Piccolo: A Guide to the High-Pitched Woodwind Instrument

The piccolo is a small, high-pitched woodwind instrument that is a member of the flute family. It is similar to a regular flute, but is smaller in size and has a higher range. The piccolo has a narrow, conical bore and a tapered headjoint, which gives it its distinctive bright and piercing sound.


The piccolo is believed to have originated in Europe in the late 17th century, although there are earlier references to similar instruments in Chinese and Persian music. The Piccolo was initially used as a novelty instrument for comic effect, but it has since become an important part of classical and military music.

How to Play the Piccolo

The piccolo is played in a similar way to the flute, with the musician blowing air across the embouchure hole to produce sound. The fingers of the upper hand are used to cover the holes on the body of the instrument to change the pitch. The piccolo has a range of about two and a half octaves, and it is generally played in the key of C.

piccolo flute

Types of Piccolos

There are several different types of piccolos, including the concert piccolo, the military piccolo, and the Irish flute piccolo. The concert piccolo is the most common type and is used in classical music. The military piccolo is used in military bands and has a slightly different shape and sound compared to the concert piccolo. The Irish flute piccolo is a type of piccolo that is used in Irish traditional music.


What is the highest note a piccolo can play?

The piccolo has a range of about two and a half octaves, with the highest note being a C6, which is one octave above the middle C.

Can you play a piccolo with a flute mouthpiece?

Technically, it is possible to play the piccolo with a flute mouthpiece, but it is not recommended. The mouthpiece of a piccolo is smaller and has a different shape than a flute mouthpiece, so using a flute mouthpiece on a piccolo may produce an uneven or unstable sound.

Is it difficult to learn to play the piccolo?

Learning to play the piccolo can be challenging, especially for musicians who are new to woodwind instruments. However, with practice and proper technique, it is possible to become proficient in the piccolo. As with any instrument, the more you practice, the better you will become.

Famous Piccolo Players

There have been many notable piccolo players throughout history, including:

  • Samuel Baron was an American flutist and piccoloist who was known for his virtuosity and musicianship.
  • James Galway is an Irish flute player who has recorded and performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras.
  • William Bennett is an English flute player who is considered one of the greatest piccolo players of all time.

Piccolo in Pop Culture

The piccolo has been featured in a number of popular songs and movies, including:

“Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa, a patriotic march that features a prominent piccolo solo.

“Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi, a jazz piece that is well-known for its catchy piccolo melody.

“The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a classical piece that showcases the piccolo’s fast and agile playing style.


The piccolo is a unique and versatile instrument that is an important part of many musical genres. Whether you are a classical musician or a fan of pop music, the piccolo is sure to capture your attention with its bright and lively sound. So, if you are interested in learning to play the piccolo, don’t hesitate to give it a try!

piccolo flute