A Woodwind Teachers Flute Handbook, by Kenneth Bell
May 8, 2017 (No Comments) by

Ken-Bell-BookA Woodwind Teachers Flute Handbook by Kenneth Bell

Studio Music Publications, 1992

It is not our usual practice at Flute Journal to review books or recordings that have been available for 25 years, but I just came across something that seems both worthwhile and unique and which fills a distinct need.

There are many method books in print, aimed at flute students, both beginning and advanced, as there are for all other instruments, but this particular handbook is a little different. It is aimed not at aspiring flutists but at woodwind teachers who are required to teach the flute but for whom this may not have been their primary instrument. This applies particularly to schoolteachers who have to know a little at least about all instruments in order to lead student ensembles and provide elementary instruction. The author, Kenneth Bell, writes: “There are more people, and in particular more school children, learning to play the flute today than ever before.” I don’t know if this still holds true, or, in the current political climate, if any music teaching is going on at all in our schools, but if there is, manuals of this kind are invaluable. Bell continues:

The demand for flute teachers in schools has to be balanced with the financial restraints imposed by Education Authorities, and as a result a very significant number of young flautists are being taught by woodwind teachers whose primary instrument is not the flute.

In many cases, at least in the US, classroom teachers’ major instrument are not necessarily even woodwinds. Bell continues:

I would like to make it quite clear that I am in no way against reed players teaching the flute, so long as they are aware of the true character and potential of the instrument.

Ken-Bell-1To meet this need, the author, Mr. Bell, provides a very thorough overview of the flute, its history and construction, and the fundamental techniques necessary for its correct performance. In short, he provides all the information needed by a teacher who is trained in music, but who needs more detailed information about the flute in order to pass it along to students.

Chapter headings include: A Brief History of the Modern Flute, Choosing a Flute, Posture and Hand Position, Breathing and Tone Production, Intonation, Articulation, along with further general points and fingering charts. Everything one needs to know in order to be an effective flute teacher

Mr. Bell is clear and articulate in his descriptions and pays considerable attention to detail. The book is not copiously illustrated, however, and overall production values perhaps fall short of the value of the content itself. In my opinion, therefore, this book needs revising and re-issuing. In any case, a copy belongs in the library of every school or independent music teacher involved in teaching the flute.

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