Have a flutist or piccolist* in your life? Need to find them a gift and have no idea where to start? Here's a list to help!
BUDGET-FRIENDLY - under ~$30
Flute / Piccolo Cleaning Swab
If your flutist does not have one of these, it's about time they got one. Used for cleaning the condensation out of the inside of the instrument, it'll help keep the flute from smelling funky, and help keep a wooden flute/piccolo from cracking due to too much moisture.
I use one like this silk Jewel pull-through swab for my Irish flute (and a smaller one for piccolo) because I don't want to get a cleaning rod stuck in the body (which tapers toward the bottom). For my silver flute, I use one like this with a cleaning rod, but the one pictured above would also work well.
Flute Polishing Cloth
Have fingers? Put them on an instrument? Leave smudges? A polishing cloth can get rid of those!
There are a lot of options for polishing cloths out there, but any non-treated microfibre or bamboo cloth will do quite nicely. Beaumont makes them with a wide variety of patterns, and I love my pinkypurplepolkadotted one.
One of the best things you can do to help a flutist with their playing is encourage listening through giving iTunes gift cards, buying an album for them through BandCamp or the artist's website, or by finding other ways to give them access to recorded music.
When possible, try to buy the album from the artist so more of the proceeds go to supporting their work (if we never buy music, musicians can't afford to work and have to find other things to do to pay their rent, which leaves us without any music at all). Support your future musician by supporting their current mentors!
Not sure what artists to look for? Try some of these:
Jasmine Choi, James Galway, Emmanuel Pahud, Sharon Bezaly, Jean-Pierre Rampal
James Galway, Lizzo, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)
Traditional (Wooden - Irish, Scottish, Breton) Flutes:
Matt Molloy, Chris Norman, Louise Mulcahy, Catherine McEvoy, Nuala Kennedy, Kevin Crawford, Jean-Michel Veillon, Sylvain Barou
Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Bobbi Humphrey, Moe Koffman
...and so many more amazing artists.
Flute Sheet Music
There are a lot of sheet music books out there - everything from standard classical repertoire to video game and Disney music. If they have friends who play, duet books are often a hit (my favourite Christmas duet book, suitable for any student with 1+ year of playing). Choose based on your flutist's preferences and ask your private teacher if you aren't sure about the right level.
MID-RANGE BUDGETS ~$30-$50
Music Stand Light
Great for flutists who practice in a dim room, do pit orchestra work or have gigs in old churches or other spaces that are often dimly lit.
Stand lights come in a wide variety of options, both corded and not. My favourite is the Mighty Bright Duet - it's small enough to fit in a flute bag, light enough that you can use it on a folding stand if necessary, has two lights on flexible arms so you can have one shining on each page of a double score and uses batteries so you don't have to miraculously be sitting within six feet of an electrical outlet at your gig (what orchestra flutist is EVER that close to a wall?). It is also, Mighty Bright, as advertised.
Piccolo Cleaning Wand
For my piccolo, I have a regular pull-through swab but I also love my piccolo wand when the instrument needs a quick swab during a rehearsal or performance (a real issue for piccolo players when we're in colder rooms is that the condensing moisture creates bubbles under the left-hand keys and can plug the holes making it impossible to play C-sharp so we often have emergency swab issues!). The wands come in a variety of colours and mine breaks down into two parts to store in the case. These also exist for flute.
Folding Music Stand
A music stand is a must for any flutist who plays for more than a few minutes at a time. So many problems can be linked to poor posture, and having a music stand can really help. Music stands come in a wide variety of models, and these packable, lightweight stands are good for beginning students, to use as a backup stand, people short on space, or for a flutist who needs to bring their own stand to offsite rehearsals. They are not as good for flutists who want to put more than one or two light books on the stand at a time.
This K&M (König & Meyer) stand is my current favourite folding one - mainly because it folds down small enough (~39cm/15.5") to fit in a bag without sticking out.
If your flutist spends a lot of time in ensemble rehearsals or does pit orchestra work, a flute stand is a great gift. My favourite single flute stand is the Hercules Deluxe stand (with the collapsing peg if you have a B-foot flute - the extra length of the peg keeps the flute more secure on the stand) and for flute/piccolo, the Hercules 2 Flute/1 Piccolo stand (swapping out the standard peg for the collapsing one for a B-foot flute).
I like the Hercules stands because they fold down (the pegs unscrew) and the base is heavy enough that someone brushing by the instrument is less likely to knock it over. You still have to be careful (the flute does NOT have a good vertical centre of gravity!) but I feel better about my instruments when I'm in the pit and using these than with the lighter travel variety stands.
UPPER END BUDGETS ~$50 & up (and up!)
Flute Case Cover/Gig Bag
So many options here - from Fluterscooter's fabulous flute & piccolo bags to the more low-key Altieri bags, there really is something for everyone. Things to check before you buy - are you looking for a bag to fit a french-style (slim, no-handle) case or a student case (bulkier, usually has a handle)? Does the flute have a C or a B-foot? Do you want the case to fit just a flute or will you eventually have a piccolo, too? Bright colours or discreet black? Do you want a shoulder strap? Will you be carrying a lot of other things (e.g. flute stand, music, light, music stand, computer, tablet) in the bag with the flute, or is it for your instrument(s) alone? Talk to your flute player and have them be part of the process - you spend a lot of time with your gig bag, so you want it to be a good fit.
You can use any bag that's big enough to carry your music - bags designed to carry laptops are often great, just look out for those over-sized band and orchestral scores at 9x12", 10x13" or even 11x17". You can get a gig bag (like the Altieri bags mentioned above) that has room, but if you want something a little fancier, Fluterscooter has a couple of options. Double-check the sizes to make sure your bag of choice will fit your music!
Take your flute player to a live show! Ask your flute teacher, band director or other people in your life where to find events in your community.
Sturdy Music Stand
If you want a taller stand, or one that will hold a heavier load than a folding stand, I love Manhasset's stands. I have one that has held up under studio & full-time musician use for over 20 years, and is still going strong. The stands come in a variety of options - the black Symphony Stand is good for most musicians (works seated and standing - tallest extension is 4' from floor to lip). If you are on the tall side (6'+) you might want to take a look at this one, which gives you an extra height extension.
If you want something a bit fancier, the regular height Symphony Stands come in a rainbow of colours, too!
If it is time for your flutist to upgrade, talk to their private flute teacher before you bring home a new instrument. Instruments are such a personal thing that anything past your basic student-level flute is something the player is going to want to try out first.
If it's a first flute, ask your private teacher to recommend brands they trust. If you don't have a private teacher yet, find one in your town (search "flute teacher in ..." or "flute lessons in ..." on Google!) and ask if they would be willing to help you out with some advice. It is always better to buy an instrument from a reputable music store or from a private teacher you trust if you aren't sure what you're doing.
If it is a step-up/intermediate flute, pro flute or piccolo you're looking for, it is much better to give your flutist a card telling them that's what you want to get for them and let the shopping be part of the fun of the gift.
Do you have a favourite flute accessory? Tell me all about it!
My favourites are my favourites for the reasons listed; you may have different favourites, and that's ok. It's part of what makes the world a lovely place to live.
The links in this list are mostly to Long & McQuade Musical Instruments stores, because they are my local music store and I believe in supporting your people. If you don't live close to a Long & McQuade, check out your local music store first!
*Picclist: A word I think should be much more popular than it is.