This topic is one from the archives, but with updated information! When most flute players think of curved headjoints, they think of alto and bass flutes. But did you know that curved headjoints are available on regular C flutes as well? These instruments, designed for the smaller player in mind, have waxed and waned in popularity over the years, but in my seven years with the flute shop, I have seen them make a well-deserved comeback! As a petite player who began the flute at age 9, I definitely wish that I had started out on a curved headjoint. These flutes have a U bend in the headjoint, shortening the distance from the player’s shoulders to their fingers. This creates less stretch and strain on the left hand, arm, and shoulder. The curved headjoint flute looks like this:
There are a few slight disadvantages to a curved headjoint C flute; the sound quality is slightly diminished, but keep in mind that these are designed for beginning flute players. My opinion as a player and teacher is that the development of good hand position outweighs the slightly lower quality sound production. There are a lot of bad habits that can be developed by having to stretch the fingers too far on an instrument that is too long, and the curved headjoint does a good job of alleviating that problem. Secondly, the curved headjoint does make the instrument slightly off-balance–the headjoint end of the flute feels slightly heavier than the footjoint end. Again, I believe that the ergonomic benefits of the curved head flute outweigh this small disadvantage. Some companies, such as Jupiter, have designed differently shaped headjoints in response to this. They definitely feel more ergonomic but do come with a higher price point. You can see an example of this different construction here:
If you have a student who is eager to start playing the flute, but you’re concerned about their ability to reach a traditional C flute, a curved headjoint in some format is definitely the way to go. At Paige’s Music, the parent company of the Indy Flute Shop, we have a selection of Gemeinhardt curved headjoint flutes available to rent or purchase. Just like with all of our other instruments, renting is a great option for the curved head flute because when your student grows and is ready for a traditional straight flute, switching their instrument on the rent-to-own plan is free and easy. Payments can also be transferred to an intermediate flute in the Indy Flute Shop, if your student has found themselves getting serious about their flute playing. As always, call or email Erin with any questions!