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Famous Flute Players Who Play Different Musical Genres 

 May 16, 2022

By  Zen Chung

The flute has certainly been around for a long time. As a solo classical instrument, it has been present in many orchestras and concertos. Among other musical instruments, it has been around the longest, dating to the stone age. In this day and age, there are very many famous flute players in the World, and we have compiled them below.

How Has The Flute Evolved?

Some of the very first flutes were made from the femur bone of a bear. They had two damaged holes on the side. Other bones have been found to have two precisely-placed holes on the side. At different points in history, the flute evolved in different points all over the World. Proof of the flute has been found in China, Israel, Greece, India, and Egypt.

At the start of the 19th century, flutes appeared all over Western Europe. As opposed to their earlier ancestors, flutes were much more advanced at this point. However, they were still made of bone. Additionally, they resembled a more modern type of recorder and started to gain widespread acclaim in the 16th century.

Since the 16th century, the advancements made to flutes and other musical instruments have grown exponentially. Through the 19th and 20th century, the modifications made to flute technology was limited. However, there were still some modifications. Modern flutes are now made of precious metals with a complex key mechanism capable of 3 octaves to play amazing flute music.

Famous Flute Players

1) Jeanne Baxtresser

Jeanne Baxtresser is a talented orchestral musician. She was the solo flutist in the New York philharmonic. Additionally, before the philharmonic, she was also appointed the principal flute position of the Toronto symphony orchestra. At age 14, she also debuted with the Minnesota orchestra.

Jeanne Baxtresser is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for lasting contributions to the flute world from the National Flute Association. Jeanne is well-recognized globally as a lecturer, author, and leading recording artist. In addition, she is among the most famous flutists in the World.

Since she is an accomplished flutist, she is in very high demand as a teacher. All the students she coaches are outstanding flutists who go on to achieve great things. Furthermore, she has composed a book that many other teachers use to teach student flutists.

2) James Galway

James Galway is among the most famous flute players in the World. His successful career has set a precedent for newbie flute players to follow. James Galway has been fondly nicknamed "The Man With The Golden Flute" because his personal flute is made of gold. Additionally, he received the Brit Award for outstanding contribution to music.

James Galway still continues to tour successfully and has sold over 30-million albums of his various works. Furthermore, James Galway has performed alongside many famous flute players and musical artists in the World. He has also performed in front of many world leaders and dignitaries because of his well-established career as a solo flute player.

This talented flutist has also played in the London symphony orchestra, Berlin philharmonic orchestra, as well as the Royal philharmonic orchestra. He truly remains one of this century's greatest flutists with his remarkable technique and wide range. Even with a busy schedule, he still creates the time to teach master classes, and you can find his program online.

3) Katie Althen

Katie Althen is a chamber musician as well as an orchestral musician. She has played alongside her personal flute hero, James Galway. She has also performed at the Boston opera house, among many other halls. She has a passion for classical music and strives to make it accessible to everyone who wants to learn.

Apart from being a gifted musician, Katie Althen also has a passion for giving back to the community. Among her notable actions is working closely with several outreach projects. She also arranges free concerts for students and assisted-living faculties. Lastly, she also acts as a mentor to other young musicians who wish to be as talented as she is.

4) Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson is multi-talented in playing various instruments. Ian Anderson plays multiple genres of music outside classical music. Thanks to his remarkable skill and how he handles the flute, he has revealed the versatile nature of the flute. Apart from being an amazing flutist, he is also a singer and songwriter.

Ian Anderson is best known for his work in the British rock band Jethro Tull as the lead vocalist and flute player. Apart from that, his solo career includes many studios and live albums. Because he uniquely plays other genres of music, he is considered one of the best flutists in the World in that category.

5) Emmanuel Pahud

Widely known as being a great flutist, Emmanuel Pahud is also known for classics, baroque music and jazz in the flute repertoire. He was also the youngest to be appointed as a principal flute player in the Berlin philharmonic orchestra. For his role in music, he earned the prestigious Chevalier dansl’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award.

Also recognized as the "man with the golden flute," Pahud currently plays a 14k flute that he bought with money from winning in competitions. With a remarkable work ethic, Pahud plays 90 solo or chamber music, 160 concerts, and 75 orchestral music concerts every single year. This is more than most musicians.

In his musical career currently, Pahud is dedicated to commissioning new work. He also loves consuming new music. He is, however, still a lover of old music. Despite being multi-talented, Pahud doesn't hail from a musical family.

6) Barbara Ann Humphrey

Barbara "Bobbi" Humphrey is one of the only female urban pop flutists in the World. She performed at the Dallas symphony orchestra in first grade. Bobbi went on to shape the way flute jazz music has evolved through the years. She has carefully but surely used the flute to shape jazz music, and she remains a pioneer to this day.

As a solo artist, she has 12 albums under her belt, as well as collaborations with other important musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Lee Morgan. Furthermore, she has multiple awards and accolades under her belt, including best female vocalist and key to New Orleans. In addition, her performances have gathered wide acclaim worldwide.

7) Jasmine Choi

Another 14k golden flute player is Jasmine Choi. Her flute was handmade by David Straubinger. She is also the dedicatee of "winter jasmine," a work by flutist Gary Schocker. Jasmine is known for her excellent musicianship and adventurous projects. Additionally, she has performed many genres of music, including classic solo, chamber, orchestral, experimental, and jazz music.

She was also the principal flute player of the Vienna Symphony, soloist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Czech philharmonic, Berlin symphony and the Salzburg Mozart players, among many others. In addition, she has premiered in over 10 flute concertos written specifically for her and is one of this century's most famous flute players.

8) Yusef Lateef

As a Grammy-winning composer, Yusef was a major force in the musical world. He also remains one of the innovators in the African American tradition of auto physio psychic music. This type of music has been defined as that which comes from one’s spiritual, physical and emotional self. Yusef was a master of more than nine instruments.

He spent the better part of his life incorporating music and tones of other countries into his music. He is therefore considered a pioneer in "world music." Apart from that, he also composed multiple catalogs for symphony and chamber orchestras. In addition, he also composed for different stage bands, small ensembles, vocalists, and choruses.

9) Matt Moloy

By the age of 18, Matt had already won the all Ireland flute championship. By this time, he also had multiple accomplishments, such as the National Fleadh Cheoil and Oireachtas. Shortly after this, he formed a band called the Bothy Band. In his impressive career, he also teamed up with other influential artists over the course of his career.

Additionally, he has also teamed up with the Irish chamber orchestra and is a well-respected flute player. Among other instruments, he also plays the tin whistle. Furthermore, he hails from a strong musical heritage as he grew up in a town known for flute playing and a musical family.

10) Valerie Coleman

As a music teacher and professor at the University of Miami, Valerie Coleman is a talented musician who has composed a lot of music. Among all her work, her most famous piece is Danza de la Mariposa. Additionally, she also helped to come up with the wind quintet Imani winds. She has also been a Grammy award nominee.

As a renowned chamber musician, Valerie Coleman has performed all over Europe and North America. Additionally, she has held flute classes and chamber music masterclasses at multiple institutions in 49 states and more than five continents in the World.

How To Select The Best Flute For Beginners

Flute music is beautiful. If you took an interest in flute music, then you need beginner lessons and a beginner flute. As you progress, so will your flute. With practice and lots of more practice, you will become a good flutist in no time. If you happen to have a passion for it, then you will no doubt have an impressive career.

Let's look at a few tricks on how to select a good flute.

a) A Good Brand

We see brands everywhere and for everything. Of course, the same will apply in the field of music. A flute from a renowned brand will definitely give you a good quality flute. The reason you want a good flute is so that it doesn't stop working in six months. Additionally, go for flute brands that have been around for a while.

You can be sure that they have stayed in business because of the quality of flute they produce. Additionally, you don't want your flute going obsolete after a few uses. Therefore investing in a good beginner flute will give you the courage to keep trying flute music. Remember to practice often.

b) Stand By Traditional Specs

Traditional specifications will give you a higher resale value. There are a ton of specifications on different flutes. From trill keys and B foot joints to open holes and E mechanisms, you require a set of specifications that will be easier to play. Such specifications also make it easier to progress on to the next stage of playing.

For a beginner flute, we would recommend a silver-plated flute. It should also have a split E, or E mechanism, with closed holes and an E foot joint. This way, you will have an easier time playing the flute. Additionally, as we have mentioned, you will be able to sell it at a higher price than you originally bought it.

c) Think Of The Future

A good flute is not cheap. If it is cheap, then it might give up after a few uses. When investing in a flute as a beginner, buy one that will allow you to switch up seamlessly. What do we mean? There are flutes that have a replaceable head once you finish beginner classes and proceed to the next stage.

However, this is a feature that is only available on certain beginner flute types. We recommend you purchase such types, especially if you want to play the flute seriously. Furthermore, it is cheaper to buy a good flute with a replaceable head. The next time, you can buy the head, which is significantly cheaper than purchasing a new flute.

d) The Right Size

We have to stress on how important the right size of a flute is important. Especially when it comes to beginners, it is important to note that all flutes come in the same size. Therefore, you should strive to find curved headjoints, which make the flute easier to play. In addition, the head joint ensure the flutist doesn't get any neck pain from overstretching.

However, headjoints are significantly more expensive compared to a normal flute. But it will eliminate any poor posture you might achieve. Correcting poor posture is significantly difficult because of the time it takes. For very young players aged 5 to 7, there are apprentice flutes designed specifically for them.

e) Don't Go For Cheap Flutes

Any flute with a cheap price tag is going to fail. Almost immediately, they diminish the quality of music. Furthermore, most of them are difficult to play, even for experienced flutists. Very cheap flutes can discourage you from playing when the problem lies in the flute and not yourself.

Furthermore, supermarkets, online stores, and other retail shops sell flutes that they make. So it should go without saying to avoid such flutes. They are a major waste of time and money. While a decent flute might cost more, keep in mind that they are made and designed by people who play the flute.

f) Buy Beginner Flutes Only

You can be tempted to buy advanced flutes. However, while it may come from a musical passion, if you are a beginner, stick to a beginner instrument. This is because you still don't have a good grasp of flute music to play an advanced flute. In addition, advanced flutes are heavy and difficult to play. Therefore a beginner playing such a flute will struggle.

Beginner flutes are designed to handle some abuse without being damaged. Knocks and bumps here and there are normal, and beginner flutes are designed for such. They are also made easy to play for any beginner student, and they are super lightweight.

g) Research

Buying a flute without conducting research is not going to be pretty. This is because knowing the type of flute to buy is important. Additionally, knowing the qualities, it should possess is very important. Furthermore, if you have a flute teacher, it would also serve you well to include them in the buying process. What they think is important.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

i) Will I Have To Clean My Flute?

Yes. Cleaning and maintenance are very important for your flute to last long and sound good. When purchasing a flute, you should also purchase a cleaning kit.

ii) How Long Will It Take To Play Flute Well?

Generally, it takes at least two years to have the ability to cover the basics perfectly. This is two years of consistency as well. It also depends on your classes and how often you practice.

iii) Can I Learn Flute By Myself?

It hinges on what kind of experience you have with music. If you are experienced in music, you can definitely learn it on your own. However, as a beginner, you might have to get professional classes.

iv) How Long Should I Practice Flute?

That all depends on you and how many hours you are willing to put into playing the flute. However, 1-4 hours every day should be adequate if you are to amount to a good flutist.

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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