a flute case, concert flute, and two sheets of music are visible from an aerial view. a pink marker is below the papers.

Recommendations for a first-time flute festival attendee

What's it like to visit a flute festival as a hobbyist?

Attending a niche festival alone for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Sure, you’re in a room filled with other hobbyists with your passion to some degree, but for those who have a low social battery, these event gatherings can be just as anxiety-inducing as they are exciting.

Just when I was thinking to myself, Man I wish there were flute clubs near me I found out about the Great Lakes Flute Festival. Held by the West Michigan Flute Association (and in collaboration with Hope College Department of Music in 2024), the Great Lakes Flute Festival is a yearly gathering for flute enthusiasts to attend music workshops and speaker presentations, watch Masterclasses and evaluated live performances, as well as network with other musicians, music programs, and sponsors of the event.

This was only the second year the GLFF has existed, and I am excited to see the festival grow with more opportunities for wooden flute presentations and non-classical-musician-pipeline content. The program was splendidly diverse (although I do wish there were more non-concert flute representation) myself and other festival attendees really had to make a decision with which lectures to attend!

I met some lovely people and am grateful for the connections I made! As a nontraditional flutist [I play just for fun :+))], it’s nice to see these gatherings exist in an otherwise “hard to hobby” area. Like any niche, the larger the population the easier it is to find your people.

I planned ahead by taking a banana for a snack, but it ended up getting mashed in my canvas bag. Very reminiscent of my school days.

What I recommend for a first time flute festival attendee

Here’s what I thought about ahead of attending my first flute festival, and what advice I would pass on to those thinking about attending theirs. You should buy that ticket. :+)) Hobbies are worth experiencing.

Strap the flute and dress comfortably!

Unless you’re in back-to-back performances (in which case, good luck, babe!) wearing concert black is not a requirement. Depending on the size of the festival, you may be walking around room to room or even across an open campus so remember to dress how you feel you can handle the day.

The GLFF 2024 was held in the end of February, so I took advantage of the location’s coat rack and had no problem carrying my canvas tote bag and cross-bag flute case. My flute case is actually a mistake I never returned lol. But honestly, I am glad I kept it because the cloth case is lighter than my replacement hardshell case that the technician who replaced my moldy flute pads kindly returned my flute in. Thank you, stranger! Flute cases are too expensive. Read about my moldy flute pads here.

Checking your flute in at the reception desk was an option at this particular festival, although I can’t remember if it was an additional fee. In any case, make a plan to safely keep your flute on you or with you.

Meet up with a flute friend or introduce yourself to other attendees!

a purple heart with a golden yellow ruffle border holds the letters 'ctsp' inside

Trial flutes and make a budget

Are you planning on trying out all the flutes at the sponsored demo station to find your next upgrade? Not a bad idea at all! There were not a lot of sponsors for this event but the ones that arrived, came through with their knowledge of products, answering general questions, and genuine energy to keep things going. During and after lunch time, the floor really opened up with flutists trying their hand at the flutes brought out for commercial display.

I tried one of the large plastic, travel friendly flutes and the chance to try something I had seen through a screen was fantastic! The device was lighter than imagined and the sound was immediately pulled from my lips to the flute. Now, as much as I am planning on upgrading from my student Jupiter 507, I am not in a place where I am ready to make that commitment.

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It’s cool that you don’t have to make an appointment with a music specialist to try flutes out; you may be able to trial your next flute at a festival.

Have you attended a flute festival? Share your recommendations or experience by leaving a comment. Happy fluting!

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