$10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

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$10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by legolover » Sat May 19, 2012 12:09 pm

I greatly appreciate that the opportunity to have a resource like this community!

I'm getting a lot of pressure to purchase a $8-10,000 flute for my daughter. She is very talented, has been playing for quite some time, competes and participates in prestigious clinics. Her teacher, who also sells flutes, says that here in the Seattle area there are a lot of kids whose parents can afford to provide them with professional-grade flutes and therefore our daughter won't be able to compete against them with her $2500 flute.

An expensive flute is not entirely outside of our reach, but it is a stretch. We don't want to hold her back in any way and we believe in having excellent equipment for any serious pursuit, but we also need to make smart investments with our money.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by pied_piper » Sat May 19, 2012 5:36 pm

If your daughter is truly an exceptional talent on the flute, she may benefit from a pro level flute. However, before you drop down $8000-$10000 on another flute, I would suggest that you have your daughter try several different flutes in that price range. Listen to determine if you or your daughter can hear any difference. I suggest using a blind test method. Have your daughter play each flute and also her current flute. With you blindfolded or in a different room so that you cannot see which flute is being played, both of you make notes and score the results on a scale of 1-10. Then repeat the test with your daughter blindfolded so that she cannot see which flute she is playing (you hand her each one in turn). Score again, and then compare the results. That may give you some indication of whether a pro flute will improve her sound or technique. Invite her teacher to participate in the scoring using the same rules and see if s/he can hear a difference. Also, be sure to have her play the exact same phrases on each flute. Have her play pieces with different styles. Fast, slow, low, high... Melodic, staccato, etc. You want to hear how each flute sounds over a wide variety of music. Have her play the music from memory so that she can be blindfolded and not have to look at the music.

Now, with all of that said, it really is not totally about the flute. It's all about the combination of flute and player. As long as her current $2500 flute is in good working order, it probably won't hold her back at her level (unless she is so extraordinarily talented that she is blowing away the competition right now). Is she planning to major in flute flute performance in college? If so, some flute professors at the college level have strong preferences for certain flutes and may suggest that she change again. If she's not going to major in flute performance, her current flute should be just fine. If she is, it may be best to save up and wait until she gets to college and then buy her a pro flute following the flute professor's recommendations.

I would invite you to view this video of Sir James Galway playing 16 different flutes ranging from student level flutes up to gold and platinum flutes that cost more than $40,000! Can you hear a big difference between each one? Discernible listeners may hear some subtle differences, but regardless of which one is being played, it still sounded like Sir James.


Also, you may want to read my comments in another thread here:

"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by Zevang » Sun May 20, 2012 3:16 pm

whose parents can afford to provide them with professional-grade flutes and therefore our daughter won't be able to compete against them with her $2500 flute.
This is soooo not true!!!

Seems to me strongly that someone is trying to sell you a very expensive instrument.

Unless the flute your daughter uses is in need of serious repair, in other words, is really useless, you don't need to purchase her a professional level flute so she can compete. If she's really got the talent, with her medium flute she is capable of doing what a medium student is not capable using a top professional flute.

Wise words from pied_piper, the Sir James test is a true show of how an argument like that can be wrong and tendentious at the same time.

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by FluteMonkey » Mon May 21, 2012 11:54 am

A high end professional flute is inappropriate for a junior high student. Unless she is a phenomenal protege, she will not be able to appreciate the difference between a pro flute and a good intermediate flute. Consider that she would be hauling a $10,000 instrument around in her back-pack, on the school bus and leaving it in her locker at school.

A pro flute is something that a college level performance major may consider. If she does make it to that point, she's going to want to choose a flute based on her current preferences and future plans. She's not going to want to be stuck with what she picked out when she was in Jr. High.

Perhaps you could have your daughter and her flute evaluated by another teacher or college level music professor.

Good luck.

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by fluteguy18 » Mon May 21, 2012 6:17 pm

Coming from the perspective of someone who hears flute players from all walks of life in the process of getting newer and better instruments on a daily basis I'll say this...

For a long time I felt similarly to the above posters, and in many ways I still do. I still feel that talent and hard work can make anyone successful on whatever instrument they have as long as it is kept in good working order. HOWEVER. Having 'the right' equipment can make it a lot easier. In areas where music and the arts are well funded, the average playing ability of student musicians skyrockets. I can't tell you how many high school players I run into around the Dallas-Fortworth area that play flutes valued between $4-6K and all of them sound fantastic. There are also several student musicians that sound just as good playing flutes in the $2-3K range.

So are you limiting her potential right now? I'm not so sure about that. If she desires to become a professional flute player and to be a flute performance major in college I would recommend getting the best instrument you can afford. Even then, that sometimes might not be quite enough. I (for example) play a flute valued at $6k and it was the best I could afford. I was able to do quite well during college on that instrument but the last two years of school my teachers were insisting that I try to get something better. They felt I had outgrown my flute. I didn't believe them. Now that I am surrounded by hundreds of high quality flutes on a daily basis, I can see that they were right. I'm ready to make make the jump into the $10-20K range as soon as I can save up the cash. But with that being said I am now a professional level player who makes their living as a flutist at a flute retail company.

So take that for what it is. I think she could benefit from the upgrade, but it's not absolutely necessary.

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by Phineas » Wed May 23, 2012 1:02 pm

The best instrument you will ever have is the well maintained instrument you already have. Nicer instruments are cool, but I will take practice/training time over instrument dollars any day of the week. I know some players that are making a living on far less than $10000 flutes. I have ran into more than a few people with $10000 flutes that could not play them.

My suggestion would be to let your daughter wear out the one she has first, then consider an upgrade. Then, I would not even sweat the price. I would have her try out as many flutes with in your budget range as possible, and get the best one for her. That is really what counts. I would suggest taking a trip to the nearest big city with a large flute shop, and trying some flutes/headjoints out. It will make for a productive, and fun shopping trip!

All in all, a prodigy will make any playable flute work for them. Players are judged mostly for how they play, not the instrument they play. People(peers) may complain about the instrument she plays on. However, you can always take donations from the complainers. :)

Just my 0.03 USD(had to go up a penny due to inflation!)


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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by musiciancon » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:43 pm

We have a granddaughter who is 14. She has been playing for about 2-3 years. She got accepted by a youth orchestra in North Texas, that is Asian American, and most of the Asian parents have a lot of money, but the leader of the group seems to think she needs a flute in the $16,000- ??? higher range, is that possible. I mean what if she goes to college on a music scholarship and her professor then wants her on a different kind of flute. What flutes are rated the highest??? Thanks
Is there a better flute for orchestra than a band?

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Re: $10,000 flute for Junior in High School?

Post by Silversorcerer » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:06 am

Sometimes I read these things and wonder if people are just making up stories. Oh well. Here's a true story.

When I was 15, I temporarily gave up cornet (orthodontics ensued) and started playing bass guitar. I bought a used Fender P for $200. It is by far the most recorded bass guitar ever manufactured. If it is on a record from 1960 to 1980, it's most likely a Fender P, a Fender Jazz, or a Rickenbacker. A Rick is about twice the price of a Fender. It was then and still is. The Fender is used by more pros.

Over the years I became a skillful bassist. I decided finally to buy another bass with some features the old P didn't have. I went all out and got a custom Ritter, well above the $10K mark. It's a great instrument but it didn't make me Jaco Pastorius. But it did expand the possibilities of what I was doing. And it weighed less. And it was a solid investment that was a safe place (better than the paper assets market) to stash some hard earned value.

And that is kind of how quality in musical instruments goes. At a certain playing level, just about any player can enjoy the benefits of a better more finely made instrument. But if you already have an instrument that is capable of professional work;- that is used by many working pro musicians, that instrument is probably not holding you back.

One other thing to consider though, is the relative value of items a person owns, and the true contribution those items make to our lives. It is a perspective that many people miss, and one that reveals that many people have curiously placed priorities.

For instance, instead of buying a really nice Ritter, I could have bought a later model car and just continued to play my old Fender. After all, the Fender is the industry standard. A better bass is a luxury. But after 30+ years of playing bass, it's a welcome luxury. It's also kind of like a retirement account in that basses in that category don't lose value over time. I would guess that the same would be true for custom flute at the highest investment level. If you keep it a few years, it might be a flat value, but if you keep it several decades, it probably begins to appreciate. That was true of even the Fender, recently appraised at over $4000 because it is now a "vintage" Fender. It makes me happy that I put my after school high school earnings into a nice bass instead of into that MG midget I was considering.

Truly, I see many people who claim to care so much about their music, but their instrument is worth about one of their car payments, or about the same as they paid for a telephone or computer. Insanity? The car is a dead expense no matter what it is, unless one is race car driver. Any car that is in good repair will get you to the gig. When you get to the gig what are you going to break out of the flute case? Better to have a $10,000 flute than to put the difference into an automobile. Any day. If the money is available, the flute is a better place to stash it than just about anything else that can benefit a flautist. And if it is a mistake, you'll still get more back on the investment than if it went in any hundred different consumer avenue$.

It's an entirely different point, but if a better flute might make a difference, generally a cheaper auto wouldn't hurt one much if it helped one afford the better flute. Or maybe an aspirant would settle for the last iPhone model instead of the next one. There is usually something in the "consume" category that can be cut and deposited in the "investment" category. Look over the whole lifestyle and the goals in that life and the priorities will fall right into place.

And I have to question why these teachers or directors have such undue influence? Are these people all shills for certain makers? Get their recommendations and then pay more for a flute made by someone else. That's what I would do. When you are buying top shelf, get what you want, not what someone tells you to buy. If I listened to other bassists or the magazines, I'd probably own a Fedora bass or something that was better known than the Ritter bass. But Ritter is now very well known, so perception changes and I was correct;- eventually he is Fedora's equal or superior.

If I were plunking out $10K-$20K, for a flute, one thing I'd be sure of is that I'm making up my own mind about every last detail on that instrument that was an option. The teacher can start telling me what I want when the teacher is paying for it.

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