It’s the beginning of the school year and your child is all excited about starting band. After trying out all of the instruments, she settles on the flute. Now what? Buying a flute for your child when neither of you can play a note is no simple task. It’s like buying a car before you get your learner’s permit. A student flute may not cost as much as a car, but it’s still a significant investment and you don’t want to make a mistake.
The best place to shop for your flute is your local music store. Outfitting beginners is their stock in trade and they know how to take care of you. Chances are you’ll run into your neighbor picking up a tuba for her daughter or your son’s best friend trying out saxophones. Expect the store to be crawling with beginners and their parents that Saturday before the first beginning band rehearsal. Don’t be in a hurry. Relax and enjoy the circus.
Student flutes typically have plateau keys (closed hole), an offset G key and a C foot joint. The body is silver plate over a nickel alloy. A good beginner flute starts at around $400 and can go up to $1,000 depending on the brand and options. If you are able to bring an experienced flute player with you when you try out the instrument, do so. If not, have your band director or flute teacher try it out while you’re still in the trial period.
Feeling a little sticker shocked? It’s hard to shell out $400 or more when you’re not sure that the band thing is really going to stick. Try renting. Most music stores will offer a rent to own option so that you don’t have to commit until you’ve had a few months of practice under your belt.
If you’ve done any research, you’ve probably found some online music stores selling flutes for under $200. You may have even seen some for under $100. Don’t be tempted! A good flute is made from quality materials and requires skill and craftsmanship to make all those moving parts function properly. Cheap flutes are typically mass produced from pot metal, a copper lead alloy with brittle tendencies. The low melting point of pot metal makes for low construction costs, but repairs are difficult if not impossible since soldering will damage the flute. Your child will NOT succeed with one of these sub-standard flutes.
There are many excellent manufacturers that specialize in student model flutes. My first flute, which I played for nine years, was an Armstrong. Gemainhardt and Yamaha are two popular brands that most stores will carry. There are numerous other quality brands available, so ask your local music store what they carry. Playing in a school band can be a wonderful experience. Make an informed instrument choice and start having fun!
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