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Flute Purchase Help!

Flute History and Instrument Purchase

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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:15 pm

Flute Purchase Help!

Postby saffysly » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:58 pm

I play clarinet and percussion (mostly keyboard percussion <insert joke about most percussionists being unable to read music here>) so the flute world is a bit of a new area for me.

I have a daughter entering 6th grade who plays flute. She plays for band at school, will be doing jazz band this year, and also takes private lessons. She also intends on trying out for our area youth symphony orchestra in the spring. She is naturally talented, hard working, and is currently at an upper high school skill level in most areas. She's currently working on memorizing all 12 major scales and I think minors are next? Perfecting technique is ongoing as it should be.

I purchased her current flute off of Ebay for $40 because school rental was $32 and her older sister hated band so I payed what amounted to a month rent fee to even see if she'd like it the first year she played. Because it was a cheap flute, it is either nickel or very poorly plated because her mouth has an allergic reaction to playing. We covered the lip plate with clear medical tape so she could play. Between that and Vasoline after playing, she kept the skin reaction under control. Haven't noticed a skin reaction on her fingers from the body/foot of the flute.

But now since we're looking at youth symphony and at the level she plays plus her allergy...it'd been decided that moving her to a semi professional to professional level flute may be a good move as she intends on playing beyond high school. She gave up poms to focus on flute which is a huge deal for her so I'm certain she's in it for the long haul. I'm looking for recommendations and she has some requirements:

1- Used is fine. Well kept vintage is great. I played on a vintage Proufer Silver Throat clarinet throughout middle and high school and it was an amazing, gorgeous sound. Currently I'm refurbishing a WWII-era wood clarinet to play on. Love the vintage instruments. And she wants a flute that will give a good solid tone when played but she'll still be able to have flexibility between warm and airy tone, for instance.

2- I'm unsure how she's react to anything but silver or a higher karat gold for the lip plate so I'd rather stick to actual silver with the silver amount minimum at sterling silver level. I know there is a GS alloy but I don't know much beyond the fact that it exists. But as I don't play, I don't know which is best for a good flute sound so let me know what I should be looking at material wise.

3- She currently plays closed holed since she has a cheap student flute. I know she's going to move into open hole territory and it's something she's nervous about. She says she thinks her fingers are too small for open hole. Any tips for her or ways she can get over that hesitancy to play on an open hole?

4- Inline or offset? Her current flute is inline and being inline isn't affecting her playing as far as I know but if there's an advantage to being offset, let me know. If it's merely a player preference, then I won't worry much about whether it is or not.

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Re: Flute Purchase Help!

Postby pied_piper » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:43 pm

Welcome to Fluteland!

First of all, I'd like to suggest that you read through the Fluteland FAQ: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5859

It has a collection of good information about flutes, playing, buying instruments, online flute stores, etc. Take a look at that and then come back to ask some more specific questions.

If the plating is peeling from the lip plate of your daughter's current flute, she is likely reacting to the base metal which is often brass or a similar alloy. A high percentage of people have some skin intolerance of direct contact with brass, especially on sensitive lips. If you get her a silver plated or sterling silver flute, most people do not have reactions to silver. Some flutes are available with a gold plated lip plate and almost no one is sensitive to gold.

The material a flute is made from has little to no impact upon the sound. It's far more important to select a well made instrument from a reputable manufacturer. The FAQ has an impartial list of suggested brands for you to consider.

Regarding the closed-hole/open-hole choice, I suggest getting an open-hole model. If your daughter is wary of changing, her fears can be resolved by getting a set of open-hole plugs (less than $10). The plugs are inserted into the open holes while she adjusts to the new flute. When she is comfortable, remove only the farthest plug (D key). It may take her a little time to get used to covering the open hole, but it is only one hole to deal with. Once she is comfortable with one open hole, remove the next farthest plug (E key) and allow her to get used to that. Continue that process and remove the each remaining plug one at a time and allow time to adjust. Let her take as much time as she needs before removing the next plug. Over several weeks or months, all the plugs can be removed.

For choosing inline or offset, it is partly preference and partly hand size. There is a growing trend toward offset G. Many players are now choosing those. I suggest you take her to a flute store and try both options. If she has small hands (as most 6th graders do), I suspect the offset may be the better choice for her.

I hope this information helps!
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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