Ok... I am in the market for a new flute (have been for a while since my handmade flute was stolen about a year ago). I tried many flutes at the Florida Flute Association Convention but had other events going on with my school choir and a performance I participated in, so I felt rushed to make a decision. However, while I was there I did like the Miyazawa Vision flute with one particular headjoint. I thought about that flute a few months after the convention ended and tried to track it down... The lady at the table at Miyazawa had serial numbers of 2 headjoints I liked. One has been sold and the other (the one that she THINKS I liked) is available. I can try two Vision flutes with that headjoint as well as other headjoints for a 90 dollar trial fee plus shipping.
I can go to the NFA Convention in NYC in August. My concerns are.... would I really have much more luck at the NFA convention than I did at Florida? Also, I want very specific features (heavy wall, D# roller, C# trill, offset G, and NO split E) and a lot of times they may not have those exact features available at a convention. Of course, the amount of headjoints there would be really great.
What do you think about maybe getting a nice Miyazawa Vision body now and getting the headjoint at the convention? Oh, and one more thing. Do you think the C# roller is at all useful? Usually I've only tried flutes with a D# roller (or without any rollers) but these two Vision flutes that I can try have D# AND C# rollers. Is this total overkill or would I find the C# roller useful (since I find the D# roller useful)?
Conventions/flute fairs/trade shows are a great place to survey what's out there and find flutes or headjoints that you may be interested in. However, such events are not really ideal for serious flute trials. There is generally a lot of noise and other flutes being played. IMO, that makes it difficult to really get a good feel for how a flute plays and sounds. The other point I would make is that trying a flute or headjoint for a only few hours over a day or two, is not enough time to really do justice to a choice. It really takes several days to allow yourself time to adjust to a new flute/headjoint and to figure out whether you really like it or not.
When I was shopping for a headjoint, I visited booths to get some general impressions. But after that, I arranged for a home trial to make my final decision. In the end, I picked a headjoint that was not necessarily my first choice when I was visiting booths. The one that I picked required a bit longer for me to get acclimated to it, but once I did that, I found that I could do so much more with it in terms of tone color, dynamics, etc.
So, my advice is to do an at home trial. You'll get a much better feel for what each flute/headjoint can do and you'll be in a far better position to make an informed choice.
Regarding the rollers,I like them. Saxophones have always had both C#/D# rollers and I could never figure out why they aren't standard on flutes. I don't have either, but I wish I had both...
While I haven't been to a flute convention, I can speak to the headjoint acclimation process.
Some instruments, you play three notes on, and just know that's the one for you. (This happened with my Zentner piccolo.)
Other times, you try it, and don't really like it. But later (whether a few minutes or a couple of days), you might find that there's something special about that headjoint. I didn't like my Miyazawa MZ-5 head much. I bought it cheap, thinking I'd resell it if I didn't like it. I didn't like it. Nobody local wanted to buy it. I played it more, here and there, and LEARNED to play it, and now I LOVE it-it's my main HJ.
I have found that if I try a headjoint, and don't really like it- assuming it's a GOOD HJ, and not, say, the head from a 30 year old Armstrong 104- that there's probably something to learn from it. Once I get to playing that new HJ well, I have several times gone back to my usual favorite, and found that it now has a new dimension that I never knew about.
I've also heard occasional opinions about a new HJ (or flute, or piccolo) bought that seems 'perfect' at first, but later the player really doesn't like it as much.
I think many times we will choose a HJ that is similar to the one we already have. If what we have is holding us back somehow, we really don't want more of the same. Having a REALLY good player or two try some choices out might reveal something. For example, you might find a HJ that is fantastic for response, that you are really attracted to, but an accomplished player might find that it is tone-limiting.
So, I'd say get some good ones on a home trial period. Have your 'picking' methods laid out beforehand, ie what, how, and where to play, by yourself and in ensemble or duets, in a stuffy non-reverberent atmosphere and in an echo-ey place, etc.
musicman and tibbiecow are correct and right on track/tract.
Here is a little diatribe from a very good player regarding making changes to an instrument.
If you have owned an instrument for a long time and have played it in a number of different venues, you will have a pretty good idea of how the instrument behaves overall, despite the room's acoustics that you are in at the time. Half the battle of playing an instrument is knowing what to do to control the room as best you can under any circumstances.
I have always felt that the tone color of the instrument must be malleable.
Don't rely on any one part alone to make such a dramatic change on its own. You are responding to the part as you play and adapt yourself to find your "comfort zone" that you are used to.
Ironically, that part you are testing will sound different to your wife in a couple of weeks as you complete that transition and adjustment. You must identify what you are looking to correct prior to selecting a new part. Once done, stay the course and learn to adapt to the equipment. This is critical.
Once you have made the grand decision to change a part, stay with the equipment long enough to know the actual performance capabilities. This takes a long time to insure that you have done a thorough testing. As stated before, unlike testing machines, we are adaptable creatures and the only way to defeat this phenomena is to spend all your time on that part until you have adapted to it on a consistent basis.
It is easier to change from one class of instrument to another, than it is to change between subtle differences on the same instrument by means of a different part(HJ). The former is a radical change, the later, a tricky bit of business.