Jen Cluff ~ Flute Levels Chart

Canadian Flutist and Teacher

  CHART of flute levels, grades and skills

Recently on Flutenet we've been discussing just how complex all the flutelevels and grades are to co-relate. With all of us coming from different countries, it can be confusing when making repertoire suggestions or flute brand name purchasing suggestions. It's even more confusing when you know just how large the "Intermediate flute student" category is. (three levels of 'intermediates' given below.)

So in an effort to try and amalgamate the different flute grading systems, I've written an article with mp3 samples attached (see my blog post on "What grade is Mozart Andante in C?" here.)

And below please find a sample of "flute playing levels" based on the National Flute Association's Repertoire Guide, with some extra words and ideas added by myself (a flute teacher).

And for those using the National Flute Association Repertoire guide system, A-J, here is a link to repertoire that fits that lettered grading system:

Jen Cluff

Note on pitch names used in chart
B0 is low B. The next note a semitone higher, low C, is called C1. Every octave has a number going upward from that low C. The numbering system changed between each B and C in each octave.

C1 is low C.
C2 is the index-finger C in the low register.
C3 is a two ledger line C.
C4 is extremely high C.

Flutenet Level 1. Beginner
Royal Conservatory Grade 1 Canada
Guildhall Grade 1 UK (see TopWind syllabus)

- Low G to A2 played easily
- Key signatures 1b, 1#, 2#s read easily
- 1/8th notes smallest rhythmic value
- 3/4, 2/4, 4/4 time signatures read easily
- legato, staccato rendered correctly
- learning fingerings, posture, breathing, embouchure, articulation

Example of solo: Has completed a method book such as 'Beginner Book of the Flute' vol. 1 & 2 by Trevor Wye or Karen Smithson 'Playing the Flute Vol. I'.

Etudes: 125 Easy Classical Studies for Flute arr: Vester; or "76 GradedStudies Vol. 1, either study no. 2, 5, 7-8 by Paul Harris.


Level 2. Beginner-Novice


Royal Conservatory Grade 2 Canada
ABRSM Grade 1 - Guildhall Grade 1-2 UK - Fluteworld Level ONE

- Low D to D3 (two ledger line D)
- Key signatures up to 3bs and 3#s read easily
- dotted rhythms and 1/16th notes played correctly
- 3/8 and 6/8 time signatures read correctly
- ability to clap-count-recognize basic rhythms
- sightreading and/or improvising done regularly

Example of solos: Grade 2: Minuet from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2 or Minuet from Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Gluck or Schubert's Moment Musicale from "40 Little Pieces" or Dick's SunShower orMendelssohn's Andante Espressivo or Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Defunte.
Example of Etudes: Gariboldi 'Thirty Easy and Progressive Studies' (these etudes are on CDsheetmusic for flute).

Level 3. Novice
Royal Conservatory Grade 3-4 Canada
ABRSM Grade 2 - Guildhall Grade 2-3 UK - Fluteworld Level ONE

- Low C to high G3 (high G)
- Key signatures firm at 3#s and 3bs (memorized scales begun)
- triplets, 1/32nd notes and more complex dotted rhythm figures
- 2/2 and 3/2 time signatures understood
- Dynamics f, p, mf; styles of articulation (smooth legato; detached staccato) being worked on for clear rendering

- recognition of major and minor keys and accidentals appropriate to minors.

- scales and arpeggios being memorized, several per week

- sight-reading or improvising done daily

Example of solos: Bouree or Rondo from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2 or Sonata in F Major by Vivaldi/ or Purcell's Air and Hornpipe or Neilsen's The Children are Playing or Reger's Romance or Hindemith's Echo.

Etudes: from 76 Graded Studies for Flute Vol. 1,  by Paul Harris: Nos. 31-40
Level 4. Novice

Royal Conservatory Grade 5 Canada
ABRSM Grade 3 - Guildhall Grade 3-4 UK - Fluteworld Level TWO

- Low C to high A3
- Key sigs: 4bs and 4#s
- sightreading seccure in rhythm/pulse
- syncopations, hemiola, triplets executed correctly.
- Time signatures: 5/8, 9/8, 7/8 and 12/8
- enharmonics/accidentals, dynamics, first extended techniques introduced
- Tone development worked on daily.
- Multiple tonguings (double, triple)
- ease with clear tone and dynamics on lowest 2 1/2 octaves of the flute
- increasing stamina and breath control

Example of solo: Bach Siciliano, Faure's 'Berceuse'.
Etudes: Gariboldi: '20 Studies op. 132'; Drouet's 25 Etudes Celebres nos. 1-10

Level 5. Intermediate
Royal Conservatory Grade 6-7 Canada
ABRSM Grade 4-5 - Guildhall Grade 5 UK - Fluteworld Level TWO+

- Low C to Bb3
- Key sigs: 5#s, 5bs
- sightreading very good on simple pieces
- Sextuplet rhythms, and slow subdivision Baroque "Largo" style
counting has been learned
- variety of articulation patterns practiced daily on scales & arps
- subtle variations in dynamics begun
- vibrato may be worked on
- variety of meters and musical styles
- can perform competently with accompaniment (piano and flute duo)

Example of solos: Sarabande from J.S. Bach's B-minor Suite no. 2/Handel's Sonata in F Major/ Faure's Sicilienne/Gaubert's Madrigal/Ibert's Aria/Woodall's Serenade/Pessard's Andalouse or various pieces from 36 Repertoire Pieces; Ed. Donald Peck
Etudes sample: Melodious and Progressive Studies ed. Peck (Southern) and Kohler Romantic Etudes (easier first few).

Level 6. Intermediate
Royal Conservatory Grade 8 Canada
ABRSM Grade 5-6 - Guildhall Grade 6 UK - Fluteworld Level TWO+

- Low C to B3 - Key sigs: 6#s & 6bs
- sightreading good in ensemble settings
- septuplet groupings, groupings of 8, 9, and 12 notes to a beat.
- simple and compound meter changes
- multiple tonguing refined and "in style" for piece
- ornamentation symbols understood
- basic extended techniques freely used (flutter/overblown
harmonics/whistle tones etc.)
- Tone development incorporates more and more tone colours
- comfortable sight-reading many musical details in solo pieces
- comfortable playing with piano as equal partner

Example of solo: Mozart Andante in C/ Pergolesi's Concerto in G Major/Godard's Allegretto and Idylle/Schumann's Three Romances/Bloch's Suite Modale/Foote's Trois Pieces.
Etudes to choose from: Berbiguier: '18 Etudes'  nos. 1-10, Drouet's 25 Etudes Celebres, nos. 17-25 and 'Andersen op. 33 nos. 1-24.
Level 7. Advanced Intermediate

(you must reach this level to apply to take music in a smaller community college)
Royal Conservatory Grade 8+ Canada
ABRSM Grade 6 - Guildhall Grade 6-7 UK

Fluteworld Level TWO+ or THREE-

- C1 to C4
- Key sigs up to 7#s or 7bs
- longer phrases with controlled note endings
- more musical interpretive challenges taken on
- complex pulse and meter changes
- empahsis on challenging issues of ensemble playing
- use of rubato and expression development
- rapid technique on fingering scales and arpeggios
- freely uses extended techniques

Example of solo: Genin's 'Carnival of Venice'.
Tartini 'Concerto in G' from 'Flute Music of the Baroque'
Godard 'Allegretto' at effortless fast tempo.
Etude: 'J.S. Bach 24 Concert Etudes' (the less difficult ones.)
 Kohler's Romantic Etudes op. 66 nos. 12-25
Level 8. Advanced

(you must reach this level to apply to take music courses in University)
Royal Conservatory Grade 9 Canada

ABRSM Grade 7 - Guildhall Grade 7-8  UK - Fluteworld Level THREE
(Planning to perform or teach, if teenager)

- C1 to C4 played with ease
- All key signatures recognized on sight
- complex accent patterns within rhythmic groups
- All scales and arpeggios memorized
- Daily Exercises in trills, large slurred leaps, rapid tremelo patterns

- Extensive use of tone colour and dynamic choices - complex endurance multiple tonguing
- mature interpretive abilities
- begins studying orchestral excerpts/chamber music
- ensemble skills highly developed in terms of: blending, dynamics, articulation matching and intonation matching.
- Recitals planned and prepared with student regularly doing own

Example of solo:  CPE Bach's Hamburger Sonata/Stamitz's Concerto in G Major/ Telemann Fantasias/Amirov's Six Pieces/Fukushima Mei/Ganne Andante and Scherzo/Honegger's Danse de la Chevre/Widor Suite Scherzo and Romance. Collection: 'Flute Music by French Composers' pub: Schirmer. (Chaminade/Busser/Taffanel/Ganne etc.)
Marais; 'Les Folies D'Espagne' 
Etudes: 'J.S. Bach 24 Concert Etudes' the more challenging ones. Andersen 'Op. 21'; Paganini Caprices (the easier ones), Karg-Elert's 30 Caprices, nos. 1-10

Level 9 Advanced

(you must reach this level during your four years as a flute major in University)

Royal Conservatory Grade 10 Canada (sufficient training to teach flute privately to young beginners with overseeing expert teacher to assist).

ABRSM Grade 8 - Guildhall Grade 8 UK - Fluteworld Level THREE + to FOUR

- Full range up to D4 and possibly above
- Tone highly developed and creatively applied
- style of music is appropriate for historical period written
- Can improvise (or create cadenzas) based on many scale arpeggio patterns
- can sustain passages in extreme registers and dynamics
- continued mastery of standard and challenging flute solo literature

Example of solos: J.S. Bach's Sonata in A minor (Partita in A minor)/Bozza Image/Hindemith Sonata/Milhaud Sonatine/Poulenc Sonata/ Griffes Poem/Taktakishvili Sonata/Mower's Sonata Latino

Etudes: '30 Caprices by Karg Elert', Paganini Caprices, Piazzola Six Etudes Tangoistiques; MIke Mower's Fingerbusters; Andersen op. 15.
Level 10 University to Semi-professional level:

(you must reach this level before seriously considering a full-time music career.)

ABRSM Diploma - Fluteworld Level FOUR
Royal Conservatory Grade 'A.R.C.T' (Associate diploma)

- Has systematically worked on the standard orchestral excerpts over
several years (see Orchestral Excerpts for Flute by Jeanne Baxtresser).
- Has performed recitals, chamber music concerts, orchestral concerts,
ballet/opera orchestra, pit-orchestra frequently and constantly
improving ensemble abilities
- virtuostic material undertaken and intelligently prepared (breaking
down forms to make practice easier and more musically meaningful)
- intonation well controlled during extreme change in dynamics and
- extreme or sudden dynamic and range changes handled with ease
- performance is highly polished and/or creative/imaginative

Example of Solos : Various Concerti from the Baroque (CPE Bach etc.) as well as complete J.S. Bach Sonatas. Is now tackling composers such as CPE Bach Concerto in D minor/Ibert Concerto/Franck Sonata/ Molique Concerto/Prokofiev Sonata/ Widor Suite (entire)/Berio Sequenza/Dutilleux Sonatina/Ferneyhough's Cassandra's Dream Song etc. 

Example of etudes: All the more advanced Andersen Etudes, Boehm Caprices and Boehm 12 Etudes.
Can perform a recital of repertoire representing a variety of flute composers (Bach/Widor/Poulenc/Mozart/Hansen/Burton/Taktakishvili etc)
Various extended Technique compositions. (Berio/ Robert Dick/etc.)

Fluteworld Level FIVE represents extended technique works with unusual notation.

End flute student levels and beginning of professional levels

Click here for article on levels required for University Performance Majors.

Also see my blog post on "What grade is Mozart Andante in C?" here. and listen to mp3 flute samples of RCM grades from Canada


© Jennifer Cluff