NAF - What Native American Flute do you recommend to get started? Where can I buy it? What flute do you play?

I personally am in love with >>Southern Cross Flutes. I have started with High Spirits Flutes a couple years ago, but they are mass produced, not nearly as beautiful and require more breath plus do not have ergonomic sound holes, which I find comfortable to play. Don't get me wrong, they do sound decent, but Southern Cross Flutes are simply stunning and well made, so beautiful, plus they are custom built for you. You can choose your woods and also decorative elements and stones. Todd takes the time to communicate with you and make sure you get the flute of your dreams. I do feel like this is something I do want to support - (local) builders with a lot of dedication and heart for their work.

The small company is located in New Zealand, just a bit north of where I live and they ship worldwide. They have fantastic exotic woods that are native to New Zealand, like Kauri, a 40.000 year old wood found preserved in the swamps. Ancient and beautiful!

 

Which flutes do you play?

I currently have 5 flutes from Southern Cross flutes sorted from lowest to highest:

  • F# Cedar + Walnut Contrabass Flute with Side Blown Feature
  • A Redwood Cedar Grandfather Flute
  • C Redwood Cedar Grandfather Flute
  • F Heart Matai + White Ash Love Flute
  • F# Kauri + Rosewood Love Flute 

 

What size / key should I get? If you want to get started, the usual recommendation is to get a Love Flute (that is how you call this size of flute) in the key of A or G. However, you can also go a bit lower and get an F#, F or E. The bigger the flute, the more you need to stretch your fingers and practice to control your breath. It is doable. The smaller the flute, the easier it is to start with. And in my opinion: the bigger the flute, the nicer the sound - I do love deep bass notes.

 

If you want to start out and don't have a love for the high notes go for something mid sized. I highly recommend F#, it is also the traditional key for this instrument and has a unique sound. I do have a flute in F and F# - they sound quite different despite the similar pitch.

 

If you can already play the recorder, your transition will be immediate. If you have experiences with other instruments, you might already get along well with bigger sizes. This is highly personal and depends on you. Keep in mind there are some physical limits to how big the flute can be to play for you (arm length), plus some special flutes like drone flutes are more challenging to play and require as much air as two or more regular flutes.

 

What wood should I get? Cedar is the quintessence of flute wood, it is super lightweight and absorbs moisture. The tone is soft and mellow. For a more bright and clear tone, walnut is quite common. And there are 1001 woods in between. Some people prefer soft, some bright. It is a matter of personal taste. Walnut flutes are heavier. For big flutes (starting from low C), I personally look into more lightweight flutes as I find them harder to hold, but most people do not have issues with this. For smaller flutes it doesn't matter so much as the size also affects the weight. Some people even prefer to have a heavier flute in their hands. Again, personal preference.

 

Is there a book on how to learn to play the native flute?

Yes, fortunately Southern Cross Flutes provides a really good book for learning how to play the flute.

https://www.southerncrossflutes.com/starting-out/learn-to-play-the-native-american-flute/

 

More info please! If you need more info on flutes, check out the Southern Cross Flutes website, they have a lot of info and different sound samples for you to listen to. Plus a very useful starter book - both digital and print edition.

 

Anyway, connect with your heart and listen to your intuition on this. There is no right or wrong way and most people have a collection of flutes as there is a moisture buildup after a while and you need to switch flutes anyway and let the moist ones dry out. So start with A flute and buy more later.

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