FCNY's Guide to Finding Your Flute
You're ready to buy a new flute, but how will you know which flute is right for you? Read on for helpful advice and tips from FCNY's Resident Flutists, who help flutists find their perfect flute every day. And if you need more help, don't hesitate to contact us.
Preparing for Your Trial
- Take a moment to think about what you’re looking for in a new instrument. Not everyone has specific wishes for their new instrument, but if you do, now is a good time to make note of them. Do you love your high register, but want a more responsive low register? Are you hoping for more depth to your tone? Do you simply need a new flute because your old instrument is holding you back
- Decide what is most important to you. Is there anything you will not compromise on? For example, maybe an offset G is a "must-have," or you have a firm budget to stay below.
- Contact your teacher. Ask if they would be willing to give you feedback on your flute trial, and if they have any recommendations for what you should try.
- If you don't have a teacher, ask an FCNY Resident Flutist to help you throughout this process. All Resident Flutists are professional flutists and teachers, and are happy to offer advice and expert insights. Fun fact: every FCNY Resident flutist plays a different brand of flute! It's not uncommon to hear conversations at FCNY about what we like about our respective flutes, or what we think is great about a particular brand. We love talking about flutes and flute shopping, and are ready to help guide you to your perfect flute. Read more about our amazing Resident Flutists here.
- Decide on a budget for your purchase.
- Choose your music. It’s best to try new instruments with music that you are comfortable with instead of music that is new or unfamiliar to you. That way you know how you usually sound on the piece, and can really assess the new instrument.
- FCNY's flute trials are designed for flutists who are ready to make a purchase in the near future. If you aren't ready to buy, we suggest waiting to try until you are ready.
Setting a Budget
Your instrument budget is highly personal, but we can offer the following suggestions:
- Make sure you know about FCNY's financing options so that you can accurately plan your budget. FCNY offers financing through Allegro Credit, Noteworthy Financing, and Quadpay (which you can use when checking out online.)
- Decide on your budget, but stay flexible if possible. A new flute is an investment that you will enjoy for many years. When it comes down to it, it might make sense to spend a little more if it means that you will be completely satisfied with your purchase.
Ordering Your Trial
- Use FCNY’s easy Trial Request Form to set up your trial. Once you submit the form, one of our Resident Flutists will contact you within 1-2 business days to finalize your trial.
- Want some advice? Just ask! Our Resident Flutists are happy to offer personalized suggestions. Contact us here, or ask for help on the trial request form.
During Your Trial
- Keep an open mind. Sometimes, the flute you think you'll like best is not the winner, and one that you almost left off the "wish list" turns out to be the clear favorite.
- Play-test flutes in short spurts instead of marathon practice sessions. It's kind of like trying perfumes - after a couple of different scents, you can’t really tell the difference anymore. Give yourself plenty of time to rest and re-set throughout the process.
- Keep notes about what you’ve tried and what you like/dislike about each flute.
- Warm-up on your current flute. Start the day with a good base/fundamentals.
- Stick to your usual practice routine. Your body and concentration levels tend to perform better when you play/practice according to a schedule, so try flutes around the same time each day.
- Test flutes in the room where you usually practice. The familiar room acoustic will help you better evaluate new flutes.
Play-Testing the Flutes
You've finished warming up on your current flute, have a pencil and notebook at your side, and are ready to start play-testing. Here are our tips:
- Play short passages of your music on each flute (2-4 measures). Focus your attention on the sound of each flute before moving on the next. Try closing your eyes while you play, so that you can concentrate even more on the sound.
- Make sure to play in all registers: low, middle, and high.
- A simple way to hone in on the sound of each flute: Play an F Major scale in two octaves, slurred and then articulated. You’ll hear a little bit of each octave, and can listen for tone and articulation.
- Listen for:
- Flexibility between registers
- Ease of legato and staccato articulation
- Different dynamics
- Does the flute put a smile on your face when you play it? That’s a good sign!
Try using our FCNY Trial Notes page to help you keep track of what you think of each flute. Click here for a free printable version.
Consult with a Teacher or an FCNY Resident Flutist
- Even if you can't meet with your teacher in person, you should still ask for their opinion on your flute trial.
- If you don't have a flute teacher, or if your teacher isn't available, send your recordings to an FCNY Resident flutist. We would be happy to listen and offer feedback.
- Record each flute and email the tracks to your teacher or FCNY Resident Flutist. Recording off video chat usually results in better sound quality.
- Stay in the yellow. On most recording devices, you'll see the audio levels moving up to yellow and eventually red. Red could mean things were too loud and will sound distorted; yellow is likely not too soft/loud.
- If you record with something like your phone, you may not have this visual feedback. Record a small amount then listen back on headphones. Being further from your phone may avoid distorted sounds, but increases how much we hear the room. Try a test-recording and listen back to hear how it sounds.
- If possible, record where there aren't extra noises. Take time to listen to the room so that the listener can enjoy the sound of flutes, not flutes and something else.
- Find a time to discuss your recordings with trusted advisors - your teacher, friends, or an FCNY Resident Flutist. You could set up a video call (we recommend Zoom, Facetime, or Skype), talk over the phone, or even correspond via email.
- The right flute will make you feel like a better player! You should sound like yourself, only improved.
- Try not to focus too much on the specifications of each flute. It's easy to get lost in the details, but at the end of the day remember that every flute is more than the sum of its' parts.
- Focus on finding the perfect flute for you, and let go of the idea that any one flute could be “the best” for everyone. When clients ask us which flute is the best, our honest answer is that the best flute is different for every flutist. You're looking for your flute, not anyone else's.
- Listen to the feedback and opinions from others, but trust your personal judgment. You will be the person who ends up playing the flute, not anyone else. Trust yourself.