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Flute/Indian flute or Irish flute??


I basically don't have any knowledge about flutes.....but all of a sudden after listening to many wondrous tunes especially from the indian classical music  and the irish the cooley's reel(youtube).......i'm very sure that this is the instrument that i would like to learn....if so which instrument would be apt for me....
1.the indian flute
2.the irish flute
or tin whistle??
please elaborate the difference between these three instruments????.......

Hi Sharran,

Thanks for your email.  I am glad you have an interest in flute playing.  I do not have much of a background in Indian flute, Irish flute, or tin whistle, but I can do my best to give you a brief description of each. I'll also provide you with some resources for more information.

1. Indian Flute - Native American flutes come in a variety of sizes and styles.  They often have beautiful artwork etched or burned into them.  Typically there are 6 open finger holes and a block (sometimes called a bird) that helps direct airflow from the upper chamber to the lower chamber.  The mouthpiece is relatively easy to produce a sound, as you cover the entire hole and blow. Jim Akins is both a great resource as he is both a maker of Native American flutes and a performer.

2 & 3. The Irish flute - Irish flutes also typically have uncovered finger holes (no keys) and are pitched in a variety of keys.  The most common Irish flute key is "D".  The mouthpiece is different than the native american flute, and is more similar to the traditional silver flute.  This means the players much develop a traditional flute embouchure in order to produce a sound.  This is a great choice if you are interested in playing irish reels and other traditional tunes.  The tin whistle is designed to play the same type of music.   If your irish flute and your tin whistle are both pitched in "D", then the fingerings will be the same on a basic level.  The tin whistle does not use a traditional flute embouchure as you cover the hole and blow to produce a sound.

Here are some more resources for irish flute playing  


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Nathan Muehl


I feel very comfortable answering questions regarding classical music. This includes performance of music on woodwind instruments, theory, history, etc. I am happy to answer questions about careers in music and collegiate study. I am also able to answer simple questions in the field of Audio Engineering.


I have played the flute for 25 years. I am very active in professional music organizations, and I have had several students go on to successful careers.

I am currently a member of the Conductor's Guild, the National Flute Association, the American String Teachers Association, West Virginia Music Educators Association, and Ohio Music Educators Association.

I hold a bachelor of music education degree from The Ohio State University along with a business minor. I have a Master of Music degree from the same institution. I am currently a professor at a college in Florida.

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