How to Buy Instruments Online

With websites like Amazon and eBay, it is easier than ever to buy instruments online. You can find so many amazing deals, and you can have your new instrument in a matter of days.

Gone are the days of having to trek to a music festival or visit an instrument vendor or store. You can order yourself a new instrument from your own bed. How nice is that?

Killer Harmony | Buying Instruments Online | Grey background with maroon text (Buying instruments online) and teal text (for musicians)

It’s nice…if you’re smart about it. There are some good deals out there, but there are also some not so good deals. So, I am going to give you my tips for buying instruments online. While in person is best, sometimes you have no other choice.

1. Stick with reputable brands.

There are dozens of brands of instruments on sites like Amazon, but a lot of them are of bad quality. They are cheaply made instruments, which is why those instruments are usually really cheap.

If you are searching for a flute or piccolo, stick to brands like Yamaha, Pearl, or Jupiter, among others. These instruments will cost more than the  “Sky” or “Band Director Approved” instruments.

Going with a reputable brand means you will get a better quality instrument. It will last longer, and the cost will be worth it over time. Please do not buy those $100 instruments; they are not worth your time or money.

2. Read the reviews.

Read the reviews of the instrument before you purchase. If you can, contact someone you know who has played the brand and model you are considering. Or ask a private teacher for recommendations.

In many cases, the reviews can tell you a lot about the instrument. If you cannot test the instrument out before buying, you want to make sure you are getting a good value.

If you are on Amazon, you can even check out the Q&A section to see if there are any questions with helpful answers. Reviews may seem silly, and of course you should ignore the more biased ones. Some reviews can be really helpful, though.

3. Look at specialty websites.

There are so many online music stores, both general and instrument specific. Even if you plan to buy from Amazon, check with these other sites to see if the instrument you want is available.

For flutists, websites like FluteWorld and the Flute Center of New York have a ton of good brands in stock. I ended up purchasing a piccolo from Amazon, but I had seen it on flute specific websites. I also had a recommendation from a flute teacher.

These specialty sites will probably have a higher shipping fee, but a lot of them do have trial periods. If you decide you don’t like what you ordered, you can send it back. That is a great perk when you are unsure of what you want.

4. Check the shipping terms. And track your package.

What I mean by this is that you should be aware of how your instrument will be shipped. I personally would go for the fastest shipping you can. Yes, it adds to the cost. But the last thing you want is to have your instrument sitting in a warehouse without temperature controls.

You should also do your best to be home the day your instrument arrives. That might contradict my last piece of advice, but it’s almost more important. So priority goes to being home on delivery day. If you are out running errands or working all day, you won’t be able to get your instrument inside and away from crooks.

Not only do you want to get your instrument out of the elements quickly, but you don’t want to have a package sitting on your doorstep that will attract thieves.

5. Know the return policy.

This goes for anything you buy online. If you buy from somewhere that does not have a trial period, you still should know whether you can return the instrument if you are unhappy.

How long do you have to make a return? Do you have to pay for shipping? How do you ship it back? While you will hopefully find something you love, you still want to be aware of the terms in case you don’t end up liking the instrument or in case something is wrong with it.

6. Buy in person when you can.

I wrote this post for the people who can’t buy an instrument in person. If you have the option to buy an instrument that you want in person, do that.

You’ll save on shipping, and you can test the instrument out before you even purchase it.

For when you can’t buy an instrument in person, I hope these tips help for buying an instrument online. Definitely read up on everything you can regarding the instrument you want to purchase and educate yourself and the shipping and return policies.

7. Enjoy your new instrument!

Buying a new instrument is exciting! So be sure to enjoy your new purchase. While some purchase methods are easier or harder, no matter how you buy, have fun.


Have you bought an instrument online before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more exclusive tips and musings sent straight to your inbox!

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Flute Prices & Brands 

If you are a flutist or want to become one, you need to have a good quality flute that fits you and your playing style. There are a lot of flutes to choose from at different levels and from different brands.

Killer Harmony | Flute Brands & Prices | Flute shopping can be hard. You have to consider the price you can pay as well as the brand of the flute. Some brands and materials or better than others.

As a recent flute grad, I have learned quite a bit about the different options available, and I would like to share that info with you in this post. Brands and prices vary differently depending on where you live, so I will be discussing the most common brands and their flutes in the US.

I hope you can use this as a guide to determine the best flute for you. But first, a disclaimer: don’t just take my advice for choosing a flute. Find a reputable flutist or teacher who can help you in the buying process.

1. Student model flutes

These are the flutes that are best for beginners. Most student flutes are made out of silver plated nickel, and they are built to withstand a lot. Almost every flutist starts out on this type of flute, because they are reliable, and they are budget friendly.

At this stage, you probably won’t know what to look for in a flute, which is why you should consider finding a teacher and asking for their help. You can buy a flute from the company, a music store, or second hand. Some music stores also allow you to rent your flute before buying so that you can test it out. Then, you won’t be obligated to pay in full without knowing if it is for you.

Some good student model brands include Yamaha, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt, Trevor James, and Di Zhao. The first three brands are a little cheaper than the last two, but Trevor James and Di Zhao flutes are better for if you want a long lasting flute. The other brands are not always as well built, and so you will need to upgrade sooner than if you have a better constructed student flute.

Most, if not all, student flutes can be found for less than $1000. But be careful of the really cheap ones online. They are not made well, and some repair technicians will not work on them. The least you can get away with paying for a student flute is around $200 for a used Yamaha.

2. Intermediate model flutes

These flutes are great for advanced players. Once you have started to out grow your student flute, it’s time to upgrade.

Intermediate model flutes usually have a solid silver head joint and a silver plated body and foot joint. They also have open holes, a B foot, and sometimes other mechanisms to help facilitate playing.

Some intermediate models are considered professional quality (I play one of these myself). These flutes are made of the same materials as other intermediate flutes but might be partly handmade or have a professional level head joint.

Intermediate models are often also called step up flutes, because they are a step up from student models. These flutes start at about $1200 and can go up to about $3000, depending on the maker. If you have been playing flute for a few years, this type of instrument is a great choice.

3. Solid silver flutes

These flutes can be considered intermediate or professional, depending on the brand and the amount of hand work put into them. Solid silver flutes are a bit darker than silver plated flutes, and they sound slightly more mellow.

Solid silver flutes are usually considered more professional than flutes with only a solid silver head joint. I have yet to upgrade to an all solid silver flute, but I would like to in the near future.

Silver is the standard metal for flutes, so it is a good choice for professionals and advanced students. While silver is the standard, there are other metals that are used on some flutes.

4. Other metals

Flutes can use a few different metals in their construction. The most common metals, as discussed above, are silver and nickel. These two metals are relatively hard. They will carry more, and they are cheaper.

If you want a really mellow sound, you can invest in a gold or platinum flute. These flutes are really only available at the professional level; I don’t recommend them for students. I personally do not want a gold or platinum flute in the future. They are a little too mellow for me.

Gold flutes are better at blending into other instruments, so if you want to play in an orchestra, they are a great choice. I don’t know much about platinum, but I assume they are similar.

Gold and platinum flutes are more expensive than silver flutes, and usually start at around $8000.

Which flute is right for you?

I am not going to recommend one flute for everyone. The flute that is best for you will depend on your needs and what you want out of a flute. Students should go with a silver plated nickel model. Advancing students and beginning professionals should upgrade to a flute with a silver head joint.

More advanced professionals can then experiment with solid silver and other metals. When you are ready to upgrade (or even to buy your first flute), you should try as many different ones as you can. You may have a dream flute, but you could end up finding a model that is even better.


What flute do you play right now? What do you love about it? Let me know in the comments!

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Supplies for Every Flutist or Flautist

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my favorite supplies that every musician should have. Now, I’m going to get a bit more specific and share my favorite supplies for every flutist. It may seem like you don’t need a lot of equipment for such a small instrument, but there are some tools that will make your life easier.

Killer Harmony | Supplies for Every Flutist | There are some things that every flutist needs and others that are just plain helpful. Here are my favorite flute supplies that every flutist needs.

Some of the tools on this list are necessary for every flute player and others are necessary for more advanced players but are helpful no matter your level. I have some tools that go with the flute and others that are nice accessories to have on hand for emergencies.

So, without further ado, let’s look at my list of supplies for every flutist.

Cleaning Cloth & Rod

A cleaning cloth for the inside of your flute is crucial to making your flute last longer without trips to the repair shop. You can use cotton or silk, though a silk cloth will get much wetter, because it won’t absorb as much moisture as quickly.

If you have an old cotton shirt, that can be used, just make sure you stitch up all of the sides so that thread doesn’t get stuck in the flute.

You also will need a rod to help the cloth move through the flute. There are rods made of plastic, wood, and metal. Wood and plastic are better than metal, since they won’t scratch the flute. Wood is the preferred material, but plastic rods can be cheaper and easier to come by.

A Good Case

Everyone should invest in a good quality case or a case and case cover. Most student flutes only come with a hardcover case with nowhere to store extra items or supplies. So, if possible, look for a good case to fit your flute or find a bag that can fit your current case.

Leaving a wet cleaning cloth in the case on top of the flute will almost negate the use of the cleaning cloth, because the moisture could go back into the flute. You also should not leave a cleaning rod in the flute either, if you can avoid it.

This is part of why I recommend the Trevor James 10x or the Di Zhao 200 to students, because both flutes come with a case that has an exterior pocket for your cleaning supplies. A good case or case cover will also last you longer than a cheap one that comes with most beginner models.

Polishing Cloth

A polishing cloth for you flute will keep it looking good on the outside. It is not as important to have one from the start. But polishing  off all of your finger prints and other miscellaneous marks will save your flute over time.

There are many different types of polishing cloths that you can purchase from cotton to microfiber. You should have a separate polishing cloth that you don’t put through your flute. That way you don’t have to polish the outside with the same cloth as the inside.

Flute Stand

While it’s not necessary, a flute stand will help you in many ways as a flutist. You can buy a simple stand that can fit in the foot joint of your flute, though that’s not the best place to store it. There are also more expensive stands that are usually sturdier and have room for a piccolo or multiple flutes.

I have both a portable single flute stand that I keep in my case, and I have a bigger three peg stand for two flutes + piccolo that I keep and use in my practice area. Having a stand will save your flute.

If you don’t use a stand, you will have to carefully lay your flute somewhere if you need to use the restroom or do something else. That can work for some people, but you risk breaking the flute. Flute stands start at less than $20, so if flute is something you plan to continue with, just get a stand. Your flute will thank you.

Pad Paper

Have you ever heard your flute make a clicking noise, particularly when you open a key? That is a sign of a sticky key. And yes, they are annoying. If you have this problem, it is nice to have some pad paper, or cigarette paper, on hand. Using the thin piece of paper, you can stick it under the problem key, depress the key a few times, and blot away the moisture.

You can buy official pad paper or use cigarette paper, because that works just as well. If you use cigarette paper, be sure you are legally allowed to purchase it or get your parent to do so. If you go for cigarette paper, try and get ungumed paper, which won’t have a sticky ridge on one end of the paper. For gumed paper, avoid that side or edge if you can’t find ungumed.

Some people, especially saxophone players, use dollar bills to help sticky pads.  While that is convenient, dollar bills are a bit too tough on flute pads. So stick with thinner papers.


Most flute repairs should be done by a professional, but a screwdriver can be helpful in a pinch. If a screw is falling out, you can use a small screwdriver to put it back into place. Having access to a screwdriver is super nice in case you need it.

You can purchase an eye glasses repair kit, and the screwdriver will work for a flute. Or you can buy a special flute screwdriver. The one I have has two different tools. It has a screwdriver day a little tool on the other end t fix loose springs.

At the beginning of your flute playing journey, you won’t need a screwdriver, but it is nice if you play a lot. It can also come in handy if you teach and have students who have problems with their screws.

Flute Plugs

If you have recently upgraded to an open hole flute, you might need to practice getting used to it. Your flute probably came with a set of plugs. If not, see if you can borrow a set from a teacher or friend.

Plugs will fit inside the holes of your keys so that you can still play the flute. Plugs are also useful for more advanced players who have a flute with an “inline G” key. That is when the G key is lined up with other keys, requiring more of a reach from the player’s left hand.

Plugs make it less work to play, but they should be phased out over time.


Those are some of my favorite supplies that every flute player should have, or plan to have in the future. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite flute supplies? Comment below!

Thanks for reading!


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Best iPhone Apps: Summer 2016

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

So, I normally don’t do these types of posts going through my phone and all. I mean, my phone is a pretty private thing. I decided to write a little bit about my favorite iPhone apps so that I can hopefully show you guys some new and interesting programs to try out. I should say that since I have an iPhone, I will be talking about apps that I know are available for iPhone. I’m not totally sure if some of these apps have an equivalent for Android, Blackberry, or Windows.

Killer Harmony | Best iPhone Apps: Summer 2016 | Phone apps are pretty great. You can surf the web, creep on social media, listen to music, and do a lot on the go. In this post, I share some of my favorite apps for iPhone. They are mostly free, except one, which is only $4! I hope you enjoy!
Apps are an amazing thing. They let us do a lot with our small and portable smartphones/mini computers. Almost nothing is better than being able to access the world wide web from (basically) anywhere. Apps make accessing certain things easier or just more fun. Here are some of my current favorite iPhone apps.

PlayTube is an awesome app for playing music. You can login to your YouTube account and play videos without needing to have the app open on your screen. I know, they have YouTube Red now, but I’m in college, and that means I’m on a budget. Plus, budget or not, free is better in almost any situation.

I talked a little bit about this app in my post Laptop vs iPad, but basically Puffin is a third party browser that has more functionality than Safari. You can more easily bypass the mobile browser view, and it even allows you to access websites and play videos that require Flash! You can also pull up an onscreen track pad to make navigating the page easier. This app does cost money (about 4 bucks), but it is totally worth it if you need to do a lot of web browsing on your phone.


I wouldn’t be a blogger if I didn’t love Pinterest, so I had to include it in this list. I love browsing Pinterest for tips and tricks on how to make this blog better for you all, and I love supporting other bloggers, too. Also, quite a bit of traffic comes here from Pinterest, so if that’s you, let me know in the comments! The app makes it really easy to copy the link to my newest post and pin it to different boards. I will also use the built in browser to look at cool blog posts that I want to pin.


I have recently been getting into Snapchat more and more. I love using it as sort of a step to vlogging, because I can be on video but I don’t have to worry about editing it. I also post some random things on there (mostly daily life stuff and other funny things) that you won’t find anywhere else.


I love OneNote! I know that some people use Evernote, but since I have a student package with Microsoft, I get 1 TB (so basically unlimited) storage with Microsoft’s cloud: OneDrive. That includes OneNote. I use the app to log post ideas and other quick things related to my blog when I am on the go, and I use the desktop counterpart on my computer.


Since I use currently the Blogger platform, I have to have its corresponding app on my phone. That way, if I have some extra time but don’t have my laptop with me, I can start drafting a new blog post on the go. The app doesn’t have much else to it, though, so I still like to use my computer to check statistics and other things.

Update: I switched to WordPress, so if you use that platform to blog or read blogs, you should get it!


I don’t really have many group chats, so I don’t have much of a use for GroupMe aside from my school’s Odyssey group. I have been writing for Odyssey since April, and I would like to continue through next school year, but I have a feeling that senior year could get the best of me, so we’ll see! Either way, it’s a cool app, and I like that you can “like” someone’s post in the chat.


This app is amazing for anyone who plays an instrument and doesn’t want to lug around an extra three pieces of equipment. The app comes with a tuner, metronome, and audio recorder. How cool is that! I always have my phone with me, so it’s nice to not have to worry about carrying around, let alone, buying all of those things that come with the app.

So, those are some of my favorite iPhone apps at the moment. I hope you found something new that you might like to test out. I believe that all of these apps are free, except for Puffin Browser. Also, OneNote requires a Microsoft subscription, but if you are a student, you can get a four-year subscription for around $70.
So, do you have any favorite phone apps that you absolutely love and must share with the world? Drop ’em in the comments or hit me up on Twitter at @HannahHaefele

Thanks for reading!

Review on Trevor Wye Practice Books for the Flute: Vol. II

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I was not given this product, I just like it and want to share it with my readers. All opinions are my own. Please see my privacy policy for more information.
Hey friends! If you have not read the first part of this review series, check it out here! Today is the second installment of my series of reviews of Trevor Wye’s Practice Books for the Flute. As you can probably tell by now, it is not a weekly series, more like monthly. I have been working with the second book a little more lately, and so I thought now would be the perfect time to review it.

Killer Harmony | Reviews | Trevor Wye Practice Books for the Flute: Volume 2, Vol. II | A review of Trevor Wye's practice book that focuses on technique. The book includes scale patterns to help improve one's technical skills, but the exercises can also, when applied correctly, help improve tone.
The second volume, titled Technique is just that: a book of exercises to help your technique. It is full of scale patterns similar to those by Taffanel and Gaubert: two other big flute writers. I first started working on it just this semester after I purchased the Omnibus Edition of Volumes I-V over winter break.
The book has scale patterns in a couple of different formats. First it has scale patterns in major that repeat chromatically going up through the range of the flute. This first part of exercises in the book look like one long exercise. Then these exercises are redone in minor. The second way that the exercises are formatted is in single measure chunks with repeat signs. In both cases, there are two patterns: one that starts on the tonic of the current key and one that, as a transition to the next note, starts on the leading tone. Both formats have multiple pattern variants, and both are in major and minor keys.
The point of the technique book is to improve your technique, but I also like to use it as a continuation of my tone practice. As a serious flutist, I would like to be as good as I possibly can at the flute and its auxiliaries. I have learned that we not only need good tone when playing long notes, but also when playing shorter notes and moving around the instrument.
Tone and Technique should work together as the basis for one’s musical practice and musical building blocks. As I stated above, I have the Omnibus Edition of the Trevor Wye Practice books, that way I have all five together, and I don’t have to worry about losing one or another. Currently, this edition is about $45 on Amazon, but that is less than if you bought all five book separately for an average of $15 per book.
Either way you want to do it, or if you want to buy one or two of the books to test out before committing to the whole thing, consider the technique book. I, personally, wish I had gone for the Omnibus Edition first, but I have it now, so that’s what matters, right? I hope you found my review somewhat helpful and that maybe you will now go and buy the book? (If you are serious about flute, do it!)
Thanks for reading!