SevenWinds Flutes Suggested Care
This is primarily directed to those who have my flutes. However, many points may work for flutes from other makers as well. It should be noted that new flute players typically create more moisture in the flute than experienced players. If you live in a wet humid area or play outdoors when Sun can swell the wood on the inside and with the exterior of the flute dry will create stress that can crack your flute, if this happens it is usually between the mouth piece and the true sound hole.
If you go the “Resource Page” on our site you will find links to Care and Maintenance for recorders. They are worth the time to read and apply to your flute care procedures.
Break In Procedure
This is difficult, particularly for new flute players, initially you should not play the flute for more than 15 minutes, remove the bird, shake out any moisture, possibly run an extra large pipe cleaner the slow air chamber and allow it to dry for another 30 minutes or more. If you do use a pipe cleaner, when complete, blow a sharp blast of air into the mouth piece (with the bird removed) to blow out any loose debris. After that, you can play another 15 minutes, remove the bird and allow it to dry until the next day. The break in process is used to stabilize the wood. Now if the flute is stored for a long period of time (a month or more) the break in process will need to be repeated.
To minimize the potential of cracking, all of my flutes are treated on the inside with a blend of shellac and denatured alcohol with at least three coatings, followed with an additional three coats of finish. This helps repel the affects of moisture, but may not inhibit the swelling and potential splitting of the wood. Here are some tips that will minimize the affects of moisture in your flute.
Do’s and Don’ts of flute care
Do not consume food or drink before playing the flute. This particularly applies to consuming food or drink that contains sugar. Sugar will encourage the growth of mold in the slow air chamber.
After about 15 – 30 minutes of playing the flute will contain moisture. Remove the bird, shake out the flute, and allow it to dry for 30 minutes or more, you can then play it again for another 15-20 minutes and then allow it to dry overnight.
There are fat pipe cleaners available at craft supply stores that can be placed in the mouth piece hole that will also absorb excessive moisture. However as mentioned earlier, always blow a sharp burst of air into the mouth piece, with the bird removed, to blow out any potential loose debris.
Once or twice a year, remove the bird, hold your thumb over the slow air chamber exit and with a large eye dropper squirt about a teaspoon of olive, or mineral oil into the slow air chamber. Place a finger from the other hand over the mouth piece and begin to rotate the flute spreading the oil over the entire surface of the slow air chamber. Dump out the excess and wipe the flute with a soft cloth. Note about oils: olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and mineral oil are all safe for human consumption. Mineral oil, available in any pharmacy, is the only oil I am familiar with which will not go rancid. I have read adding a few drops of vitamin E to the other oils will minimize this affect.
Do not store the flute in a hot place, like a car. Heat can soften any glue joints in the flute.
Flutes are best stored in open air. Flute bags made of leather or hard flute cases are ok for short-term storage, however they should never be used for long-term storage since they prevent the flute from drying out. Soft cloth, material which can breathe, is the second best storage, to open air.
Re-Voicing / Re-Tuning
The Native America flute, being primarily a wooden device is subject to its environment and playing conditions. After six months to a year, it is possible your flute will require re-voicing or a minor retuning. This is due to the fact that wood shrinks and expands due to atmospheric and playing conditions. I will re-voice your flute at no charge, you will only be responsible for shipping expenses to me. I will pay for shipping expenses for the return. Please allow about one week (not including time for shipping) for this service.
I stand behind my flutes. If yours should crack, even if due to improper care, I can usually repair it. It may leave a visible mark, however the flute will be restored to its initial playing condition.
There is additional care you can offer your flute. I call it spiritual care, care in which you acknowledge the spirit of the flute. The flute is not a toy and it holds the potential to be more than a musical instrument. It is a connection to the spiritual realms, those realms not accessible by mind. A Cherokee friend and flute player tells me the flute is like a cell phone to the Great Spirit.
Begin your day playing the flute. Play the lowest three holes as you sending a message of how you feel to Great Spirit. Then (without thinking) play the upper three holes recognizing this is the Great Spirit communicating back to you.
Choose a place of honor in your home and keep your flute in that place. The flute is a spiritual instrument it is worthy of respect and honor. I have found what I offer the flute is returned to me many fold.
There has been much blood spilled upon the earth, the bodies of our ancestors are buried within the earth. From the earth springs the tree, hence the tree contains the spirit of our ancestors. From the tree, the flute maker creates a flute, that flute also contains the spirit of the ancestors. If you have an item that contains the spirit of our ancestors wouldn’t you offer that item respect and honor? Treat it accordingly.
Before you play the flute, hold it before you, breathe upon it and ask that Great Spirit breathe through you bringing the Spirit into the world as sound. Upon completion of your playing offer thanks to Great Spirit for the gifts that have been given.