Flute Etudes in Progressive Order

So many Etudes, so little time! Here’s some help choosing the best for each level. The word ‘etude’, meaning ‘exercise’ or ‘study ‘, is from the French verb ‘etudier’, meaning ‘to study’. It is this concentrated daily study that hones technique, tone and rhythm. Play with a metronome until the beat is unchanging, and begin under tempo, even half speed.

Even beginners can master short etudes in easy keys, found in the Rubank Elementary or the larger Wagner method books. This segues well into the Rubank Intermediate level book, at which point players can begin practice sessions with chromatic long tones and one octave major scales. By the time they master scales in all keys they are ready for etudes of the level found in the subsequent Rubank Advanced book, that will include double tonguing.

At this point the late intermediate flutist can move to a book specifically devoted to etudes, such as Melodious Studies by Cavally, or the etudes by Altes, a bit longer and more challenging. The early advanced student should learn the 18 Studies by Berbiguier, lovely etudes that lie well, introduced to me at a music camp in the Poconos by first editor John Wummer, principal of the New York Philharmonic. Orchestral excerpts mesh well here.

The advanced flutist enters the rarified realm of Taffanel and Gaubert, particularly 17 Grands Exercises, of which 1, 4-6, and 12 should be memorized. Karg-Elert’s 30 Caprices and Anderson opus 63 etudes should be learned as well. The artist level player will benefit from the Paganini Caprices and further Marcel Moyse studes, especially 20 Exercises and ‘de la Sonorite’. Etudier!

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