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My boy wants to play the flute
By LoriCook
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 07:45 PM

My 11 year old boy has always marched to his own drummer so to speak. He has been getting teased a bit at school about being "a girl" and some of the kids have called him gay. It isn't all out bullying but the teasing irritates him. He has been complaining that no one in his class wants to be his friend but he is outgoing and makes friends in other classes easily.
Today he came home and said he has signed up for orchestra next year in middle school and chose the flute. I explained to him that girls usually play the flute and he will probably be teased about it. He just sort of shrugged it off. I tried to encourage him to think about a different instrument instead but he pretty much has his mind made up.
I know I should just say "whatever makes you happy" but I am really afraid of the teasing that is going to occur in middle school and how it might effect this happy-go-lucky kid.
Anyone have any similar stories or advice?

66 Replies to My boy wants to play the flute

Comment #8996774 deleted
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re: My boy wants to play the flute
By MuffinHeadmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:03 PM
If he doesn't care, why should you?

The flute is a *hard* instrument to play. I can't even get it to make a noise other than sounding like I'm blowing on a water jug. Props to him for not picking an easy instrument.

And where do you get that girls usually play the flute? I know plenty of guys who play flute. And I also know a ton of girls who play the drums, which many people think is a "boys" instrument.

Tell him just not to listen to what they other kids say. And if it really does bother him, he can reataliate with witty comments.

"You're gay."
"Hm... you seem very interested in the gay community... are you sure you aren't?"

"You're gay."
"Are you trying to ask me out? Because I like girls..."

Or maybe he is actually gay. It's entirely possible. A few of my good friends are gay... in middle school they always got picked on and denied it fervently. And then later on in high school they found themselves and figured out they were actually gay.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By GrinsPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:05 PM
I understand that you don't want him to have to face ridicule but if he is happy, let him do it. You'll always be there for him to make sure he stays happy-go-lucky! And I know plenty of guys who have played the flute. Who knows? It may be a passing fad. What's most important is your support :)
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By Felsamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:06 PM
Edited by Felsa (169953) on 2010-04-29 20:08:27
Not much to add to what MuffinHead said but if it makes you feel better, when I was in grade 6, the best flute player in my class was a boy. All the other flute players (including me) were in love with him.

Turns out I hated playing it even though I was good at it and switched the saxaphone.

I say let him try it. If he does not care and he wants to try something new, I would let him.
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By CheesePlusCakemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:18 PM
Some of my guy friends play flute, as does my dad. My roommate (who's a girl) played trombone, which is a "boys" instrument. I don't think it matters as long as it's what he wants to play!
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 2)
By celestia836
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:22 PM
My dad is a band director at an all-boy's high school, and I have to say that I have always admired his flute students. They're usually very, very good because they're very dedicated to their music--I guess it comes along with playing a 'girly' musical instrument in a very masculine setting--and their classmates seem to respect them, too. One of the best flute players when I was in high school was also one of the stars of the boy's basketball team.

Let him play what he wants; he seems to be aware of the risks, and if he's taken them into consideration, then allow him to make his own decision. Also, make it clear that you support him in his choice so that he does have someone he feels he can turn to if he's overwhelmed by obnoxious classmates.

Middle school is difficult for everyone. I'm sure we all had troubles at that age--it's such an awkward time, and some kids can be really cruel to others in an attempt to figure out boundaries and ignore their own insecurities. Make sure your son is aware of this, and help him to understand that while his classmates may feel the need to conform to strict unwritten social mores, his ability to 'march to his own drummer' in the face of all that is highly admirable and demonstrative of his maturity and self-esteem. Good luck, and if you want me to talk to my parents (my mom is a middle school band director) for personal anecdotes, just PM me! :)
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By QueensJennmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:48 PM
Edited by QueensJenn (146956) on 2010-04-29 20:49:37
I play flute (well, I used to, I haven't played in awhile) it *is* a hard instrument. When I was in concert band, our best flautist was a guy. His name was Dave, if I recall correctly. And he wasn't gay.

Heck, just look at any professional orchestra, I bet you'll find tons of male flautists. Look at James Galway! He's a flute god, and he's not gay (is he? I don't think he is...)

Edit: forgot to say: Michael Flatley also plays flute. Definitely not gay.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By hylndlasmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 08:49 PM
Edited by hylndlas (107168) on 2010-04-29 20:52:38 .
Let him do it. :)

One of the best flute players I have known was a male.
He even beat me for 1st chair. So there you go.

And if other kids make fun of him for it that's just pathetic.
There is no "law" saying you must be a girl to play flute.

And besides...think of all the cool chicks he wil meet! lol :D I think it's awesome he wants to play! Flutes RULE!!
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By DeStijlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 09:38 PM
I agree with Muffin. He doesn't care, why should you?

The notion that girls usually play the flute isn't true, anyway. I study at a performing arts academy. In the classical department, there is handful of amazing male flute players. They have lovely girlfriends, too. ;)

A child wanting to pursue a creative talent like playing in an orchestra should always be encouraged as far as I'm concerned, whether its a girl wanting to play the tuba, a boy wanting to dance ballet. Think beyond these schoolyard days. He could be talented, and it could bring him worlds full of opportunity and joy.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 09:38 PM
The days of "sexing" instruments has long since past, but once it was sort of true. Few girls played trombone for instance when I was a boy. I continued to play the violin despite my mother's desire that I join the band because the severity of my orthodontia case precluded all brass and wind instruments EXCEPT for the flute. In 1952, few boys took up the flute and most flute players in youth or school bands were girls. We now realize this is utterly silly.

Now I am a concert violinist, I play in top notch symphonies, only one step down from the full time professional orchestras. We have several male flute players in the five orchestras in which I regularly play, two of them principal players.

Time was, when I started playing the violin, that I got teased about playing a "girls" instrument or for being a sissy. One kid teased me so much about it that I decided to end that taunting for once and for all. This poor unfortunate apparently did not know or forgot that I was also the starting fullback and linebacker on the school football team and when he pushed me too far once, I beat the living s**t out of him. I never heard a word about the violin after that from anyone.

Either gender, male, female, gay, straight, white, asian, black, hispanic can play ANY instrument he or she chooses. In my orchestras we have every one of these and they are scattered among ALL the instruments. We've had a male harpist, male flute players, female tuba players, a Hindu violinist a Muslim violist, atheist bassoonists and every one of my orchestra is diverse by gender, orientation, religion and ethnic background.
The only things that counts for our groups are skill and dedication.

Many of the leading solo flute players today on the international scene are male...Sir James Galway, Emmanuel Pahud to name just two. It was only 50 or so years ago that the Boston Symphony Orchestra (when that group and many other symphonies were "boy's clubs") made headline news when Doriot Anthony Dwyer was appointed the first female principal flute player of any of the major "Big Five" US Orchestras. So it comes around and goes around. Today almost every pro orchestra now auditions candidates in the "blind" e.g. behind a screen so that the audition panel cannot tell what gender the player is. They even tell auditioners to wear something like running shoes so that the click of high heels won't give them away. Here on DDN, three very active members PM'd me to tell me that they (all girls) played Tuba/and or Sousaphone, instruments seldom played by girls when I was a kid nearly 60 years ago.

Gender typing in musical instrument selection is, as it should be, DEAD, DEAD, DEAD. This should be true not only at my level, but right down to Suzuki violin players of ages four and five and wind and brass player (who usually start a bit older because of the required lung capacity.)

My groups don't need female flute players or male flute players, they need GOOD flute players and that is true for all the instruments.

re: My boy wants to play the flute
By seacaptain
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:05 PM
^ i was going to mention James Galway, also Paddy Maloney is an excellent flute player, though he plays trad irish music rather than classical.

I think it is like dance- those who don't do it call it girly, but those who know anything about it understand that it takes real skill and strength etc and some of the coolest men do it.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By panicmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:20 PM
I've taught high school bands all around the country, and I assure you that the kid WILL be teased for playing the flute. It's stupid, and it's not right, but it will happen. So I think you're right to be concerned.

That said, I don't really think you have a choice. The kid has shown an interest in playing an instrument, and you def don't want to screw that up. You've already explained to him that he'll probably get teased about it. I think the only thing to do is support him in his decision, and keep your fingers crossed.

Personal note... I was in the dance program at a redneck agricultural high school. Did that cause problems for me? You bet. But it was one of the very few things I actually enjoyed about school. Plus, my parents were very supportive, and even 20 years later, they still get major brownie points for that.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By SaraTheGrouchmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:06 AM
I can understand your concern. Honestly, if it really bothers you that much, you're still the mom and he's still the kid. You can give him a whole list of reasons why he can't play the flute, but can play another instrument. Expense, mobility, breakability/replaceability, practicality, scholarships, etc etc etc.
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By LoriCook
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:08 AM
Thank you for all of the thoughtful replies. I totally understand that instruments (or anything really) shouldn't be gender specific. I wish it wasn't so. My older son is going to be a nurse and thankfully times have changed enough that he isn't getting any flack about that choice.

I am totally ok with the possibility my boy could be gay...or straight, I just hate the idea of kids picking on him and taking away the positive feelings he has about himself. I am not sure how to help him stand up to kids who will tease him and I am not sure he understands what he is in for. (It really didn't even occur to him that boys generally don't play the flute.) Panic, how did you cope when kids teased you about dancing? What did your parents do or say that was helpful?

I am going to go ahead and let him play what he wants. It's possible he will change his mind, it is possible he will be very good at it and encourage other boys. It is possible he will decide football is more fun. Hard to tell with this kid!
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 02:15 AM
Give him coping skills, mom! It is smart to let him know that he will likely be teased. Go the next step and tell him what to do when it happens. And give him plenty of guidance on believing in himself, being confident in his choices, support, support, support, have him google every male flute player, make sure he is involved socially with his bandmates. Make sure he understands the difference between teasing and bullying. Make sure he communicates with you. Show him how to have a sense of humor and a sense of ease about being different. Kids will pick up on that the most and when they see he is ok with it then they likely will too. And if not, then it is up to you to show him how to let the comments roll off his back. This will be a formative experience in his life and you can help him to make it a positive one, or at least less painful.
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By ShadowLunaCatPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 02:42 AM
Edited by ShadowLunaCat (106208) on 2010-04-30 02:51:16 Found some more.
When I think of what you're saying.. well, not only do I think of James Galway, I also think of Jean Pierre RAmpal...

but I ALSO think about.. * heeheheheheheheehehehheeeeee :] :]


And you know how HE rocks!!

Image hotlink - ''

Image hotlink - ''

Image hotlink - ''

Tull Videos: . . .

Jethro Tull - Aqualung (Live) . . .

Jethro Tull - Witches Promise, 1970 - The Minstrel Looks Back 2DVD

Jethro Tull: Ian Anderson 's Flute Solo (07/31/1976) . . .

Herbie Mann

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Image hotlink - ''

Image hotlink - ''

Herbie Mann, St Germain Acid Jazz , so flute . . .

Keep The Spirits Singing - Herbie Mann (Jasil Brazz - 1990) . . .

celtic flute music . . .

re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By AllemandePremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 07:48 AM
I play the flute myself and totally agree with people saying that it is a difficult instrument to play.

My brother is in a high school band. I don't remember exactly how many flutists there are but I do believe that a good 40 - 50% are male.

Personally, when I was still in high school and playing with the band, I had to do a duet with one of the flutists from band (I wasn't in band, just thrown in there because I could play) and he was a guy. He was also one of the best flutists I've ever met.

Have you considered private lessons? They'll give him a little bit of a head start and if he progresses enough by the time school starts, it'll be more of a "wow, he's good!" rather than "what is that boy doing on the flute?"
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 08:01 AM
I think you should let him do it. Yes, more girls than guys play the flute...but so? He may get teased, and he may not...but if he enjoys playing, then why stop him? I feel that this is especially true because in middle school everyone gets teased for something.

By the way, I played flute for 6 years, and in middle school, one of the best flautists was a guy. There were 3 of us who rotated between seats 1 and 3, and he was one of them. Nobody thought twice about this guy playing flute. He obviously really liked it, and he was good, and that was all that mattered.
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 08:34 AM
I'd be much less worried about him getting teased--hell, everyone gets teased in school, my Children Psych books says that for the most part, in the middle childhood years, teasing is less about ill intention and more about establishing conflict-resolution skills and creating a dominance hierarchy--and more worried about teaching him strict gender roles. "You're a boy so you can't play the flute" is probably going to be the way he takes it, even if that's far from what you want to convey.

Let him play the flute and encourage him appropriately. If he shows self-motivated want to change instruments, have a day-trip to the instrument store and have him look at and consider as much as possible.
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 09:34 AM
Edited by LlamaLlamaDuck (113868) on 2010-04-30 09:39:18
I don't know if he has seen this video . . .

He's definately no girlie man!

And of course my new found fave. . . .
re: My boy wants to play the flute
By kandykanePremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:15 AM
Let the boy play the flute. He seems quite capable of handling any teasing he gets. Just support him, no matter what. Whether he keeps playing, gets teased, or decides to switch instruments.

Junior high (and high school, too) is a tough time no matter what you do. You have an older boy, you should already know this. Personally, I can't wait for the time when both my kids are out of high school. Just a few more weeks!

Give him coping skills as T states, but also bullying should be taken up with the school office as well. Don't take that crap from kids and their equally bullying or bully enabling parents. There should be consequences.

re: My boy wants to play the flute
By irishdancer113member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:36 AM
Honestly, I think him taking up flute (or any instrument, really) is one of the best things he can do to find a great group of friends in middle school.

Middle school is one of those ages where everyone is insecure, and people are going to pick on anyone who is different. By joining the orchestra, he's guaranteeing that at least part of his day will be spent with people who have something in common with him. These people will KNOW how much effort it takes to play an instrument, since they've experienced it firsthand. Consequently the kids will already have a sense of respect for one another. It's a great foundation for a solid group of friends.

I joined orchestra in middle school, and it was the best thing I've ever done. I was a weird kid, and I always marched to the beat of my own drum. I never quite fit in with the general crowd, but in the orchestra, I met a bunch of people, and even though we were all insecure little middle schoolers, we gave each other a chance, because we already had common ground.

Is he going to be teased by the "in-crowd"? Probably. I know I always was. And while it was irritating, it never really got me down, since I knew I could always go to orchestra practice and have an awesome time with people I actually liked. I'm sure you're going to teach him coping skills for the teasing, but in addition to those, the orchestra will likely be a backup comfort zone.

Kudos to your son for being comfortable enough with himself to take up an instrument that's so uncommon for a guy to play! And kudos to you for raising such a secure and confident kid :)
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 1)
By Shortgirl75member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:46 PM
I agree with letting him play. And I am also sending you a hug because I know lots of kids who march to their own drummer who take a lot of crap from other kids.

Does he do anything physical also? I have friends, who are different from the normal group who also participate in karate, boxing, kick-boxing...anything martial arts. Lots of self-control, great physical activity and also the surprise element that they can hold their own if put to the test. Obviously violence is never an answer. But self defense is a right.

Again, I feel for you, mom. Hope it goes alright!
re: My boy wants to play the flute (karma: 2)
By MuffinHeadmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 30, 2010 02:38 PM
Honestly, if it's teasing you're worried about... it's going to happen no matter what he does.

He'll be teased for playing the flute.
For being a band geek.
For being good at math.
For being bad at math.
For wearing a pair of shoes somebody doesn't like.
For being friends with so-and-so.

No matter what you do... every kid gets teased. Playing the flute won't make it better or worse. Let him do what he wants to do and who gives a dog crap about anyone else?
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