Here below I like to present some ideas about how to use the Thumpy in music education for both the beginners and advanced flutists:
In both cases, Thumpy can be used to learn to play a flute sound without tension and with enjoyment, promising an optimum base for the rest of ones (flute) life. Finally, the flute sound is not an obligation, but a natural phenomena to fully enjoy!
1/ Thumpy for Beginners
The time you take to work with Thumpy for each 'class', may greatly vary up to your specific teaching situation and the time available. The goal is:
- to playfully develop a flexible embouchure and a stable tone, without the usual stress of holding the flute and placing the fingers.
- to develop a musical sense and awareness, where each flute sound is not specifically related to a note name, but just a sound in the air.
- to develop rhythmical qualities, both in individual as well as in group playing.
- to determine a child's talent and interest for the flute, without having to invest in an expensive flute.
- to first develop a flexible embouchure and stable flute sound, before switching to the Böhm-flute.
Class 1: Wind Sounds
Use the first lesson to make just wind tones in all kinds of forms and with various rhythms. Teach the students how to hold the Thumpy (logo to the right). Do different 'game-styles' pieces just with wind tones. Let them feel the joy of blowing, especially in group, by imitation, interlocking, playing rhythms, short and long wind-tones, include the T-tonguing attack, make a wind-story… Next, teach them percussive sounds and rhythms (hitting one end of the Thumpy flute with the hand-palm) and combine wind and percussive sounds into one piece.
Class 2: Flute Sound
In a next step, you want to teach to create a first flute sound. You can do preparing exercises, like blowing the candle flame (make it move without extinguishing the flame). Use the Thumpy to imagine the candle. Also use the hand to feel the air-stream. As alternative, use a long, narrow paper, which they hold on the nose, while blowing softly with the intention to keep it up in the air quietly (without waving or flapping of the paper!). Next they should try to blow the Thumpy in a similar way. Some will immediately produce a flute sound, while others may need a bit more time. They may help each other by comparing and observing each other. When dividing the group in two, you can conduct imitation-exercises and exchanging first wind tones and later flute sounds. At this stage, always use Thumpy with simply both endings open.
Class 3: Bird Songs
A next step would be to imitate bird sounds, for which you can study some of these 16 bird sounds sample. But first, teach them how to hold the Thumpy, how to easily close the endings with the thumbs, and about the split note-head and the open/closed combinations. Most birds use flute-like sounds, but for some you have to speak or sing into the embouchure-hole (like the Barn Owl or the Long-Ear Owl). Be sure to motivate them to use the requested articulation (tu-tu-tu or ta-taaa, etc.). Students can invent their own animal sound.
Class 5: Duo and Ensemble
This step can also be integrated in some of the other steps. But it is good to make some space to play some duo or/and ensemble pieces. Again, one can here use the Thumpy Book, or write your own pieces.
Class 6: Make your own Piece
In a final stage, you can invite students to make and compose their own piece. They can either use the notation system as proposed in the Thumpy Book (with the split note-head), but also invent their own system, like a graphical notation or an image story. Let them give the piece a title! It would be also great to memorize one or more pieces, and possibly to include some movement as well.
Ready for the Böhm Flute!
At this stage, with a wider sound understanding and flexible and relaxed embouchure, the student is ready to try the 'big' flute! I hope my thoughts may be of some good use for your teaching. Feel free to contact with me if you have any remarks or thoughts to share by using the contact page. Especially in these times where kids go 'digital' pretty early, it is my dearest wish, that we can attract them to enjoy analogue actions like blowing and creating sound from their own breath. Here the flute teacher has an important job to do, while also the possibility to attract new potential flute students.
2/ Advanced Flute Students
The Thumpy flute can be great fun for an advanced flutist, as a challenging flute as well as a study instrument. It brings you back to the essential elements of playing the flute: the blowing and the sound. Because the Thumpy demands more activity of the embouchure, it is great to further develop the flexibility of the embouchure. Thumpy is telling you: don't play with your fingers, but play with your breath. Here below some samples and ideas.
The Thumpy Book certainly has some exciting challenges for the advanced player. Very useful studies are the pitch bending studies to roll or turn the Thumpy flute (#38-41), the wind tones (#45-46) and the advanced pieces (#71-75). All these are really good for the flexibility of the embouchure. Another thing you can do is to make your own piece for Thumpy flute.
Study Whisper Tones
Studying whisper tones has great benefits for the flexibility of embouchure and tone in general. The Thumpy flute is a great flute for whisper tones studies, especially when you are travelling. For more information on the whisper tone see: www.forthecontemporaryflutist.com or my book 'For the Contemporary Flutist'.
Study Circular Breathing
The circular breathing is a breath-technique that not so many flutists study. At the same time, it is such a great technique, which simultaneously develops the embouchure and breathing in an incredible way! With Thumpy you have a flute, which you can grap immediately and at any moment. In this way you can often do a short study of circular breathing while keeping your flute safely in the box. For more information on circular breathing see: www.forthecontemporaryflutist.com oder in mein Buch 'For the Contemporary Flutist'.
There are some wonderful samples of beatboxing on the Thumpy flute. Click the image below to start the video by Guillermo Thomson. Next, you should try it yourself!
Take Thumpy Outside
Since Thumpy is a most durable instrument - in contrast to the delicate flute - it is very easy to take with you when you go travelling or when you visit a park, a forest or other natural spot. And it sounds great outside!