If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Piccolo: Interview and demonstration with Nadine Asin

Created by All Star Orchestra.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

(classical music and with piccolo solo) I'm a flutist but I also play the piccolo. And the flute has a range from (plays lowest note) to (plays highest note) Whereas the piccolo has a range from (plays lowest note) (plays highest note). So as you can hear, the piccolo is much higher than the flute. The flute and the piccolo are kind of sisters or maybe they're brothers. They're in the same family, they're related. And the flute obviously, it's much larger and longer, and that's why it is a lower instrument and we play notes by adding or subtracting, lifting our fingers, and that's what changes the length of the tube inside. And the same for the piccolo- I add, I put my fingers down or I lift my fingers up to change the length of the tube and therefore change the notes. So as I add my fingers, (plays descending scale) (plays ascending scale). As I'm pressing down on the keys and we're closing the keys, I'm making a longer tube inside and lowering the notes. I do use wind, but I don't use a reed, I use my lips. I create the same kind of compression that a reed creates for a reed instrument like the oboe or the bassoon or the clarinet, I do that with my embouchure. My lips form the embouchure and I create a tube of air inside my throat from my lungs, through my neck, through my mouth, comes out into the flute (plays scale). And the same applies to the piccolo. Although, because the piccolo is so much smaller, everything is kind of in miniature on the piccolo. So I have a embouchure on the piccolo. You can see the difference in where I blow on the flute and the piccolo. On the flute I have an entire lip plate, on the piccolo, which as you can see is made out of wood, so it truly is a woodwind, I don't have that. So I use my lips to find the position for my embouchure (plays notes). (classical music with piccolo solo) Piccolo is used primarily as an orchestral instrument, you won't necessarily go to a piccolo recital. Playing the piccolo in the orchestra, you'll also play the flute as a member of the flute section. However if you're playing chamber music, you'll primarily be playing flute, if you're playing a solo recital, you'll be playing flute. To me, the flute is a very lyrical instrument, and often in orchestra, we play along with the violins. And we kind of float on top the orchestra or we float on top of the wind section, so we have kind of a- and the fact that our instrument is either made of silver or gold, we've got this real shimmery quality that allows us to kind of create this sheen in the sound of the orchestra. And the piccolo is kind of the icing on the cake because it's so much higher than the other instruments that as a piccolo player you have to be very careful not to overpower the sound of the other winds, you have to blend, you have to be a blender to play the piccolo. It's small, but it's powerful, so you have to really think about your role. Is the line that you're playing a supporting line? Are you playing along with other instruments or is it a solo? If it's a solo then you can kind of step into the spotlight. But if it's a supporting role, then you do best to really just kind of cool it and wait and just blend with your colleagues. (classical music with flute and piccolo solos) I started playing the flute because my best girl friend in elementary school had a piano in her house, and I every time I went to visit my friend Linda, I would make a bee line for the piano, I was just totally entranced with this piano. And so when they offered in my public school, a program for wind instruments, I asked my parents if I could play a wind instrument, and I was just about to get my braces. So we went to my orthodontist, "How 'bout the flute?" He said. And thus my fate was sealed, and my parents bought me an instrument and they got me a teacher and at my first lesson, we played "O Sole Mio" as a duet and when I heard her sound, she was a high school student and I was ten or eleven, when I heard her sound, I thought that's it, I've fallen in love. And from there on in I played all the time, I joined orchestras and I went to music camp and I was a real music nerd. (classical music with piccolo solo) I would say for wind players, the kind of sweet spot is ten to twelve, and after that, you don't want to lose too much time. So ten to twelve, is really that's when you have to really start thinking about it. Doesn't mean you're gonna grow up to be a flute player because you don't know, but yeah if you're at all intrigued by the sound of the instrument or the personality, give it a try because it's great stuff. (classical music with piccolo solo)