If you have played classical music before, you probably know that most music terms are not in English. Tempo markings, dynamics, and characteristics are all in Italian. Some composers, like those from Germany and Russia write their notations using their mother tongue. Italian and German are two perfect foreign languages for flutists.
That’s why it is important for serious musicians to learn what these phrases mean and how they fit into the context of the language they come from.
Each instrument also has its own history and repertoire. Violinists have a lot of music written by Italian and German composers. A lot of piano music is was composed by Germans.
The central “school” for flutists was and is located in France. So, French is probably one languages flutists should consider learning.
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Many important flute pieces come from the likes of Gabriel Fauré, Cecile Chaminade, and Philippe Gaubert. Marcel Moyse, Pierre Taffanel, and the aforementioned Gaubert wrote many pivotal exercises for flute tone and technique.
Whether you want to learn repertoire from the “French Composers” book or to work through “De la Sonorité,” French will help you.
Yes, there are English translations of the text in the Moyse and T&G books, but being able to read the original version allows you to better understand the purpose of the exercises.
French is also fairly easy to learn for English speakers. It is difficult to speak it, but reading it is a breeze.
If French isn’t your cup of tea, consider learning Italian. Most music terms are in Italian, like forte, crescendo, and andante. Learning Italian means you can understand the terms rather than remember them purely as music vocabulary.
Even the French pieces use some Italian words for names of movements or dynamics. And if you understand Italian, you can easily learn to how to understand written French.
And if you took some Spanish in high school, that knowledge can help you along with Italian.
If you find yourself playing a lot of Hindemith, Bach, or other German composer, think about learning German. The vocabulary will certainly be a challenge, so don’t think it will be easy.
Like with other languages, knowing more than just the translation of German words will help you show the composer’s vision. Studying German could also help you if you decide to move to Europe.
German is spoken in a few different European countries. If you’re searching for a job or schooling overseas, German could help you find cool and interesting opportunities.
The next foreign language for flutists to consider learning is Spanish. If you are into Latin music or jazz, or even world music, Spanish is a great language to learn.
If you want to teach flute, Spanish can help you find more students. This point mostly applies to American flutists, but flutists in other countries can benefit, too. The influx of Spanish speaking immigrants is reason enough for Americans to learn the language.
How to Learn a Foreign Language?
If you’re still in school, consider taking a foreign language as an elective. The Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education don’t usually have a language requirement, but the Bachelor of Arts does.
Even if you don’t have to take a language course, doing so is a cheap and easy way to get all your credits and learn a new language that can help your music reading skills.
For those of you who aren’t in school or can’t take a foreign language course, you have a few options. First, you can find a course at a local community center. Second, you can find a conversation partner.
But my personal favorite is using an app and website called LingQ.
What is LingQ?
LingQ is an online language learning program in the form of a website and mobile app. It does cost money, but I personally believe it is worth it.
The program uses the input method, which focuses on reading and listening. You don’t have to spend time on grammar exercises or other monotonous assignments. And the content is more realistic than say in Duolingo.
You can read actual stories and articles, and you can import your own “lessons” from the internet.
When you first start a new lesson, you will see words in a few different ways. New words will be highlighted in blue, known words will be regular, and your “LingQs” will be in four shades of yellow.
LingQs are the words you are currently learning, and they have four stages. The first stage is the brightest; these are words you just saw for the first time and need to review. The second stage is a slightly lighter shade of yellow. These words are considered to be recognized; you can understand them in context, but not necessarily on their own.
The third stage of a LingQ is when a word is familiar. You don’t fully understand the word, but you do know it to an extent. The fourth stage is “learned.” These words are almost known and are underlined. You may need to review these words, but they are basically a part of your vocabulary.
Reading and Listening?
Does the input method really work? It does for me, and it might work for you. Just give it a shot.
How Much Does LingQ cost?
There are three plans offered by LingQ, including Free, Premium, and Plus plans.
The free plan is basically a trial plan. It does have features and you can use the plan long term, but you are limited. You can only create 20 LingQs and import only five lessons.
I am currently using the Premium plan, because it is the best value for my money, and it has all of the feature I need. I can create as many LingQs as I want and import as many lessons as I want.
You can pay for the plan each month, every six months, or every year. The longer the term, the cheaper it is per month.
If you are someone who likes a lot of one on one learning, you might consider the Plus plan. It is expensive, and I wouldn’t recommend it for more than a month or two; you can always downgrade.
This plan gives you free “points” that you can spend. You can spend points on things like working with a tutor, get your writing corrected, or even buy Paid lessons.
Get Free LingQs
Want free extra LingQs? Use my referral code and get 100 extra LingQs when you sign up for a free membership!
Are you learning a foreign language to help your musical career? What language are your favorite foreign languages for flutists? Let me know in the comments!