How to Play a 5 Hole Flute

The 5-hole Native American flute is a relatively simple instrument capable of playing two complete chromatic octaves. Students who wish to play the Native American flute must memorize the fingerings and an over-blowing technique. Over-blowing will allow you to play the base pitches one octave higher, but it requires some practice to get the technique right. With patience and determination, anyone can learn to play the 5-hole flute.

Step 1 Learn the fingerings for each pitch. The first note in the chromatic scale is C. To play C, cover all five holes with the pads of your fingers. Ensure that the holes are completely covered.

Step 2 Blow through the instrument using a steady flow of air. Be careful not to blow too much because that will make the instrument squeak and prevent a high-quality sound.

Step 3 Learn to play a C chromatic scale to practice your fingerings once you have learned to get a basic sound. Hold each note of the scale for four beats and take a breath before each note. This will help develop your tone.

Step 4 Practice playing the chromatic scale in quarter notes to speed up your finger technique once you have learned to play the scale in whole notes. Attempt to play the entire scale in one breath. When breathing, make sure you breathe from the diaphragm, and avoid trapping the air in your chest.

Step 5 Develop your ability to over-blow to get the higher octaves. To over-blow the flute, send more air through the instrument in a forceful manner. This requires you to direct your air into a very narrow stream. Tighten the muscles of your embouchure and blow hard.

Step 6 Study the notes of the treble clef. The treble clef consists of lines and spaces. The names of the lines from the bottom to the top are E, G, B, D and F. The names of the spaces spell the word FACE from bottom to top. The first note on the Native American flute will vary, so check with the manufacturer to see where the lowest pitch is tuned.

Step 7 Find simple pieces written in the treble clef that you can play on your Native American flute. You may even wish to purchase a book designed specifically for the flute.

Some of the pitches require that you cover a portion of the hole to get the right pitch. Experiment with the correct finger position to get the clearest sound on the flute. You might only have to cover a quarter of the hole to get the correct pitch.


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