The flute is the oldest member of the woodwind family and has always been one of our most popular starter instruments. It is pitched in the key of C, notated in treble clef and, unlike nearly all other woodwind instruments, requires no reed; it is played by blowing air across the lip plate. Nowadays flutes are available in various materials and sizes, the ‘standard’ being a silver-plated, nickel silver flute with a straight head, but there are options available for younger players and the more advanced such as plastic flutes, curved headjoints, solid silver lip plates and much much more! Please see the foot of the page for our detailed buying guide.
We at Chamberlain Music always do our best to keep a good selection of student flutes in stock, from value models such as the John Packer JP011 and Selmer Prelude FL710 to more expensive, better known models such as the Yamaha YFL 211 (now replaced by the YFL212!), Jupiter 700EC and Trevor James TJ10X. If you experience any difficulty finding a particular model or would simply like to speak to someone about the different choices available, please don’t hesitate to call our sales team on 01428 658806.
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Straight head, curved head or plastic?
Most students start learning the standard sized, metal ‘straight head’ flute when they are 8 or 9 years old. If your child wants to start learning at an earlier age, it is likely they will need a ‘curved head’ flute which is shorter in length meaning their hands won’t have to stretch as far to reach the keys. Curved head flutes have all of the same notes as a straight head flute unless otherwise stated (the John Packer JP010CH Kinder model for example is especially short and only goes down to a bottom D). The appropriate age for learning a straight or curved-head flute will of course differ from child to child so we highly recommend you check with a flute teacher before purchasing one or the other.
Plastic ‘Nuvo’ flutes are a recent development and have proved to be extremely popular with beginners and schools. They are super lightweight, washable, affordable, durable, customisable and most impressively they make a lovely sound, very similar to that of a wooden flute. Nuvo flutes are available in a variety of sizes and colours.
This is the standard building material for student flutes. It is durable, comparatively dent-resistant and produces a lovely, bright tone making it perfect for beginner flute players. It is usually coupled with silver-plating which makes the instrument sturdier and also makes it less likely to tarnish over time.
-Sterling (solid) silver-
Solid silver featured either on the lip plate, headjoint or the entire instrument will darken and enrich the sound. It is not as dent-resistant as nickel silver and is therefore perhaps not the best option for younger players, but any intermediate player will benefit from the improved tonal quality it provides.
We have a new ‘YFL312GL’ flute from Yamaha which features a gold lip plate. Not only does this look fantastic, but it provides added traction for the bottom lip making it easier to play fast passages of music.
What is an ‘offset G’ and a ‘split E mechanism’?
The G key on a flute is played with the third finger of the player’s left hand. If this finger is as short or shorter than their index finger then they will be much more comfortable playing a flute with an offset G. When a G is offset, it is positioned closer to the left hand, not in line with the rest of the keys. This feature has no impact on the sound quality whatsoever and is therefore seen on nearly all modern student flutes.
Split E mechanism
A ‘split E’ is a technical feature designed to enhance the response of the high E (two octaves above middle C). It involves splitting up one of the keys and is something that a flute either has or doesn’t have. It is particularly helpful on student flutes as players often have difficulty producing a clear tone on this note without it. Again, practically all student flutes nowadays have a split-e mechanism.