The Flute is a great beginning band instrument!
Flutes are affordable, light weight, and versatile. If your student continues to play flute through high school and college he/she will be able to play with concert bands, marching bands, pep bands, symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, and occasionally even jazz bands and accompanying roles. It’s a perfect starting instrument as it teaches sight reading, air support, and has similar fingerings to the saxophone and some registers of other woodwinds. But it is a popular choice so be sure to check with your band director before purchasing a flute.
There are also a couple things you should know about flutes before you decide to learn. One, is that it takes a lot of air to play the flute -as much air as the tuba! Yes, it is a smaller instrument, but the flute vents most of the air that you put into it, which produces it’s very pure and beautiful sound. So younger students that are athletic would have a head start on the air support that is needed to play the flute. Those with asthma or other respiratory ailments may be better suited for an instrument that takes less or no air at all, like the clarinet, percussion, or even string instruments. That is, ANYONE can play the Flute no matter their circumstance, just please be prepared for potential difficulties at the start.
The Flute comes in two main varieties, “open hole” and “closed hole.” The student to intermediate variety is the closed hole flute. This literally means that the keys you place your fingers on are with-out holes. This model allows small hands to not have to reach and stretch to close large holes with tiny fingers. The closed hole flutes also typically come with an “offset G” key/mechanism -pictured below. This is another clever student flute innovation, that allows for a more relaxed hand position, and keeps small hands from having to reach for the keys. Respectively, the open hole flute has open holes on the keys that fingers will need to tightly cover when played. These open hole flutes also usually have an “in-line G” which is the standard and proper tone hole placement for advanced and professional level flute models. You will also notice when purchasing a flute that the cost is vastly cheaper for closed hole flutes -which is another plus for an affordable beginning instrument!
–Closed and Open Hole Flutes–
Buying a Flute
I recommend a few flute brands on your search in purchasing a new or used flute. Gemeinhardt, Armstrong, and Yamaha all make the best student level flutes! They are extremely high quality, robust and will last years. These brands also specialize in many different models ranging from solid students flutes to the highest professional quality instruments. I, personally favor the Armstrong 104 flute model -it is the most affordable and trustworthy model I’ve come across. And is currently the only model I am refurbishing. Gemeinhardt and Yamaha also make excellent flutes, but you may notice the pricing is a bit higher -rightly so, but for a student, the Armstrong 104 is a perfectly great flute to play on. They also have an excellent intermediate level model, the Armstrong 103 boasts open holes and an in-line G for just a little more -also another great student flute!