The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers Book Review

“The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers (Oxford Musical Instrument Series)” is a great resource and reference guide for anyone who plays the flute or is interested in it in any way.  The book’s author (Nancy Toff) does an exceptional job covering the instruments itself (what is a flute), how to select a proper flute, care and maintenance, history and many of the other instruments considered to be in the flute family; alto and bass flutes along with the piccolo.

From this, the author goes into the areas that impact one’s performance.  She details breathing, tone, vibrato, articulation, technique, style, performance, and recordings.  In this section of the book she provides not only what these items are, but also suggestions and/or tricks when it comes to some of the more complex aspects of playing the flute.  There are whole sections on how to audition and what to do when faced with this situation.

The last section covers the various eras of flute music including detailed historical research.  The author covers the following eras: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern.  Many of the specific eras are related to various geographical regions such as: France, Italy, England, Germany, and the US; along with a few others.  Of all three sections, this one was my least favorite only because I was more interested in the instrument and technique than I was in the musical history of the flute.

I said the book is both a resource and reference guide earlier, and that is because one can glean a great deal of knowledge upon first reading the book, however there may be times that one will reference the book afterwards while looking for advice on specific subjects covered in the book.  There is also a large section of appendices covering resources that manufacture and repair flutes, fingering charts, additional books and music, etc.  She also provides a detailed section of flute clubs and societies.  Much of this can be found today using a standard search engine, but it was nice to have in one place.

For me, at the time of this review, I’m just starting my journey into playing the flute.  However, I found the information in this book useful and informative to the novice (like me) and yet some of the information I’m sure will/can be used by one who is a more seasoned player.  I’m not a history buff, but I will say that I read every page in this section and was fascinated at the level of detail and impact of this instrument throughout history.  Overall, this is a book worth owning for any flute enthusiasts.

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