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Old 03-14-08, 09:42 PM   #1
nekohime
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Does anyone play the flute?

Teh bf bought a flute at the flea market for $65 a couple of weeks ago--a steal! It's got some sticky keys, but nothing that needs major repair (according to our favorite local music shop). So now we're trying to learn how to play it because...well, because we're music nerds like that.

Does anyone play flute? If so, any tips for noobies? So far, I've got the embouchure right and I can tune reasonably well, but I can't jump up the octave consistently.
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Old 03-14-08, 09:45 PM   #2
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how about a digareedo that is as close as i can help
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Old 03-14-08, 10:00 PM   #3
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If your key is sticky, lube them. Keep your lips parallel to the mouthpiece. That's all the advice I can give, as I don't play flute. Great thing about flutes (or piccolo) is the instrument require low maintenance when the comes the mouthpiece compared to the reeds instrument. Another, it's so small you can easily carry it inside your bags without clogging up spaces.
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Old 03-14-08, 10:10 PM   #4
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$65 for a flute is pretty good! As to your sticky keys- are the keys sticking, or is it the pads? If the former, I'd be careful about lubing them- you can really screw up the pads (like disintegrate them) that way if you're not really careful about dropping the lube on. And, you need to know exactly where to put it. And, if you use the wrong lube you can end up with a gunky flute.

However, check the pads first. My flute teacher showed me a very cool trick years ago- take a cigarette paper (ZigZag is good- plus the logo is awesome ) and place it between the pad and the open hole. Gently close the key and slowly pull the paper out- you might have to do this several times to get the dirt off the pad, but it usually works, unless the dirt/gunk is really worked in.

When all is said and done, you might want to take your flute to a trained repair person, but this can get really pricey- I just got a quote from a reputable shop here in Philly for an overhaul- $395, but that includes new pads, re-seating the keys, performing all sorts of maintenance, but no major repairs (e.g., banging out dents or replacing keys.

Good luck and have a lot of fun- the flute is a great instrument! What kind is yours? Open-hole or closed? B-foot or C?
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Old 03-14-08, 10:24 PM   #5
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$65 for a flute is pretty good! As to your sticky keys- are the keys sticking, or is it the pads? If the former, I'd be careful about lubing them- you can really screw up the pads (like disintegrate them) that way if you're not really careful about dropping the lube on. And, you need to know exactly where to put it. And, if you use the wrong lube you can end up with a gunky flute.

However, check the pads first. My flute teacher showed me a very cool trick years ago- take a cigarette paper (ZigZag is good- plus the logo is awesome ) and place it between the pad and the open hole. Gently close the key and slowly pull the paper out- you might have to do this several times to get the dirt off the pad, but it usually works, unless the dirt/gunk is really worked in.

When all is said and done, you might want to take your flute to a trained repair person, but this can get really pricey- I just got a quote from a reputable shop here in Philly for an overhaul- $395, but that includes new pads, re-seating the keys, performing all sorts of maintenance, but no major repairs (e.g., banging out dents or replacing keys.

Good luck and have a lot of fun- the flute is a great instrument! What kind is yours? Open-hole or closed? B-foot or C?
It's a closed hole C flute...

Haha, we did the cigarette paper (well, actually we used a dollar bill) trick, but teh bf thinks the pads are worn out on some, while the keys are sticky on others. *shrug* I'm a violinist, really, and teh bf is more knowledgeable about sticky keys and other wind instrument whatnot. When we took it to the music shop, they couldn't give us a quote because the actual repair guy wasn't in, but hopefully it's not $395!
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Old 03-14-08, 10:24 PM   #6
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This one time, in band camp.....
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Old 03-14-08, 10:31 PM   #7
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It's a closed hole C flute...

Haha, we did the cigarette paper (well, actually we used a dollar bill) trick, but teh bf thinks the pads are worn out on some, while the keys are sticky on others. *shrug* I'm a violinist, really, and teh bf is more knowledgeable about sticky keys and other wind instrument whatnot. When we took it to the music shop, they couldn't give us a quote because the actual repair guy wasn't in, but hopefully it's not $395!
I'd still try the ZigZags- cigarette papers are more absorbent than bills (which can actually deposit oils on the pads, so be careful!). I hope your repair guy is cheaper than mine .

BTW, for your octaves, check out this site, especially the section on harmonics. IMO, harmonics practice is a great way to improve octave leaps, especially legato ones. For staccato leaps, concentrate on your tonguing- maybe do a bunch of repeats on each note as you do a set of scales. Also try triplets on octaves (like C-c-C, especially- what a bear!). And pick up a copy of Marquarre's Technical Exercises- it's a classic, and there are some really hair-raising exercises in there, but they really pay off.

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Old 03-16-08, 02:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by nekohime View Post
Teh bf bought a flute at the flea market for $65 a couple of weeks ago--a steal! It's got some sticky keys, but nothing that needs major repair (according to our favorite local music shop). So now we're trying to learn how to play it because...well, because we're music nerds like that.
Ha, I'm a music nerd too. Picked up both a flute and a trumpet at a music store going out of business sale. I do better with the flute than the trumpet. I really had to hold myself back from getting a French horn. Probably a good thing they didn't have any bassoons too.
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Old 03-16-08, 04:06 AM   #9
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My Spanish teacher plays a floot
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Old 03-16-08, 07:11 AM   #10
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Really? I've read the reviews of it, and I don't know why anyone would be bothered.

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Old 03-16-08, 01:38 PM   #11
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You should ask my wife (Happyfeet) how much the overhaul on her flute just ran her. She'll be posting here shortly as I notified her about this thread.
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Old 03-16-08, 01:44 PM   #12
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Really? I've read the reviews of it, and I don't know why anyone would be bothered.

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Old 03-16-08, 02:10 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by nekohime View Post
Teh bf bought a flute at the flea market for $65 a couple of weeks ago--a steal! It's got some sticky keys, but nothing that needs major repair (according to our favorite local music shop). So now we're trying to learn how to play it because...well, because we're music nerds like that.

Does anyone play flute? If so, any tips for noobies? So far, I've got the embouchure right and I can tune reasonably well, but I can't jump up the octave consistently.
Congratulations on your new flute! Here are my $0.02, for what they're worth...

1. Jumping the octave - For beginners, it's easiest to achieve the second octave by increasing the airspeed. Try this on the headjoint alone first if it's difficult on the whole flute. Low register notes do not require a ton of air or speed to blow; the speed of air is like you would to fog up a mirror (warm, slow air). For the next octave up, think of blowing more the way you would blow out birthday candles (colder, faster air).

As you get more advanced, it is useful to try and adjust the embouchure so that the lower lip is pushed slightly forward to achieve the higher octave(s) -- this changes the air direction and helps achieve higher notes without blowing harder. I'd recommend seeking out a teacher for this part, even if it's only for one lesson.

2. If you don't already have a cleaning rod and cloth for your flute, get them. Flutes should optimally be swabbed of moisture every 30 minutes of practice, so that the water vapor that collects inside all three parts does not collect in the pads. When pads get wet, they expand, and shrink as they dry. Over time, they will warp from the repeated changes, and will start to leak (when the pad does not seal evenly over the tone hole, and the notes do not produce easily). Flute cleaning rods come in metal and wood; I prefer wood, because they are less likely to scratch the inside of the instrument. You don't have to buy an expensive cloth; just get something that is soft, lint-free, and won't scratch your flute. An old cut-up T-shirt, bandana, or cheesecloth work well (good size: 8 in. x 8 in.). Make sure the top of the cleaning rod is covered by the cloth before you swab.

3. When putting together your flute, try and handle it by the parts that don't have keys/rods. Too much pressure can bend them. I grip my flute by the base of the headjoint (not the lip plate), the top of the body, and the base of the footjoint. Line up the embouchure hole on the headjoint so that it is in line with the middle of the majority of the flute's keys (besides the B key and the G key on the left hand). Having a headjoint that is too far rolled in or out will contribute to poor hand position and poor intonation.

4. DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT pull cigarette paper or dollar bills out through a closed key. This rips the pads on the flute! If you have moisture build-up in a key, take a leaf of cigarette paper (ZigZag papers are excellent, because they do not have gumming on the side like normal cigarette paper does), position it fully underneath the wet pad, and close the key. You can apply gentle pressure on the closed key to help the paper absorb the moisture. Open the key and remove the paper. If it is wet, repeat with a dry section of paper until no more moisture is visible. There may still be a slight amount of sticky noise even after the paper is dry, but this is all right and will disappear once the pad dries out fully by itself.

I have a lot of other topics I go through with my beginner students, but there's too much stuff to go into in this post (hand position, breathing exercises, finding the correct placement for the footjoint, finger position on keys, etc.). Since you said it's a closed hole, C-foot flute, I assume it's a student model instrument. I don't know how much overhauls on student flutes cost nowadays, but it might not be a bad idea to get a COA (clean, oil, and adjustment) at your local repair shop, which will put the instrument in good working condition without a full overhaul. Just for comparison: on my handmade professional model Powell flute, a COA is approximately $200; an overhaul (which I just had done) was close to $1000 with the upgraded Straubinger pads I requested (otherwise, it would have been about $800).

Assuming your flute is clean and working properly, there's not much you have to do to keep it playing well. Swab your flute carefully and often, don't drop it or bang it around, keep it in its case when you're not playing it. I do polish my flute a few times a week with a microfiber cloth, NO silver polish. (Silver polish can be damaging to the pads.)

Have fun with your flute! PM me if you have any more questions.

Last edited by happyfeet; 03-16-08 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 03-16-08, 02:21 PM   #14
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^^^yay, thanks a lot! Those are excellent tips for noobs like me and teh bf. I have a soft plastic cleaning rod and microfiber cloth (from my alto recorder, actually). We've been using that so far...it won't damage thee flute, right?

I'm trying to get my ethnomusicology/jazz professor (James Newton! ) to recommend me flute teachers, but if I get better I will beg for lessons from him.
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Old 03-16-08, 02:38 PM   #15
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^^^yay, thanks a lot! Those are excellent tips for noobs like me and teh bf. I have a soft plastic cleaning rod and microfiber cloth (from my alto recorder, actually). We've been using that so far...it won't damage thee flute, right?

I'm trying to get my ethnomusicology/jazz professor (James Newton! ) to recommend me flute teachers, but if I get better I will beg for lessons from him.
The microfiber should be just fine as long as it absorbs quickly! Make sure it's also not too big -- you don't want to get the cloth stuck in the instrument. As I mentioned above, 8x8 in. is a good size so that it will clean the interior without being so bulky that it could poke through the tone holes and damage the pads.

OH -- I almost forgot -- When you swab the body and foot of the flute, push the cleaning rod + cloth through in one continuous motion. Don't "scrub" the inside like a toothbrush, as this could also rip the pads (I sound like a broken record don't I?).

Lessons from James Newton? That would be incredible! Since you're in the Southern California area (where I grew up! ) you won't be lacking in flute teachers.
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