1. What is the flute?
The flute is an instrument in the woodwind family, and a popular choice for students of all ages because of its beautiful tone and versatility.
2. At what age should my child begin lessons?
Children may begin flute lessons at age 8; younger children have not yet developed the lung capacity and breath support required to play a wind instrument. In addition, they may feel it is too difficult to support the weight of the flute. An alternative for younger children would be the recorder.
3. When should I consider purchasing a flute?
I generally recommend that you wait until your child has played for at least 3-6 months. Before this time, it is best to rent an instrument from All-County Music.
4. How do I know if my child is progressing?
Consider enrolling him/her in private lessons. This is the most effective method to assess your child's current level and measure their continued progress. If your child started playing the flute in the school band, chances are there are 30-40 students in one band class. As a result, band directors simply do not have the time to spend with each student to answer individual questions and address individual concerns. Weekly private lessons with a caring and encouraging instructor will give your child the necessary attention to overcome frustrations and increase enjoyment of playing. After three or four lessons, you will notice that your child is no longer struggling and may even be progressing more quickly than their classmates!
5. So, it's been 3-6 months. What do I do now?
Shopping for a flute is like shopping for anything else - you want to know where to go to find the best value for your money. All-County Music, conveniently located in both Tamarac and Pembroke Pines, has an excellent selection of flutes. The store has a friendly and helpful staff to guide you through selecting and purchasing the right instrument for you.
All-County Music in Tamarac also houses Florida Flutes, a beautiful collection of flutes from many top brands. You may try as many flutes as you wish, and the staff will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
8136 N University Drive
Tamarac, Florida 33321
Pembroke Pines, Fl 33029
*If you do not wish to upgrade to a more advanced model within the next few years, you should look into an intermediate model.*
6. What is an intermediate model?
An intermediate model flute has the following characteristics:
*All silver plated
*Offset G key
*Split E mechanism
*Pointed key arms
Because Fluteworld is located in Michigan, I recommend you call to speak with a salesperson directly, so you can tell them the specific type of instrument you are seeking. If you do decide to purchase, Fluteworld will give you seven days to try the instrument. If you are not satisfied, you may ship it back.
8. Is it necessary for my child to try several different instruments?
Yes, I believe so. There are many excellent flute manufacturers, and each brand -- actually, each flute -- is unique and will feel different to different people.
9. My friend's daughter plays the violin, and says that there are four different sizes. Is that true with flutes?
No. Though there are different-sized flutes within the flute family, the most common flute that your child will be starting on is a C soprano flute, or simply known as "flute." This instrument comes in only one size, and is pictured above.
10. My child says that his/her arm hurts when holding the flute, because the instrument is too long.
For younger children, you may wish to invest in a curved headjoint. This headjoint typically comes with a separate carrying case with a pocket for the headjoint. Your child will still keep the regular headjoint that comes with the flute, and should be encouraged to progress to that as soon as he/she feels comfortable.
Whether you visit All-County Music or call Fluteworld, it is very important to have your child play each flute to make sure he/she feels comfortable with the specific instrument. I recommend the following intermediate brands:
The sturdy mechanism and good headjoint make these brands more suitable for the serious flute student. In addition, they require less maintenance and repair. One parent who purchased a Pearl intermediate flute for his son said he noticed an immediate difference in his tone; in addition, he was no longer experiencing the technical problems from his previous beginner flute.
12. How do I make sure there aren't any problems with the flute?
Though it is important that your child plays the instrument to make sure he/she feels comfortable with it, 3-6 months experience with the flute is not enough to test for all potential problems. I recommend two things:
a) To ensure the instrument is in proper working condition, ask the technician on-site to play each instrument you are considering purchasing.
b) Both All-County Music and Fluteworld will let you try an instrument for a week before making a final decision. During this time, ask your private lesson teacher to play the instrument. He/she will be able to identify pads that are not sealing properly and corks that are falling off, as well as test each register of the instrument to make sure that every note plays well.
13. Should my child take out the plugs right away?
No. An open-hole flute comes with five plugs, corresponding to the A, G, F, E, and D keys. Eventually, your child will want to remove all the plugs in order to have a more beautiful and vibrant tone. For the time being, however, your child should practice with all the plugs in. Then, as your child develops correct fingering position and feels more comfortable playing, I recommend removing the plugs one at a time, in the following order:
Some students find it extremely easy to first remove the plug for the D key. In that case, go ahead and encourage your child to remove it. Different students will have different preferences for when to remove each plug.
I hope this guide answers most of your questions. For other concerns, please contact me.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article:
"Must-Have Accessories for Your New Flute"!