I play alto saxophone, piano, ukulele, and guitar. I am wondering if it's possible to take up piccolo as well, without playing the flute. I plan on taking lessons, as there are teachers in my area, but I don't know if I should start on flute first because I know piccolo is an extension of flute. I don't plan on playing it professionally, just for fun. Thanks a bunch!

6 Answers 6


I play both the flute and piccolo, so my answer is completely based off of personal experience.

In my opinion, the piccolo and flute are completely different. The only thing that's similar about the two is fingering. I suggest memorizing the piccolo fingering if you just want to play piccolo, since the piccolo does not have some of the keys that a flute has.

I started playing flute before piccolo, and I noticed that how you blow the air and even how you hold each instrument is different. If you just want to learn piccolo, I recommend to just get used to the piccolo: how you hold it, the breathing techniques, and all that jazz.

In conclusion, I think if you just want to learn how to play the piccolo for fun, you don't need to learn the flute unless you want to learn the flute too. They're completely different instruments beside from fingering, and I hope you have lots of fun playing the piccolo if you do decide to try it! Hope this helped! :)


From the perspective of a music educator: the flute would be much easier to learn proper embouchure fundamentals on, as, with the lower pitch, it's more more forgiving. During my college days, I picked up the flute quite quickly, but I had a difficult time achieving a good tone on the piccolo. That said, it would not be impossible to learn on its own, just more difficult.

You can find cheap flutes at pawnshops or on craigslist. You may try picking up a cheap one to begin on. If you get a used name-brand student flute and take care of it, it will retain value well. You could then sell it when you buy your piccolo, or just keep it around.

  • 7
    Also from a music educators perspective…I have to ask: why piccolo for fun? Nov 2, 2011 at 1:03
  • 1
    :-) for the just for fun comment
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Nov 2, 2011 at 9:59

Depends on your frustration tolerance. Piccolo has a more challenging embouchure than flute, but you know what? Fife has a much more demanding embouchure than either, and I learned fife first. This meant it was about six weeks of assiduous blowing making nothing but a "wwwwfffff" sound, before I actually got a noise out of it. Another week or two before I could generate that sound consistently. And then, trying to make it musical. Well, as musical as fife gets.

I have rather a lot of patience -- or at least did when I was 12. Six weeks is a long time to go attempting to do something and getting no positive feedback of progress whatsoever. And I can't guarantee you'll get it in six weeks (though piccolo is easier than fife, and I had no advantages at all, except maybe stubbornness, so I wouldn't be surprised if it takes rather less than that).

So, if you think your resolve to learn piccolo can survive a month+ of determined striving with no positive feedback to encourage you along, then go for it.

(For what it's worth, I was taking that class with a friend who played flute. The only one of us with traverso experience, she, the class champ, managed to get sounds out of her fife in about... three weeks.)


This is my fifth year playing the flute, and my music teacher came up to me and asked if I would like to play the piccolo as well, and of course I said yes. And I couldn’t make a sound out of it, and mind you I have been told I have a very good embouchure. So I believe you’re best bet would be to start with the flute, just to get Good at working your way around the flute and getting your lip to sit on the mouthpiece correctly, so then you’ll hopefully eventually get a nice, tight embouchure to make playing the piccolo. Just don’t rush into playing the piccolo.


I started on clarinet, then moved to bass clarinet, and after that, tenor sax. I then took a hiatus from formal music education and took up the fife. And from there, I took up piccolo once I got back into music formally. I was making sounds on the piccolo on day one, after an hour or two of airy noise. The music shop and a flute-playing friend told me to start on flute, but I found it wasn't necessary. I'm not sure everyone could do it, but it's possible.

I also made sounds of my fife almost immediately. I should also note that the first time I played a flute, instrument try out day in the second grade, I passed out. I started clarinet at age eight. I'm in my third year of college now, and started the fife at sixteen and the piccolo about a month ago


It all depends on your level of overall dedication. From the perspective of a flutist who also plays the piccolo, I personally don’t think it would have been easy for me to pick up the piccolo if I hadn’t played the flute. The piccolo and flute are similar, yet different at the same time. The fingerings are nearly the same (give or take a few notes), and the idea of the embouchure is somewhat alike. Both embouchures sit in the same place and both are played by blowing air in the same way (unlike reeds). HOWEVER, the embouchure of the piccolo is more different than alike to the flute. It is much tighter and positioned differently in order to get the higher sound. Since you play the alto sax, you may have an advantage/disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. The flute/piccolo and saxophone have some similar fingerings (from what I’ve heard, I don’t play alto sax) yet this could also cause confusion in accidentally mixing up fingerings between the two. If you put your mind to it, I do believe it is a possible thing to do. However, I would advise playing the flute at least a little first.

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