The flute is a very delicate woodwind instrument which needs to be assembled and handled with care. It is important that you learn to properly handle your flute in order to avoid damaging any of its many keys, rods or pads. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of information to absorb, but in time, it will become as easy as counting to three.
Flute Anatomy 101
The first thing you need to know before attempting to assemble your flute is the anatomy of the instrument. You need to be able to correctly identify the parts of the flute.
The longest piece of the flute containing the majority of the keys is called the body or middle joint.
The part with the mouth piece where you blow to create tones, better known as the embouchure plate, is referred to as the head joint.
The shortest piece of the flute is called the foot joint.
Gently remove the body and the head joint from the case. Lift the pieces from the ends and not the keys or rods. Hold the head joint in your left hand and the body in your right hand. You should not grasp the instrument around the area where keys are present! Hold the middle joint near the top where no keys are present. Gently twist and push the head joint into the middle joint. Align the hole in the head joint with the keys on the body.
Gently remove the foot joint from the case. Hold the assembled middle and head joint around the area where the two are connected with your left hand. Hold the foot joint in your right hand and gently twist the middle joint into the foot joint. The long rod on the foot joint should line up with the keys on the body.
Now that you have your instrument assembled, you may need to make minor adjustments. A professional flute tutor or instructor can help you with this at first. You will need to slightly turn the head joint in order to suit your embouchure and playing style. Your instructor will be happy to help you.
Since you know the basics, here are a few more tips to help you on your way.
Posture is a huge part of playing a woodwind instrument. To produce the best quality of sound when you play your flute, sit on the edge of your chair and always keep your spine straight and tall. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Make sure to plant your feet flat on the floor.
Embouchure is the position of your mouth on the mouthpiece of the instrument. Perfecting your embouchure will take time and practice. Don’t give up! Try practicing to create tones with your head joint. Cover the open end of the head joint with your right hand and practice your embouchure and airstream control.
Taking Care of Your Flute
Before you disassemble and put your instrument back into its case, you must clean it properly. After you play your instrument, carefully remove the head joint and shake out any water. A long silver rod should be included in the case with your instrument. This is the cleaning rod. It looks like an oversized blunted sewing needle. Thread a soft cloth or bandana through the eye of the cleaning rod and gently swab out the inside of the head joint.
Twist the body and foot joint apart carefully. Pull the cleaning rod with the soft cloth still threaded on the end, through each joint. It is wise to repeat pulling the cleaning rod through each section of your instrument a few times to ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned.
After cleaning the inside of your instrument, take a soft cloth and very carefully wipe the surface of the instrument clean. Be gentle around the rods and keys but do not neglect them while cleaning. Don’t be afraid to clean them but be extra gentle. Rods can bend easily.
Happy fluting to you!