I have been busy making inventory this winter and one instrument that has been consistently in demand is the slide flute. The Pennywhistle and Symphony Slide Flutes have both been found to be very satisfactory instruments for children and adults with Down Syndrome.
These folks love music and the interaction that it gives them with others. Playing the slide flute is a good therapy for improved breathing and an inexpensive way to provide an instrument that is easy to play and fits into family activities.
Because the slide flute can be played very loudly, I am providing extra poly plugs to limit volume and allow a quieter more mellow sound if required. Inserting the poly plugs also cuts down on the amount of air required to play the flute.
An adjustable poly plug on the slide rod now allows adjustment to the tension of the slide. You can adjust the size of the plug with a common Phillips head screwdriver for best fit in the flute bore. Lubrication of the whistle remains a single drop of olive oil.
From information that I have recently received, I understand that the slide flute works best when the person learning to play starts out with making as many different sounds as possible. The sliding sounds are at first most popular. It is best if the person who is instructing tries to mimic the student’s lead on the sounds being played.
After a session or two, the student generally begins to be confident enough to try blowing notes that are like the instructor. Making up tunes of their own is a large part of the fun and should be included in the daily routine. Loud and unexpected sounds are also very pleasing to the student and a part of relaxing and enjoying the music.
As sessions with the slide flute progress the student will become inventive and spend more time with the instrument. The instructor should encourage outdoor playing situations and search out some interesting settings where there are good acoustics. Echoes from the slide flute are especially nice sounds and the student will be encouraged by the improved music sounds they are getting from their slide flute.
Other ideas, like the student playing a rhythm line using a set single note and the instructor playing a tune that is familiar can produce wonderful results. Part of the fun is finding the perfect note for the student to play along with the instructor’s tune. As time progresses, the student can reverse the role and play the tune and the instructor can play the drone and rhythm line.