If you’re a parent and do not play the flute, it can be very confusing to know which type of instrument to acquire, what brands to consider, and where you should be looking to rent or purchase an instrument for your child.
Today, my buyer’s guide for parents is going to answer some of the common questions I get from parents of children 8 to 12 years of age. I will share some information you may not know to ask about during this process.
My advice varies by the age of your child, so skip to the appropriate section for you as follows:
- Is your child 7 or younger? Start at #1.
- Is your child 8-9? Skip to #2.
- Is your child 10-13? Skip to #6
- Is your child 14+? Skip to #7
1. Is your child 7 or younger? I recommend getting what’s called a Prodigy Flute:
- Prodigy flute is a model of a flute that is made for younger children, ages 7 and younger, so they can comfortably learn to play the flute, without straining their hands.
- It is lighter than a regular flute, making it easier for smaller children to hold for a duration of time.
- It only goes to low D (it does not have a C foot-joint like the regular flutes).
- It comes with curved head-joint or waveline head-joint (see photos below). The head joint of a flute is the portion of the flute that you blow into. This piece of the flute is about 6-8” long and is called a “head-joint” because it is detachable from the main long part of the flute, called “body-joint” (the part of the flute with the keys). Prodigy flute head joints, being curved, make the flute shorter and possible for students of this age to hold and play without strain.
- Unlike a regular beginner student-model flute with a straight head-joint, the main keys on a Prodigy flute have small buttons that help the student to reach the keys easier with their little fingers.
Prodigy model flutes are sold by many brands.
Look for these brands for children that are 7 years old or younger:
|Flute type and link||Description||Estimated Coast|
|The Jupiter Prodigy Flute with Curved Head-Joint 313S||~$650 no tax included|
|The Jupiter Waveline Prodigy model flute JFL 700WD||~$700 no tax included|
|Di Zhao Flute – MINI D with a Curved Head-Joint||~$725 no tax included|
Which of these flutes do I buy? I recommend either Jupiter Prodigy 313S with curved head-joint or Di Zhao Flute Mini D with a curved head-joint. At some point your child will be playing with the piano accompaniment and Jupiter Waveline Prodigy flute is very difficult to tune due to the Waveline head-joint. Personally, I recommend the Di Zhao Mini D flutes.
You can find some music stores that rent some of these flutes but not many. If you can’t find one to rent and you end up purchasing it, you can always sell it on eBay when your child is ready to transition to regular beginner student model flute.
2. If your child is 8–9 years old:
- For children 8–9 year old you will look for beginner student model C flute with a straight head-joint. However, some children ages 8–10 are not quite developed physically to play on a regular beginner C flute student model flute, so you might look to rent or purchase a beginner flute with a curved head-joint
- All these flutes come with C foot joint (foot-joint is the last part of the flute where a student will need to learn to play low note C)
How do I know if my child needs a flute with curved or straight head-joint?
- First decision you need to make before purchasing or renting a flute is if your child needs a flute with curved or straight head-joint.
- If a child can’t easily reach the foot-joint with their right hand pinky then your child will definitely need a curved head-joint.
- If you child can easily reach the foot-joint with their right head pinky and the wrist and fingers are in a natural position above the right hand flute keys then your child will be fine playing on the straight head-joint flute
- If you don’t have a teacher that can evaluate this for your child, you can go to any flute store in town and they will be able to help you make that decision.
For children ages 8–10, I recommend renting or purchasing any of these flutes:
You will not go wrong choosing any of these brands. In short, all these flutes are basically the same. Price usually indicates engineering quality at this entry-level, so if you can afford a DiZhao, I recommend getting that one. However the differences will not be significant between these flutes. You might hear a slight change in the tone quality but if your child is starting to produce a tone, all of the flutes will sound very similar. Your child will do fine with one of the less expensive models at this age.
|Type + Link||Description||Est. Cost|
|Straight and Curved head-joint flute with C foot joint||DiZhao DZ 200 brand, This flute comes with a straight and curved headjoint option. The advantage of this flute is that when your child outgrows the curved head-joint she/he can easily transition to straight head-joint without purchasing or renting an additional flute||~$850 (no tax included)|
|Wave-in head-joint flute with C foot joint||Jupiter 510ES brand, with wave-in head-joint||~$760 (no tax included)|
|Beginner Student Model C Flute||Di Zhao Flute DZ 200 Brand and model. Beginner C Flute with straight head-joint||~$700 (no tax included)|
|Beginner Student Model C Flute with straight head-joint||Yamaha Flute – YFL 222|
Brand and model. Beginner C Flute with straight head-joint
|~$1,015 (no tax included)|
|Beginner Student Model C flute with straight and curved head-joint||Trevor James Flute 10x – they come with straight or curved head-joint||~$1,250 (no tax included)|
|Beginner Student Model C flute with straight head-joint||Jupiter Flute JFL700 with straight head-joint headjoint||~$1,000 (no tax included)|
Do you happen to live in the Boston area?
Here are some special flute stores I recommend:
- Flutistry Boston – available to buy only
- Leonards Music – buy or rent
- Music and Arts – buy or rent
Before going to these stores, I recommend calling them first to make sure they have these flutes in stock or check out their website. Some of these stores might have these flutes for rent, but you will have to ask them. If they do not, then you will have to purchase the flute.
Don’t live in Boston? Here are my favorite online vendors:
3. How do I decide whether to rent or buy a beginner flute for my child?
- When to rent: your child is not sure they want to play the flute and just wants to “try it out,”
- When to buy: you are fairly certain that your child wants to play the flute for more than a one year. These beginner flutes are not very expensive, and you can always resell them on eBay or Amazon if your child grows out of it. The resale value of these flutes are pretty good if they are kept in good condition.
4. What parents should know when renting a flute:
- You might not always get a new flute. Sometimes music stores do not have new flutes in their inventory to rent, so you will be renting a used flute. My advice is to always try to rent a new instrument. I have had students that rented used flutes and they tend to break or go out of adjustment more easily. Sometimes used flutes just don’t come in great shape. However, the stores always make sure to clean and repair the flute before renting it to a new customer. Still, used flutes still break more easily than new flutes.
- Cost: expect to pay around $30/mo for a used rental (which includes a Liability Damage Waiver). Some stores will have a higher rental price for new flutes.
- Always get thes Liability Damage Waiver (a standard offering at most stores)
- Try it out first: you can usually choose to rent a flute for 3 months before committing to it longer term and if your child shows great interest in flute playing then keep it.
5. Flutes for Children 10-13 Years Old
- Children at this age are most of the time ready to start playing on C Flute Beginner Student Model with a straight head-joint, that looks like this:
- There are occasionally exceptions where this type of flute might be still a bit too long for 10 year old students, and they will have to start their flute playing experience on a curved head-joint flute. Your child’s private teacher should definitely let you know if the flute your child is playing fits them correctly.
6. Flutes for Children 14 and up
- Children at this age usually continue playing with the C Flute Beginner Student Model or transfer to intermediate flute, which is also called a step-up flute
- If your child has been playing the flute for 4 years or more, she or he will start noticing that they are outgrowing the beginner model flute. Your child’s teacher will notice that too and will mention that it is time to transfer to an intermediate flute (if you would like to find out the signs of when your child is ready to an intermediate flute, please email me and I will send you a guide on that subject)
That’s it! I hope this guide was helpful to you.
Please email me if you have any questions or comments (just hit reply). I will be happy to hear from you.
Photo by Rajesh Kavasseri on Unsplash