When learning an instrument, you need to choose the right one. While a lot of people choose the flute, you may want to learn the piccolo first.
But should you? The flute and the piccolo are similar, but they are far from the same. Keep on reading to learn if you should choose the smaller flute as your first instrument.
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Why You Usually Learn the Flute Before the Piccolo
The flute and piccolo are very similar. But the differences make it easier for someone to learn the flute first.
If you’ve never played the flute, you may struggle to learn the piccolo and to get a good sound. So consider a few reasons why you should start on the flute and hold off on the piccolo.
Easier for Beginners
The flute isn’t easy, but it’s not as hard to start on. Its bigger size (compared to the piccolo) gives you more flexibility. You don’t need to have the perfect embouchure to make a sound.
Many beginners will not get a good sound on the flute the first day they play. But you’ll be able to start playing the flute as a beginner sooner than a piccolo.
Despite the bigger size, many student flutes are more affordable than student piccolos. Good beginner piccolos start at around $700 or so, but beginner flutes start at $500.
It’s also easier to find a student flute that you can rent. And if you want a used instrument, used flutes are more common. That means you don’t have to spend as much to learn to play music.
Variety of Music
There are more books for beginner flute students. Most of the piccolo books you’ll find assume that you already play the flute. Because of that, you’ll have more materials to choose from.
Then, you’ll be able to choose a few books that work with how you learn best. If you have a teacher, they can suggest more flute books than piccolo books without you needing any playing experience.
I’ve written about how playing piccolo can give you more opportunities than the flute alone. But if you’re only going to play one of the two, the flute is the way to go.
In an ensemble, there’s usually only one piccolo player. However, the same group may have two, three, or more flute players. That means you’ll have a better chance of getting performance experience if you can play the flute.
How to Learn the Piccolo Without Playing the Flute
As much as I feel like you should learn the flute first, there may be a case where playing the piccolo is better. For example, if you have arthritis, you may not want to hold a flute, but a piccolo won’t cause pain.
Whatever your reason for wanting to learn the piccolo without playing the flute, I do have some tips. These things can help set you up for success with your piccolo playing endeavours.
Start on the Fife or Recorder
If the reason you want to learn the piccolo is its size, you should start with the fife or recorder. Those instruments are about the same size as the piccolo, but they’re easier for beginners.
The fife is an excellent option because you hold it off to the side like a piccolo. I’ve reviewed the Yamaha fife, and it’s an excellent introductory instrument because it’s affordable.
If you prefer the recorder, it’s also small, but you hold it in front of you. The recorder doesn’t require the same embouchure, so you can get a sound much sooner.
Focus on Baroque Music
Baroque music has a smaller range than modern pieces. When you first start on the piccolo, you don’t have to worry about playing the super high notes.
That can be an excellent way to start playing pieces. A lot of Baroque pieces for flute work very well on the piccolo. And you don’t need to learn a ton of accidentals.
Use the Rubank Elementary Method Book
The only book I know of that helps you learn the piccolo without playing the flute first is the Rubank Elementary Method. It works for the flute or piccolo because of the range.
This book has a nice progression to help you from the start. Then, you can learn the notes and music theory. It’s a nice option if you want to learn the piccolo as your first instrument.
Take It Slowly
I’d recommend this with any instrument. But when you first learn the piccolo, you may want to become an expert fast. Taking it slowly gives you the chance to learn how to play the piccolo well.
You can learn one note at a time and take your time with each piece. It may seem annoying, but doing so will help you get a better sound. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy playing.
Get a Teacher
You should look for a teacher who can guide you as you learn the piccolo. Then, you’ll be able to have someone help you with the tough parts of playing the instrument.
Now, some teachers may insist you learn the flute first. But if you can find someone who supports you playing the piccolo, work with them. You won’t regret having someone to hold you accountable to playing.
The Best Piccolo for Beginners?
If you’re going to learn the piccolo, you need to choose the right instrument. I’d recommend the Pearl 105. It’s not too expensive, but it’s of excellent quality.
You can get a lot of use out of the composite model. Then, you’ll be able get a good sound. And you won’t need to worry about upgrading to a new piccolo super soon.
If you want to learn more, you can check out my full review.
When Will You Learn the Piccolo?
Whether you want to learn the piccolo before or after the flute, you should give it a try. It’s a fun instrument with plenty of music and opportunities for anyone who plays it.
Be sure to check out the Pearl piccolo or another excellent model to get started.