It is very tricky for teachers and students when it comes to recommending an ideal beginner flute. The market is flooded with substandard flutes and you seem to be able to purchase them everywhere. However, not every flute is made equal and a lot of frustration can be prevented if a student purchases a decent flute from the outset.
If you purchase a high-quality flute, you will find that the intonation is better, the notes come out more easily and most importantly you will reduce your repair bills dramatically. Spending a little more on this initial investment will make a huge difference down the line. Ensure that you have seen or consulted a teacher before purchasing your first instrument, particularly if you are a young beginner.
Straight or curved head
Depending on the child’s size, your teacher may recommend a curved head joint. A curved head joint is quite literally where the tube has been curved (bent round). Having this reduces the length of the instrument, meaning that the keys will be more easily reached. This will assist in creating a solid technique as children won’t be straining to reach the keys. Usually a curved head joint is recommended up until the child is around ten years old, but again this is very dependent on the child’s size and height.
The main feature you want the instrument to have is durability. Flutes are made out of many different materials, the most common being nickel or a silver alloy, but you do have other options available such as plastic. It is also vital that the mechanism is well designed and build to reduce breakages and expensive repair bills. Having said this, even the best flutes will start to fail you if they are not maintained. Book regular services to avoid this and to keep your instrument sounding its best.
So which beginner flute?
One of the most well-known brands is the Nuvo Brand. This is the most cost-effective flute out there and serves very well as a first instrument. It comes with an easy case, cleaning accessories and above all it is extremely light, making it a great choice for young flute players. At the time of writing this it is about $160 making it a very good price.
However, once a student begins to progress, the flute would very quickly have to be replaced and upgraded to a metal model. I would recommend this to parents who are unsure if their child will continue but would like them to have a go. However, one side note on this, sometimes it is better to fully commit! If you purchase thinking they might quit… they probably will.
Perhaps my favourite student flute on the market is the Yamaha 222. This is a more expensive option at $695 but well worth the money. Having an instrument of this quality from the beginning makes it a lot easier for the student to make a sound. The mechanism is also extremely well made, incorporating pointed key arms and ergonomically designed keys. The level of detail put into making a Yamaha flute minimizes the repair bill dramatically as long as it is looked after. You will not find screws coming loose on their own!
Although this is a more expensive option it is well worth the money and will not need upgrading until they are a more advanced musician. They also have options such as a solid silver head joint or even just the lip late.
Trevor James 10X
My third choice for beginner flutes would be the Trevor James 10X models. This flute is slightly cheaper than the Yamaha, priced around $595. It is also extremely well made but is perhaps not quite as sturdy as the Yamaha. You may also find that you would like to upgrade this instrument sooner than you would with the Yamaha.
Flute shop own brands
Finally, flute shops in London such as AFP and Just Flutes are releasing their own student flute models. These are quite hard to get hold of in Dubai, where I am currently teaching! But I do have a couple of students that have brought these over from England and I have been very impressed with their quality and durability. Again, a decent flute that is great for a new beginner. These beginner flutes are currently priced around $280 making them much cheaper than the above two flutes and, in my opinion, a much better investment than a plastic flute that will need to be quickly upgraded.
I hope this article helps you on your flute adventure!
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