Hello flute friends. June is here (and almost gone, what?). That means that NFA 2018 is right around the corner. Being that it is the biggest flute convention of the year, you might be thinking about flute shopping there.
Well, I’m right there with you. I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy a new instrument, a new headjoint, or nothing at all. But I will be spending some time in the exhibition hall looking at all things flute.
In this installment of my NFA series, I’m going to share some tips for flute shopping as well as other flute products you could buy.
Know Your Budget.
Flutes can cost upwards of $20K, but you probably don’t have that much money to spend. Right? So make sure you have a budget for spending at the convention.
Do you want to purchase a new flute or piccolo? Or are you planning to stick to the small stuff, like sheet music?
Decide how much money you can and are willing to spend at the convention before you go. Then stick to that budget as best you can.
You could create a daily budget or a budget for the whole convention. Your budget could also have different sections for things like sheet music and instruments.
No matter how you separate things out, have an overall budget in place so that you don’t get sucked into those amazing 18k gold, really expensive flutes. Unless that’s what you’re looking for, that is.
Stick to Your Budget.
Obviously, if you’re budget is less than $5000, you won’t be able to get a gold flute. Certain brands might also be out of reach with that budget. That’s okay.
When you approach a booth and ask to try flutes, tell the salesperson what your budget is. Flutists and vendors are nice people. They WANT you to buy something. So they’re gonna be willing to work with you.
By researching different flutes beforehand, you will know what specs you can get and which ones you might need to save for or skip. Adding specs like a C# trill, split E, a gold riser, and more can significantly increase the cost.
Related: Flute Specs
Decide What You Want.
Do you want to buy a flute? A piccolo or low flute? Do you just want a new headjoint? Or are you going to jump on the LeFreque train?
Once you have your budget and know what you can afford with that budget, decide what is most important. If you’re headed off to music school, you will probably want to upgrade your flute followed by piccolo, then maybe an alto flute.
If you are an amateur, you may not need or want a professional level flute. But you may decide that you want a bass flute so you can join a flute choir.
Maybe you’re fine with your set of instruments and you want to test out a new headjoint or a LeFreque.
Now, some people might say you should decide what you want BEFORE setting your budget. That can work for some people, but usually finances aren’t as negotiable as what we choose to purchase. Do what works for you.
Try Lots of Flutes (etc.)
When you get to the convention, try as many flutes, headjoints, etc. as you can. There will be a ton of vendors there (view last year’s exhibitors on pg. 199). Check out different vendors, try out different brands, and test different models within your budget.
Even if you have your heart set on a (insert flute brand here), try others. Your “perfect” flute may be one you never expected.
This is also a great time to ask the flute vendors about flute trials. If you find a couple flutes you really like and want to test out a bit more, see if you can take the flutes on trial. You could either test them during the convention or maybe even take them home. (Again, ask the vendor)
You can also look into financing, if that is something you’re interested in. Financing can help you get a flute without having to pay for it upfront. You usually have to make a downpayment, and there will be interest. But for some people, it’s worth it.
Other Things to Buy
If you’re not looking at flutes, what else can you buy at the convention? You can buy anything from sheet music to cleaning supplies. If your budget is too small to pay for a new instrument, you can also look at different upgrades.
Whether you want to get a LeFreque or a new headjoint, there are low cost ways to upgrade your current instrument.
One thing that I would recommend looking at during the convention is sheet music. Yes, there are tons of places to buy sheet music online, but a lot of them don’t provide free samples.
You can’t actually see what the music looks like, or how it’s layed out, unless you’re in person. I am fortunate enough to live close to a well stock sheet music store, but I know a lot of people don’t have that luxury.
So consider looking at some sheet music while you’re in the exhibition hall. You might just find a new favorite piece.
Will you be flute shopping at the NFA convention this year? Let me know in the comments!