As a flute player, you’ll probably receive questions about the piccolo. But that doesn’t mean that you should learn piccolo…unless you want to.
If you want to learn piccolo, you should also figure out when to start learning it. Then, you can set yourself up for success!
And speaking of success, I have links to awesome piccolo resources. You can read my full disclosure policy to learn more about the links.
Do You Want to Learn Piccolo?
Before you decide when to learn piccolo, you should decide if you even want to. While a lot of flute players want to learn the small flute, there are probably just as many who don’t. And that’s okay!
Not every flute player has to learn piccolo, so you should consider if you want to put in the time and energy to learn. Luckily, there are a few fantastic reasons to learn it!
Play fun parts
I’ve had some interesting ensemble parts on the flute, but I’ve probably had more fun parts on the piccolo. In a band or orchestra, you can “float” above the group when you have a piccolo part.
You get to blend with the flutes, clarinets, and sometimes even the brass. Doing that can be a challenge, but it’s super fun!
Learn a new instrument
If you play the flute and want to learn a second instrument, you should learn piccolo! The two instruments are relatively similar, so you can get started easily.
However, you may need to work on your embouchure when you first start. The piccolo is smaller, so you’ll have to consider that when playing it.
Help your career
This one’s for anyone who is or will be in college for the flute. If you want to make a career out of playing the flute, you may need to learn piccolo. Even if you’re not a piccolo specialist, playing it a little can make a big difference.
Whether you want to join an orchestra or teach lessons, being able to play the piccolo will open you up to new opportunities.
When Should You Learn Piccolo?
Now that you have a reason to learn piccolo, you should figure out the best time to learn it. Of course, musicians are usually very busy. And it can be hard to start a new instrument when you have a huge course and/or work load.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t learn piccolo too early in your flute studies. In most cases, you want to have the basics down on the flute first.
Except in very rare circumstances, you should learn the basics of the flute before you begin to learn piccolo. While the flute isn’t easy for beginners, it’s not as difficult as the piccolo.
Comparatively, the flute is more forgiving when it comes to getting a sound. As you learn flute, work toward a consistent sound before starting the piccolo.
When you want to
Once you have a solid foundation on the flute, you can learn piccolo whenever you want and whenever it makes sense. You don’t have to wait long, but it may depend on if you have access to a piccolo.
Even used models can be expensive, so it might be smart to find a piccolo to borrow. Then, you can get your own piccolo when you know you’ll stick with it.
If you’re going to school as a flute major, college is the perfect time to learn piccolo. For one, you usually have access to school-owned instruments, even if you have to share with another student.
You also have access to low-stress performances where you can play the piccolo. Be it marching band, lessons, or a chamber ensemble, you can explore the piccolo when you’re in college.
And if you’re not a music major, you can still learn piccolo in college. You can usually join the marching band, and you might be able to take flute/piccolo lessons as an elective.
Starting to Learn Piccolo
With summer approaching, now’s a great time to learn piccolo. But even if you decide to wait (or if it’s not summer when you read this), you should know how to start the piccolo.
To set yourself up for success, consider these tips for learning piccolo as a beginner.
Choose an instrument
There are TONS of piccolos available in a variety of materials and at different price points. On the one hand, choosing a piccolo can be overwhelming.
But on the other hand, that means you can probably find the right piccolo for you. I currently play a Pearl piccolo, and it’s a wood-plastic composite.
My first piccolo is/was an Armstrong all-metal piccolo, but you can also find a piccolo with a metal headjoint and a plastic body. And there are also all-wood piccolos.
(Note: the ONLY piccolos I recommend buying from Amazon are from Pearl. It’s the only reputable brand that lists Amazon as an authorized dealer.)
Once you have a decent piccolo to learn on, you should consider getting lessons on the piccolo. If you have a flute teacher, they should be able to help you start to learn piccolo.
However, if your flute teacher doesn’t play or teach the piccolo, you can find a teacher specifically for the small flute. Then, you’ll have the guidance you need to learn the correct posture and technique.
Your teacher can also help you find the right piccolo books for you. Some popular ones include:
- Trevor Wye: Practice Book for the Piccolo
- Patricia Morris: Piccolo Study Book
- Nicola Mazzanti: The Mazzanti Method
If you’re looking to take piccolo lessons online, apply to join the Lesson Studio! I offer lessons on piccolo and flute among other instruments.
Keep up with flute
As you learn piccolo, make sure that you keep up with your flute playing. Even if you want to specialize in the piccolo, the flute is just as important to keep learning. The flute is the backbone of the flute family, after all.
Of course, switching between flute and piccolo can be tricky. However, it’s an essential skill, especially if you want to play both instruments for the long term.
Do you want to learn piccolo? Are you confused about where to start? Download my Ultimate Guide to Learning Flute Online! (Yes, you can apply the info to the piccolo, too.)