It’s that time of year again! You’ve been working hard – perfecting your embouchure, improving your posture, learning new songs– and now you’re ready to upgrade to your step-up flute! When you first started band, you were given a beginner flute because it is easier to learn to play on. As you advance in your second or third year of band you’ll start to put more demands on your flute, and a step-up flute is designed to make the transition to advanced music much smoother. Let’s take a look at some things that make a step-up flute a step-up flute!
Probably the first thing you’ll notice on most step-up flutes is the gorgeous gold-plating: gold-plated lip plate, riser, and- look inside- the interior lining of the whole headjoint. That's a lot of shine! But this isn't just for looks. Gold is a soft metal so it responds with more latent vibrations as air is passed through. The tone benefits by being pleasant to our ears- we describe this as being a "warmer" tone. What the head joint is really MADE affects this too, which I'll talk about in another point.
Your flute grew taller! No really! A step-up flute has an added note to reach a low B. Having this extra note is also a telltale sign that the instrument is designed to play more evenly in both the low ranges and the high ranges. It still takes practice, but you’ll have a much easier time learning it. Beginner instruments, in contrast, are made to play well in the midrange so playing the highs and lows really push it to its limits.
In beginner flutes, nickel silver is typically used because it is inexpensive to produce and very durable. The downside: you sacrifice tone for durability. Like I mentioned before, it's not a bad thing because, for a beginner, durability is perfect, but you're not a beginner anymore! You want a sound that is much warmer and more sophisticated so makers choose a special material called sterling silver or solid silver. Here's how it works: pure silver is too malleable and too soft on its own so makers produce the sterling/solid silver, an alloy, by mixing the pure silver with other harder metals. A mixture made in heaven! What you'll often find is that intermediate flutes will have their fancy silver in the headjoint and most higher-level flutes will have the whole body made of it. The more the merrier!
Never forget that practice is key, but you don't stay a beginner forever. Be sure to talk to your teachers about upgrading your flute - they will be so excited! If you're ready to step up, you can call us at 901-323-8888 or book an appointment online.
Today's blog was written by a member of our very own Band and Orchestra Sales Team, Johneice Anderson!