Do you find yourself or your students getting bored of playing flute? You may want to play pop music along with classical.
Pop music can be a great way to expand your skills. Keep reading to learn why you should give it a chance.
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Diversify Your Repertoire
One of the best reasons to play pop music on your flute is to expand your repertoire past the classical tradition. There’s a lot of great pop music, and it’s as varied of a genre as classical music.
That means whether you like artists like Taylor Swift or Fall Out Boy, you can find some songs that you want to play. And if you’re a teacher, you can also find plenty of songs your students will love.
As much as I enjoy playing classical music, playing pop has given me more freedom to be creative and express myself. It’s also kept me interested in practicing, and I know the same can happen for others.
Keep Music Lessons Fun
If you struggle to keep students interested, consider switching up what you teach in lessons. Maybe you only ever teach the classical standards, like the Mozart concertos and Bach sonatas.
Those are important pieces, and you should teach them when you can. But if your students are getting bored, don’t force it. Instead, ask your students if they’d like to learn some of the latest pop hits.
I don’t know about you or about kids today, but I grew up listening to pop WAY more than classical. So it can be more interesting for your students to learn songs they already hear all of the time.
Attract New Audiences
Maybe you’re more of a performer, and you’re struggling to get gigs or fill seats at your own recitals. The problem could have something to do with the music you can (or can’t) play.
Pop music is a lot more accessible to audiences, so more people know it. That can make it a great way to get people in the door. The local flute choir that I play in has a couple of popular tunes on each concert for this purpose.
You can round out your program with classical repertoire if you’d like. But if you only play obscure pieces, you’ll struggle to build an audience. Meanwhile, if you play well-known tunes, marketing yourself could become a lot easier.
Focus on Tone
One of my favorite reasons to play pop music is that a lot of it makes for great tone exercises. Pop music isn’t as note-heavy or technically challenging as classical music.
But that doesn’t mean you can slack on it. I like to work on my tone when playing certain pop songs. One of my favorites is the descending scale from Selena Gomez’s “A Sweeter Place.”
While it’s not a full scale, it’s close. The melody has other great excerpts that you can take out of context to work on your flute sound.
Make Up Tone Exercises
You can find a lot of pop songs with beautiful melodies to convert into tone exercises. Take some of the more lyrical parts and turn them into your own tone exercises on the flute.
I like to transpose melodic excerpts and play them up and down the whole range of the flute. A good example of this is the vocalise part near the end of the Descendants 3 song “Night Falls.”
It’s in concert Eb minor, but you can play it in all 12 minor keys. Not only can that help you with your tone, but you can also flex your transposition muscles.
Experiment With Extended Techniques
When you play pop music, you can find songs that give you a chance to learn and master extended techniques. “Night Falls” is another great example for this purpose.
During the part of the song when everyone is rapping, I like to work on my beatboxing flute skills. You can say things like “boots” and “cats” into your flute.
Look for different pop songs that use various techniques. Start to play along and apply those techniques to your flute playing. Then, when you go back to playing classical music, you can use your newfound skills.
Work on Your Aural Skills
In music school, ear training was definitely my worst subject. But since I started to play pop music, my ear has gotten better. I’ve been able to learn quite a few songs just by listening over and over.
I’m still very much working on this skill as there are some songs I struggle to play by ear. But it gets easier with practice, just like anything in music.
If you’re looking to improve your aural skills, pop music is the way to do it. As mentioned, pop melodies aren’t that complicated, so it can be a bit easier to figure them out without the sheet music in front of you.
Start Arranging Pop Songs
Once you learn to play pop music, you can start to turn it into an extra income stream for your music business. I’ve started selling my pop arrangements through programs like ArrangeMe and the MusicNotes Marketplace.
They grant access to millions of copyrighted songs. So you can upload an arrangement of an approved song and make a bit of money for each sale. You’ll make 10%, which isn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing.
As someone who loves arranging and who likes having semi-passive income streams, arranging has been a great addition to my career. We all have different styles, so even if you start arranging, there’s room for all of us.
Can You Play Pop Music on the Flute?
You can play pop music on the flute. Arguably, it’s pretty easy on the C flute because you can read the vocal line of sheet music to your favorite pop songs.
If you have a good ear, you can also learn without using the sheet music. I like to do a little of both depending on the song I’m learning.
Where Can You Buy Pop Sheet Music?
You can purchase pop sheet music online from stores like Sheet Music Plus and Sheet Music Direct. These websites even let you support individual arrangers by purchasing their works.
Of course, other retailers, like Amazon, carry a few books of pop sheet music. Some flute shops also have a small selection of music.
MuseScore PRO+ is another great option if you want access to tons of sheet music for an affordable price. You can view official scores on the website and app.
How Do You Learn Pop Music by Ear?
You can learn pop music by ear by listening to a song over and over. I like to start with songs I already know to bypass that step.
But you’ll also want to choose singers with vocal ranges that are similar to the flute. I use my alto flute for a lot of this since many of my favorite singers have a mezzo-soprano voice, which is more similar to the alto flute range.
If you’re struggling to get students or paid performance gigs, you may want to play pop music on your flute. That way, you can expand your skills and repertoire.
Do you want to learn more about how to play pop songs on the flute? Download my free guide today!