Chloe’s Journey to Finding the Perfect Piccolo

Jul 10, 2024

From Panic to Perfection: Chloe’s Journey to Finding the Perfect Piccolo


A Panicked Rehearsal

I still remember jolting at my friends’ mid-phrase screams of horror, a jarring interruption to their rehearsal on the flute parts to the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. A screw had popped out of the school piccolo (evidently not a Burkart instrument), and I looked up to find a rod hanging off of a single post at a horrifying angle. Panic filled the air as we scoured the floor for the missing piece. Shared between four players, the piccolo was scheduled to play in the aforementioned Symphonic Dances, Stars and Stripes, and Mahler’s 5th within the coming months. My band director got it fixed quickly enough, but that moment was certainly an overture to my now ongoing journey to find a piccolo to call my own.

The Search Begins

As a part of my work-study at Burkart Flutes and Piccolos, I was lucky to have exposure to some of the best piccolos on the market. Using aged grenadilla wood, each instrument is reliably built to last while technically supporting the musician’s playing. The first time I played a Burkart piccolo, I was in shock. Unlike my previous piccolo encounters, no considerable pushing or pulling was needed—playing the notes felt natural and effortless.

Here are my thoughts on some of the different Burkart headjoints I tried:

– Clarion: Although the piccolo has a reputation for being finicky and unpredictable, the Clarion headjoint is the complete opposite. Stability meets a sweet tone on this cut. With a smaller and somewhat rounded embouchure hole, the sound achieved is clear and centered, yet still maintains a full, flowing feel.

– Burkart: My personal favorite is the classic Burkart cut. Between its natural, comfortable shape and warm, colorful sound, this headjoint style feels like home for me. The unparalleled flexibility, supported by a slightly wider, more rectangular embouchure hole, allows me to embody an endless collection of characters, whether it be a chirpy bird in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite or a ringing bell in Mahler’s 5th Symphony. I feel as though I could learn a lifetime’s worth of technical and musical knowledge on this cut.

– Wave: Strong, yet precise and projective, the wave cut is the piccolo equivalent of Thor’s Hammer (in the best way). Playing high notes on the wave is an experience in itself: clean, powerful, yet not overbearing in the slightest, there’s no doubt in my mind that waves of musicians will come flocking for these headjoints!

A Piccolo for Every Player

At first glance, Burkart’s extensive variety of piccolo headjoints may seem daunting, but don’t fear! In the game of instrument trials, consistency is key. To begin the process, I tried a Clarion, Burkart, and Wave headjoint back-to-back to see which cut I favored. As a part of my work-study, I got to do this on the prototypes for each style! Once I learned my preferred cut, I tried six more different hand-cut headjoints of that model. Burkart generously allowed me to take a couple home to test more thoroughly, and I made sure to play for my private teacher and flute friends.

For being such a tiny instrument, Burkart offers an enormous variety of piccolo headjoint options! With Burkart’s diverse headjoint models, there will always be your perfect option to PICC!