We recommend Mollenhauer recorders. These are available locally at The Gramophone.
Most students will begin with a soprano recorder that has a plastic mouthpiece and a wooden body. Later they will upgrade to all-wood instruments, and add alto and soprano sizes to their collection.
Most young students will begin with a flute that has a curved head joint. This brings the keys closer to the body, which is essential for learning the correct playing position. Starting on a flute that is too long for the size of the player can lead to bad playing habits, poor sound, and potential injury. The smallest beginners need a U-curve head joint, that bends back over the body of the flute. These head joints are available for Yamaha and DiZhao flutes, as well as other brands. We recommend Yamaha because the head joint comes in a separate case, which makes it easier to sell to another student once it is outgrown. The Jupiter / Azumi company manufacture a waveline head joint, which also makes the flute shorter, but not short enough for the smallest players.
Sizing a student for the appropriate type of flute is best left to a teacher who has lots of experience working with very young flute players. Luckily, the first few lessons with a beginner focus on skills away from the instrument, which gives the teacher an opportunity to see the student and make appropriate recommendations. Please wait for advice from your teacher before renting or purchasing an instrument.
Recorder or Flute? How to decide?
Cost: Recorders are less expensive at the beginning. Recorder students will acquire more instruments (alto, soprano, tenor, bass, Renaissance, modern, Baroque) as they progress in their studies, so an advanced student may end up spending as much as a flute student on instruments, but more gradually.
Ease of playing: It is possible to make a sound on a recorder almost immediately. Flutes take a much longer time (weeks or months!) to get a clear tone. Recorders are recommended for impatient students, students who may have physical challenges, or older beginners who would like to catch up to their peers quickly. But if a students falls in love with the sound of the flute, and is willing to work hard and be patient, go for it!
Music: Much of the great music by baroque composers did not specify which instrument. A sonata could be for flute or recorder or violin or oboe, etc., so both flutes and recorders play much of the same repertoire. Flutes are used more often in symphony orchestras, while recorders are more suitable for folk music. However, wooden flutes are used in folk music and modern recorders can be plugged into an amp to play rock music, so anything is possible on either instrument!