Let’s be honest – there are a lot of flute/music accessories on the market. From earplugs to flute stands to tuners – the options can feel overwhelming and the cost of accessories can add up quickly. Below is a list of the tools I’ve found to be both helpful and affordable for myself and my students.
For many years, I used a fold-up wire music stand…and for many years, my music was always falling off said stand and falling over for no reason. My last straw was at a series of rehearsals with the NFA Collegiate Flute Choir in 2019 – we were rehearsing and the stand would literally just fall over. My music would be all over the floor, I’d have to stop playing, and I’d lose my place. It was quite annoying and embarrassing. When I got back home, I immediately bought this stand on Amazon and highly recommend it – it’s easy to assemble, simple to adjust, sturdy, and only costs $30.
Tuner & Metronome
I’ve experimented with a handful of different apps for tuners and metronomes over the years and have come to use and enjoy Tonal Energy the most. It has everything, wrapped up in one app for $4. In addition to a tuner and a metronome, it also gives you the ability to analyze the harmonics present in your sound, has a decibel reader, a recording feature allowing you to record yourself and slow the recording down to find out exactly where your fingers are flopping…. honestly I feel like I discover a new feature of Tonal Energy every day. It is the best bang for your buck when it comes to apps on your phone that are helpful for music.
My favorite flute stand is the Hercules stand. It’s super durable, has velvet-like pegs that won’t scratch your instrument, and the model linked above has multiple pegs (2 flute pegs and a piccolo peg) to accommodate several instruments. It also folds up so it doesn’t take up as much space in your bag, and the pegs can also fit oboes and clarinets (which is helpful if you’re a doubler!)
Please note that most repairs on your flute should be done by a professional repair tech. However, there are some adjustments that you or your teacher can make to your flute, such as tightening a noticeably loose screw. Therefore, keeping a screwdriver in your case can come in handy in emergencies. While you can buy a screwdriver from various music/flute stores, my advice is to go to a hardware store and purchase one there – it will be much cheaper. For flute, look for a flathead screwdriver whose tip is roughly 2.5 x .4 millimeters.
If you play piccolo regularly, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of earplugs to reduce your chances of hearing loss. While you can find cheap, disposable earplugs at many different stores, when fitted incorrectly, they don’t provide enough protection and can distort the sound. Custom earplugs can get pretty pricey (think $200 and up), but here’s a great pair from Soundbrenner for $159. Always remember your health is the most important thing you have – make sure you’re taking steps to ensure you’re protecting your hearing along your musical journey.
(For more details on foam earplugs versus custom-fitted earplugs, I recommend taking a look at this 2008 study on “Musicians’ Hearing Protection” prepared by the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory.)
I can’t tell you how many times I ask my students to watch themselves playing in a mirror (hint: it’s a lot). It’s super useful for checking embouchure, hand position, and posture as you’re playing. It can also be used to ensure you’re avoiding any unnecessary tension. A full-length rectangular mirror allows one to see the whole body, and you can pick one up for as little as $7 at your local Target or Walmart.
It can be really easy to spend tons of money on accessories and gadgets as a flute player. But with a little research and some forethought, you can make smart purchase decisions and investments that will push your career forward and not break the bank.