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How do I play Dizi Bamboo Flute?

How do I play Dizi Bamboo Flute?

How do I play Dizi Bamboo Flute? Palm

Without knowing your background in music, I’m just going to assume that you already know how to play western concert flute and go from there.

Like all flutes without a lip plate, your embouchure will be a bit higher. The flute actually goes on your lips instead of below them on your chin like normal.

As far as fingering, it follows the same general 6 finger system as other ethnic flutes like the tin whistle, fife, or Irish flutes. You can easily find fingering charts online. However, there are a few extra holes to deal with. The two near the end of the flute serve no musical purpose whatsoever, and are sometimes used to hang decorations such as a tassel from the end of the instrument.

The other, placed between the sound hole and the 6 where your fingers are supposed to go, is different from any other flute that I’ve had experience with. In order for your flute to sound at all, it must be covered. To get the traditional timbre of a dizi, that “asian” sound, you will need a special membrane called a “dimo”. A piece of office tape works in a pinch, but it makes it sound like any old bamboo flute. The dimo allows a small amount of air to pass through and vibrate the membrane, giving it that rich timbre. The dimo is attached to the flute with a special glue that won’t hurt the finish on the flute, and is usually available to purchase together with the dimo. I use a powdered peach resin glue that I mix with water.

If you are looking for a good dizi to start with but aren’t sure about the cheapo ones on Amazon (I’ve seen some as low as $5 on there…I’ve shudder to think of that “workmanship”), may I suggest looking into Carrotmusic. They are a company that specializes in Asian instruments, and I love both my dizi and shinobue that I bought from them. They have beginner and professional models available, so it won’t break your budget, either.

Playing the Dizi, a traditional Chinese bamboo flute, requires practice and dedication. I hope this helps you. Have fun playing the dizi, it is a fun, beautiful, and unique instrument, and I wish you the best of luck!

Here are some basic steps to help you get started:

1. Understand the Dizi:

  • Familiarize yourself with the parts of the Dizi. It typically has six finger holes, one blow hole, and a membrane hole covered by a thin membrane called a dimo.

2. Holding the Dizi:

  • Hold the Dizi horizontally with both hands.
  • Use your left hand to cover the first three finger holes, and your right hand to cover the remaining three.

3. Embouchure:

  • Place your upper teeth lightly on the edge of the blow hole.
  • Create a small gap for the air to pass through by positioning your lower lip beneath the upper lip.

4. Breathing:

  • Use diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth, directing the air into the blow hole.

5. Finger Placement:

  • Learn the proper finger placement for different notes. Practice covering and uncovering the holes to produce different pitches.

6. Basic Scales and Exercises:

  • Start with simple scales to get comfortable with finger movements.
  • Practice basic exercises to improve breath control, articulation, and finger coordination.

7. Tonguing and Articulation:

  • Practice tonguing techniques to articulate different notes.
  • Experiment with varying the pressure of your embouchure to produce different tones.

8. Membrane Vibrato (Shaking):

  • Learn to produce a vibrato effect by gently shaking the Dizi while playing. This is often achieved by moving the head joint slightly side to side.

9. Playing Tunes:

  • Start with simple tunes and gradually progress to more complex pieces.
  • Listen to recordings of experienced Dizi players to understand phrasing, ornamentation, and musical expression.

10. Performance Techniques:

  • Explore traditional Chinese performance techniques, such as slides, glissandos, and ornamentation.
  • Experiment with different dynamics and expressions to add nuance to your playing.

11. Maintenance:

  • Take care of your Dizi by keeping it clean and dry. The dimo should be moistened before playing.

12. Seek Guidance:

  • Consider taking lessons from a qualified Dizi instructor to receive personalized guidance and feedback.

Remember that learning to play any musical instrument takes time and patience. Regular practice and a gradual approach to learning new techniques will help you improve over time.

How can I learn the Dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) by myself? I have yet to gain experience with flutes.

A dizi can be purchased online. They’re not expensive when compared to a silver flute. Be sure to get a set of membranes (di-mo) because they’re hard to purchase. Also, get some of the adhesive (e-jiao). 

To begin with, you can tape the membrane hole (it’s going to be smaller than the other holes) with regular tape, but it will lose its characteristic buzzing timbre. Watch an online tutorial until you can get an adequately ridged membrane.

(It should go without saying, but just in case: don’t buy a crappy instrument. If you don’t think you can judge, buy from a dealer with a good reputation and refund policy.)

The embouchure is much like that of a flute (keyed or open-holed). There are tutorials available online for getting your first clear note.

Join a Dizi forum online. That will allow you to quickly ask questions and receive answers from a community of players of all levels.

Can you read music? At least one Dizi method book in English is available through Amazon. I would learn how to read “simple system” notation, a tablature popular in China. There are also fingering charts available online, which would help.

Do you simply like the sound? Then, you can play whatever melodies you want. (Irish flutes have the most overlap in technique.) If you are interested in sounding like a dizi specialist, with authentic phrasing, articulation, and ornamentation, listen to dizi music intently, repeating phrases (a lot) and even slowing them down if possible until you can reproduce them exactly. Start slowly, then gradually increase the tempo until you can play it accurately and at tempo.

Record yourself playing if you’re not getting regular feedback from listeners and other musicians. Listen to it. Identify problem areas and try to improve them through targeted practice.

Play with other musicians when you can produce clear notes in the first octave. Some skills (like dynamics and adjusting to tempo changes) can’t be learned independently.

Good luck!

While I play the bamboo flute for a long time, my chin starts sweating, and it becomes difficult to hold the flute in position afterward, leading to a lousy tone. (The flute rests on the chin) Is it usual, or am I doing anything wrong?

Hello sir

I faced a similar problem while playing the flute. My chin started sweating, and my lips trembled when I played the flute.

I will share the same solution with you.

  1. If you are facing this issue, there is a flute playing problem. Please adjust your embouchure and blow properly.
  2. Don’t hold the flute tightly. Remember, the flute is an extension of your body and the sound of the soul.
  3. Don’t move your body while playing the flute. Only the fingers should be moving. People tend to sway in a grand manner, which disturbs the proper position of the flute set to mouth. Remember to be simple and elegant; there is no need for grand gestures.
  4. RIYAZ- Sir, this is the medicine for all problems. Proper Practice is a must. The amount of time doesn’t matter, but the quality of your RIYAZ-.
  5. How to do RIYAZ-? Forget everything you know till now. Don’t play any fancy Bollywood or other songs or ragas. Start from scratch. Take the Android app Metronome Beats and set it to 120 beats per Minute. Play sa re ga ma PA dha ni sa. Stay away from the breadth. Only play with your tongue. Also, please WhatsApp me at +91-7011500791. I will send you the audio.
  6. P.S. I am not joking. I have been practicing this only for three months now, and this is just the beginning.

How do I buy a good bansuri (bamboo flute) for beginners in flute learning?

I started learning bansuri (Hindustani) from my Guruji Prakash Hegde in Bangalore. He began teaching in A medium and then gradually switched to F medium after one year once I was comfortable playing in A medium. F is close to E. Now, I am using E base.

Over the years, I learned that G medium is the ideal one to start with as it has a soothing scale and sur. It is easy to handle also. Very short. It is perfect for learning and playing light music, bhajans, etc. It sounds perfect. E Base is typically used in concerts and by professional flutists. D base is also used.

E is ideal for concerts as lower and higher octaves can be played easily using an E base. The d base plays more base sound (Longer than the E base).

Note: For beginners, the special request is to avoid buying expensive and fancy flutes. Any ordinary flute from a good flute maker would suffice. At this stage, we don’t have to worry about what the flute looks like, who made it, etc. It should be having a good tuning, which your Guruji can tell. Please consult your Guruji before and after buying the flute. If there is any issue in the tuning, he can guide you and help rectify it.

We have to make our fundamentals and the basics right. From a playing perspective, try to improvise the blowing day in and day out; the sound should be near perfect. Listen to great maestros like Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pt. Rajendra Prasanna, Late Pt. Raghunath Seth, Pt. Nityananda Haldipura, Pt. Praveen Godkhindi, Aswin Srinivasan, Milind Sheorey, etc. 

Try not to follow everybody but follow only one as per your liking. Do lots of practice to match the sound to the playings of these maestros. Listen to your Guruji’s guidance. It might take days, months, and years to reach this perfect stage based on your practice and the guidance of your Guruji.

The blowing should be as smooth as you exhale; holes should be appropriately closed with your fingers while playing, and there should not be any sound leakage. Practice, practice, and practice to achieve the best sound quality. Once this stage is reached, you are ready to explore the next level.

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Again, stressing on, make your blowing and the sound perfect.

The second important thing is to enhance your knowledge about the theoretical aspect of music. What is a Raag, the vadi/samadhi, packed, chalan, their (resting place), pastas (phrases), baijiu swaras (which swaras are not to play as part of a specific Raag, etc? The most important is to identify individual swaras. 

It will come only by listening and practice. Listen to vocalists, e.g., great maestros like Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pt. Ajoy Chakravarty, Pt. Kishori Amankar, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Jasraj, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Pt. Sunanda Patnaik, Pt. Sawani Shende, Nirali Kartik etc. It is very, very important to identify individual swaras.

Once these basics are set right, the next level is to concentrate on taal, layakari, etc. It means to play in a rhythm. That again means playing in a discipline and following the rules of thekas in Tabla. To make yourself acquainted, play with a metronome.

My all-time favorite. Flute tuning is awesomely perfect. The best sound quality in Mandra, Madhya, and Tear speaks. Every swaras are pointedly perfect. It is a must-buy and will be an asset in the flute collection.

What is correct position of holding a bamboo flute?

Hello, it actually also depends on the size of flute. ideal position varies with respect to size, if its too big or too small.

assuming you have an average sized flute on which you are comfortable i am giving you some tips.

//step 1 : for finding out you are lefty or righty for flute.(you may be righty in your normal life but lefty in flute handling, so this step is important.)

  1. first hold the flute vertically or parallel to your body.
  2. you have to use six fingers to cover the holes. (three of each hands)
  3. fingers you use to cover the holes should not be the little finger and thumb.
  4. Little fingers and thumbs are used to hold the flute and not to cover the holes.
  5. now you are holding flute vertically and covering all the six holes with six fingers. if you feel comfortable its okay but if you are not then change the hands, it means the hand on upper three holes now try it for lower three holes and lower hand now try on upper three holes.
  6. among this two types of positions, one will be okay for you, find out that one.
  7. once you found the right one , now just hold the flute horizontally (like krishna position). while doing so, the “ main hole” of the flute (hole which is used for entering air into flute) should be to the side of your upper hand.
  8. for ex. my left hand is covering upper three holes and right hand covers lower three then i have to hold the flute such that “main hole” should be to to my left side.

step 2 – tips for right position to have perfect sound

  1. now just remember few things. holes should be covered properly. as a beginner, holes get leaked due to not getting it closed properly. to do so, don’t put your tip of the finger on hole(it doesn’t cover fully). instead put slightly middle part of your finger on hole. slightly middle as per your comfort and our purpose to fully cover the holes.
  2. little fingers and thumb plays the important role in grip forming.
  3. flute should be held such that even if all holes are open( their is a “note” when you have to open all the holes, in this position only fingers holding your flute is your two little fingers and two thumbs. all other will be away from flute) still flute should get balanced on your four fingers without taking support from your lips.
  4. what usually mistake happens is , we take support from lips as flute don’t get balanced only on thumb and little fingers.
  5. other thing to worry about is. always have a contact of little finger to flute for better support.
  6. for thumb position , it actually vary from person to person. be sure that you are comfortable and grip is strong. point no 3 is to check whether you are holding it right or not. one position is to place your two thumbs just below your middle fingers.

without pictures, it was little difficult to explain, but i tried, in case you still have a doubt or want any further help or material, just mail me at

How can I learn the Indian bamboo flute without any outside help?

I learned to play after I got a tip from a family friend. This was about 20-22 years back. I, too, learned quite a bit by myself. But all the while, I kept looking for a good guru. Fortunately, I found one about three years back. Here are some tips from my little experience of self-learning

  1. The most crucial point is that if you learn without professional guidance, be ready to unlearn later. You may inadvertently develop some bad habits. Once you get a good guru, you will realize the mistakes. In my case, my grip with my right hand is wrong (I am a left-hander). I am still struggling to get comfortable with the proper grip.
  2. Don’t go for a very cheap flute. Get help from someone who knows his sur well and get an adequately tuned flute. Don’t let lousy sur enter your head through your ears. You will need help if it sticks there.
  3. Go for something other than a very small or a vast flute. Look for a G# (Kali 4). In more minor flutes, you have to blow harder; in bigger ones, the grip is comparatively difficult. So start with a medium one.
  4. You have to have some basic knowledge of music viz. sur & taal. Are you a decent singer? Or do you play some other instrument? If neither, then be ready to work harder. I was comfortable playing melodies on the keyboard/harmonium, which helped. When I started, I used first to find the right notes on a keyboard.
  5. Even with a properly tuned flute, be ready for adjustments. Diameter, bamboo thickness, flute length, weather, temperature, moisture, and your state of mind – everything has an effect. Be ready to adjust every time, e.g., a bamboo may expand/contract with a rise/fall in temperature and change sur. Or your state of mind will decide how hard or soft your blow is. The tuner will help here.
  6. You need to have some help to understand whether what you are playing is right or wrong. Get a (guitar) tuner that shows which note is being played. I got one for approximately Rs. 800/-. A tuner may look something like this …
  1. You may also need a soor peti. This will play a specified sound. Your task is to match with it. I got mine for about Rs. 2,500/- Once you progress, you will need a tabla machine and a tempura machine. A sur peti may look like this … Put the sound of soor peti in your earphones so that the tuner gives you details of only what you are playing.
  1. Youtube is a good guide. You will get loads of tutorials there. But don’t believe everything that you see there. It does have a lot of crap too. It can’t replace a real knowledgeable guru.
  2. Some Android Apps that I find helpful…
    1. Gstring – Tuner – gStrings Free – Android Apps on Google Play (tuner)
    2. Walkband Premium – Walk Band – Music Studio – Android Apps on Google Play (keyboard & drum machine)
    3. Tanpura Droid – Tanpura Droid – Android Apps on Google Play (tanpura machine)

These apps may save you some money on purchasing the tools I mentioned. But none of these apps are as good as real ones.

Although there’s much more to do before you become a decent flutist, I hope these tips will get you on the right track. Good luck 🙂

Is it hard to learn to play a bamboo flute?

Originally Answered: Is it hard to learn a bamboo flute? It is easy to understand the bamboo flute with consistent practice.

However, every flutist encounters the following hurdles when they pick up the flute for the first time:

  1. To get the sound from the flute: When you try blowing into the blowing hole of the flute (particularly a side flute), most of the air goes out of the flute, and all you get is his. That’s because the blow is not concentrated on the hole. A way to overcome this is to first learn it on the straight flute for at least a month and then jump to the side flute. This is because it is easier to produce sound on the straight flute and gives an idea of how much to blow.
  2. To get the perfect pitch, i.e., playing the note perfectly: On the side flute, the note(swar) changes if the flute is towards you or away from you. If you are not holding your flute correctly, you may play a slightly higher or lower note than you intended to. To overcome this, you must practice until you hit the right note every time.

My two cents help you to pursue the flute.

How do I play high notes on a bamboo flute with six holes?

Playing higher notes on the bansuri(bamboo flute) involves blowing in the air with almost twice the effort you blow for lower notes.

You increase the velocity of the air you blow to hit the next octave, with your finger positioning remaining the same as the corresponding lower notes.

Now, increasing the velocity is generally complemented by slightly rolling in the flute, which decreases the adequate blowing aperture size & the higher octaves can be produced with less effort.

If you relate this mathematically, it is governed by the equation for Fluid flow through an orifice: Q= A x V or V = Q/A.

Q is the fluid flow rate, i.e., the volume of air flowing per unit of time, which would depend on your lung capacity & the effort you blow with.

So, along with increasing your blowing efforts (Q), you complement the increase in velocity (V) by simply decreasing the effective area (A) of the aperture, i.e., by rolling the flute in below your lower lip.

Playing higher notes on bansuri seems complicated for a beginner, especially transitioning from lower to higher notes. Still, the rolling-in technique helps a lot & gradually, it becomes much easier as you practice more Malankara involving low-high & high-low transitions.

Can I learn the flute on my own?

Yes absolutely!

You can learn any instrument on your own, at least the basics. Every musical instrument is like a new toy; you play with toys and eventually learn to play with them.

Then there are countless tutorials on the internet that you can get help with, some even masterclasses! And almost everything is for free!

A mentor would always be invaluable in any learning, but you can develop to some extent by yourself if you are intuitive and passionate enough.

I am learning the Bansuri/flute on my own; I find it easy now because I apply all the musical knowledge I have from playing the guitar and the keyboard to the flute. 

You don’t necessarily need to have that musical experience with other instruments to start learning flute, but it makes it a lot easier if you do. You should start learning and see where it takes you. Maybe you will even find the prodigy in you 🙂

All the best with it.


Playing the Dizi Bamboo Flute involves several steps:

  1. Hold the Dizi: Hold the Dizi with your left hand at the bottom and your right hand at the top. Your thumbs should be on the back of the flute, and your fingers should cover the holes on the front.
  2. Embouchure: Create a proper embouchure by forming a small hole with your lips and blowing across the hole at a slight angle.
  3. Fingerings: Use your fingers to cover and uncover the holes to produce different notes. Each hole corresponds to a specific pitch, and by covering or uncovering them, you can create different melodies.
  4. Breath control: Control your breath to produce a steady and consistent sound. Experiment with different breath pressures to achieve different dynamics.
  5. Practice: Like any musical instrument, playing the Dizi Bamboo Flute requires practice and dedication to master. Start with simple melodies and gradually progress to more complex pieces.

Remember to be patient with yourself as you learn, and enjoy the process of making music with this beautiful instrument!

How do I play Dizi Bamboo Flute? Palm