How to Learn to Read Music for the Flute for Kids

Updated May 25, 2017

It can be difficult to teach children how to play certain musical instruments. Not all instruments are simple enough for a child to learn a song quickly. The flute can be a complicated instrument, but flute music uses the same notation as many other instruments. In addition, unlike instruments such as the clarinet or trombone, the flute is a nontransposing instrument, meaning the note you see on the page is the note that will sound when you play. Flautists read music in the treble clef, so children will have to learn only the notes on the treble clef staff.

Practice reading notes on the treble clef staff. There are five lines and four spaces on a staff, and the treble clef will tell you the names of the lines and spaces. The spaces spell the word "FACE" from bottom to top, and the lines spell out "E-G-B-D-F." Memorize phrases to help you remember the names of the lines and spaces, such as "FACE in the space" and "Every Good Boy Does Fine."

Identify any notes that have a sharp or flat sign in front of them. These symbols raise (sharp) or lower (flat) a note by a half step. For example, an E that has a flat sign in front of it will become an E-flat, a note one half step lower than E. If the sharp or flat sign is not in the key signature, it is called an accidental.

Look at the key signature and identify any sharps or flats. The key signature is written after the clef symbol, and it indicates what notes are to be sharp or flat for the entire piece. If B-flat is in the key signature, then all notated B's are to be played as B-flat unless a natural sign appears before the note (a natural sign overrides the key signature, meaning that B-flat would become B-natural for that particular measure). It is helpful to memorise all the key signatures and what sharps and flats are associated with them.

Explore different rhythms and how they are notated in music. For instance, a crotchet is an oval that is filled in with a stem on the side, and it gets one beat of sound. For beginning music, you will need to know the quarter, half and whole notes. You will also need to learn quarter, half and whole rests, which tell the player when not to play and for how long.

Memorise time signatures and what they mean. The time signature is written at the beginning of the piece after the treble clef sign. The top number tells you how many beats are in a measure, and the bottom number tells you what kind of note gets one beat. A time signature of 4/4 indicates there are four beats per measure and the crotchet receives one beat.

Label the notes in your music until you become more fluent at sight-reading. Clap and count the rhythm of the music out loud.

Sight-read the music, playing one note at a time and checking with a fingering chart to make sure you are playing the correct note with the correct fingerings. Play the music again slowly with the correct rhythms. Gradually speed up the tempo when you are ready.


Practice scales to help you learn flute fingerings.

Things You'll Need

  • Flute
  • Sheet music
  • Fingering chart
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About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.