Flute/cleaning

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Question
Thanks for the help.I don't have an open hole flute but it might be the pads. But now that you mention it, I do have dusty,fuzzy stuff like how you mentioned but not too much. How can clean that? What is the best way to clean your flute regularly inside and out? I have one of those " Glo-Cloths" that is suppose to keep your flute clean on the outside. It does a pretty good job but finger prints always get on my flute. Nut i guess theres no way to get rid of finger prints since im always putting my fingers on it.

Answer
Welcome back, Marisol!
When I answered your previous question, I was pretty sure that you did not have an open-hole flute.  But I also noticed that your question was not marked private.   So I added the extra information, in case there were other readers who might have that problem.  Also, now that you know, you may be able to help another flutist sometime, who is trying to play open-hole flute for the first time, without plugging their keys.

I mentioned the fuzzy residue around the key rails, because if you did have that, it would give some indication that the flute had enough use, and time, to begin to wear the keypads and cause the fuzzy or stuffy sound, especially when you played E flat.

My bad.  I should have told you how to clean that fuzzy goo off, once I mentioned it.  Thank you for writing again to ask.  Let me give you, and our other readers too, a video at the end of this answer.  It is very thorough, done by a repair technician, and the camera closeups are excellent.  There is more on the video than you will have to do.  So I will make a few more remarks, and then, you can watch John, at Hornsmasher.com.


IMPORTANT!!!!  READ BEFORE WATCHING THE VIDEO!!!   IMPORTANT!!!!

The first thing that John does in the video, is take a key off of the flute.  This is only so you can see how a key works.  DO NOT TAKE THE KEYS OFF OF YOUR FLUTE!!!

John then oils the keys.  He recommends oiling keys monthly.  I do not!  It is possible to oil too much, and this can cause trouble, as much as not oiling at all!  I recommend no more than every 3 or 4 months, depending on how much you practice, the brand of flute, environmental conditions, etc.  When you do decide to oil keys, less is more.  Note that John puts only the tiniest amount of oil at each location.  Then he wipes excess with a paper towel.  I do not recommend a paper towel because it is abrasive, and can scratch the finish.  I do not recommend a tissue, as it leaves lots of fuzzy lint residue, that can accumulate and gum up your key mechanism, slowing the action of the flute.  I use a soft, clean, lint-free cloth with NO SEWN EDGES, because stitching is also abrasive, and might make small tears in the key padding.

NOTE:  Do not use your cleaning cloth for key oiling.  Use a DIFFERENT cloth for wiping off excess oil.  

Speaking of cleaning cloths, everybody develops their own preference.  I don't use chemically treated cloths, and I don't use the "fuzzy" swab any more.  I have great success for 4 and a half decades, with just a clean, soft, lint free cloth.  A slight spritz of water or alcohol on that cloth, ONLY when really necessary, will clean major fingerprints.  The best way to lessen fingerprints, Marisol, is to wash your hands before playing.  (I know, silly, right?  but true.)  For example, do not use lots of hand lotion when you are going to play your flute.

Next, John discusses the TUNING CORK ASSEMBLY.  It is nice to see on this video, how your flute is made, but....DO NOT MESS WITH THE TUNING CORK AT HOME!  All you personally will need to do, is check the position of the cork, using the grooved end of your cleaning rod.  If your tuning cork has moved out of the proper position, then move it just a bit with the screw in the end.  Otherwise, leave it alone.  Moving the cork can damage it.  Also, most flutists do not have those posts that John uses to remove and reposition the tuning cork.  

NOTE:  Corks AND Keypads do not do well in exceptionally dry environments.  Do not store your flute near a furnace vent.  The materials contract, dry out, and make repairs necessary more often.  Too much humidity is also a no-no.  So don't store your flute in a damp basement or a bathroom, or any such place.  (If you plan to store your flute for an extended period, vacuum the case well, and then put the flute back in.  I did not do this once, and "case mites" ate all the cork and most of the keypads off of my clarinet.  Eeeeuuuuw.)

At about 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, IS THE PART THAT YOU ASKED ABOUT!!!  Use a small, soft bristled brush to clean away that fuzzy buildup.  Be careful around those little wires, not to bend them or knock them loose.  They are actually springs, and they make the keys open when you lift your fingers.  So watch John, and when you try it, BE VERY CAREFUL, PLEASE!  At about 7:54 in the video, you will notice a spring is out of place on the very bottom key at the end of the flute.  Looks like a tiny wire just sticking out behind the key.   There is a little hook tool available at music stores to help you pop these springs back on if you notice one is out of place. If a dry brush does not remove enough of the fuzzies, spritz a bit of alcohol on the brush and try again.

Finally, when you clean under the keys, be careful not to damage the keypads.  This is another reason, why I don't use a cloth with a sewn edge.  You must not play "tug of war" with your cloth when cleaning the key pads.  VERY GENTLY pull the cloth out from under the pads.  DO NOT GET THE KEY PADS SOAKING WET!!!!  Watch John before you try this yourself.  (You don't have to have a "hornsmasher kit."  Any fine mist spritz bottle will be ok.  A 1-litre plant spray bottle, for example is NOT good, because it sprays out too much liquid and can get the keypads too wet.  I have a purse-sized eyeglass cleaner bottle that was empty, and now I use that.)

Well, there it is.  The whole story of flute maintenance.  But don't feel swamped by all of this.  You will ultimately develop a routine maintenance method that works for you.  Start slowly, maybe just cleaning the key mechanism with a brush, wiping the flute inside and out, and checking for wear/damage.  If you are ok with that, next time add testing the tuning cork position with the grooved back of your cleaning rod.  As you progress, you can add other things in the video as needed.  

Wow.  I said all that.  I hope it wasn't too much.  My very best to you, sweetie.  Take good care of your flute, and it will take good care of you for a long, long time!  

Here is the video (I know, "finally.")


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uuifF8yl9c&feature=related

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Denise J. Sipe

Expertise

These are the topics I CAN answer... How to play, from beginner to professional. Tips and tricks, breathing, auxilliary fingering techniques Tone Quality Listening--Developing your ears Technique --Bringing the notes up and off of the page, and making them "your own music". Playing solo, small groups, bands, orchestras Digitally reproduced, vs live accompaniment Accompanying vocalists, dancers, other instrumentals.

Experience

Soloist, small groups, large marching bands, symphony orchestras, stage bands and orchestras, theater, church music, jazz, classical, folk music

Organizations
I'm independent. But professionals have often hired me to play in their groups. Giving back to the community where I played in the High School Band, I am a former member of Williamsport, MD Community Band, a current member of New Horizons Band in Hagerstown, MD, and Bass Flute Player for the TOOT UNCOMMON FLUTES flute choir of Williamsport, MD. I often perform solo as "Toot Uncommon" and had a web-based business where I sold flutes of all sizes, shapes, and colors. The show is uncommon. The locations are often uncommon. And the variety of musical instruments is definitely uncommon! I am a member of NFA, the National Flute Association.

Publications
I didn't write for any publications. I leave that up to the more elite musicians.

Education/Credentials
This should have been my career. I am an engineer,and a trained professional clown. But my music is my passion. Flute is my favorite, though I also play many woodwinds and some brass. I am currently playing percussion in a volunteer concert band, and have drum corps experience, where I often played marching bass drum. I am totally self-taught. But I have often played in groups made up mostly of professionals. All in all I am still the area's best-kept secret.

Awards and Honors
Biggest honor of my career was playing an emotional piece, and looking out over the audience. Two big, tough construction workers had tears rolling down their cheeks.

Past/Present Clients
I've been teaching beginning and intermediate flute/piccolo students of all ages in MD and PA since the early 1970s.

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