I’ve had two new flutes in my professional career. Both were monumental in my life.
When I began flute lessons at school in 4th grade, my Dad was the high school band director. He got me a Gemeinhardt from the schools assortment of instruments. I called it my “Gemmyhart.” Who can say that name when you’re in elementary school? I mean really! But I loved that flute. I can still remember the brown case with white stitching (or what used to be white, now a shade of taupe). I think the interior was blue. But I’m not sure of that.
That flute took my a long way. It wasn’t standard at that time for everyone to have an intermediate flute with a B foot and open hole. It was quite acceptable to be in high school and play in the All-Counties and All-States with a beginner flute. I did look VERY enviously at anyone who had an intermediate flute. Those open holes man did they look exciting. But my Dad was a teacher, my mom worked sometimes and other times was home with us.There were four kids and no extra money for fancy flutes. But, I also had made it clear that while I liked the field of music, it wasn’t for me, that was the family business,
I was going to be a veterinarian not a musician.
I fought the my fate for all my years of high school and surrendered when I was a senior in high school when I finally got private lessons. My parents got me to take lessons from Georgetta Maiolo who was teaching at Ithaca College and Binghamton University where she still is today. Well I took flute more seriously from this point on. I auditioned for a small college in Western NY and took my Gemeinhart with me. It was in my second year when it became very apparent that I couldn’t compete with a beginner flute so my parents found a used Armstrong that had the longed for open hole with a B foot.
Oh man did I think it was great. I thought I had arrived in the flute world except that my nemesis at college had the enviable flute – she had a professional hand made flute. (I’m talking about you Martha!) I was always one step behind! It was okay, although jealousy reared its ugly head only from time to time. The rest of the time I was just excited that I now had a real flute. Then came senior year of college and the senior recital and auditions for grad school. It wasn’t a given at that time that you would and should go to grad school. So, I researched grad schools on my own but decided that I wanted to study with Georgetta Maiolo. That meant either BU or IC. I got into both with assistantship. But what swayed me to go to BU was that they waived tuition and paid besides. The one hitch is that I was told I had to have a professional model flute.
Great news! Now I had to get a top-of-the-line flute. Whoo hooo!
Georgetta had a guy. You know THE GUY that dealt in flutes and repaired them. I went somewhere in NJ, no recollection where at this point. Hey, I didn’t do the driving and I probably read the whole way. A flute was pretty much chosen for me before I got there. That was fine, what did I know of picking out a flute. If my teacher thought this one was good then it was good. Oh man it was beautiful. All solid silver and smooth as silk. Oh it was a wonderful day. I loved this flute. It was my first solid silver and it took a while to get the sound out of it that it could give me. This beloved flute was a Haynes, Deveau scale. I was even thrilled with the case because up to now I just had a flute with one of those built in handles and now this was just a case with the out case cover. Now was my time!
This flute stayed with me a long time. It got me through an MM, through teaching public school for a few years, through a DMA at Eastman, through interviewing and playing for a professorship and auditions for a principle position in an orchestra. I used this flute until Thanksgiving the year 1999. I thought that It was time for a new instrument. I had changed as a player through all that time and now I needed flute that reflected my new time in life.
I called a dealer and made an appointment to go to Queens, New York City.
That was some experience. The dealer had many flutes out and I went back and fourth for hours and narrowed it down to a Haynes, a Powell, and a Muramatsu. They were all beautiful and I thought that I was ready to move to a different flute maker, that I was done with Haynes and it was time to move on.
But in the end I couldn’t get away from my first love. I fell in love with a Haynes and that’s what I play today. Now, I know that I would have been happy with any of those choices. However, the Haynes just fit my hands and I couldn’t put it down.
It’s a beautiful thing.
So whats your flute story? Do you change often or have you purchased one flute and it’s your baby until death-do-you-part?