Buying a musical instrument on EBay can be a great experience – or not. It is important to stick with brand name instruments. Don’t look for the lowest price – cheap instruments may need so much in repairs that the cost will offset any perceived savings.
The EBay listings above are limited to recognized, brand name instruments. Take a look at the current offerings and read the remainder of this article on choosing an instrument.
Good luck in you search for an affordable, quality musical instrument.
One of the most popular instruments in the world, the flute is played by people of all ages and skill levels. Flute repertoire is extensive: the instrument is used in school band programs, symphony orchestras, flute choirs, jazz ensembles, and as a solo instrument. Popular, classical, jazz, and even rock music has been either written or transcribed for the instrument.
Many people are unaware that the concert, or C flute is the best-known member of a family of related instruments played in the same manner. The flute family consists of the piccolo, E flat, concert, alto, and bass flutes. The concert flute is the instrument of choice for beginners.
Beginner school bands usually introduce the flute in the fourth or fifth grade. It is important for young players to be large enough to reach the keys without straining the neck or hands. For an eager student whose reach is not sufficient, flutes with curved headjoints are available; many flute manufacturers offer a beginner model instrument featuring both a standard and a curved-style headjoint. The curved headjoint makes it possible for a young flutist to hold the instrument without having to reach beyond his or her capabilities at first. As the student grows, it is a simple matter to change over to the traditional, straight headjoint. Be sure to check with your local music dealer, band director, or flute teacher when deciding whether to purchase the extra headjoint option; the initial cost is nominal. Purchasing a regular flute and discovering later that the student really needs the curved head necessitates the purchase of the curved headjoint and another case as well.
An ancient Chinese flute, the “tsche,” played in about 2637 BC, is believed to be the earliest transverse flute (an instrument held horizontally). Made of bamboo, both sides were closed, with a mouth-hole in the middle. Flutes have been made of glass, wood, ceramic, brass, and even human and animal bones. Gradually, improvements over the crude designs were made, keys were added, and attempts were made to improve the pitch and sound of the instrument. It is to the genius of Theobald Boehm of Munich (1794-1881), a flutist, composer, and inventor, that we owe credit for the modern flute used today.
The flute as we now know it was conceived in 1846. After many experiments with the tube itself, and the size and position of the toneholes in relation to it, Boehm produced the modern flute. It had a parabolic, or tapered headjoint, a cylindrical body, and large toneholes covered by keys. He experimented with almost every material available. In 1847, he introduced his first flutes made of silver and German silver (a white alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel.) At this time, the wooden flute was still preferred by players over metal instruments, and remained so until the early 20th century.
It is interesting to note that, although the flute is thousands of years old, the instrument we know today was developed within a period of approximately 50 years, and was chiefly the work of one person, Theobald Boehm.
DIFFICULT TO LEARN?
Most anyone, with practice, can learn to play the flute: the instrument described as being most closely related to the human voice. It is important to learn proper breathing techniques and breath support at the onset of playing so that a proper embouchure (lip formation) can be developed.
Most teachers suggest that only the flute headjoint be used at first when attempting to make initial sounds. The headjoint must vibrate in order for the sound to be produced; if a student is unable to make a sound with the headjoint, putting the instrument together will not help. Some dizziness is common during the early stages of playing: this happens because beginner players have to learn the proper combination of embouchure [mouth] opening and air stream.
This will go away as breath control is learned and is nothing to worry about. Keeping a chair handy and reminding the student to place his head between his knees until the feeling goes away is all that is necessary.
Since the flute is held across the body and not in front, it is difficult to see where the fingers are to be placed. It is recommended that one hold the flute in front so the new player can see correct finger placement without having to blow at the same time. Practicing finger combinations without worrying about sound production can help a student to develop the proper “feel” for the keys.
Reprinted with permission of School Band and Orchestra Magazine.