Category Archives: Accessories

Back-To-School Inspiration

It’s that time of year again, but don’t fret – we’re here to bring some inspiration to the new school term.

For Teachers

The myfife MethodThe myfife Teacher’s Resource Book by Liz Goodwin

This is a teacher’s resource pack to accompany the Fife Book, and if you’ve never thought about using a fife as an introduction to flute teaching, then take a look at this. It is packed with lesson plans, exercises, games, practice sheets and report forms as well as flashcards. Topics covered include ‘Flute Techniques Taught Using the Fife’, ‘Individual or Group Lessons’ and ‘Embouchure Development’ – if you are working with young students, this book could really change your life.

Pneumo Pro Wind Director Pneumo Pro Wind Director

This wacky-looking piece of kit helps beginners to make a good sound from the outset. It is very lightweight and simple, based on a system of fans to help with both air direction and speed. This can be particularly useful if there is a problem producing the sound in the early stages as it is also colourful and fun! Developed by Kathryn Blocki, you can use it in conjunction with her excellent Flute Method. Every flute teacher should have one of these!

For beginners

Razzamajazz Flute Book 1Razzamajazz Flute by Sarah Watts

Learning the flute is so exciting and it really helps if you can start making music at home as soon as you can. The first piece here, ‘B Groovy’ uses just the one note but the CD accompaniment is so good that you feel as if you’re really performing ! Only 10 notes are used altogether and the material can be all used again up the octave. A piano part is included as well. Highly recommended!

Duets for One - Rickard & CoxDuets for One arranged by Rickard and Cox

This book is crammed with 16 pieces that range Pachelbel’s Canon to Scarborough Fair. It is very flexible: the book itself has a melody and a harmony part, the CD has performances and separate parts as well. Not presented in a progressive order, it seems easier to just dot about and play what you fancy. Starting with the harmony part, there is then real incentive to improve and play the melody line. Great supplementary material.

For Intermediate Players

Light Aerobics - Clare SouthworthLight Aerobics by Clare Southworth

If you feel you need to zip up your flute technique, this book of exercises could be just the thing to give you a kick start. Each section follows the same format – principle, method, exercise and notes, allowing you to move at your own pace. Tone, finger work and articulation are all covered, together with rhythm and finding your singing voice. There is also material suitable for groups. Clare’s introduction tells you how to use the book to its best advantage, so get working!

Mighty Boom Ball Speaker Mighty Boom Ball Speaker

It’s really easy to record yourself on your smartphone now and this is a great way to see if you’ve improved. The Mighty Boom Ball is a natty little gadget which is small enough to fit on your keyring, but can turn almost any object into a loudspeaker. Suggestions range from a cardboard box or bike helmet to a picture frame or microwave – wherever you are, you will find something to convert in to a speaker!

For the more advanced:

Lefreque Sound BridgeLefreque Sound Bridge – Dutch original sound solution.

As used by Emily Beynon. If you would like to give your sound a real boost then this could be just the gadget for you. It consists of 2 small brass plates which attach with plastic strips to both the headjoint and the body of your flute. The improvement in sound is astonishing! This device really has to be tried to be believed.

Know The Score - Mark TannerKnow the Score by Mark Tanner

If you are thinking about taking a performance diploma that involves any sight-reading, this great little book will really help make the test seem easier. Mark Tanner has divided up the task into various bite-size elements, for example tempo, tonality and final polish, which help to organise the brain rather than scramble it. He guides you through the first pieces and then leaves you to your own devices. This is an excellent buy, even if an exam is not on the horizon.

David Symington "Flutemet" Flute Crown

Alternative Crowns & Stoppers: A Resounding Leap Forward?

David Symington "Flutemet" Flute Crown

Recently there has been some debate over whether the cork assembly inside the headjoint makes a difference to the way the flute plays and feels. Many headjoint makers and flute enthusiasts have been experimenting with different materials and set-ups, and several alternatives are already available through specialist shops. In this article I want to demystify this subject and find out whether there really is truth to it.

Robert Bigio has been making stoppers and crowns for flutes out of different materials for a couple of years now. I remember that when I first saw his Zirconium flute stopper I have to admit that I was more than a little sceptical and didn’t really give it a second glance. I remember standing with some other players while one of them played a couple of headjoints with and without these stoppers. We all decided that there was indeed a difference in the sound, but we couldn’t put our finger on it.

It’s now a few years later, and Altus have launched a headjoint with a regular cork assembly, but three interchangeable crowns in heavy, medium and light weights. Again, I did not at first take much notice in this development until I was at a Flute Cocktail weekend in Bodmin with Gareth Davies.

Gareth was using one of these headjoints on his new Altus ‘AL’ flute, and he told me how he prefers the light crown compared to the other two. I thought that if one of Japan’s finest flute companies was producing different crowns, and one of the UK’s finest orchestral players was playing one, perhaps I should give these a try! I also have an Altus AL headjoint, so I tried the heavy and light crowns. I really can not tell you how much difference they made: it was vast!

With the heavy crown, I found that the sound became more focused and the top register really started to sing out. I felt that the lower register became slightly reduced power-wise, but I was happy to pay the price. I then wondered: what if I change the whole cork assembly?

Bigio Zirconium Crowns

Bigio Zirconium Crowns

On returning to Just Flutes, I took the crown and cork assembly from my headjoint and swapped them for a Robert Bigio Zirconium stopper and crown. My earlier reservations went out the window: I believe it put even more life into my sound than the Altus crown: more top end harmonics, a more powerful tone, and a little bit more resistance.

I then tried David Symington’s “Flutemet” stopper and crown. David Symington has been experimenting with crowns and stoppers in various materials for some time, and the Flutemet is the culmination of this. Made from a very dense and hard alloy, this is one heavy piece of kit! Even on a flute with a B footjoint, the headjoint was still the heavy end! For me, this set-up had beautifully resonant middle and upper registers, and made the headjoint substantially more resistive. Unusually, these stoppers are also available for piccolo.

In conclusion I found it an invaluable experience to try these different stoppers. I can’t say that they’re for everyone, and maybe not all players will feel or like the difference; but there is definitely something in the hype. Try them for yourself: you might find that you’re pleasantly surprised, like I was.

Alternative flute crowns and stoppers – and piccolo ones – are available at Just Flutes who can ship worldwide.

Flute Pad Saver

Flute Essentials: Cleaning and Maintenance Accessories

There are masses of accessories designed for cleaning your flute and keeping it in top playing order. Here’s our round-up of what we suggest every flute (and piccolo) player should have in their cleaning arsenal.

1. Cleaning Rod and Gauze

Flute Cleaning RodThe most important cleaning accessory for every flute player! You should use a good-quality wooden cleaning rod (a metal one can scratch the inside of the instrument) with a lint-free, non-fluffy gauze, after every playing session. This will absorb the bulk of the water from inside your instrument, meaning your pads will last longer.

You shouldn’t store the gauze in the case with the flute – leaving a soggy cloth in the case isn’t good for the mechanism, plus there often isn’t space! Store it in the side pouch of your case cover.

Wood Cleaning RodCleaning Gauze

2. A Silver Cloth

Most flutes are either silver or silver-plated. Silver reacts with sulphur in the air over time, making it look tarnished, dull and blackened. A silver cloth is impregnated with a chemical compound, and can polish silver up to make it bright again. If you notice that your flute is looking tarnished, a silver cloth will almost certainly do the trick.

Silver Cloth

Silver cloths are very mildly abrasive, and so should be used just once in a while on a lightly tarnished instrument. For everyday use, you should use…

3. A Fine Microfibre Cloth

Shinvision ClothYour finger prints contain grease and mild acids, and you should use a fine polishing cloth to gently remove them. This will keep your flute’s finish in its best condition, and is especially important on a silver-plated instrument, where silver-plating can begin to come off (‘pit’) if not kept clean.

Fine Microfibre Cloth

4. Pad Saver

Flute Pad SaverWhen used correctly, a pad saver can help increase the life of your flute’s pads. They work with the help of an impregnated dessicant which draws extra moisture from the pads’ surface. You should use the pad saver after cleaning your flute with a rod and gauze, and not as a substitute. Store it inside your flute body while it’s in its case, and it will help to reduce condensation when moving from warm to cold environments, too.

Flute Pad SaverPiccolo Pad Saver

5. Picc Stick

Picc Stick

This is an incredibly useful cleaner for piccolo players who suffer from water-logging keys. It assembles to the full length of your piccolo, so can be used mid-gig to quickly swab it out without having to take the headjoint off and re-tune. It takes down in to two pieces, which will easily fit your shoulder bag.

Picc Stick