A while back, I wrote about some necessities for my flute bag. While that list hasn’t changed too much, there are some differences. So I thought I would do an update to help you figure out what to keep in your bag.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional, you should have a few things on hand. That way, you can enjoy playing the flute and keep your instrument in good condition.
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The first, and most important, thing I keep in my flute bag is my flute. I currently play a Pearl Cantabile, and I love it. But there are so many amazing flutes out there, so you should choose the best flute for you.
My flute comes in a wood French-style case, so it fits nicely in my bag. I use a Cedar Wood Fluterscooter bag, and I’ve had it for almost four years. The bag has held up very well, so while it’s expensive, it’s worth it.
Of course, you probably have a different flute than I do. But a good flute bag will have just enough space for your instrument. The Fluterscooter bags can fit flutes with a C or B footjoint, which is super nice.
If you also play the piccolo, you should get a flute bag that will fit the instrument. That way, you can keep your flute and piccolo together. I love being able to keep them in the same place for practice sessions, rehearsals, and concerts.
Just like the flute, the piccolo you play can be very personal. I currently play a Hammig 650/3, but I played a Pearl 105 for the longest time. It’s now my backup piccolo, so I’ll play it whenever I need to play outside or when my current piccolo is in the shop.
Having a good piccolo is crucial if you want to make the flute part of your career. But even if you don’t want to go pro, being able to play the piccolo can open up a lot of doors for you as a musician.
If you want to keep your flute safe during a rehearsal break or when playing the piccolo, you should have a flute stand. I have the Hercules Travelite Flute Stand, and I’ve used it for over seven years now.
At home, I use a bigger Hercules stand, but it can be annoying to take that to rehearsals and concerts. So when I need to practice out of the house, it’s nice to use a stand that I *could* store in my footjoint.
If you get this stand, don’t keep it in your flute. Instead, keep it in the bag outside of your instrument. That way, you’ll have it when you need it, and you don’t have to worry about damaging your flute.
Similarly, I also have a stand specific for my piccolo. Unlike, say, clarinet players, flute players can’t use the same stand for different members of the flute family. The piccolo stand wouldn’t be secure enough for the flute, but the flute stand is too big for the piccolo.
I use a K&M Piccolo Stand, and it’s nice and compact. All you have to do is unscrew a little cap, let the legs fall, and screw the cap back on. Then, you can use the piccolo stand for breaks or for when you need to play your flute.
This stand is too big to fit in your piccolo. But you can put it in any compartment of your chosen flute bag. That way, you’ll have it within close reach, so you can keep your piccolo safe when you aren’t playing it.
Earplugs are particularly important if you play the piccolo, but you can also use them if you only play the flute. A good set of earplugs will protect your hearing, but they’ll also allow you to hear some sound.
That way, you can still tune your instrument and stay in tune with other members of your ensemble. I’ll usually wear an earplug in my right ear when I play the piccolo to keep from damaging my hearing.
Unfortunately, your hearing won’t come back if it goes away. If you want an affordable pair, check out the Etymotic ER-20 earplugs. I’ve used them for many years, and they’re great.
As you play your flute, your fingerprints can get on the instrument. And if you don’t clean the outside, it can get really dirty. For that reason, I like to keep a couple of polishing cloths in my flute bag.
I have a cloth with owls on it that my flute tech gave me when I bought my backup flute from her. But the cloth I use more often is a Beaumont polishing cloth. The one I have has a floral lace pattern, and it’s cute.
But you can find plenty of other patterns from Beaumont. That way, you can make your flute playing a little more colorful. Black can be nice, but it can also be a little boring.
Not only do you need a cloth to clean the outside of your flute, but you also need something to clean the inside. Condensation can collect in your instrument, and it can damage the pads and the rest of the instrument.
I also use a Beaumont swabbing cloth for the inside of my flute. Like the polishing cloths, these come in tons of different patterns. You can get cloths that match, or you can mix two different designs together.
Whenever you go to put your flute away, you should swab it out. That way, the moisture won’t build up too much. If you have to play for a long time, you can even use the cloth during a practice break.
To go with your flute swabbing cloth, you should use a cleaning rod. The rod is what will help you get the cloth through the inside of your flute. Most flutes will come with a cleaning rod you can use for cleaning and to adjust your cork.
I never switched my cleaning rod from my previous flute, so I’m technically not using the right one. But it does the job, and it’s a wood rod, so it won’t scratch the metal. Make sure to get a wood or plastic rod for your flute.
You can use a metal rod if you have a plastic or wood piccolo. But you don’t want to use metal with metal. That way, you can keep from damaging the inside of your instruments.
The main way I swab out my piccolo is with a Valentino piccolo wand. It’s one piece, and it has a metal rod and a bit of fabric over one end. The wand is long enough to use when my piccolo is assembled.
That makes it really easy to swab out the piccolo during a practice session. I don’t have to worry about retuning, and I also don’t have to let water collect in the piccolo for too long.
Luckily, it’s not a huge problem with my current piccolo, but my backup piccolo would get water in the thumb key or the Eb key a lot. Being able to swab out the instrument in one go is super nice.
Similar to the piccolo wand, you can also get a Valentino Flute Wand. However, the wand isn’t (usually) long enough for you to use without disassembling the flute. But it has the same design, with a metal tube and some fabric over one it.
You can use it to get moisture out of the corners of the headjoint. And you can use it with a cleaning rod and cloth. Or it might become your go-to solution for swabbing out your flute.
Now, if you do want to be able to use it without taking your flute apart, you can use a dowel rod. You can make it yourself, or you can have someone like a flute tech or someone good at woodworking do it for you.
Flute/Woodwind Screw Tool
I’m not quite sure of the name for it, but you can get a special flute or woodwind tool. It has one end with a flathead screwdriver, so you can adjust the screws on your flute or piccolo.
The other end has a little hook and a ridge, so you can push or pull a spring back into place. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to use this tool for anything. But you never know what could happen to your flute or piccolo.
It’s nice to simply have a fixit tool on hand. That way, you can fix your instrument quickly before a concert. Or you can be the one your friends come to when they need to fix their flutes.
If you use paper sheet music, you should have at least one or two pencils in your case. I still keep a mechanical pencil in my case for when I or someone else needs to use it.
Even if you have your backpack or another bag with a pencil, you might forget to bring that bag to a rehearsal. The last thing you want is to not be able to mark in changes during your practice.
If you do that, you could forget the changes, and you might not practice the music in the right way. So save yourself some time and keep a pencil in your flute bag.
If you use an iPad for sheet music, you should keep an Apple Pencil or another stylus in your bag. While you can use your finger to annotate your sheet music, a stylus of some sort makes it much easier.
You can make more precise marks, and it can feel like you’re writing on paper. I personally love using an Apple Pencil. But if you don’t want to spend that much, any stylus can work well.
Of course, you can’t share a stylus as easily as a pencil. So make sure you have your stylus in your flute bag at all times. Then, you won’t have to share with someone else using an iPad or have to use your finger.
Want to learn more about using an iPad for sheet music?
If you play piccolo (and only if you play piccolo), you’ll need to keep some cork grease in your flute bag. Now, you only need cork grease if you play a piccolo that has a cork.
Some models, such as all metal instruments, don’t have a cork. More and more professional models also don’t have a cork. Instead, they have a metal joint, so you don’t have to worry about cork grease.
But if you do have a cork on your piccolo, you will need cork grease. That way, you can keep the cork from drying out. If it does dry out, it can be hard to put your piccolo together, and you may need to pay for an expensive repair.
As someone with somewhat long hair, I like to keep a hair tie in my flute bag. If I ever want to get my hair out of my face, I’ll have easy access to a tie. You can keep a couple in your bag if you want to always have one.
But at least having one can be super convenient. For example, I might not want to search through my entire purse during a rehearsal. But since I already have my flute bag out, I can look for a hair tie there.
It’s quicker and less disruptive for others. Plus, you can give the hair tie to a friend if they need to borrow one. Just make sure you don’t have lice before sharing hair accessories.
If you ever start to hear your keys sticking, you should use pad paper. The paper is thin and can help soak up any moisture from your keys. In some cases, you can get the key completely silent.
Sometimes, it can take a few tries to get the key to stop sticking. But it’s still worth trying, especially if you can’t take your flute in for maintenance. Now, some people will suggest using a dollar bill.
But a dollar bill is thick and has a lot of bacteria that could ruin your pads. If you can’t get your hands on pad paper, you can get cigarette paper. Just make sure you avoid the sticky part since that will defeat the purpose of the paper.
As I write this, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Things may (slowly) be getting better, but it’s not as safe as it was a couple of years a go. At this point, I’m fortunate enough to not have to play outside of the house.
But I still like to keep a special flute mask in my flute bag. A family friend of mine was nice enough to alter her regular mask design to fit the flute. That way, I was able to play with a mask during the last semester of my masters last fall.
If I happen to have a performance in the next few months, I will at least use the mask when I’m not actively playing. That way, I can stay safe and keep those around me safe as well.
What Will You Keep in Your Flute Bag?
A flute bag can be a great way to keep your instruments and accessories in one safe place. But what should you fit in the bag? From your flute to cleaning accessories, make sure your bag can fit everything you need.
That way, you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything when you go to practice or perform.
Do you want to swap your pencil for an Apple Pencil? Sign up to be one of the first to get access to my upcoming program forScore and More: The Musician’s Guide to Digital Sheet Music!