Compared to other instruments, the flute is relatively cheap. The parts are easy to replace, and they require few accessories. Clarinets, saxophones, and oboes require wooden reeds in order to play, as well as ligatures to assign the reeds to the mouthpieces. At a generous price, reeds fetch one dollar each, but typically go for a little more, and they must be purchased continuously. Brass instruments constantly require valve oil to keep all the pieces functioning, but flutes do not require as much maintenance. They have a simple, straight figure, with buttons running up and down. Unlike brass instruments, which often require you to adjust the position of your mouth depending on the notes, your embouchure will remain almost constant when playing the flute, something that makes it easier to learn.
The flute also has its place in all genres. Normal concert bands at a school or community group will always have need of flutes, because contemporary music is often written with flutes in mind. In contemporary marching bands in America, flutes are never forgotten. Of course, there are some groups that deal only in brass instruments—such as professional drum corps—but throughout your life you will encounter many marching bands that always accept flutes. The area of jazz is a little trickier, however; many groups do not have parts for flutes, and will either not accept them or allow them to read trombone music. But as contemporary bands merge with old jazz, the style of jazz flute is becoming more accepted and common. So the flute will earn you a place in almost any musical ensemble, whether they are playing classical, romantic, jazz, contemporary, or marching band charts.
By learning the flute, you open yourself up to a variety of instruments, namely the piccolo. Flutes are in the key of C, which means they can read off piano, tuba, guitar, and trombone music. A clarinet or alto saxophone could not do this, and the music would need to be transposed in order to match their instruments. But flutes have the ability and versatility to immediately play common piano and guitar music. The fact that they are in concert pitch also helps them more easily adjust to learning musical theory.
Beginner flutes are relatively cheap compared to other instruments. If you pursue the flute and decide to purchase an intermediate design, you will experience a richer, fuller sound. There are beginner, intermediate, and professional flutes, which means that as you continue your flute playing, you will have more advanced designs to choose from. The flute is an instrument that you can play, and enjoy playing, for life. Affordable, accessible, and lovely, it’s hard to go wrong with a flute.