Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finding an Interim Flute

Ever since I ordered a boxwood Irish flute from Peter Noy (as described in my May 9, 2008 post entitled Flute Dilemma Resolved), I've been eager to start transitioning my technique from silver flute to Irish flute. By the time my Peter Noy flute arrives in late 2009, I want to be ready for it. That means I need some sort of Irish flute now! And so began the quest for an interim flute. I watched the Chiff and Fipple Flute Forum as well as eBay, and I started asking all my friends with wooden flutes if I could play a tune or two on their flutes. Little by little, I learned what was available in the various price ranges and started to form some opinions.

In May, an interesting flute appeared on the Chiff & Fipple Flute Forum, a Terry McGee blackwood flute, the Grey Larson Preferred model with the Minimum Disruption Tenon. The owner was willing to lend it to me for a trial period. After a week or so I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. However, I wasn't sure I would ever get much resonance from it, so I finally decided it wasn't the flute for me. I am very grateful to its owner for trusting me with it for a while. That was incredibly helpful. I took its picture before sending it back.

I started reading more and more about the Casey Burns Folk Flute. One of my friends has a Burns flute that I had borrowed a few times, so I had some first-hand experience with Burns flutes. Priced at $375, the Folk Flute seemed a reasonable interim flute.  However, the predicted delivery date would have been too late for me to use it during Catskills Irish Arts Week. I decided to keep looking.

About this time a Casey Burns Folk Flute appeared on eBay for $275. Bingo! It was made of mopane, a beautiful dark wood. It was the small-handed version which I thought might be a good as a transitional flute. Buying a flute without playing it -- or even seeing it -- seemed risky, but the Burns flutes have a good reputation and at $275, how could I pass it up? I had never before bought anything on eBay, so it took me until the last few hours of the auction to muster my courage and click the "Buy It Now" button.

On June 10, 2008 my eBay flute was delivered to me at work. I was so excited that I declared it lunchtime and headed for the park to try it out. I was very pleased. It played easily, had a nice sound, and the hole placement was really comfortable. At home that night I oiled it per the maker's instructions (which had thoughtfully been included) and started breaking it in.

A few days later I learned that it was virtually a new flute. The seller was a whistle player who thought he'd like to play the flute as well, but changed his mind after only a few attempts.  I felt like I had landed a real bargain - a new flute from the maker I had decided upon with no waiting period!  Here it is - isn't it pretty?  

I've been surprised at how much progress I've made over the last two months. I'm now able to predictably cover the holes and to play many tunes at a decent tempo. As I work on tone, my sound gets stronger and more resonant. Yes indeed, this Casey Burns Folk Flute will be a good interim flute for me.

© 2008, Linda Mason Hood
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