Friday, December 19, 2008

Flute Choice Refined

As you may recall from my May 9 post, I ordered a keyless boxwood flute from Seattle flutemaker Peter Noy. At the time I placed the order, I told Peter I would confirm later whether or not I wanted an E-flat key as well as my preference regarding finger hole size. Recently, I had started to feel like my final decisions were a bit overdue.

I sought advice from Ben Power, an Irish musician I met in NYC who now resides in San Diego, California. Ben pointed out that each maker has his own design, and what one describes "large" or even "huge" finger holes might not be so big, comparatively speaking. Ben asked if there were any way I could play some of Peter's flutes. Since I don't actually know anyone who has a Peter Noy flute, I spoke to Peter about my dilemma. He agreed to send a couple flutes with the two finger hole sizes we talked about on the phone. Perfect!

On November 18th I received a head joint, a foot joint, and two middle joints. By swapping the middle joints I was able to experience both the small and the large holed models. The smaller finger holes were very comfortable, but it seemed to me that the flute's sound was freer and fuller when assembled with the large holed middle joint. Most importantly, I was pleased to realize that my hands are not too small for Peter's large holed design, so that's what I'll be getting.

The flute pictured below is Peter's large holed model, made of grenadilla wood with silver rings and a mother of pearl blow edge on the embouchure. That's an E-flat key on the foot joint, and it works the same as on a silver concert flute.

The discussion about finger holes brought up the question of keys. I was surprised to learn that ordering keys doesn't add much time to the waiting period. After talking to some flute players in the October 12th Mercy Center Benefit concert (Ivan Goff and Shannon Heaton), as well as to Ben Power and Linda Hickman, I decided to go for it! I'll be getting six keys: G-sharp, F-natural, E-flat, B-flat, and two C-natural keys.

My worst fear was that having Peter's flutes on loan and playing them for nearly two weeks might bring on a bout of second guessing about my choice of flute maker. After all, Peter Noy is relatively unknown here in NYC. Most of the serious players here either own a flute made by Patrick Olwell or else they're on his waiting list. However, I took the large holed flute to a few sessions, and everyone who played it said really good things about it. I was certainly happy with it. Trading flutes with people in sessions bolstered my confidence as well. I'm satisfied now that the Peter Noy flute I've ordered will be worth the wait.

© 2008, Linda Mason Hood
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