As someone who loves the piccolo, I could easily say there’s nothing bad about it. But I’m willing to admit there are a few reasons that may make you want to not play the piccolo.
If you’re looking to learn the instrument, consider why some people avoid it. Then, you can determine if you should learn the piccolo or stick with the flute.
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1. The Expense
One of the biggest reasons why you may decide to not play the piccolo is the expense. Some piccolos can be affordable, but they can quickly go up in price.
Even the same model can increase in price over time. Both my current Hammig piccolo and backup Pearl piccolo have risen in price since I bought them. So if you don’t buy now, expect to pay more later.
But the expense doesn’t stop when you buy a piccolo. You have to pay for regular maintenance, just like you would with a car. Those costs can add up as well because not all repair techs work on piccolos. You may need to find a specialist, which costs more.
2. The Maintenance
Speaking of maintenance, keeping your piccolo in good shape also takes time. If you don’t have a lot of time to work on your music, you may want to just play the flute.
Adding the piccolo might double your practice time. You also have to take time to swab out the piccolo after you play. While that may not take a ton of time, it can make a difference in the long term.
Then, you have to work on maintaining your skills on the flute and piccolo. That takes time and effort, and it may not be something you really care about.
3. The Balance
Since the flute and piccolo are similar, it seems like you should be able to pick up the piccolo and play like it’s the flute. That’s true to an extent, but there are plenty of differences that make the piccolo it’s own beast.
You’ll need to make time to learn the piccolo and then to maintain your skills. And unless you happen to quit the flute, you’ll need to keep up with that instrument as well.
This is all much easier if you’re a student or don’t work full-time. But if you do have a busy schedule, you’ll need to figure out how to balance everything in and out of music.
4. The Pitch
Another reason why you may decide to not play the piccolo is because of the range of the instrument. It plays an octave higher than the flute, and it’s range goes from sounding D5 to C8.
That high range can be very damaging to your hearing if you don’t wear earplugs when you practice. But even if you do wear ear protection, it can be hard to find a place to practice if you don’t have a house.
You’re gonna be heard when you practice or perform. And that means you may need to practice more to get a good sound. That way, you won’t sound bad when you play.
5. The Reputation
The piccolo’s reputation shouldn’t keep you from playing it if you like the instrument. But I know a few flute players who don’t like how the piccolo sounds and so choose not to play it.
That’s a good reason to avoid the instrument. While you may need to play it a bit as a flute major or professional, you don’t have to play it a ton. And amateur players don’t have to play it at all.
Be sure that you have some interest in the piccolo before you learn it. That way, you’ll be able to look forward to playing. And you won’t have to let others’ opinions influence you.
6. The Music
Unfortunately, the piccolo is still relatively new when it comes to solo music. Aside from the Vivaldi piccolo concertos, solo music for the instrument really only got its start a few decades ago.
You can play flute music on the piccolo. But you may have to account for low Cs and other issues that don’t work on the smaller instrument. So if you want to play a lot of solo music, you’ll have some work to do.
I am trying to change this lack of repertoire. As a composer and arranger, I have some music in the works that I hope to release later this year. But it’s still going to take time to build up the piccolo repertoire.
7. The Difficulties
The flute and piccolo aren’t as alike as you may think. When you first start to learn the piccolo, you should look at it as its own instrument. That can help you get over some of the difficult parts to it.
But some of those difficulties and differences make for a good enough reason to not play the piccolo. If you aren’t able to focus on the instrument and work past the beginning stages, it’s not for you.
You’d be better off working on your flute chops. Then, you can be the best flute player you can be. You may be able to get just as many opportunities that way.
Why Not Play the Piccolo?
As a piccolo player and fan, I think every flute player should at least consider playing it. But before you start, you should understand the reasons why you may decide to not play the piccolo.
Then, you can make sure you make the right choice for you.