Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday.
Thank you to all of you who attended the Professional Flute Choir performance at the National Flute Association Convention last Sunday in Orlando, Florida. It was a true honor to perform with this group and I hope to rejoin them next year in Salt Lake City! Major thanks to conductor John Bailey for his incredible leadership and to Shauna Thompson for coordinating the PFC from A to Z. You guys rock!
Between PFC rehearsals (when I wasn’t touring literally all of the Orlando-based theme parks with my hubs), I spent some quality time in the Exhibit Hall both drooling over the Burkhart model flute that will one day be mine (to quote Wayne from Wayne’s World, “Oh yes, it will be mine”) and exploring several new, beautiful, crazy, and interesting flute products. In today’s flute blog, I will be reviewing some of my favorite new things in a “does this thing really work?” style post (inspired by the YouTube series popularized by Grav3yardGirl). There are some great flute accessories out there! If you are in need of some major retail therapy (thanks Mercury retrograde..), I hope one of the products below speaks to your needs. Happy shopping!
Solexa’s Thumbport II Right Thumb – I love this little gadget! I have had issues in the past with my right thumb (specifically balancing my flute more on the tip than the pad, sometimes leading to numbness after a long practice session (uhm, not good)). The Thumbport II gives my thumb a really sturdy and comfortable place to rest and feels like a wonderful tennis shoe for my thumb (they should call it ThumbShoe!). I must confess that I initially looked at this product because I saw someone using a pink Thumbport I and thought it was a super cute accessory for my flute (aka superficial motivation). When I tried out both the Thumbport I and Thumbport II, I found the Thumbport II much more comfortable than the beautiful pink Thumbport I. For me, comfort/function trumps beauty. This is a wonderful product if you have issues with the placement or balance of your right thumb. It simply clips onto your flute and can be removed easily any time you want. Nothing permanent and no glue or sticky backing whatsoever. Much more comfortable than the harder plastic models from other brands. I highly recommend.
Beaumont Polishing Cloth – This was another purchase motivated by superficial intentions. These clothes are absolutely beautiful and come in a variety of colors and styles. The one I purchased matches my Spring Lilac Fluterscooter bag quite well, so I decided to splurge, not 100% confident that the microfiber material would compare to the Williams polishing cloth that I have been using for the past several years. I was pleasantly surprised that the Beaumont cloth performed much better than my old cloth with less effort. This is a sturdy yet soft piece of fabric that nixes fingerprints in a hot minute. There is a style for literally everyone (no more boring, light blue polishing cloths that smell like chemicals – ick). They are a bit bigger than your standard polishing cloth but easily fit into the outer case of an insulated flute bag. I am a huge fan and love that flute accessories such as cloths and bags are finally getting a chic upgrade.
Large Fingering Stamp by Lyricraft.com – I screamed when I saw this product (okay, not literally – just in my head). I cannot tell you how many times I have drawn clumsy hieroglyphics in my student’s notebooks to illustrate fingerings (standard, trick, trill, etc.), wishing that there was an easier, and clearer, way to record flute fingerings. This is the answer to my prayers. A simple stamp and a few colors in the dots and boom! Done. You can also put a few stamps on post-it notes for yourself if you want record alternative options for fingerings in the high register to control pitch (no stamping on original scores – post-its are not permanent). The staff next to the flute fingering makes it easy to notate the pitch (students who are visual learners will resonate with this feature). I love this device and know that I will get a lot of use out of it. Maybe even on this very blog!
BG 1 Piece Pad Dryer – Save the planet! Okay, okay, okay – I know how satisfying it is to clean your pads with cigarette or pad cleaning paper. The sound the paper makes when you pull it away from the pad is a wonderful, John Cagey moment that only other woodwind players truly understand. But constantly repurchasing these papers is costly and damaging to the planet. This reusable and washable device is a much more environmentally friendly way to remove condensation. I am not going to lie – It feels a little flimsy and you may be quite skeptical, but it works quiet well and is a bit gentler on pads than paper. Storage is an issue as this little piece of fabric can easily fall out of a flute case or get lost amongst other accessories. I suggest keeping the small plastic bag that it comes in for storage, so you can easily find it amongst your other flute swag. This is a great economical and environmentally sound product.
Find it here: https://www.flute4u.com/store/BG-Pad-Dryer-1-Piece.html
Win-D-Fendor – This is by far the most interesting and innovative product I found in the exhibit hall! The Win-D-Fendor is a device that attaches to your headjoint, cupping the flute around the tone hole, and blocks outside air from reaching your air stream. This improves sound projection tenfold and is particularly useful for outdoor concerts (or practice session), marching band, or extremely airconditioned performance spaces. Caitlin from Carolyn Nussbaum was kind enough to perform a demonstration of this product and the results were astounding. I would have loved to have one of these when I was practicing outdoors on my parents’ tree farm as a child! I will be recommending this product to all of my students who participate in school ensembles and marching bands. This a genius device! (Thanks Caitlin!)
Find it here: https://www.flute4u.com/store/Win-D-Fender.html
No Sweat! – I was initially very skeptical of this product. Will it be like putting spray deodorant all over my hands? Eww. Sounds nasty! I was pleasantly surprised when I spritzed a few pumps on my palms. It does, in fact, neutralize clamy hands! The product leaves a slight film but nothing extreme and removes easily with a bit of soap and water. For those of us suffering from performance anxiety, or those living in extremely humid areas of the country, No Sweat! is your best friend! Of course, it was sold out before I could grab a bottle for my own collection, but I will absolutely be purchasing this to help me out in the greenroom before my next recital.
What interesting and inventive products did you pick up at this year’s convention? Did you try any of the products listed above? How have they worked for you? Do you have your own recommendations? Please comment below!