Buying a Professional Flute

I just bought my first professional flute, at NFA. If you’re following me on Instagram, then you already know this. And if your not following me, be sure to! I post lots of updates on there.

Hannah B Flute | Buying a Professional Flute

But, for this post, I wanted to share some information on how I ended up buying my new flute. I also want to share some tips for any of you who are looking at upgrading to a new flute.

The info I’m about to share will apply to flutes, piccolos, low flutes…and (to an extent) other instruments as well. Unlike last week, this post is gonna be a long one. So let’s get started!

Saving Up.

Before you actually go to buy a new instrument, you need to either have the money or know that you will be able to pay for it with financing. If you only have $100 in your bank account, you’re not gonna be able to afford a flute. That’s just the reality of the situation.

Over this past year or so, I have been saving up as much money as possible. Partly in anticipation of buying a professional flute, but also to build an emergency fund and to save for graduate school.

I do live at home with my parents and am lucky enough to not have to pay rent; I am also still covered for things like health insurance and the like. So, yes, it was easier for me to save enough money for a professional flute in one year.

Research Flutes.

Go online to sites like FluteWorld, Flute Center of New York (FCNY), Flutistry Boston, and Carolyn Nussbaum and figure out what different professional flutes cost.

I can tell you a range; professional flutes ranges from about $6,000 (entry level) all the way to $80,000. Its a large range.

You want to do your own research to see what is out there, what sparks your interest, and how much you would need for those flutes. Plus, there are over a dozen companies that make professional flutes. Different companies use different materials, like sterling silver, Britannia silver, Gold/Silver alloys, and more.

Different materials also cost different amounts. Gold and platinum flutes cost more than sterling silver flutes, for example.

Then you also have different mechanisms. Companies like Powell, Brannen, Miyazawa, and Pearl all use some sort of pinless mechanism, whereas other companies use a pinned mechanism.

Do you research to figure out what materials, designs, and models are out there so that you can prepare for the next tip.

Budget. Budget. Budget.

I cannot stress it enough: make a budget and stick to it. You can buy flutes at your budget or even under your budget. Just don’t go over your budget.

One thing I didn’t even touch on in the last tip was the different add-ons for flutes. You can get a C# trill key, a split E mechanism, a D# roller, and even different headjoint cuts. All of this does add to the cost of a flute. So when making your budget, don’t just consider the base price, consider the base price PLUS any extra upgrades you want for your flute.

Because this purchase was my first professional flute, I didn’t want to go too expensive. I set a budget of about $10,000. From the research I did, that seemed to be a good number in terms of what I wanted in a flute. I wanted (at least) solid silver throughout the tube; I wanted a C# trill key, offset G, B foot, open holes.

Now, you may not want some of those things; you may want a completely different flute. So again, do some research on the flutes that you are interested in and budget (and save) accordingly.

Test Flutes Out.

I was pretty lucky in that I was able to go to the NFA convention this year. There were SO many flute makers and flute dealers all in one place. I was able to try a Powell, a Burkart, a Di Zhao, a Miyazawa, and others before settling on my new flute.

While I do live in a major metropolitan area, there are not a ton of places for me to try professional flutes. My flute repair tech carries tons of flutes, but most of them are at the step up/intermediate level. The only professional flutes she carries are from Altus, Miyazawa, and Sankyo. All of those are great brands, but they barely scratch the surface of professional flutes.

If you are not able to attend a flute festival or convention (NFA or otherwise), you do still have options. All of the flute dealers I mentioned earlier (FluteWorld, FCNY, Flutistry Boston, and Carolyn Nussbaum) allow for in home trials. You can contact any one of those companies and add to try flutes. Now, trail by mail isn’t always free; you will either need to pay for shipping or have a hold placed on your card for the value of the instruments. Each company has different trial policies.

But no matter how you do it, try out different flutes before buying. You will thank yourself.

Be Open Minded.

Last November, I briefly played a Miyazawa 602. I was at my flute tech’s annual flute party, and, while I was mostly there to test piccolos, I had a second to try a 602. All I played was a scale, but from that, I thought it might be the flute for me.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I did not end up buying a Miyazawa 602. I tried one at NFA, more in depth this time. So for about nine months, I thought I knew which flute was for me.

I did play a Lyric Artisan flute; Lyric and Miyazawa are “partners” similar to Altus and Azumi. So I thought that Miyazawa would fit me. When I tried the 602, I realized that it wasn’t all that different from my Lyric. There wasn’t anything that struck me about the flute.

The flute I ended up choosing was a Pearl; you can check out my Instagram for posts about it.

While I had considered Pearl (my piccolo and alto are from them), it wasn’t my first thought. But when I walked through the Pearl booth at NFA, my whole world stopped when I saw this flute. I picked it up and instantly felt a connection.

Don’t Rush the Purchase.

When you are trying flutes, it can be overwhelming. Especially if you are at a flute festival or convention and are surrounded by flutes, don’t feel like you have to buy a flute then and there. Even if you want to.

As much as I fell in love the flute, I knew that I did not want buyer’s remorse. Professional flutes cost a lot. They are an investment, not an impulse buy. That’s what sheet music is for.

I left the Pearl booth and walked around the convention a bit; I went to a couple of workshops, and I had lunch. During that time, I couldn’t stop thinking about the flute.

It was calling me. Maybe this is cliche, but we flutists are like the wizards in Harry Potter. The wand chooses the wizard; the flute chooses the flutist. And this flute chose me.

So, I went back to the Pearl booth that afternoon and tried the flute again, this time testing it in other ways. I fell in love all over again, and I knew it had to be mine.

Yes that all happened in one day, but it was over the course of a few hours. So if you can, try some flutes and walk away. Maybe try other flutes or do something completely unrelated to music. Later, you can come back to the flute(s) that you enjoyed and you can (hopefully) make a clearer and more informed purchase.

Now What?

Buying a professional flute is not for the faint of heart. Ideally, you will already be at a high level of playing before you even consider it. And that’s what’s so great about step up and intermediate flutes. They give advancing students the ability to upgrade their flutes and get some professional features but for a lower cost.

That also allows players to hold off on buying a high cost flute for a bit longer.

If you are in the market for a professional (or even an intermediate) flute, don’t hesitate to set up a trial. You can set up a trial with one of the previously mentioned companies, you can contact a local flute dealer, or you can also look for flutes for sale online. The last option is tricky, but it can be a good way to find used instruments which cost less than new instruments.

So…

Have you upgraded your flute before? What flute did you end up buying? Let me know down in the comments!

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Flute Specs: Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Pro

B foot. Split E. C# trill. Soldered tone holes. What do these all mean? These, my friends, are just a few flute specs. Flutes come with many different specs, sometimes even made specially for the person who will play them.

Hannah B Flute | Flute Specs: Beginner, Intermediate, and Pro

Different level flutes come with different features that are meant for players at that level. Beginner flutes are made so that it is easier to make a sound. Professional flutes offer more resistance and special features.

Today, we are going to look at some of the most common specs, what they mean, and who they are for. Remember: no two flutes play the same, and no two players play the same.

Beginner Flutes

These flutes have the fewest amount of add ons; the specs are pretty standard across different brands. That is part of why the cost is lower for beginner models that intermediate or professional flutes.

Specs

Beginner flutes are silver plated throughout the entire flute. Silver is expensive; by plating a flute, you can cut cots while still having the sound of a full silver flute.

Beginner flutes also come with a C footjoint. Flutes with C footjoints have a shorter tube and one key fewer than flutes with a B footjoint. These flutes go down to middle C rather than the B right below middle C. The lack of a low B is not a big deal for most beginners, and the lighter weight makes holding the flute easier.

Student flutes come with closed hole keys. Keys with open holes in the middle require a more refined hand position. Starting out on a flute with closed holes allows the player to focus on other things at first, but hand position is still important.

The offset G key is almost always used in newer student flutes. If the G key (left hand ring finger) is in line with all of the other keys, it can be harder to reach. An offset G key can alleviate this problem

Intermediate Flutes

Intermediate flutes go by many names. Sometimes they are called step up flutes or mid level flutes. No matter what you call them, these are the flutes between beginner flutes and professional flutes. They offer more professional specs while staying budget friendly.

Specs

A handmade headjoint is one of the features that sets apart intermediate from beginner flutes. Beginner flutes are almost always factory made. The bodies of most intermediate flutes are also factory made. Intermediate flutes will have a handmade headjoint, though.

Another feature seen on many intermediate flutes, at least in the United States, is open holes. Open holes, while not necessary, allow the player to start learning certain extended techniques, like quarter tones.

The third common spec for intermediate flutes is a B footjoint. While this is less common in Europe, North American flutists looking to upgrade will probably find a flute with a B footjoint.

The last spec that is standard with most intermediate flutes is a higher silver content. Whether it is a silver headjoint or a silver headjoint and body, intermediate flutes contain more solid silver than student flutes.

Options

It is at the intermediate level where you have the ability to start customizing your flute. Student flutes come as is, but intermediate flutes offer extra features that can help with certain notes and fast passages.

The first common option for intermediate flutes is the split E or the G disc. Both of these options fix the same problem: the high E. A split E key closes the lower G key. This flattens the pitch of the high E and allows for more control and less cracking.

The G disc takes a different approach than the split E by placing a “donut” in the lower G tone hole. Doing this allows lowers the pitch on the high E without making as much of a sacrifice as the split E.

The C# trill key is yet another common option for intermediate flutes. The key is placed onto the flute between the thumb key and the trill keys. It facilitates C# in both trills and as the main note.

Professional Flutes

The biggest thing that professional flutes have on intermediate flutes is that they are fully handmade. Professional flutes are also more expensive. Aside from that, there are not a ton of differences between intermediate and professional flutes.

Professional flutes are slightly more customizable. They come in different metals, even silver plated. Professional flutes are priced highly for a reason: they are for professionals and serious amateurs.

These flutes are not for the faint of heart.

Specs

There are two specs that you will likely only find on professional flutes. Those two are: solid silver keys and soldered tone holes.

Most professional flutes are all silver, including the keys. While some lower cost professional flutes have plated keys, solid silver keys are just as common. Are they necessary? It’s up to you on whether you want to spend the money.

In the professional flute world, there is a long running debate between drawn and soldered tone holes. Drawn tone holes are created by “drawing” the silver from the tube to create the tone holes. Soldered tone holes, on the other hand, are made separately from the flute and then soldered onto the tube.

Options

Professional flutes come in all sorts of metals. You can find silver plated flutes, sterling silver flutes, gold, and even platinum flutes. Professional flutes can also be found in different types of silver, like the darker Britannia silver.

So…

This is just a short list of all the different specs that you can find for flutes. Did I leave out any of your favorite flute specs? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already.

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First Look at Moyse: De La Sonorite

Just as the flute has its fair share of standard repertoire, it also has its fair share of method books. One of these methods is De La Sonorite, by Marcel Moyse. Today, I am going to share my first impressions of this famous flute book.

Hannah B Flute | Moyse De La Sonorite

I am also going to talk about the importance of books like Sonorite. From Moyse to Wye to Taffanel & Gaubert, there are many useful flute books available. Sonorite fits in quite nicely with other advanced books like it.

Last week, I finally got my own copy of Sonorite. I took a trip to my local sheet music store and found Sonorite; I had to have it! So, here are my first impressions of the book as well as why every advancing flutist should have books like Sonorite.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here.

Sonorite? What?

De La Sonorite is French for “On Sonority,” and that is what this book is all about. Sonority means sound. The flute is capable of many different sounds, and tone development give you the foundation necessary for working with different tone colors.

Sonority refers to the whole sound of the flute. It encompasses tone, dynamics, and so much more. Long tone exercises, as boring as they may be, help you find the sound you want.

A Bach sonata is going to have different tone colors than a French Conservatory piece.

Moyse’s De La Sonorite works the whole flutist. The exercises cover the full range of the flute, and they use different intervals. While chromatic long tone exercises are important, you also need to maintain a good tone between fourths, fifth, and the dreaded tritone.

Why this book?

Yes, there are many different resources for tone exercises. A skilled flutist could even come up with their own. De La Sonorite is important, because it is a classic.

Most professional flutists and teachers have probably worked out of it at some point in their careers. It’s so popular, because it works.

I have just started working through the book, and I already have a different view on tone. Working on tone doesn’t need to be a hassle. It should be fun; you wouldn’t be able to play flute if you didn’t have some sort of tone.

What about other books?

There are many tone and technique books available for flute. Some good ones include Trevor Wye’s Practice Books for the Flute Omnibus Edition, Taffanel & Gaubert’s 17 Daily Exercises, and Maquarre’s Daily Exercises.

Of those, the Wye is the only one with a tone section.

All of these books are important to the serious flutist, but De La Sonorite fills a void. The Wye book covers everything a flutist should know. It doesn’t focus only on tone, like the Moyse book.

Okay, I’m convinced. How do I buy it?

There are many places where you can buy it. I bought my copy from a music store in my area. If you live close to any music stores, call and ask if they have a copy. Most stores can order it in, even if they don’t normally carry it.

You can also order the book online from Amazon, FluteWorld, or another music retailer.

There’s more.

This was mostly a first impressions of De La Sonorite. As I work through it in depth, I plan on writing a full review of each section and each exercise.

I will not be including the exercises themselves, because the book is not in public domain. If you want to check out the book for yourself, I suggest you look into buying your own copy. Or check with a friend or teacher about borrowing their copy.

This book really is the most famous, “standard” tone book.

So…

Do you have any of the standard flute practice books? Do you want to see a review of the others mentioned? Let me know in a comment below!

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Guide to Piccolo Materials

Piccolo makers use materials in their piccolos to get a distinct sound. Different materials can also affect the price of a piccolo. This post will give an overview to the different piccolo materials you can choose from.

Hannah B Flute | Guide to Piccolo Materials

When choosing a piccolo, you can choose from a variety of materials. The most common are metal, plastic, and wood. Plastic is the cheapest, followed by metal, and wood is more expensive.

There are also two types of plastic: straight plastic and composite.

In this post, we are going to explore the many piccolo materials. We will also look at the pros and cons of each.

Plastic

Plastic piccolos are one of the most common, especially for students. They are cheap, resistant to extreme temperatures, and they work well for beginners.

Some piccolos are made with both a plastic body and headjoint. Others have a plastic body and a metal headjoint.

The pros of a plastic piccolo include the lower price as well as the durability of the piccolo. If you will be playing outside, plastic piccolos can withstand the heat and cold. You don’t have to worry about cracking, like with a wood piccolo.

Cons of a plastic piccolo include the airy tone you can get. However, they are great in almost every other way. Even if you choose to buy a wood piccolo down the line, a plastic piccolo is a great back up instrument.

Common brands: Yamaha, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt

Price range (new): $500-900

Price range (used): $250-450

Composite

Composite is a type of plastic piccolo. These usually come configured with both a composite body and headjoint. Though you can buy a wood or metal headjoint if you wish.

These piccolos are a combination of plastic and wood. I currently play a composite piccolo, and I love it. Composite piccolos give you all the benefits of a wood piccolo without the price or the worries about cracks.

You can play a composite piccolo both indoors and out. No need to worry about the wood cracking. The plastic in the piccolo stabilizes the wood for a more refined sound and requires less management.

Common brands: Pearl, Guo, Di Zhao, Roy Seaman

Price range (new): $800-1100

Price range (used): $650-900

Metal

Metal piccolos are probably the least common, but they do exist. They serve their own purpose for piccolo players. Metal piccolos, like flutes, come in different metals.

You can find metal piccolos that are silver plated, solid silver, and even gold.

Metal piccolos, while uncommon, are great for marching band and other outdoor events. Metal piccolos carry more than plastic or wood, so they can be heard on a large football field.

My first piccolo was silver plated, and it was a great first instrument. I was able to use it in marching band, and it was also very affordable. Metal piccolos do cost a bit more than plastic piccolos, but not by much.

Used metal piccolos are a much better deal than new, because they are not in high demand.

If you plan to play outside a lot, metal piccolos are worth looking into.

Common brands: Gemeinhardt, Armstrong

Price range (new): $1100-2700

Price range (used): $250-1000

Wood

Professional piccolos are almost always made of wood. You can even choose from different woods. Grenadilla is the most common wood, and you can find many companies that use the wood in their piccolos.

I have played a school owned wood piccolo, and it was definitely a step up from my metal one. However, wood piccolos vary a lot in cost. Wood piccolos start at around $1500 and can go up ten-fold. The most expensive wood piccolo I have seen costs around $15000.

If you choose to buy a wood piccolo, be very aware of your budget, and shop smart. Unless you are a professional piccolo player in an orchestra, you probably don’t need all of the bells and whistles. You probably don’t need a handmade mechanism.

The biggest con of wood piccolos is the cost, but you can find lower cost wood piccolos.

Common brands: Yamaha, Lyric, Resona, Gemeinhardt

Price range (new): $1500-15000

Price range (used): $1200-10000

So…

What kind of piccolo do you play? Have you experimented with different piccolo materials? Comment below, and be sure to follow me on Instagram (@hannahbflute)!

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Protec Flute Case Cover Review

If you have been with me for awhile, you might have seen my first review of this case cover. I wrote that post a few years back, and I wanted to write an updated version for you all.

Protec is a company that makes cases and covers for a lot of different instruments. They have cases and bags for woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, and more.

Hannah B Flute | Protec Flute Case Cover Review

Today, I am going to talk about their deluxe flute case cover.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. To read my full privacy policy, click here.

Why Get a Case Cover?

There are a few reasons why you might want a little something more than just your flute case. First off, student flute cases rarely have a pocket to store cleaning supplies, pencils, and the like.

Intermediate through professional flutes come with case covers, but they are thinner and may not last very long. I know with my current flute, the case cover started to get a little wear and tear after a little over a year.

A case cover also (usually) comes with a shoulder strap. That frees up your hands for sheet music, a music stand, or whatever else you may need to lug around.

Case covers are a simple, convenient way to keep all of your flute related items together but out of the flute case itself. I love being able to keep my flute, cleaning cloths/rods, piccolo, pencils, and instrument stands all in one place.

Why Protec?

Protec Flute Case Cover

There are a lot of companies out there that make flute case covers. I am reviewing the Protec cover, because I actually own it. I have had it for almost five years, and I used it on and off for most of that time.

The Cost

When I got my first flute, it actually came in a case similar to professional flutes. But it didn’t have a case cover. So it also had no outside storage, handles, anything.

I came across the Protec cover at a local music shop, and it looked like a great solution. It was also cheap, which was great for a student. I believe I payed around $35 for the cover.

The Colors

I went with the classic black, but the case cover also comes in purple and pink. If you prefer to have a brighter case so you can find it, go with the pink. If you want a more professional cover that you can take on stage, go with black.

Purple is also great if you want to stand out a little bit, but you still want a more subdued look.

The Features

One thing that I liked about the Protec cover when I was using it was that it had tons of room for accessories. The outside pocket is much bigger than on other case covers. It’s big enough to fit a piccolo, if you have one.

The case cover is also pretty durable. I put it through quite a lot, and it still works. Yes, there is wear and tear, but nothing major.

You can also carry it multiple ways. There is the traditional handle, found on many student flute cases. You can carry it on your shoulder with the detachable shoulder strap. Finally, there is a handle on the end of the case, so you can carry it the long way.

Who is it For?

The Protec case cover is great for students and people who want a more durable cover than what they have. It is budget friendly, and you can order it from just about any online music retailer.

The case cover is also great for more advanced players who don’t have the money to spend on the more expensive case covers.

Almost any flute case can fit in the cover, student or professional, C foot or B foot. Your flute will probably fit, though it is always a good idea to check for return policies when buying online.

Who Should Shop Around?

While I believe any flutist could benefit from the case, it does have its problems. If you are like me, and you play quite a bit of piccolo, this is not the case for you.

The large outside pocket is great, because it does fit most piccolo cases. However the outside pocket is meant for storing accessories. Therefore it is not insulated like the main pocket.

That is okay for casual players, and for people who don’t play piccolo much. But it poses a problem for flutists who will be bringing their flute and piccolo around together a lot. That issue is actually what made me stop using the Protec cover.

There are tons of other companies that make case covers that do have space for a piccolo in the insulated compartment. I do plan on reviewing one of them (Fluterscooter) in the future.

So…

Have you used the Protec case cover? Do you use another brand of case cover? Let me know in the comments!

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