Even when I first started learning the tin whistle, I think I always had the idea that someday I wanted to move on to learning to play the Irish (aka simple-system) flute. Don’t get me wrong, the whistle is a great little instrument and lots of fun, but the reason I started with it was that it was both cheaper and simpler to learn than a flute.
I’d been considering buying a low whistle as the next step in my musical education, but then I learned that a fine gentleman named Doug Tipple made flutes for about the same price, meaning around $100. On the scale of flute prices that was pretty darned impressive, especially given the praise I saw heaped on Doug’s flutes on the Chiff & Fipple forums. Part of the reason for the low cost was the material Doug chose to use, simple PVC pipe. While perhaps not as fine as a flute made from African blackwood, Doug’s PVC flutes reportedly had a nice tone (thanks in part to some of Doug’s innovations) and were great for beginners.
I decided that, rather than buying the flute myself, I’d go with the same strategy I used successfully with the whistle and make it known that I’d like to receive one as a gift. My friend Jennifer was kind enough to buy me one for my birthday this past February, a three-piece, tunable eight-hole low D flute with inline holes and added lip plate headjoint and Tipple-Fajardo wedge. She also got me a copy of The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle by Grey Larsen.
Now I just had to learn how to play my new flute….