My Simple Advice:
Go to the nearest music shop and rent a flute, with the idea of committing to the rental for 6 to 9 months. So long as the flute is in good working order, any flute will do. However, if there is a choice, I would choose Trevor James, Yamaha, Altus and Gemeinhardt flutes (listed in order of preference).
For those who wish to learn more, including recommended local music shops, please read on.
Just about any good basic flute will do for the first time flute player.
There are many makers who make great “beginner” flutes, including:
The following makers also make beginning flutes that work quite nicely:
There are other newer brands, and these flutes work well too:
These flutes are promoted by flutists Sir James Galway and Barbara Sisel, respectively.
I believe it is best to rent a flute for the first few months to a year, as students can change their minds about whether to continue with their studies or not. Rental is a more practical option, if your little-one needs a curved flute (swan-neck flute). Explanation regarding different flute “shapes” will follow.
Many music stores offer rent-to-buy option where a percentage of the rental fees will go towards the purchase price.
For families opting to rent a new-unused instrument, some stores will offer a buy-back option for new instruments if returned to the store within a specific time period. Check with a local music shop to find out the prices, options, etc.
I often shop at the following music stores in the area:
These shops are located outside California but are owned by flutists and are reputable dealers of beginning flutes that may not be readily available at the local shops. This option is only practical if you are ready to purchase a new flute.
Click on the thumbnail to view the full photo.
A curved headjoint flute that is most suitable for young beginners look like this when assembled. This flute is lighter than the other curved-head flute, as it is shorter by a few keys. The lowest note possible on this flute is D, while the full range of a beginning flute is C. Key extensions facilitate easy access to keys for flutists with small hands (like me!).