If you are buying a flute for a child who is just starting to learn, it is important that you choose one that is specifically designed for beginners.
Flutes for beginners have features that make it easier to learn the basics of finger positioning and breathing.
They are also designed to be easier to play, so that the student won’t get frustrated and give up. Keep in mind that mastering an instrument takes many hours of practice.
When it comes to choosing a flute, you should stick with recognized brands to ensure that you are getting the best quality instrument.
The PF500 series flutes are manufactured by the Pearl Musical Instrument Company, which is based in Japan and has been making musical instruments since 1952. It is best known for its line of drums and other percussion instruments.
Pearl established its first factory to produce handmade flutes in 1968, in response to the growing demand for fine flutes. In subsequent years, it unveiled a number of innovations that made the basic Boehm flute mechanism more refined.
It opened a second factory in 1985 in order to produce high quality flutes at more affordable prices. The new factory also allowed Pearl to expand its lineup to include flutes made for students, as well as step up flutes.
The major feature of the PF500 that makes it ideal for beginners is that it has an offset G key. Usually, flutes have inline keys, meaning that all the keys are in a straight line. The offset G key is off-center and not aligned with the other keys.
The G key is manipulated by the player’s left ring finger, making it easier to play for children or musicians with smaller fingers. The challenge with learning to play the flute is that you have to coordinate your fingers and your breathing.
Hence, anything that would make it easier to position your hands is welcome.
- It is silver-plated.
This makes the flute more durable than those made with solid silver, since the base metal is a harder alloy. It also makes it easy to clean and maintain.
For some players, however, the silver plating may wear off after years of use.
- It has no split E key. This key divides the G key into two separate keys, which are linked but can move independently. It is intended to make it more responsive to play a high E by closing the lower G key. The split E is only available on flutes with an offset G key.
Opinion is divided as to whether or not this feature is really needed. Many professionals believe that you won’t really require any help reaching the high E if you are using a well-made flute. Thus, many say that the feature generally appears on lower-cost instruments.
- It has a C foot joint.
With this foot joint, the lowest note you can play on your flute is C. A flute with a longer foot joint would allow you to play an additional note, B.
In general, those who are learning to play will not need to play the low B note, so having a flute with a C foot joint will be more than enough for most students’ needs.
- It has closed hole keys. This feature means that the flute does not have a hole in the middle of the five keys that the player has to close to ensure a clear sound. This makes it easier for students and beginners to play.
Flutes with closed hole keys are generally used by students and those still learning to play. Some teachers, however, may use open hole key flutes to encourage their students to learn the proper hand position.
- It is made with a pinless mechanism. This mode of construction is exclusive to Pearl flutes, and eliminates the annoying problem of protruding needles. These sharp objects can snag on your clothing, causing sweat and other acidic body fluids to fall on the flute. It can result in corrosion and keys that bind together.
To further protect the flute from perspiration, the underside of the key work is where the socket-head screws are inserted. Plus, to add strength to the whole flute, there are additional bridge mechanisms.
- It features One-Piece Core-Bar construction. This means that the flute is made with one rod that extends from the high C until the king post. The result is a flute that is more reliable and more comfortable to play, while staying in adjustment for longer. It is also easier to service.
- It has French pointed arms. This feature is now standard on all Pearl flutes, although previously it had been mainly found on handmade models. Arms are the part of the flute that attaches the rod and the key. French pointed arms extend to the middle of the key, as opposed to the standard Y arm that is attached at the edge. This provides for improved key placement as well as making them sturdier.
In order to keep costs down, the flute comes with minimal accessories. The only ones included are a carrying case and a cleaning rod.
- One advantage of using the PF500 to learn is that it is easier to play the G key. Thus, students are able to avoid the shrill sounds produced by most beginners learning how to play. If the learner only hears these noises while learning, it is easier for them to lose interest.
- On the other hand, if the flute produces a pleasant sound during practice sessions, students will find it more fun to play. They will also find it easier to gauge their progress as the sounds the flute produces gradually improve.
- The overall design of the flute itself ensures that it is easier to play. The key flaps are designed for a pleasant feel and ease of movement.
- If you are an adult who already knows how to play but only wants to dabble in the instrument, the PF500 is a good choice. It allows you to own a quality flute at an affordable price.
- The price tag may be too high for some students looking for a budget instrument. Parents who are looking for an affordable flute for children who are just trying out the instrument may be reluctant to make the investment. It is considered to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, making it somewhat expensive if you are not sure your child will stick with the flute.
However, when it comes to choosing student flutes, you should not make price the main consideration. In particular, you should avoid cheap flutes, since these are more difficult to play and students will not be able to make good sounds on them.
- Also, keep in mind that the student will likely spend the first couple of years playing using a student flute. So you will want to buy one that will last them at least this long.
- Another disadvantage is the lack of accessories. If there are other accessories that you need to have, such as a cleaning cloth or a more sturdy carrying case, you will have to purchase them separately.
- Some parents may also find the plastic handle of the carrying case flimsy, but this is a minor complaint that not everybody has. It only becomes an issue if the student handles it roughly.
Overall, the Pearl PF500 is the ideal flute for students learning to play. It is designed to make it easier to use for children who are still getting accustomed to the proper fingering positions. It also encourages students to continue practicing by producing a pleasant sound from the start, rather than the shrill noises made by those who do not yet know how to play correctly.
It is also a good choice for casual flutists who do not need intermediate or advanced flutes. The PF500 is an instrument that will allow them to play at a good enough quality based on their skill level.
The only major disadvantage of the PF500 is the price, which might make some parents pause if they are not sure if their children will stick with the instrument. But if they decide that the investment is worth it, they will get a high-quality instrument that will help students master the instrument.