  • Listen to flute solos.
  • Practice playing things by ear.
  • Practice with a group to blend better.

Following these tips will help you strengthen the skills required for good flute playing, so you can make progress and improve your playing techniques.

Final Thoughts

Learning the flute is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can be challenging to learn without the right approach.

The flute is easy to learn with enough time, effort, and practice.

However, it can be difficult without these aspects. It’s also a bit tricky to grasp the correct embouchure and memorize the fingerings, but this is something you’ll get the hang of fairly quickly.

With the right mindset and constant practice, the flute isn’t too challenging to master.

However, no two people are the same, and the time frame will vary from person to person.

If you liked this article about learning the flute, you can also compare it to learning the saxophone in a guide I wrote on this site.