The flute has three pieces:
- The body or main section is the longest piece, the one with all the keys;
- The foot joint is the shortest piece, with just a few keys;
- The head joint is the part you blow on to make a sound; it has no keys, just a hole.
Describing the flute is like describing yourself. When you put the flute together, the body is in the middle, the foot joint is at the bottom, and the head joint is at the top!
You should not touch the keys when assembling the flute, only when you play.
- Hold the body in your left hand at the end where there are no keys, where the brand name is. Hold it so the other end is pointing up, like you're holding a glass.
- Hold the head joint in your right hand in the middle. Notice that one end of the head joint is closed, and the other end is open. Hold it so that the open end is pointing up toward your left hand.
- Bring your left and right hands together and carefully insert the open end of the head joint into the open end of the body of the flute.
- DO NOT just push the two sections together. Instead, gently twist the head joint as you push it into the body and it will go together easily.
- The hole in the head joint should line up with keys on the body. If you pretend there's an imaginary line going all the way up and down the flute, it should pass right through the middle of the hole in the head joint and the center of all the keys on the body.
- Now that you've put the head joint and body together, continue to hold the body in the same place as before, but turn the instrument around in your left hand so that the head joint is pointing away from you.
- Hold the foot joint carefully in your right hand, right on the end where there are no keys.
- Point the other end toward the body and bring the two sections together, just like you did with the body and head joint. Remember to twist as well as push and they'll go together easier.
- The keys on the foot joint are held on by one long rod, or screw. When the foot joint is on correctly, the rod should point toward the middle of the keys on the body.
- Now you're ready to play!
After You Play
- Take the flute apart just the opposite of how you put it together, being sure not to touch any keys.
- It's important to always remove the moisture from inside the flute every time you're through playing. Most flutes come with a cleaning rod to help you do this. You'll also need a swab the size of a small handkerchief, made out of cotton, linen, silk, or microfiber.
- Feed a corner of the swab into the hole at the end of the cleaning rod and then pull it through a little more. Holding the rod pointing up in one hand and the other end of the swab in the other hand so it looks like a flag, pull lightly against the swab while you twirl the rod one turn so that it wraps some of the cloth around the rod. Then pull the rod up and over the top of the rod so that the end of the rod is covered, pull the cloth down the side of the rod, so that you can hold on to the other end of the cloth along with the base of the rod between your thumb and forefinger.
- Now pick up the head joint and poke the swab rod in all the way until it stops, then pull it out.
- Then pick up the foot joint (not by the keys!) and push the swab rod all through and back out again.
- Finally, pick up the body and swab it out twice, once from each end.
- Now you're ready to put the flute back in its case.
Cleaning and Polishing the Outside
- Use a cloth lightly moistened with rubbing alcohol to take finger prints off the keys and body. It also removes the oils from the hands, so do it before you use a polish cloth and your polishing will go faster.
- NEVER use a silver polish liquid or spray to shine your flute. It's okay to use a silver-polish cloth, but only on the tops of the keys and where it's easy to get to on the body. Stay FAR away from the pads when you're polishing your flute.
Helpful Hints and Reminders
- DO NOT hold the instrument by the keys at any time!
- NEVER use any lubricant on the joints. Instead, keep the sections wiped very clean inside and out where they go together.
- Keep your flute safe. It should only be "on your face or in the case!" Do not leave it on your chair, your music stand, the sofa, the table, the floor, or the piano. If a flute is dropped or sat on it can easily bend the body, an expensive repair.
- Don't carry or store anything inside the case other than the flute, especially the swab cloth. If the cloth's too big it can damage the flute when you try to close the case, and there's no sense in swabbing out the flute and then storing the wet swab on top of the flute. Suggestion: Tie the swab to the handle of your case, or if your flute has a case cover you can store it in-between the cover and the case.
- Always carry your case with the lid or top side of the case toward your body. This way, if the case were to unexpectedly open for any reason, you would have the chance to pull the case against your body to prevent the instrument from falling out. If the lid is facing away from you and the case opens there is no way for you to keep the instrument from falling out.
Whether the information is on a card inside the case, a label or an ID tag, make sure your instrument has identification on it showing that it belongs to you. Almost all band instruments have their own unique serial number on the body of the instrument so you shouldn't mark the instrument itself, but do have proof of ownership somewhere inside or on the case.