This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Nov 22, 2011

Bocarina part I : A South African Ferrari

It's quite rare to attend the birth of a new nose flute. For us, lovers of this small instrument, it's a real event, and that is what is happening now. Mr Chris Schuermans, craftsman and designer from Pretoria, South Africa, is launching the Bocarina, a new hi-end plastic nose flute.

Well, Mr.Schuermans is not a 2011 newcomer in nosefluting : he began creating those instruments 4 years ago, after having read about them. As a potter, he first hand-shaped his first models, then created moulds. The first shape evolved to new models, leading to the beautiful current Bocarina. During these years, Chris Schuermans thought also of developing a plastic production, in order to satisfy greedy mass-customers and lessen the fabrication costs.

It took Chris Schuermans around a year to achieve the final specifications of the plastic Bocarina, using simultaneously his designing and nose flute playing skills, with the help of a 3D modelling software. It has been a very precise work to refine the fipple specs, dimensions, angles...
Finally, a first series of 2000 pieces were produced, in ABS plastics, according to 5 different colors, pure black, Delft blue, coral red, plain orange, and milky pink.

The first feeling comes from a visual appreciation. Indeed, the object is stunningly well designed, with beautiful curves but character, very equilibrated. It could have been designed by Pinninfarina for Ferrari... producing a mixed sensation of sweetness and power.

Taking the Schuermans' flute in the hand is another cool sensation. ABS is a very good quality of plastics, smooth, rather dense and solid. The Bocarina is thick. Nothing comparable with the other well-knowned thin polystyren instruments. The Bocarina is not made of a sheet of plastics curved to get the 3D shape, with rough edges. The South African flute was originally conceived as a volume, as a sculpture. Let's remember Chris Schuermans is a potter...
There are no angled edges on the Bocarina - excepted where needed (labium) - and even the border edges are rounded, giving a pleasant feeling in the hand or on the face, as a light and concave pebble would. And the thickness increases from the edges (~2mm) to the center (up to 4 mm).

The Bocarina is made with 2 parts : the biggest one, let's call it the shield, and a small piece, the duct cover, clipped onto the shield in order to close and form the air duct. This small part features a nose scoop, and is perfectly adapted to european noses. Quality of the ergonomics may be subject of individual appreciation, fitting more or less a face shape. In my own case, the Bocarina fits tightly my anatomy, providing a very good hermeticism. No air leaks, and a nice playing comfort.
Anyway, the fact the nose scoop is located on the so small duct cover could lead to have optional clips adapted to different nose shapes...

The mouth cap is huge, falling down to the chin, and allowing quite a wide open mouth position without air leak. With this feature, it is possible to play a wide range of notes even without touching the instrument with the mouth, which is very peculiar and surely practical for many mouth shapes.
The labium is double angled, but asymetrical, with a rather flat angle on the front, and a more open one on the inside (approx. doubling the slope). The mouth hole is quite narrow, just a bit less than 4 mm (~19 mm wide). The air duct, rounded, is as thin as 1.x mm at the air exit, while it is larger and ergonomically shaped at the entrance.

On the playability side, the Bocarina needs a very little time to accustom to, and almost immediately shows its great sound abilities. The sound is powerful, thanks to the ABS rigidity, the technical design and the absence of air leaks, with a beautiful texture.
While it is a bit difficult to reach the very high notes with a regular mouth position (they can be reached by shaping the tongue in L, almost touching the palate), the Bocarina ability to reach bass notes with easyness is absolutely stunning.
This is clearly the flute in my possession with which I get the lowest tones, and with loudness (not an out-of-blow bass, but a frank note).


Has Mr. Schuermans reached a "plastic Grail" with the Bocarina ? Well, I would say this nose flute is very near perfection. Now, I have to find some flaws to show I'm honest. Indeed, there are, but very minor...

- First, we could dream of a better or easier ability to reach the very high notes without loosing the bass range.
- Then the way the duct cover is moulded leads to have a junction along the nose scoop, and the plastic artefact there is not pleasant. We would have prefered to have a nice rounded border there, for better comfort (since, I smoothed the joint line with very soft grain sanding paper).
- The Bocarina is not hand free, and it could be very easy to change that for the pleasure of ukulelists or fiddlers...
- The color choice is not wide enough (so easy to broaden!) and currently not well adapted to the european market.


Here are some sound samples. I made the first one (i'm not a good player, sorry...) to show the range, and particularly the easyness to get the basses. Both next ones by Birdy Kuck (they were really first Birdy's tryings with the Bocarina) some scales or so, to show the abilities, then Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Here is a technical doc of the Bocarina :

And here, a presentation video by Mr. Chris Schuermans :

And here, a video with the Bocarina by the great Nosefluter :
--- On the same topic, you can read : Bocarina part I : A South African Ferrari Bocarina part II : The clay original Bocarina part III : A player's report - by Birdy K. Bocarina part IV : Chris Schuermans' interview Bocarina part V : The Ones you'll never have... Bocarina part VI : The Ancestors Bocarina part VII : Experiments 1 Bocarina part VII : Experiments 2 --- Where to get a Bocarina Brionski Ebay store Dan Moi online shop Grothmusic online shop And for larger quantities, for sure : Chris Schuermans 95 Farnham Rd. Lynnwood Manor Pretoria, 0081 RSA (South Africa) Cell phone no. +27 83 954 3224 Telephone no. +27 12 361 4659, email : chris[at]schuermans[dot]org ---


  1. Awsome stuff! They look and sound fantastic.

  2. Yep! they are really very good nose flutes, and they need now to be largely distributed...

  3. If you want to hear the Bocarina playing a song, please click:

    And when you want to know its place in a small quality comparison with other flutes click: http://scribd/doc/73109424/Noseflute-Assessment


    Job te Pas

    1. i've played on one yesterday, absolutely fantastic, what a genius piece of 'plastic' !!!

  4. i've played on one yesterday, absolutely fantastic, what a genius piece of 'plastic' !!!

    1. Hello!

      yes, you're right! It's very well designed, on technical and artistic sides ...

      All the best


  5. I have a swan and my nose dosen't fit it. Maybe a bocarina is better. But they are more expensive. I'm a little worried to spend the money and they don't fot too.

    1. Hello,

      Well, I'm sorry, but certainly cannot help you in that matter. You need to try to know...

      Good luck,


  6. Why don't you advertise them on bidorbuy anymore I lost mine and need to replace it

    1. Hello Paul, I personally am not a reseller.... But you can find Bocarinas on Ebay, for instance. Greetings