Hi all! My 9th grader is in her element this year! She is really being challenged as a musician in her high school band and also joined marching band. Marching band camp was of course killer, but she survived and thrived in such an awesome setting! Her school participates in TOB's and are holding their own. But most importantly, they are having a wonderful time.
So, here's what we are faced with right now. Her student Armstrong Liberty flute has lost it's plating on the mouthpiece. (Please forgive me if I use the wrong terminology.) It will cost $400 to replace it, but we want to purchase an intermediate open holed flute for her and the cost is a little steep for something she will be using for marching band only in the future. The repair shop is putting clear nail polish on it for now till we can either purchase another instrument or find a cheaper part. Not the best solution, but this is after all still marching band season.
We want to take her to a reputable, knowledgable dealer in the Washington DC/Baltimore area so she can try some different intermediate flutes out. We found "Chuck Levins" but don't really know much about the place. Any other suggestions for suppliers in those areas?
Finally, we are not opposed to purchasing a used instrument. We've seen ads on Craigslist and Ebay, but we really just don't know that much about purchasing a decent flute and are concerned about getting taken for a ride. Have any of you had any experience purchasing a previously owned instrument? Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance for your help! And please feel free to comment with any additional information you think may be pertinent!
The missing plating on a flute has absolutely no effect on the playability of it. I have had my student Armstrong for 12 years, and after a recent repad it plays just fine and plating is missing in several spots on the body and the headjoint.
If your daughter wants a step-up flute, I strongly advise that you do not use it for marching band. The elements will alter the pads and cause leaks. The open holes would make it even more susceptible when it's rainy or humid outside (even if woodwinds are put aside during rainy practices, they don't get that luxury at competitions). Kids also lose/get instruments stolen at competitions (my school had rickety buses that were easy to break into), and sending her to one with a $800-$2000 instrument is not the best idea.
In all honesty, no one will be able to tell the difference between a student model and an intermediate model flute on the field because the flutes are barely heard at all most times.
There are some reputable dealers in the SE area who can send you flutes on trial: JL Smith, Pro Flute Shop, etc. Your daughter can test play them to see which ones feel right and play best for her. You can also get certified used flutes from dealers: most times the used flutes they have are in great condition because their shops have restored them.
Putting clear nail polish on the lip plate is not the best repair, but it may help reduce lip irritation. A good repair shop could replate the lip plate or send it out for replating, however the cost may not be worth it.
Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center is a good all-around music store. They carry a good selection of instruments in the range you are looking for. I bought a flute from them 11 years ago and was very satisfied with my purchase. I would recommend them if they are in driving range. Otherwise, the flute specialty shops mentioned by kshel are a good alternative since they will send trial flutes to you by UPS or FedEx.
Also, I agree with the previous message about not using a "good" flute for marching band. Harsh weather is not good for a flute and with all the turning and marching backward, etc., there is always a chance of smashing instruments together resulting in a pricey repair bill. Better to keep to old flute for marching and use the good one for concert band or orchestra.
Hi Keshel! You are right about the plating not affecting how it plays. However, it leaves a difficult to remove black smudge on her lip. And I agree 100% with you about not using the upgrade in marching band. Not only do the elements play havoc, but also the asphalt parking lot where they practice is pretty hard on the instruments when they are occasionally dropped. This is why we want to purchase TWO flutes. One intermediate open hole and a less sensitive student flute. And this is also why we want to look at used instruments. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear in my previous post. It was getting kind of late and my brain tends to shut down.
Hi Sarah! You are right about the plating not affecting how it plays. However, it leaves a difficult to remove black smudge on her lip. And I agree 100% with you about not using the upgrade in marching band. Not only do the elements play havoc, but also the asphalt parking lot where they practice is pretty hard on the instruments when they are occasionally dropped. This is why we want to purchase TWO flutes. One intermediate open hole and a less sensitive student flute. And this is also why we want to look at used instruments. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear in my previous post. It was getting kind of late and my brain tends to shut down.
I recently purchashed a used Trevor James Alto flute online and last year I purchased a used Mateki M001 entry level professional flute off craigslist. Have been very happy with both purchases and both came with a return option if I wasn't happy. I would actually be interested in selling the Mateki and a solid silver Gemeinhardt M2S in good shape as a package deal if you wanted to buy a band flute and a flute for inside playing. Both are in very good shape, but I find I prefer an offset G, closed hole flute and the Mateki is an inline open hole with B foot and Gizmo key. The price for both would be $1300 plus shipping and you could return either if you weren't happy. Leave a message here if interested and I will email you pictures and sound clip.
For Marching band, I'd recommend buying a used but sturdy instrument. Yamaha comes to mind but there are many old standby names in the business. Gemeinhardt, Armstrong and even Bundys are fine for Marching band.. Another option is to find a Piccolo so that the child can be heard. You can find one of these flutes below $500 probably that will hopefully work fine for marching. Unfortunately there are no "Durable" flutes out there that can withstand the abuse that can too often happen.
For a step up flute, that is another matter. There are a lot of brands that are fine. How much you spend depends on your finances and your child's commitment to the flute, I'd say.
Tons of kids play on nickel plated flutes all the time: I have never heard of a nickel poisoning flute pandemic... Just sayin'. If the kid has a nickel allergy, different story.
I'm really sticking to my guns when I say that you do not need to spend oodles of money on a student flute for marching band. If she does have a nickel allergy or reaction to the plating, there are a few cheap student flutes that are silver plated. Steve Deutsch in CA has a few options: http://www.stevedeutschmusic.com/buysell/buysell.htm
MBM, I wouldn't worry about the Nickel Silver issue. I'd think from your description that your daughter's flue is silver plated and not nickel plated because of the issue with the smudge on the chin that is usually from a reaction with the silver. If the plating is coming off the head joint at the lip plate, this isn't the usual place where it happens first. Usually on the keys first but Nickel plating looks more reflective like chrome and silver appears more white or it is tarnished to a brown/black patina. It is thicker than silver plating and if it starts to come off the flute, the edge of the plating could cut or scratch. I've never heard of anybody getting sick from it no more than from lead solder. Solid silver or gold is too expensive or they are too easily damaged unless you can get something of a bargain for $500 or less. There are plenty of used silver-plated flutes around for marching band at flea markets, garage sales, music stores, newspaper want ads, relatives......
Don't buy solid silver or even worse a gold flute for marching band. Silver plated is fine but some flutes have gold plated lip plates.