Flute/love of flutes
i love flutes. i would like to know how i can become a flute repair technician. i have been looking around and there does not seem to be anywhere to train for this. can you recommend someplace?
I may be a bit biased, but I believe you're looking into one of the most admirable careers available, and I'm pleased to be able to help you with this question! There are actually numerous options available to you, depending on what your goals may be.
If you're simply interested in learning more about the workings of the flute, perhaps with the goal of working on your own instruments, there are classes available from J.L. Smith (the flute dealer) and Jonathon Landell (one of the world's best flute makers).
Mr. Landell is a personal friend, and I can tell you that his classes are worth every bit of the cost. He is one of the most amazingly knowledgeable people in the world, with a wealth of experience building and repairing some of the best flutes in the world, and he is incredibly generous with his wisdom. If you take all of his classes through the "Overhaul & Mechanical" level, you will be prepared to do most standard repair work on any flute, and to do it to a very high level. You might also enjoy building your own headjoint or flute, both of which are courses Mr. Landell offers. The J.L. Smith courses have also received good reviews from those who have taken them. Western Carolina University also offers flute repair courses for those enrolled in its flute studio, and this might be an option worth examining. Any of these could be an excellent introduction to the world of instrument repair in general, and flute repair in particular.
If you want to build a career out of flute repair, you should consider either attending one of the instrument repair schools, or finding a reputable repair tech to apprentice with. These are the two standard methods of entering the trade, and both have advantages and disadvantages. Most flute repair specialists start out as general band instrument repairers, and move to working on flutes exclusively as they build a clientele of professionals who seek their services. High end flute work is expensive, and thus tends to be sought out only by serious players. However, such players will not trust just anyone with their instrument, so it can be difficult to find enough work to make a living if you haven't yet built a reputation for yourself. As such, most flute specialists have a background of doing other repairs until they had enough demand to justify working only on flutes.
In any case, as I mentioned, there are actually several schools in the US that have an entire Band Instrument Repair program, and each should provide you an excellent foundation on which to build your career. These programs are at the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical campus in Red Wing, Minnesota, Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington, and Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City, Iowa. I would recommend looking into these programs and seeing if this might be a path you are interested in taking.
Apprenticeship is the other (and more traditional) means of learning the trade, and many repairers started this way. You would have to find a repairer willing to train you, and may spend from one to several years doing work for little to no pay in exchange for the training, but this is a viable way to get a start if school is either of no interest or out of reach for one reason or another. However, be warned that if you go this route, you should seek out the best repairer you can find to train with, as learning the skills of a mediocre repairer will leave you handicapped when you need to do particularly fine work. It is better to know how to do very high quality work and not need that skill than to be asked to do such work and be incapable of it.
In the long run, there are may paths you can take to becoming an instrument repairer (whether flutes specifically or band instruments in general), and I certainly encourage you to take a look at the options. Repairing is an excellent (and constantly interesting!) career if you have the desire and aptitude to pursue it.
I hope this is helpful. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask.