How to Read Flute Sheet Music

By Denise Schoonhoven ; Updated September 15, 2017
Flute sheet music

The flute is a wind instrument that is widely used in bands, ensembles and orchestras. Solo flute music is popular due to its sweet soprano tones. A solo flautist can select from a large repertoire of music, from classical to modern. Each piece has its own guidelines for phrasing, dynamics and tempo. Beginners and professionals read through the music before they ever pick up their instrument.

Check signatures.

Scan through the entire piece of sheet music before playing the number. Verify that you understand both the timing signature and key signature.

Use a pencil.

Mark the sheet music with a pencil as you read through the piece. Use any shorthand and cues that you have developed to signal areas where you must pay special attention while playing.

Mezzo forte

Note the dynamics marks. Be aware of where a crescendo starts and where it ends, so you can build the volume level as you play. Prepare to play softer across the length of the decrescendo. Notice each forte and pianissimo that will guide your performance.

Breath marks

Write a breath mark at each spot where you will breathe in. Use a pencil so you can erase and move breath marks if you locate more natural breath points after you have played through the piece.

Tonguing requirements

Visualize the tonguing requirements for each passage. Spot the passages where double and triple tonguing may be required to accomplish fast sections.

Alternate fingering

Circle lightly around segments where alternate fingering may be required. Watch for trills and fast passages that can be played more easily with non-standard fingering.

Warning

Do not use an ink pen to mark up sheet music, as it is common to revise markings during practice and rehearsals.

About the Author

Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.