William Bainbridge’s “The English and French Flageolet Preceptor”

This preceptor is one of the earliest published by William Bainbridge. Due to the lack of references to Bainbridge’s inventions which he started to popularise in 1803, it is likely to date from the late 18th Century. It is possible that, at this time, he was still primarily working as a teacher and player, rather than instrument maker.

The work’s introduction is particularly noteworthy for mentioning the flageolet’s suitability for both men and women (many other instruments were thought fit for men only) and also for describing the English flageolet as having seven tone-holes on the front and one of the back; this older design was to be superseded later in the 19th. The music is a combination of folk tunes and popular melodies arranged in a fairly easy way, although some of the first flageolet parts in the later duets are more challenging.


This Preceptor is available in various forms. It can be downloaded in its entirety as a PDF file (approximately 2.5MB in size). Alternatively, the individual pieces are available as PDF files below with the text and illustrations as a separate PDF File or on the page below.

The Preceptor

Scan of the title page.

The English & French Flageolet Preceptor;
in the Whole Art of playing the Flageolet, rendr’d Easy to every Capacity,
Every Instruction relative to those Instruments is elucidated in the most clear & simple manner & by which any one may Learn to play with Taste & Judgement, in a short time. To which is Added Valuable Selection of Favorite Airs, Song Tunes, Duets, & c. many never before published in any Book of Instructions
The Airs & c. are Adapted for the German Flute or Violin.
Printed by Goulding Phipps & D’Almaine, Music Seller to their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess of Wales.
45 Pall Mall and Manufacturer of Military Musical Instruments, 76 St. James’s Street.
& to be had of
W. Bainbridge, Teacher of the Flageolet and German Flute, No. 2 Little Queen Street, Holborn.

The Flageolet Preceptor

[English Flageolet]

The Flageolet has of late become very much in use, not only by Gentlemen but also there are many Ladies who play both French & English Flageolet very sweetly, & as frequent applications have been made for proper scales of those Instruments we now offer to the Public the following knowing them to be exactly what the Professors of those Instruments make use of[. A]s much depends on the goodness of your Flageolet for playing in tune[,] as well as the sweetness of tone[,] you must be careful in the choise [sic] of your Instrument.

The English Flageolet has eight holes seven before & one behind[. T]he Left Hand must cover the three top holes & with the thumb cover the one hole behind & the Right Hand cover the other four below[. T]he black dots means the holes that must be stop & the open dots are those which must remain open; the open dots which have a mark thus Ø means the thumb to cover half the hole which must be done by the nail, which is only used above the upper E & you must be careful to cover the thumb hole below the D & be particular to cover only half the thumb hole for all the notes above E[. T]he compass of the English Flageolet is two Octaves[. T]he lowest note F [is] much the same as the English Flute but as the key scale renders it impossible to play [as] many delightful Airs on the Flageolet which go lower than F without transposing them[,] I would advise the Learner to study the transposition scale as they will find they will be able to play any piece of Music that go down to C Natural.

English flageolet fingering chart.

To make this work more valuable we have given the Key Scale.

English flageolet fingering chart.

[French Flageolet]

The French Flageolet has only six holes four before and two behind[. T]he two first Fingers of the right Hand and left Hand, must cover the four front holes, the Left Hand above and the right below the two thumbs cover the holes behind. The black dots mean the holes that are stopt and the open dots which must remain open the open dots which have a mark thus ⦻ are ment for the shakes[. B]e careful to keep the holes of the Left Hand shut after the E[. T]hus to play the remaining Notes [requires] more exertion then the other Notes as the thumb hole must be more than half shut to make them sound clear.

French flageolet fingering chart.
French flageolet trill fingering chart.


Editor’s Notes

The music within this Preceptor has not required any significant editorial corrections to republish. Obvious rhythmic errors, usually caused by additional flags being added to the stems of notes in beamed dotted rhythms, have been silently corrected. An additional tie has been inserted to join the final notes of “Life let us cherish”; the Dal Segno at the end of “Heres a health to all good Lasses” has been removed; and the penultimate note in the first part of “Away with Melancholy” has been changed from an A to a C.

The only unusual feature of the music is that three pieces divide the flageolet part into two, usually for only half a bar. One part is a sustained note followed by rests whilst the other is printed in a smaller type. In other works of the period, this practice is used to cue parts of the accompaniment. However, it somewhat unusual in an unaccompanied tutor, perhaps suggesting that an unpublished accompaniment once existed or the music was reused from another work, unedited. The three cases are: bars 18 and 19 of “I’m quite the thing”; bars 16 and 38 of “Fair Rosale”; and bars 38 and 42 of “The Manly heart”. In each case, the first note has been halved in length and the cued notes restored to full value in the rests.

List of Pieces

  1. God save the King
  2. Blue Bell of Scotland
  3. Finale to Robin Hood
  4. Go George
  5. Rule Britannia
  6. Tom Starboard
  7. Young William
  8. La Pipe Tabac
  9. Life let us cherish
  10. Une Petitte Fillette
  11. The Favorite Fishing Duett
  12. Happy were the Days
  13. Margery Grinder
  14. I’m quite the thing
  15. O how Taffline
  16. High on the Rock
  17. Pleyels German Hymn
  18. Old Ramchoondra
  19. Croppies lie down
  20. The Cuckoo
  21. Maudlin
  22. Tink a Tink
  23. Dance in Fannys Love
  24. Carolans Receipt
  25. Scotch Air
  26. No ’twas neither Shape
  27. Go to the Devil and shake yourself
  28. O that the Strains
  29. Fa lal la
  30. March in the Overture to Lodoiska
  31. The Mid Watch
  32. New Graces the thoughts of a Lover
  33. Henry cull’d the flowret’s Bloom
  34. Fair Rosale
  35. Britannias Sons
  36. Heres a health to all good Lasses
  37. The Manly heart
  38. Metastasio’s Hymn to Venus
  39. Away with Melancholy
  40. Be gone dull care

Have Your Say

Comments, suggestions and corrections are always welcome. Please use the form to add some! To avoid spam, all comments are moderated before being displayed so there may be a delay before they appear on the site.

If you are asking a question, please note that there is no way of automatically notifying you when I have answered. Therefore, please either keep checking the page for my reply or send me a message, privately.

Add a Comment


There are comments for this page.

    No comments on this page yet, please add one!