What is a Shakuhachi?

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

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Several years ago when I was working on Fukushima’s Mei, my flute instructor at the time asked me to listen to pieces featuring the Shakuhachi to get a better sense of the overall musical tone of the piece. I thought she had just made up a new name for a fictional instrument played by the aliens on Star Trek or existing on some other strange planet featured in science fiction dramas on television. I had no idea what the Shakuhachi was, where it was played, what it sounded like, how it was performed, or what type of repertoire was written for the instrument. By performing a little bit of research, I came to understand that the Shakuhachi is a beautiful instrument with a haunting, hypnotic sound well suited to solo performance scenarios. In today’s blog, we will be examining the Shakuhachi. I hope to leave you with a new appreciation for this instrument and encourage you to find fresh inspiration buried deep within its sound.

shakuhachi design

What is a Shakuhachi?

A Shakuhachi is a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute that is tuned to a minor pentatonic scale (D-F-G-A-C-D). A simple instrument, the Shakuhachi contains only five finger holes (four in the front and one in the back for the thumb). The term “shakuhachi” translates to “1.8 shaku,” which refers to the size of the instrument. A “shaku” is a unit of length equal to about 30.3 centimeters that is subdivided into 10 subunits. “Hachi” translates to “eight,” and in this case relates to eight subunits of a hachi. Therefore, a typical Shakuhachi measuring at 1.8 shaku is about 54.54 centimeters. It is played by blowing across a block called a “fipple,” similar to blowing across an empty bottle. The sharp edge that the player blows across is called an utaguchi and provides substantial pitch control. When the blowing angle is adjusted, the pitch can be bent easily upward and downward. Combined with embouchure and fingering adjustments, pitches can be altered as much as a whole tone or more (!). This makes it possible for composers to indicate different note names for the same pitch to achieve different tone colors. The Shakuhachi has slightly more than a two octave range, and requires performers to hit the finger holes with a very fast movement to create articulated patters. Due to the skill and time required and the quality of the bamboo materials, Shakuhachis may range from $1,000 to $8,000. Plastic or PVC Shakuhachi are also available on the market, typically for less than $100, however the tone quality of the bamboo model instruments is far superior.

What does a Shakuhachi Look Like?

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shakuhachi photo

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History of the Shakuhachi

The Shakuhachi was transported from Japan to China during the 8th century. Later during the Edo period (approximately 1600-1868), Shakuhachis were most notable for their connection to the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhist monks, known as komuso, who used the instrument as a spiritual tool in meditative practices to relax the mind. They referred to Shukuhachi repertoire at that time as “honkyoku.” These monks often wore wicker baskets while they performed as a symbol of their detachment from the world. Although the honkyoku repertoire was passed down from generation to generation aurally, much has been lost over time. The Shakuhachi has traditionally been played by men in Japan until recently. In 2004, the first-ever concert of international women Shakuhachi masters was held at the Big Apple Shakuhachi Festival in New York City.

shakuhachi history

Shakuhachi Repertoire

The instrument is performed widely in Zen music but has also been featured in folk music and jazz ensembles. The Shakuhachi has been used in film scores such as Karate Kid Parts II and III, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Jurassic Park, The Last Samurai, and Memoirs of a Geisha. Renowned Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu wrote numerous piece for the Shakuhachi, including his well-known Celeste, Autumn and November Steps. The primary genres of Shakuhachi music are the honkyoku (traditional solo works), sankyoku (ensemble, with koto and shamisen), and the shinkyoku (new music composed for the Shakuhachi and koto – influenced by western music). Sythesized Shakuhachi became all the rage beginning in the 1980s when electronica, pop, and rock groups began to feature the instrument on various album tracks. These recordings include Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer” (1982), Dire Straits’ “Ride Across the River” (1985), Rush’s “Tai Shan” (1987), Enigma’s “Sadeness” (1990), Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” (1993), and Linkin Park’s “Nobody’s Listening” (2003).

Shakuhachi Performers

Riley Lee – Best known for his performance of Down Mantras (Sydney Opera House at sunrise on January 1,2000 – televised internationally).

Gorō Yamaguchi – Best known for his performance of Bell Ringing in an Empty Sky. This was the first Shakuhachi recording to appear in the United States.

Jim Franklyn – Australian Shakuhachi performer and composer – Composed music for solo Shakuhachi with electronics.

Yoshikazu Iwamoto – Collaborated with British composer John Palmer on Koan (1999), a piece for Shakuhachi and ensemble containing a wide range of extended techniques.

The N.Y.C. Shakuhachi Club (featuring Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes) – This group plays Avant-garde jazz versions of traditional American Folk and Blues songs with Shakuhachi accompaniment.

Clips featuring the Shakuhachi (What does the Shakuhachi sound like?)




Do you own a Shakuhachi? Have you attended a Shakuhachi performance before? What is your favorite piece featuring the Shakuhachi? Can you hear the influence of the Shakuhachi in flute pieces by Fukushima and Takemitsu? Please comment below.



Happy Fluting!






Top 5 Flute Recording Recommendations

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday (one of these days I will get my act together and start posting Flute Friday ON Fridays).

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Summer is just around the corner! This is typically a good time to regroup, reprioritize, and explore new ideas for repertoire. I often find myself getting lost in recordings I find on YouTube or iTunes during the summer months while soaking in the beautiful California Summer sun. I use this time to step outside my own playing and discover something new and inspiring in the playing of another.  Throughout my career there have been a handful of recordings that I have considered staples in my collection. In today’s blog, I will share my top 5 favorite (and highly recommended) flute recordings. If you are searching for new inspiration, spend some time with these masterpieces (and a pair of earbuds). Listen for new ways to approach tried and true repertoire that you may not have considered before, or simply soak in some beautiful flute music under the summer sun.

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  1. 20th Century Flute Masterpieces – Jean-Pierre Rampal

Available on Amazon: 20th Century Flute Masterpieces

Why I love this album:

I was fascinated with complicated yet exciting 20th century works as a graduate student. This CD is full of the best of the best repertoire (Ibert Concerto, Poulenc Sonata, Hindemith Sonata, etc.), many of which have been edited by Jean-Pierre himself at one point or another. I gravitated toward Rampal editions whenever selecting new repertoire, so it was very helpful to have a very good example of how the editor intended the work to be performed. Rampal’s performances are always breathtaking, intricate, technically flawless, and nothing less than inspiring. If you are searching for a 20th century work to program on your next recital, spend some time perusing the tracks on this recording. This will no doubt become a staple in your collection.

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  1. Mozart Concertos for Flute & Harp: Classic Library Series – James Galway

Available on Amazon: Mozart Concertos for Flute & Harp: Classic Library Series

Why I love this album:

This collection has a special place in my heart as one of my very first flute CDs was a similar recording of James Galway performing the Mozart Flute Concerto in G Major. I love how James Galway kicks up the intensity of these very standard flute concerti with a some added vibrato. This gives the works a bit of sparkle that Mozart would have enjoyed if he were alive today. I also really enjoy Galway’s cadenzas on this recording which, like the Rampal recording above, have been transcribed in Galway’s own editions. One of the challenges in performing Mozart Flute Concerti is finding new ways to breathe life into these standard, meat and potatoes, works. Galway’s recordings will help you discover new possibilities to keep your next performance of Mozart fresh and alive.

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  1. The Virtuoso Flute, Volume 1 – Julius Baker

Available on Amazon: The Virtuoso Flute, Vol. 1

Why I love this album:

What can I say besides, “Julius Baker is the man!” Everybody has their own opinion about which flutist is their all-time favorite, and for me it is a very close tie between Rampal and Julius Baker. Baker, however, I feel is much stronger as a Baroque artist than Rampal and this recording shows Baker doing what he does best. The Telemann is a work that does not receive enough airplay, but I think Baker’s performance will inspire you to program it on your next recital. I highly recommend this recording if you are curious as to why Julius Baker is revered as one of the most important flutists of the late 20th century.

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  1. Bach: Complete Flute Sonatas – Emmanuel Pahud

Available on Amazon: Bach: Complete Flute Sonatas

Why I love this album:

I really like when a collection contains a number of works by the same composer and since Bach Sonatas are often sold as a collection in manuscript form, this album is a great way to listen and follow along with each sonata. Bach and the beach is a great combination for summer! I really enjoy Pahud’s interpretation of these works and, like Galway, he adds a bit of sparkle and newness to the tried and true Bach Sonatas. We all have our favorite Bach Sonatas (for example, I am partial to No. 4 in C), but when was the last time that you sat down and listened ALL of them? Is there one that you find interesting that does not often get programed on flute recitals? You might find something new in the recording that you did not know about Bach before.

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  1. Flute Music by French Composers by Ransom Wilson

Available on Amazon: Flute Music by French Composers

Why I love this album:

Like the Pahud album above, I really enjoy recordings that are arranged in the same manner that the manuscript appears in our standard collections. If you know that you would like to program a French Flute School work on your next recital, for example, you may simply pick up one of these recordings, follow along with your manuscripts, and select one of the pieces after you have listened to all of them. This Ransom Wilson recording is a good example of such an album. This is an excellent recording as it is never too over the top. The danger of performing the exciting and emotional music found in the Flute Music by French Composer collection is that it is very easy to overplay literally everything when you are nervous on the stage. Ransom reminds us all to chill – music can be phenomenal while still remaining precise.

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What is on your list of favorite recordings? Do you own any of the above recordings? Which one is your favorite and why? What recordings are on your summer listening list? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!

On the Cusp

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday.

While I was drafting my June flute horoscopes earlier this week, I began thinking about the cusp phenomenon. There are a number of cuspers in my family (mostly falling in the Cusp of Power) and I know all too well how different their energies are from their standard sun sign placements. Cuspers are those born 3 days before or 3 days after the Sun moves into a new sign. What this means, according to some astrological experts, is that these individuals often exhibit personality traits common to both the surrounding signs. In some cases, the combo of the two signs helps to smooth over any difficult aspects in one sign or the another, but in other cases challenging traits are enhanced with the influence of the adjacent sign. For example, many of my family members who are born on the Cusp of Power (between Aries and Taurus) are quite strong individuals but also some of the most stubborn people on Planet Earth (both Aries and Taurus are known to be very fixed and stubborn signs). Today’s blog will take a look into how the unique characteristics of cuspers manifest in our flute playing lives. Whether you are a cusper or not, I hope to leave you with better understanding of some of your flute playing colleagues who fall within these very special astrological zones.

*Please note: All cusp descriptions are taken from tarot.com https://www.tarot.com/astrology/cusps/born-on-the-zodiac-cusp . How they make their way into flute playing is, of course, my original interpretation.



The Cusp of Power (Aries/Taurus) – April 16-22

Strengths: Strong, energetic, fun, smart, humorous, courageous

You have the energy and determination to climb mountains in both your professional life and your home and family life. You want to be the best and want to lead your team to success! You love to be out and about, and you play even harder than you work — if you can imagine that. You’re your own best friend and are strong enough to know that you’ll always be OK no matter what happens.

Weaknesses: Stubborn, pushy, harsh, selfish, controlling

It’s very hard for you to let things go or let others do things that you know you could do better. You tend to get fired up about an opinion, idea, or project and then you dig in your heels and refuse to drop it. You like things done the best way possible, and you aren’t able to easily trust others to do your bidding. Sharing responsibilities is tough for you — almost as tough as it is to share your feelings and life! Your independence and freedom are important, but try to be sensitive to your friends and family and realize that their desires and opinions matter, too.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

These cuspers make extremely good section leaders. Their strength, courage, and determination allow them to easily project solo passages high above the orchestra. It is rare for conductors to demand more sound from these flutists as they are literally afraid of nothing. Although they may be abrasive at times, they are great leaders for the rest of the section as they can show musical and non-musical cues very clearly. You will never need to guess what your section leader wants if they are born on the Cusp of Power. They are certainly not warm and fuzzy, so they might want to leave the party planning to the Geminis and Libras of the group. As a musical leader, however, they are the best of the best and this deserves mad respect.


The Cusp of Energy (Taurus/Gemini) – May 17-23

Strengths: Fun, energetic, witty, charming, adaptable, exciting, outgoing

You’re a pleasure-loving individual who’s blessed with endless energy! You live life to its fullest by enjoying all the experiences the world has to offer. You’re the person everyone calls when they want to have fun or have a good talk. You’re adaptable and can get along with a vast variety of personalities. You have a sense of wonder and creativity about you that lights up any room!

Weaknesses: Self-centered, reckless, wild, impatient, indulgent, loud

You’re quite the conversationalist, but sometimes you don’t know when to shut up. Everyone loves having you around because you always have a good story or an interesting anecdote to share, but you often forget to let others get a word in. If your friends and family start to feel overshadowed or second-rate, they could start to put a little distance into your relationship. You’ll have more, better friendships if you remember that conversations are as much about listening as talking. Give everyone a chance to be heard — you never know what you’ll learn!

How this manifests in your flute playing:

This cusper is a masterclasses aficionado! Not only are their masterclasses fun and informative, they really know how to connect to everybody in the room in creative and imaginative ways. This is a rare and beautiful gift. They always have a great story to tell when they teach that both entertains and instructs at the same time. Their energy is amazing and they have no problem teaching 3-4 hour masterclasses without batting an eye. In fact, teaching in front of a large group enhances their natural creative energy. They know how to work the crowd and have great, practical, and approachable ideas.


The Cusp of Magic (Gemini/Cancer) – June 17-23

Strengths: Fun, flirty, curious, intellectual, affectionate, caring, devoted, sensitive and inspirational.

Weaknesses: Moody, overly emotional, scatterbrained, selfish, depressive and self-destructive.

How Gemini-Cancer energy works together: Gemini’s speedy and breezy energy combines with Cancer’s slower and more thoughtful nature to create people who are both light and bright. Gemini’s restlessness is nicely balanced by Cancer’s sensitivity, resulting in a well-rounded soul.

What they love: Great big books about history and philosophy, trying out new recipes, hosting dinner parties and playing with children (after all, they’re kids at heart, too).

What they need: Sensitive and affectionate Gemini-Cancer cuspers need someone to love! Without a special someone to nurture, they can become moody or depressed.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

Individuals falling on this cusp are very gifted flute teachers, especially for younger, beginning students. Being kids at heart, these cuspers are very good at explaining complex issues such as embouchure placement and air capacity in simple ways that children can identify with. Their thoughtful nature helps them create 901 ways to explain the same concept to students with widely different personality types. They do not like being stuck in a practice room alone, so it is important for these individuals to be surrounded by musicians that like to rehearse in larger groups.


The Cusp of Oscillation (Cancer/Leo) – July 19-25

Strengths: Loving, devoted, expressive, creative, cheerful, passionate.

Weaknesses: Self-absorbed, insensitive, dramatic, dependent, volatile.

How Cancer and Leo energy work together: Cancer’s sensitivity doesn’t always mix well with Leo’s bold nature. These cuspers need to be careful of oscillating between extreme highs and lows, and of being either too sensitive or completely insensitive. If you can learn to let Cancer’s soft side tone down Leo’s outrageousness, you’ll find more balance and peace.

What they love: Pendulums. Just kidding! These cuspers are in love with love. Because they are so loving and devoted, they develop long lasting relationships and often have big families.

What they need: A purpose greater than themselves! Cancer-Leo cuspers need to find balance, and in order to do so they need to get outside of themselves. Helping others or devoting time to a worthy cause is a great way to find peace and focus on something other than themselves.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

Flutists born on this cusp are recital masters! (esp. when performances are for good causes) Their personalities are a perfect fit for the stage and, in true Leo style, they need to be the center of attention. The oscillation between extreme highs and lows help them pump incredible interpretation into solo pieces that demand similar changes in mood and tone color. They love the drama of music and are no doubt known for their brilliantly convincing performances of French Flute School works. The Cancer side of the these cuspers likes to have plenty of friends and family at their performances and also likes to host benefit recitals for local charities, particularly around the holiday season.


The Cusp of Exposure (Leo/Virgo) – August 19-25

Strengths: Hardworking, passionate, discriminating, positive, success-driven and honest.

Weaknesses: Critical, antisocial, manipulative, stubborn, quarrelsome and melodramatic.

How Leo and Virgo energy work together: Leo’s flair for drama and Virgo’s down to earth practicality don’t always mix well. These cuspers need to be careful of living a life of extremes — either bold and loud or silent and secretive. But if they can strike a balance between their extroverted and introverted sides, they will master the rare ability to know exactly when to speak up and when to remain silent.

What they love: Getting behind a good cause. Leo is a loving and natural born leader, while Virgo is hardworking, detail oriented and devoted to helping others. Together this is a persuasive cusp combination that is happiest when rallying a group of people in support of a great cause. And know this: They will succeed!

What they need: Intimacy. It won’t come easy for these cuspers, who value secrets and privacy above all else, but they really need to have people in their lives who know them well and love them for exactly who they are.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

If you need a group leader to talk to the higher ups about funding opportunities or a new rehearsal space, send in one of these cuspers. They are the masters of the boardroom and can very efficiently cut through the thickest of red tape. Not only do they pour their heart and soul into performing with your group, they can also put on a very sharp suit and advocate with convincing facts and figures to any agency or institution. Need a travel grant for your group to perform at a conference? These individuals will get it done. Want to go to Europe and study with a chamber music guru? They will masterfully fill out the grant application and ace any interview to make it happen.


The Cusp of Beauty (Virgo/Libra) – September 19-25

Strengths: Attractive, intellectual, communicative, artistic, social, sensuous.

Weaknesses: Superficial, materialistic, detached, perfectionist, nervous, jaded.

How Virgo-Libra energy works together: Virgo’s analytical skills and attention to detail combine nicely with Libra’s social skills and love of beauty to create balanced individuals who are both intelligent and artistic. Both signs share a love of beauty that meshes nicely.

What they love: Objects of beauty, including people, art, fashion, home décor, nature and anything pretty you can look at, buy or adorn yourself with.

What they need: Virgo-Libra cuspers need to keep their lives in order and everything running smoothly and looking good in order to prevent anxiety.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

These cuspers are masters at making weird, new, experimental music sound amazing. 12-tone music, for example, speaks to their analytical strengths while the Libra influence helps them to convert the intellectual into something beautiful. Music by Steve Reich or Phillip Glass really speaks to these individuals, who can create beauty even amongst relentless repetition. If you are a composer wanting to experiment with new, off the wall compositional techniques for the flute, find a flutist whose birthday falls within this cusp to discover new, beautiful ways to bring your compositions to life.


The Cusp of Drama (Libra/Scorpio) – October 19-25

Strengths: Powerful, competent, sexy, charming, intellectual, honest.

Weaknesses: Cynical, sarcastic, picky, self-absorbed, blunt.

How Libra-Scorpio energy works together: Libra is ruled by thought and intellect, while Scorpio is about powerful and deep-seated emotions. This can result in a conflict between head and heart, but these individuals are powerful overall – even more so if they can find balance.

What they love: The truth. Libra-Scorpio cuspers aim to get to the bottom of every situation, and won’t stop until they’ve picked at something from every angle to get to the truth.

What they need: To relax! These cuspers will be much happier if they can give their inner critic a day off once in a while and try to have fun without an agenda.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

Because these cuspers love a good drama, they naturally make talented opera or ballet pit performers. Battles between the head and the heart are at the center of most opera and ballet libretti. These individual find it easy to connect with the story on stage and exhilarated to be part of the musical fabric that pulls the performance together. Because they have a tendency to criticize themselves too harshly at times, performing as part of a pit orchestra removes the very stressful element of an audience staring at them during the performance. This gives these cuspers a bit more confidence to play out, finding creative ways to meld their parts seamlessly into the music surrounding the story.


The Cusp of Revolution (Scorpio/Sagittarius) – November 18-24

Strengths: Energetic, adventurous, powerful, accomplished, generous, passionate

Your combination of vision and determination gives you a competitive edge that will carry you far in life. The ability to think deeply as well as philosophically gives you a great understanding of who you are and where you fit into the world. The energy and intensity you feel fuels your desire to make positive changes for yourself and those around you. Your bright sense of humor, optimistic outlook, and willingness to interact genuinely with others will gain you fast, loyal friends.

Weaknesses: Secretive, selfish, rebellious, wild, aggressive, blunt, misunderstood

With the fury of Scorpio and the fire of Sagittarius, your demeanor might seem aggressive or overwhelming to those around you. And since you always need to be on the move, you can get impatient if others get in your way or slow you down — be gentle with them, they could use your spunk! Your desire to fight for your beliefs is admired, but it can manifest as a rebellious and unfocused frenzy if your energy isn’t channeled properly.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

The relentless focus, energy, and competitive edge to these cuspers make them very talented auditioners. They are not afraid of a battle. They come prepared to every audition and, unlike some of their water sign colleagues, are not afraid of the screen in a blind audition. They laugh in the face of stage fright. If, for any reason, they do not win the audition (which is a rarity), they do not fall apart. Instead, they learn everything they need to learn from past mistakes and show up to the next audition 110% prepared and essentially unstoppable. They don’t really like to stay in the same place for a long time so you will frequently see them cruising the audition circuit for bigger and better opportunities throughout the world. Learn from their tenacity.


The Cusp of Prophecy (Sagittarius/Capricorn) – December 18-24

Strengths: Responsible, outgoing, friendly, fair, loyal, humorous, successful

Your desire to expand your mind and experience all life has to offer — coupled with your determination and drive — can have you making a big, positive impact in your life and the lives of others. You’re able to see and understand the issues at large, then be organized enough to take the slow and steady steps needed to reach your goals. You know how to problem solve strategically, without losing your optimistic attitude — the makings of an incredible leader!

Weaknesses: Moody, closed, intense, impatient, uncooperative, selfish

You can come across as quite isolated and intense when you’re in the zone. You’re influenced by that fiery Sagittarius energy, but your Capricorn side prefers to turn into ambition and success. With all this passion going into your work world, there’s not a lot of time left for the people in your life. Though you’re outgoing and loyal to those who make it into your circle, you might not offer them the emotional balance that a true friendship or romance deserves.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

An organized individual with determination and drive who can see the larger picture and takes steady, strategic steps to achieve their goals suggests the core traits of a very gifted conductor. Individuals born within this cusp are very good at examining all of the details in a score and can also motivate an entire orchestra to achieve all of their performance goals. These conductors are wonderfully knowledgeable leaders and easily earn the respect of all musicians that perform in their ensembles.


The Cusp of Mystery (Capricorn/Aquarius) – January 16-23

Strengths: Determined, creative, entertaining, idealistic, witty, empathetic

Born on the Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, you are blessed with the drive for success and the gift of creativity. Normally these two traits might clash, but for you these traits allow you to dream big and envision positive change. You can easily put yourself in others’ shoes and see the world from different perspectives. This also makes you a kind and generous friend — when you take the time to listen.

Weaknesses: Detached, chaotic, selfish, aloof, critical, judgmental

Because you have your amazing imagination and creativity to keep you entertained, you may close yourself off in your own world and feel like you don’t need others to keep you company. You enjoy being alone with your thoughts, but this can make your loved ones feel unwanted — which is a shame because they are your greatest supporters! Remember that teamwork makes the dream work and if you don’t put a little effort into your relationships every now and then, they may not be there anymore when you need them.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

Flutists falling under this cusp love to spend most of their time in the practice room. They are highly creative and love trying new ideas in the safety of their own practice space. You may find these cuspers auditing masterclasses near and far, taking vigorous notes, and absorbing all of the new tips, tricks, and ideas in their own practice sesssions. These individuals are very skilled at organizing their practice time to their best advantage and know how to prepare for a performance well in advance. We all wish that we could use our practice time as well as these cuspers!


The Cusp of Sensitivity (Aquarius/Pisces) – February 15-21

Strengths: Understanding, empathetic, generous, intuitive, idealistic, creative

Your innate sensitivity and love for humanity make you a very kind, caring, and generous individual. Others are attracted to your selflessness and ability to see the world with all- encompassing compassion and understanding. You’re strongly appreciated amongst your friends and family because you’re such a great listener and confidant.

Weaknesses: Detached, depressed, isolated, unfocused, insecure

Your mind is in the clouds and your eyes are on the future, which disconnects you from what’s happening in the present moment. It can be hard for you to engage in casual, everyday conversation with friends, family, or coworkers, because you’d rather escape into your imagination. Dreams will enrich you, but you’ll need to pull yourself back down to earth every once in a while in order to live your fullest, most balanced life.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

Although their heads may be up in the clouds sometimes, these cuspers are the best chamber musicians in the zodiac. They are musical chameleons and very gifted at blending their sound into the sounds around them. They often do not like to be the leaders (they would rather leave that to their Aries counterparts) but are very good at following the lead of a talented section leader or conductor. Their sensitivity to changes in dynamics and tone color is unparalleled. If you are looking for solid members of your ensemble, look no further!


The Cusp of Rebirth (Pisces/Aries) – March 17-23

Strengths: Intuitive, smart, empathetic, driven, fun, quirky, creative

Your ability to churn out ideas, solutions, and plans makes you an exceptional leader. Life is never dull when you’re around! You know how to solve problems creatively and have the energy to act and make concrete decisions. You have a strong empathy and compassion for your loved ones, and you’re eager to listen and advise them with your intuitive senses.

Weaknesses: Stubborn, loud, impulsive, direct, selfish, uncompromising

Your different way of looking at the world and willingness to share with others can sometimes be off-putting in social settings. You love to dive into deep subjects quickly with anyone who is willing to listen, and while this can make fast friends for those willing to engage, it can also make other people quite uncomfortable. You tend to latch on to your beliefs and can be very stubborn when someone challenges you. Enjoy the debate! Try to relax and have a fun, diverse conversation with those who disagree with you.

How this manifests in your flute playing:

These cuspers are well suited to be very talented and popular college professors. They are full of amazingly creative ideas and opinions and are quite in-tune with the current state of political and social issues that surround them. These cuspers are not afraid to dive incredibly deep in a topic within a classroom environment and truly respect the perspectives that their students offer. They are not afraid of a heated debate. Their energy and valuable advice make the beloved members of the faculty and often strong leaders for higher administrative roles. They are often the glue that keeps the music department together.


Are you a cusper? Do you exhibit the personality traits mentioned above? How do they make their way into your flute playing? Please comment below!



Happy Fluting!




Practice Blueprints: Repertoire 101 – Menuet by Bizet

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

Bizet 1

Today’s blog is the second installment in the Practice Blueprints: Repertoire 101 Series (hope you are enjoying these – please let me know in the comments!). Bizet’s Menuet from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 is perhaps a little more advanced than the Gavotte discussed last week, but it is nevertheless chalk-full of important lessons in endurance, pacing of air, dynamics, embouchure flexibility, and finding the ebbs and flows in each phrase using strategic variations in tone color. Working on these elements is a great place to start if you are a beginner just learning the basics of this work. If you are a teacher, today’s blog will also help you identify some of the musical priorities to discuss with your beginners. You may even add your own creative exercises to address any of the below musical elements. Grace and beauty is the name of the game for this work. Never let the technique distract from the beauty buried within the manuscript.

Bizet 2

Endurance. For many beginners, a 2-pager is a bit longer of a piece than normally assigned and the slower, Andantino quasi allegretto tempo indicates that the road ahead is not a quick one (it’s more of a garden trail than a freeway). Therefore, it is necessary for students to build performance endurance. Much like the Gavotte, there are natural pauses in the standard ABA form that serve as benchmarks, breaking the piece down into smaller components. I encourage students to learn the piece one section at a time, building endurance gradually. For example, a student may begin their study by mastering measures 1-18 before adding measures 19-30. When they feel confident playing from measures 1-30, they can add measures 31-42, and so on until playing from beginning to end is not such a chore. The natural sections in this piece are arranged in the following sequence:

Section 1         mm. 1-18

Section 2         mm. 19-30

Section 3         mm. 31-42

Section 4         mm. 43-58

Section 5         mm. 59-66

Section 6         mm. 67-78

Section 7         mm. 79-end

Master one before moving to next and, once the piece is performance ready, go back and memorize the work in the same sequence. This step-by-step method will simplify the learning process and solidify the piece both within the fingers and within the mind.


Phrasing. Another defining feature of this work is the elongated phrase structure. This may prove a bit difficult for beginners as they make their way through the challenges of pacing their air. A great place to start is by creating a phrase map with clear breaks between phrases. Not only will this help newbies take appropriately placed breaths, but it will also outline where each phrase begins, where it ends, and how the melody ebbs and flows within each starting and ending point. Such an outline will show your more visual learners how each of the smaller parts relate to the work as a whole which, in turn, influences the way they interpret the piece. Going a step further, putting together a phrase map will also uncover opportunities for a sneaky, emergency breaths (which may come in handy under the pressure of the stage). Hint: Good, hidden breaths can typically be placed after longer notes in the phrase by ending the note a sixteenth note early, leaving that space to take a short breath.

And with your phrase map in hand, you may also start to design a tone color plan:

Tone Color. In one of my very first blog postings, I discussed creating a tone color plan in your music by selecting a color to represent each type of sound and literally coloring in your music to reflect those tone color changes (of course, make a copy of your music before doing this – no colored pencils on original manuscripts). For beginners, this can also be achieved by first understanding how the phrases fit together and how dynamics and rhythmic motion influence sound. Help your students find their own interpretations of colors in warm up exercises (for example, ask them to play what they think purple sounds like, what red sounds like, and so forth). Help them to define what characteristics create that sound (vibrato, dynamics, intensity). Once they have developed their own personal tone color legend, ask them to apply that to their interpretation of the piece. This is a great roadmap for the stage!

Bizet 5

Embouchure flexibility. This piece is a great way to introduce harmonics to your beginners. The opening phrase in measures 2-3 reoccurs throughout the work and contains a number of notated harmonics. Harmonics require a flexible embouchure to move quickly from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high. A great warm-up to use in conjunction with this work is the harmonic exercises found on page 6 of Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone. These studies begin simply by building harmonics on a low C. Using your embouchure, the natural harmonic series will sound by move your lips gradually forward and increasing the pressure of your air stream. The same manipulations of the embouchure will help achieve the notated pitches in the Menuet. For an added challenge, try playing these notated pitches using only harmonic fingerings! An Eb fingering, for example, will produce all of the harmonics indicated in measure 3.

Bizet 6

Dynamics. Are you ready to learn how to play quietly yet still project? This piece is a study in dynamic control at the extremes. A majority of the work remains in a pp-p range. It is important to remain quiet and graceful, but still project as the soloist, AND stay in tune. That’s a tall order! But it can be done with a bit of practice (and a reliable tuning app). Beginning in measure 39, however, the dynamic, seemingly out of nowhere, increases to forte. What the heck?! Out of a graceful, beautiful, yet simple and quiet melody, we are suddenly transported to the land of boisterous trumpets and the entrance of the king and queen. This is your opportunity to show the audience the difference in tone color between a piano dynamic and a forte. Use these measures to unleash the flute diva within! Belt it out, Beyoncé style. Of course, the grace and simplicity return in measure 59 with another piano dynamic. The overall dynamic fades to a “ppp” by the end of the work. Control is the name of the game. Remember to keep a supported center to the tone and project while remaining mindful of the fading dynamic and intonation. Ham up that fade out at the end of the piece (it does indicate “(long)” below the fermata on this last note, after all).


What do you think are the most challenging components of this piece? How do you like to approach this work as a performer? As a teacher? What exercises do you use in conjunction with this piece? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!

Practice Blueprints: Repertoire 101 – Gavotte by F.J. Gossec

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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I have not posted a new blog in my Practice Blueprints series in quite a while and thought today would be a good day to add a new sub-category covering some of the fundamental pieces that are often assigned to beginners. If you are relatively new to the flute and motivated to start learning repertoire or if you are a teacher searching for creative ways to introduce repertoire to your beginners, today’s blog will help point you in the right direction. We all need a good place to start and can accomplish amazing things with a well-outlined plan.

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The Repertoire 101 series begins with the very first piece I ever learned to play and often the first piece that I assign to beginning flute students. Gavotte by François-Joseph Gossec is a wonderfully elegant dance in a standard ABA ternary form. The possibilities to address basic concepts such as articulation, ornamentation, fast finger technique, embouchure flexibility, and dynamics are quite prevalent in this short, one-page work. This is also an easy piece to memorize once the fundamentals are in place and a perfect starting point to test budding memorization skills. Finally, the balanced phrasing and period structure creates a natural practice progression, urging students to master one section before moving on to the next. Start by learning this piece in moderate 4/4 tempo and slowly increase speed until you are comfortable with a smooth allegretto tempo in cut time.

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Articulation – The entire “A” section of this piece (measures 1-18) is ripe for working on different articulations. This is particularly useful if you are just learning about double tonguing and looking for a good exercise to practice your new “coo” syllables. Use these measures in your daily articulation warm ups on standard single tonguing syllables such as “too,” “tut,” “ta,” “toe,” “pu,” and my personal favorite, syllable-less chirps. Next, practice using a few back of the tongue syllables such as “coo,” “gu,” “key,” and “ka.” Finally, use this section to practice crazy new articulations that you may run across (my personal favorite is “duck-key.”) In performance, a crisp “tut” articulation will help keep your staccatos super short while the ending “t” syllable prepares your tongue properly for the next note.

Ornamentation – This is a great piece to learn about grace notes. For many beginners, grace notes are often introduced gradually in new repertoire and may be a bit intimidating at first (you want me to play that note HOW fast???). In this work, the grace notes are only on the pitches C# and G# and fit nicely at the endings of phrases on longer notes. Remember that grace notes are considered ornaments so think of them like beautiful pieces of jewelry on top of foundational notes. Play them as fast as your fingers will allow but make sure that they sound as light as air. I like to think of grace notes as glitter that falls gently and gracefully onto the paper below.

Fast Finger Technique – Hold the phone! There are 16th notes? Don’t panic. By this point you have learned how to play 16th notes, understood how they fit into the beat, and have worked very hard on your basic D-Major scale. Now it’s time to put what you have learned to the test. The best way to accomplish this is to play with what some flutists call “snappy fingers.” Slow down the passages located particularly at measure 20 and beyond and move your fingers very quickly and deliberately between pitches. I often refer to this as “robot” fingers (but try not to play the flute like a robot – continue to use beautiful expression, creatively placed vibrato, and clear, boisterous tone). This technique helps train your fingers to move quickly and efficiently between fast moving notes.

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Embouchure Flexibility – At this point in your flute playing development, you may not yet have been exposed to Trevor Wye-style flexibility studies but have probably learned to play octaves. The section from measure 21 to the D.C. al Fine is a good test in embouchure flexibility that makes use of great octave displacements. Remember to practice this section by letting your embouchure do the heavy lifting. Lips forward for higher pitches, back for lower tones. Try not to squeeze the lower pitches out using only your air as this will likely make the note crack. If necessary, a light tap with your left-hand ring finger on the G key at the same time you finger the low D will help make the note speak in the final measure before the D.C. al Fine.

Accents – Measures 17 and 19 include a series of accents that are not found anywhere else in the piece. Use these measures to practice making effective accents that really project above harmonic texture of the piece. Use a strong “t” syllable on the front of each pitch to really attack the note with a sharp articulation.

Dynamics – This is a wonderful piece to practice dynamics. The opening remains in a piano dynamic but you will still need to project the melody. Beginning in measure 12, the volume increases, building gradually to the forte in measure 17. Practice this section with a tuner. It is very easy to veer sharp when the dynamic increases, so make sure to avoid any unnecessary use of air that adversely effects your pitch. Practice keeping air in your cheek as you ascend into the higher registers to properly regulate air pressure. Use less air in louder dynamics than you think you need. Finally, when the dynamic returns to piano in the repeat of the A section, remember not to conversely go flat. Support your sound and do not try too hard to play softly. You are still the soloist.

Memorize – The final step to mastering this piece is to memorize it. Gavotte is arranged in an ABA form meaning you really only need to memorize the A and B sections of the work as the A section repeats. The A section is broken into 2 sections, divided by a repeat sign at the end of measure 8. Begin by memorizing only the first 8 measures. Once you have this under your belt, memorize measures 9 through 13. Continue on to section B, which is also broken into 2 sections marked by a repeat sign at the end of measure 24, memorizing measures 17 through 14 first, followed by measures 25-32. Pacing yourself is the key to memorizing this work. Sometimes it helps to play along to a recording (many of which can be found on YouTube). Accompaniment for Gavotte is also available on SmartMusic. This is a great way to practice at home by helping you fit your solo part correctly into the piano accompaniment.

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Have you played this piece? What do you think are the most important elements required to master Gavotte? Do you assign this piece to your students? What types of exercises do you use to address these and other fundamental elements in the music? Please comment below!



Happy fluting!

Top 20 Dos and Don’ts of Recital Prep

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday. Happy Earth Day weekend!

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I used to schedule my Spring semester recitals during this time of year when I was in college. I really liked having the 4 months or so after the Christmas break to strategically plan out my recital preparations and budget my personal practice time as well as rehearsal time with my accompanist. Fall always seemed a bit more frantic and filled with distractions (there are so many holidays and celebrations in the Fall months). Hosting a recital at the end of the Spring semester was almost like a reward for a year’s worth of hard work. Many of you reading this may also be preparing for your Spring semester recitals and searching for a few words of wisdom to help you get to the finish line. Today’s blog features my top 20 Dos and Don’ts of recital preparation. Number 19 is probably the most important tip and I urge all of you to enjoy the process. No matter what happens, have fun! If making music is not fun then we are going about it all wrong.

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  1. DO plan out your practice schedule well in advance. That’s right – Make yourself a weekly schedule detailing exactly which pieces you plan to target and in what order. This can be done on a simple Excel spreadsheet or on your Google Calendar.


  1. DON’T cram practice. Sunday evenings are ripe for opportunities to cram practice for the upcoming week. This will eventually lead to burnout and delayed progress. Instead…


  1. DO make sure you are practicing for about the same amount of time each day. Practicing is a lot like exercise; Daily progress will build up muscle more efficiently than spending every Sunday at the gym. Likewise, daily practice will help develop stronger performances than periodic marathon practice sessions.


  1. DON’T wait until the last minute to rehearse with your accompanist. Start early with weekly rehearsals if possible. If this isn’t possible either due to crazy schedules or financial constraints…


  1. DO invest in SmartMusic or a similar music accompaniment program. This will really help you practice fitting your solo part into the piano accompaniment outside of rehearsals with your accompanist. Listen for piano cues and try to distinguish between your role as a soloist and moments when you are accompaniment.


  1. DON’T always begin rehearsing at the beginning of a piece. Isolate weaker sections of your music and try to devote more time to breaking those parts down, practicing slowly with a metronome, and putting them back together gradually. If you always start at the beginning, you will have a strong opening but your piece may crumble when the going gets tough in the middle of work.


  1. DO combine flute and piano works with smaller chamber group performances, if possible. A strict flute and piano recital may be predictable and mono-tone. Chamber music adds a bit of variety with the addition of other instruments.


  1. DON’T forget to add a flute solo piece between longer flute and piano works. The weirder, the better. I love to slip in a contemporary work between a Bach Sonata and an explosive French Flute School piece. This keeps the program interesting for your audience and helps display the variety of repertoire available for the flute.


  1. DO add a piece featuring the piccolo, alto, or bass flute, if possible. This also promotes variety in your program by showcasing the entire flute family.


  1. DON’T forget about intonation. Bracket any selections in your music that contain long sustained tones and integrate intonation practice on these tones (using a tuner) into your daily practice. Practice making crescendos and decrescendos on these tone while sustaining the pitch. It is easy to forget about intonation in the midst of stressful recital preparation.


  1. DO select a recital outfit that is both professional and comfortable. Despite popular opinion, you do not need to be red carpet ready to perform a recital. The difference between a flutist performing a recital and an actor attending an award ceremony is that flutists are performing a physical activity onstage for roughly an hour. You wouldn’t expect to see a football player playing in the Super Bowl wearing a suit, would you? Make sure that your outfit allows you to breathe comfortably, stand with good posture, and allows for easy arm movement. Add a pop of color with a beautiful scarf or accessory.


  1. DON’T wear heels, ladies. This is not only painful after an hour of standing, but it will also mess with your posture and equilibrium. Pick a pair of simple black flats that will help center your posture and connect your feet closer to the ground. I always like to tell the story of how I fell down a flight of stairs at a middle school band concert because I was wearing impractical, but very cute, black heels. I ended up damaging my instrument and butchering an exposed flute solo due to a bent rod on my instrument. If I had just wore different shoes that night…


  1. DO schedule time to rehearse in your performance space at least 1 week prior to your recital. I know in many instances this may not be possible, but it is very important to prepare yourself in advance for balance issues in the room and potential distractions from the stage (including lighting difficulties). This is also a good time to make sure the piano on stage is tuned properly.


  1. DON’T ignore performance anxiety. Even if you feel confident and relaxed in the days prior to your performance, you cannot predict the anxiety that may arise backstage or even onstage. Practice breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and positive self-talk as the recital date draws near. Use a breathing bag backstage to combat rising anxiety quickly. Most importantly….


  1. DO schedule a session with an Alexander Technique instructor prior to your performance. You may be tensing up and not realize it! Your Alexander Technique practitioner will help you identify where you are misusing your muscles and how to effectively let go of tension.


  1. DON’T stress about the after party. There is often a reception that follows a recital. Delegate reception set up to your friends, family, or even another flutist whose reception could be your future trade off. Panic over the number of mini muffins should not interfere with your presentation. Save the drama for Obama.


  1. DO make sure you have enough music stands and that they are placed exactly where you need them on stage. There will typically be an usher backstage that will work with you to make sure these logistics are perfect. Communicate with them but let them take care of everything. No need to micromanage.


  1. DON’T schedule anything else on the day of your recital, if possible. This is your day and you do not need extra distractions or potential stressors to get in the way of your success. Everything can wait until tomorrow.


  1. DO enjoy the process. Remember that no matter what happens or how well or poorly your performance is, tomorrow is another day. You are not defined by one performance. In that case, simply enjoy whatever happens. Live in the moment. Enjoy the success and hard work that got you to this point. Good job!


  1. DON’T dwell on mistakes. Use mistakes as a way to improve your next performance. Everybody makes mistakes! You can either choose to let them destroy you or use them to make your next performance stronger.


What helps you prepare for a recital? What obstacles do you typically face and what do you do to address these issues? What are your own Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to recital prep? Please comment below.

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Happy fluting!

Music Audiobooks

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday. Mercury retrograde is finally ending on Monday! Any projects that you have been struggling to get done during this time will start moving forward again.  Hope this week is indeed very productive for all of my readers.

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Earlier this week I was listening to one of my favorite inspirational audiobooks on my Audible app, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (I often do this while folding laundry or taking my lunchtime walk by the local creek). I began to think about what other books may be available on Audible and if, maybe, some of the great flute books and treatises have be translated to audiobook. Unfortunately, this is a niche that has not been explored yet on Audible…BUT there are a number of other great audiobooks about music, music history, music biographies, and much, much more. Listening to audiobooks while performing passive activities such as laundry, cooking, or taking a stroll through the park is a good way to efficiently absorb new ideas or review some forgotten lessons from yesteryear. Today’s blog features 10 very good audiobooks about music that are currently available on Audible.com.

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If you do not yet have an Audible subscription, you may sign up for a free 30-day trial. After that, it’s only $14.95/month which gives you 1 credit to use on any audiobook (even if the normal download price is waaaay above $14.95). You also get 30% off any additional Audible purchases. The app is free to download on your phone and allows you to upload and store audiobooks directly on your device (meaning you do not need to be connected to the internet to enjoy your audiobooks – hello, plane ride!). The best part is that you can cancel anytime and keep all of your audiobooks. I have done this several times (cancel, renew, cancel, renew) and have never lost any of my books. Of course, I always end up going back to Audible because it is so awesome and I get a lot out of listening to audiobooks. I am a busy woman! I need to mutli-task whenever possible. Pro-Tip: Keep your eyes peeled on Groupon for special subscription deals. I once got a free 3-month subscription rather than the standard 1-month by going through Groupon.

To subscribe for your free trial, please click here:


Top 10 Music Audiobooks at Audible

  1.  How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition; Narrated by: Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D. University of California Berkeley

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition

Publisher’s Summary: If you have ever longed to appreciate great concert music, to learn its glorious language and share in its sublime pleasures, the way is now open to you, through this series of 48 wonderful lectures designed to make music accessible to everyone who yearns to know it, regardless of prior training or knowledge. It’s a lecture series that will enable you to first grasp music’s forms, techniques, and terms – the grammatical elements that make you fluent in its language – and then use that newfound fluency to finally hear and understand what the greatest composers in history are actually saying to us.

  1. How to Make It in the New Music Business; Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician by: Ari Herstand, Narrated by: Ari Herstand, Derek Sivers

How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

Publisher’s Summary: In the last decade, no industry has been through as much upheaval and turmoil as the music industry. If you’re looking for quick fame and instant success, you’re in the wrong field. It’s now a democratic DIY business, and any guide to success in these new waters must be told by someone who’s already survived them. Giving today’s aspiring musicians the practical tools they need to build and maintain a lifelong career, How to Make It in the New Music Business becomes not only a brilliantly compiled tutorial on how to accomplish specific tasks – routing a tour, negotiating contracts, getting paid for Spotify and Pandora plays, or even licensing music to commercials, film, and television – but also a manifesto that encourages musicians to pave their own paths. Iin clear, easy-to-follow chapters, Ari Herstand’s necessary and definitive handbook promises to redefine what it means to make it in the brave new world of professional music.

  1. This Is Your Brain on Music; The Science of a Human Obsession, By: Daniel J. Levitin, Narrated by: Edward Herrmann

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Publisher Summary: In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music – its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it – and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world

Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre

That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise

How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our heads

  1. Great Masters: Mozart – His Life and Music, By: The Great Courses, Narrated by: Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D. University of California Berkeley

Great Masters: Mozart – His Life and Music

Publisher’s Summary: Beginning with an examination of the many myths that surround Mozart to this day, Professor Greenberg offers not only an understanding of his music, but also a realistic view of Mozart the boy and man, from his emergence as youthful prodigy to his posthumous deification.You’ll learn about his difficult and ultimately doomed relationship with his father, his troubled marriage, his relationships with luminaries like Haydn, Emperor Joseph II, and his operatic librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, and the triumphs and disappointments that marked his career – including the astonishing and inexplicable creative recovery that enabled him to create his great Masonic opera, The Magic Flute, only months before his death.

**SIDE NOTE – There are several other biographies in this series including Haydn, Beethoven and much more. Listening to an audiobook is a great way to understand more about the composers behind the music!

  1. Processing Creativity, The Tools, Practices and Habits Used to Make Music You’re Happy With, By: Jesse Cannon, Narrated by: Jesse Cannon

Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices and Habits Used to Make Music You’re Happy With

Publisher’s Summary: Covering the pitfalls of creating music, the book thoroughly explores the hidden reasons we actually like music, how to get along with your collaborators, and patterns that help creativity flourish. While every musician says that being creative is the most important part of their life, they barely explore what’s holding back them back from making music they are happy with. When trying to navigate the ways our creative endeavors fail there’s no YouTube tutorial, listicle, or college course that can help navigate the countless creative pitfalls that can ruin your music.

  1. Jazz: A History of America’s Music, By: Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns, Narrated by: LeVar Burton

Jazz: A History of America’s Music

Publisher’s Summary: Here are the stories of the extraordinary men and women who made the music: Louis Armstrong, the fatherless waif whose unrivaled genius helped turn jazz into a soloist’s art and influenced every singer, every instrumentalist who came after him; Duke Ellington, the pampered son of middle-class parents who turned a whole orchestra into his personal instrument, wrote nearly two thousand pieces for it, and captured more of American life than any other composer. Bix Beiderbecke, the doomed cornet prodigy who showed white musicians that they too could make an important contribution to the music; Benny Goodman, the immigrants’ son who learned the clarinet to help feed his family, but who grew up to teach a whole country how to dance; Charlie Parker, who helped lead a musical revolution, only to destroy himself at thirty-four; and Miles Davis, whose search for fresh sounds made him the most influential jazz musician of his generation, and then led him to abandon jazz altogether.

But Jazz is more than a mere biography. The history of the music echoes the history of twentieth-century America. Jazz provided the background for the giddy era that F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Jazz Age. The irresistible pulse of big-band swing lifted the spirits and boosted American morale during the Great Depression and World War II. The virtuosic, demanding style called bebop mirrored the stepped-up pace and dislocation that came with peace. During the Cold War era, jazz served as a propaganda weapon – and forged links with the burgeoning counterculture. The story of jazz encompasses the story of American courtship and show business; the epic growth of cities, and the struggle for civil rights and simple justice that continues into the new millennium.

  1. Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting, By: John Mauceri, Narrated by: John Mauceri

Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting

Publisher’s Summary: John Mauceri brings a lifetime of experience to bear in an unprecedented, hugely informative, consistently entertaining exploration of his profession, rich with anecdotes from decades of working alongside the greatest names of the music world. With candor and humor, Mauceri makes clear that conducting is itself a composition: of legacy and tradition, techniques handed down from master to apprentice – and more than a trace of ineffable magic.

He reveals how conductors approach a piece of music (a calculated combination of personal interpretation, imagination, and insight into the composer’s intent); what it takes to communicate solely through gesture, with sometimes hundreds of performers at once; and the occasionally glamorous, often challenging life of the itinerant maestro. Mauceri, who worked closely with Leonard Bernstein for 18 years, studied with Leopold Stokowski, and was on the faculty of Yale University for 15 years, is the perfect guide to the allure and theater, passion and drudgery, rivalries and relationships of the conducting life.

  1. The History of Classical Music, By: Richard Fawkes, Narrated by: Robert Powell

The History of Classical Music

Publisher’s Summary: From Gregorian Chant to Henryk Gorecki, the first living classical composer to get into the pop album charts, here is the fascinating story of over a thousand years of Western classical music and the composers who have sought to express in music the deepest of human feelings and emotions. Polyphony, sonata form, serial music – many musical expressions are also explained – with the text illustrated by performances from some of the most highly praised recordings of recent years.

  1. Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering Your Instrument Like a Professional, By: David Dumais, Narrated by: Jennifer Capunitan

Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering Your Instrument Like a Professional

Publisher’s Summary: Learn all the best practice tips, tricks, and techniques used by the greatest musicians in the world – all for the price of a coffee!

Do you want to know how to practice like the professionals do? Are you struggling with your playing? Having trouble getting motivated? Do you want to improve your playing and bring it to the next level. If you are serious about playing, practicing, and improving your skills on your instrument, then this audiobook is for you! Whether you are a beginner or professional, classically trained or not, this audiobook contains proven strategies that can be applied by anybody. This audiobook is a compilation of the best practice tips and strategies from the best musicians in the world. You will learn practice tips used by world class musicians, ranging from pianists to violinists, and trumpeters to clarinetists. This audiobook contains over 80 tips for practicing everything from rhythm to intonation to challenging passages. You will learn how to practice effectively and efficiently.

  1. The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything, By: Daniel Coyle, Narrated by: John Farrell

The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything

Publisher’s Summary: How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

Where does talent come from, and how does it grow?

New research has revealed that myelin, once considered an inert form of insulation for brain cells, may be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Journalist Daniel Coyle spent years investigating talent hotbeds, interviewing world-class practitioners (top soccer players, violinists, fighter, pilots, artists, and bank robbers) and neuroscientists. In clear, accessible language, he presents a solid strategy for skill acquisition – in athletics, fine arts, languages, science or math – that can be successfully applied through a person’s entire lifespan.

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Do you have any favorite audiobooks about music? Did you know there were books about music on Audible? Which flute books do you think should be available on Audible? How do you listen to audiobooks? Do they help you to multitask? Please comment below!

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Happy Fluting!

50 States, 50(ish) Summer Masterclasses

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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I mention summer masterclasses periodically in my monthly flute horoscopes (published in The Flute View Magazine) and was inspired this week to compile a list of summer music opportunities for the upcoming masterclass season. When I began researching for today’s blog, however, I assumed for sure that there would be at least one masterclass or band camp available in each of the 50 states. I quickly discovered that summer opportunities were not easily found in a Google search for a handful of states (including Alabama, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and West Virginia). If you reside in these states and know of a summer festival, masterclass, or band or orchestra camp in your area, please comment below and I will be sure to add them to the following list. If not, I hope today’s post inspires you to connect to other local flute teachers and start your own summer masterclass! Many of the states listed below, such as California and Texas, have numerous masterclasses planned for this summer (a single listing really does not do justice for these larger states). For a more extensive list of summer opportunities in these states, please visit the National Flute Association’s List of Masterclasses http://www.nfaonline.org/Resources/Masterclasses/List-by-Location.asp?offset=0 and Flute Talk Magazine’s annual listing of Masterclasses, Camps and Festivals http://theinstrumentalist.com/pages/FluteTalk/2018-Masterclasses-Camps-and-Festivals/#Alaska . These two listings are the most compressive directories of summer flute masterclasses available in the Unites States and abroad. Please check them out!

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50 States, 50(ish) Summer Masterclass/Music Festival/Music Camp Opportunities


(No summer masterclasses in Alabama? Anybody game to host?)


Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival-Flute Masterclass, Fairbanks, offers classes in all art disciplines including opportunities in flute. July 15-29. Masterclass teachers TBA. info@fsaf.org, www.fsaf.org


Curry Summer Music Camp, Flagstaff, provides a combination of college life and summer camp activities for student interested in dance, choir, band, orchestra, jazz choir, jazz band, and musical theater. Under the San Francisco Peaks on the Northern Arizona University campus student (grades 7-13) work with university faculty and renowned musicians. 6/17-30, 7/1-7. 160 students, 53 teachers per session. Contact: 928-523-2323, music.camp@nau.edu.


(No summer masterclasses in Arkansas? Anybody game to host?)


The Keith Underwood Flute Masterclass, Carmel Valley, is for advanced flutists. Tuition w/housing $1150. June 1-6. 15 participants. Keith Underwood. info@hiddenvalleymusic.org, hiddenvalleymusic.org

*Side note – I attended this masterclass in 2008 and it literally changed my life. Highly recommend!


Flute! in Crested Butte, Mount Crested Butte, will focus on repertoire, performance, musical artistry, and audition skills. Tuition w/housing $950. Tuition alone $725. July 26-30. 15 participants. Masterclass teacher Mary Karen Clardy. mkclardy@sbcglobal.net, www.mkclardy.com


Hartt Suzuki Institute, West Hartford. The 2018 Hartt Suzuki Institute will be offering student and teacher classes for flute, August 5-10. Students, ages 4-18, must be studying with a Suzuki-trained teacher and be in Book 1 or beyond. Students receive between 4-5 hours of masterclasses, group classes, and enrichment courses daily, with the week culminating in several final concerts. Teacher training for Suzuki Flute Unit 2 will be offered for teachers who qualify. All activities are held at the University of Hartford. Tuition: students $475-$575 depending on level; teacher course $450 with graduate credit option for $550. 8/5-10. 15 teachers. Contact: 860-768-4451, harttcomm@hartford.edu. http://www.hartford.edu/hcd/music/summer-music/hartt-suzuki-institute.aspx


Flutefest! featuring Guest Flutist Erica Peel – The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington Branch, Wilmington, DE. Flutefest! dedicates a whole day to the flute with enrichment activities and the opportunity to work with guest flutist and piccoloist Erica Peel. Piccoloist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Erica Peel enjoys an exciting career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist, composer and teacher. She is praised for her effortless performances which expertly maneuver from the strictly classical to rock and roll. Ages 8-Adult, Saturday June 16 9:00 am – 3:30 pm. Cost $77. To register: https://www.musicschoolofdelaware.org/summer-registration.html?t=c&n=Flutefest!&d=June%2016,%209am%E2%80%933:30pm


Marina Piccinini International Masterclasses, Miami, features classes in three divisions plus exhibitors. Tuition w/housing $1750 single, $1470 double. Tuition alone: $1150. June 18-24. 40 participants. Masterclass teachers Marina Piccinini, Brook Ferguson, Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart, Katy Wherry, Femi Oladeji, Steven Finley, Adam Workman. info@mpimc.com, www.mpimc.com


FLUTISSIMO!, Athens, offers private lessons, masterclasses, and performance opportunities for advanced high school, college and professional flutists plus participants are eligible to compete in the Flutissimo Young Artist Competition. Tuition w/housing $890. Tuition alone $615. June 18-22. 25 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Mark Sparks, Nicole Esposito, Angela Jones-Reus, Katherine Emeneth. ajreus@uga.edu, http://www.flutissimo.uga.edu


Flute! in Hawaii, Honolulu, is focused on repertoire, performance, musical artistry, and audition skills. Tuition alone $725. June 21-15. 15 participants. Masterclass teachers Mary Karen Clardy, Sabrina Saiki-Mita. mkclardy@sbcglobal.net, www.mkclardy.com


Passion Flute 2018, Boise, is designed to enhance your individual skills through inventive workshops and masterclasses. Tuition w/alone performer $575, participant $475, auditor $350. Add $250 for room and board. June 13-18. 25 participants. Masterclass teachers Angeleita Floyd, Claudia Anderson, Jill Felber, Nicole Molumby. ricolemolumby@boisestate.edu


Credo Flute, Elmhurst, is for the serious flutist ages 14 and up. Tuition w/housing $1090, Tuition alone $610, July 23-28. 25-30 participants. Masterclass teachers Jennie Brown, Mimi Tachouet, Luke Fitzpatrick, Walfrid Kujala, Alexa Still, Gary Woodward. office@credo-music.org, www.credo-music.org/credo-flute


Indiana University Summer Music Clinic, Bloomington, IN. This dynamic musical experience is for string, brass, woodwind, and percussion students currently in grades 8-12. Primarily focused on orchestra and band performances, the clinic also offers jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles, electives in conducting, composition, jazz improvisation, music theory, leadership, and classes led by IU Jacobs School of Music faculty! Tuition with housing $740. 6/17-23. 225 students, 30 teachers. Contact: 812-855-1372, iusmc@indiana.edu.  music.indiana.edu/summer-musicclinic


Iowa Flute Intensive, Iowa City, is designed for the serious flutist. Topics include fundamentals of sound, articulation, technique and phrasing, orchestral and opera excerpts, concerti, solo repertoire and body mapping plus a mock orchestral audition, exhibits and faculty recitals. Tuition alone performer $495, auditor $295. May 30-June 2. 15 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Nicole Esposito, Julien Beaudiment, Michel Bellavance, Kaori Fujii, Rena Urso-Trapani, Andrea Fisher, nicole-esposito@uiowa.edu, music.uiowa.edu/workshops/iowa-flute-intensive


University of Kansas Midwestern Music Camp, Lawrence, KS. Since 1936, the Midwestern Music Camp has brought young musicians to the University of Kansas to study and play with our outstanding faculty and world-renowned guest musicians. Students from across the United States and other nations have come together each summer to learn and perform together on one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. To date more than 65,000 young musicians have been a part of this tradition. Many of them are now performing in major symphony orchestras, service bands, and choirs, while others teach at great schools and universities around the world. Join us this summer on the campus of the University of Kansas and discover and develop your musical talents! Camps include Middle School Band & Orchestra June 10-14 (grades 6-9) and the High School Band & Orchestra June 17-22 (grades 9-12). Pricing and online registration will be posted on our website on March 1 (music.ku.edu/mmc). Contact: 785-864-3367, musiccamp@ku.edu. musiccamp.ku.edu/mmc


Jamey Aebersold’s Summer Jazz Workshops, Louisville. Our workshops have earned a reputation for producing the best intensive programs for learning jazz improvisation. Each year we assemble the nation’s leading educators and performers dedicated to providing an intensive learning experience for musicians of all ages and ability levels. are open to students of all ages and abilities. Theory classes, ear training, combo performance, masterclasses, and jam sessions allow students the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential. Beginner improvisers and seasoned pros will leave with tons of new and exciting ideas about how to improve their playing. 6/30-7/13. 300+ students, 50 teachers. Contact: 812-944-8141, jason@jazzbooks.com.


(No summer masterclasses in Louisiana? Anybody game to host?)


Bowdoin International Music Festival Woodwind Fellowship Program, Brunswick, is designed to provide mature, college-aged or older, high-level players with the insight and experience necessary to pursue a performing career. The 2018 Festival has openings for 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, one bassoon and one horn. Each fellow will be provided with full tuition, room, board, and fees. Wind fellows will perform in quintets, mixed ensembles, as soloists; in the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music; and in limited orchestral performances. Tuition Full Fellowship. June 23-Aug 4. 2 students. Masterclass teacher Linda Chesis. info@bowdoinfestival.org, www.bowdoinfestival.org


FluteSpaBaltimore, suburban Baltimore, is a participatory masterclass designed for performers and teachers (advanced high school through adult) to explore fundamentals of flute playing and rehearsing/performing in a flute choir. Class topics include embouchure development and flexibility, breathing, articulation, vibrato, building a technique, practice strategies (chunking), musical gestures, shaping a phrase, tone color, note-groupings, style considerations, and set-up. Tuition alone $325 early bird, $350. Daily rate $175. 30 participants. July 13-14. Masterclass teachers Patricia George, Sara Nichols, Wendy Webb Kumer. georgeflute@hotmail.com, snicholsflute@gmail.com, www.FluteSpaBaltimore.com


ARIA International Summer Academy, South Hadley, provides three intensive 10-day for advanced flutists, ages 16-28. Tuition w/housing per session $1,925 per session. Tuition alone $975 per session. June 28-July 9, July 11-22, July 24-August 4, 2018. 20 participants/ session. Master-class teachers Aaron Goldman, Alexa Still, Linda Toote, Molly Barth, Christina Jennings, Judith Mendenhall, John Thorne, Donna Shin, Jonathan Keeble. Check website for masterclass teacher residency dates. mtetel@yahoo.com, www.ariaacademy.com


Amy Porter’s Anatomy of Sound, Ann Arbor, will include instruction with special guest, Ali Ryerson on inspiring both classical and jazz flutists to stretch their boundaries and experience the freedom and joy of jazz improvisation. Ryerson’s masterclass sessions offer a primer course in jazz improv along with individual and group coaching sessions, all accompanied by our swingin’ resident rhythm section. Every age adult and performance level (student, amateur, semi-professional, professional) is encouraged to apply. Tuition $700. June 2-5. 32 participants. Masterclass teachers Amy Porter, Ali Ryerson, Jerald Schwiebert, Laura Dwyer. smtd-youthandadult@umich.edu, smtd.umich.edu/anatomyofsound


The Complete Flutist, Minneapolis, is for serious flutists high school, college and beyond who want to develop all aspects of their playing and musicianship. In addition to flute fundamentals, the master class will include orchestral excerpts, solo repertoire, an intro to baroque flute, and Alexander Technique. Tuition w/housing $750. Tuition alone $500. Auditors $75 per day. June 14-18. 15 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Immanuel Davis, Christina Smith. davis210@umn.edu, cla.umn.edu/music/research-creative-work/community-programs/complete-flutist


Southern Flute Festival, Hattiesburg, features masterclasses for flutists middle school through graduate school as well as for amateurs. Tuition alone $60. Housing on your own. June 1-2. Up to 100 participants. Teachers: Eva Amsler, Carlos Feller, Danilo Mezzadri. southernflutefestival@gmail.com, www.southernflutefestival.org


UMKC Jazz Camp, Kansas City, brings world-renowned performers and jazz educators to Kansas City to work with talented young instrumentalists ages 12 and up. Jazz Camp co-directors Bobby Watson and Dan Thomas and distinguished clinicians provide insight and inspiration to student combos in a welcoming environment. Tuition with housing $570, tuition alone $370. 6/24-28. 100 participants, 10 teachers. Contact: 816-235-5448, music-ce@umkc.edu .


University of Montana, Band/Jazz Camp – Missoula, MT. June 24-30, 2018 – For students entering grades 7- 2018 High School graduates.  Participants in this summer program will enjoy full concert band, small ensemble, and solo performance opportunities. Students interested in jazz will have the opportunity to participate in jazz combos, theory, listening, big band, and jazz improvisation classes. We also offer a special track for students who are interested in learning more about jazz rhythm section playing.  Optional classes include Conducting, Composing Music online, Jazz Improvisation, Private Lessons, and much more. Fees include: Camp Tuition, Room & Board, Camp T-shirt, Recreational Activities & Group Photo. Tution:  $460, Deposit: $100 (Due at the time of registration), 1/2-hour Private Lessons (optional): $20. Contact James Smart at james.smart@umontana.edu for more information about Band Camp 2018. https://www.umt.edu/music/festivals-and-camps/summer-music-camps/band-camp/default.php


(No summer masterclasses in Nebraska? Anybody game to host?)


(No summer masterclasses in Nevada? Anybody game to host?)


Creative Musicians Retreat at The Walden School, Dublin, NH. New Skills for Lifelong Learners. Invigorate your music, participate in a diverse community & engage in creative music making. Join us for an 8-day residential get-away in beautiful New England. Lessons, coachings, master classes, chorus, seminars, concerts. For performers, composers, teachers & more. Immerse yourself in music, emerge inspired. Tuition with housing $2,125. 6/16-24. 8 teachers. 415-648-4710, retreat@waldenschool.org http://waldenschool.org/creative-musicians-retreat/


Westminster Conservatory’s 22st Annual Flute Camp, Princeton, features classes on building flute technique, learning solo and small ensemble repertoire, hearing faculty recitals and gaining performance experience. Tuition w/housing $900, Tuition alone $600. July 22-28. 30 Participants. Masterclass teachers Gerald Carey, Sandy Olson, Sue Gillio, Diana Charos Reilly. solson272@gmail.com, tinyurl.com/FluteCamp2017


Santa Fe Flute Immersion, Santa Fe, focuses on baroque flute and 18th century performance for modern flutist. Tuition alone $750. Scholarships and housing available. May 28-June 4. 12 performers, 100 auditors. Masterclass teachers Wendy Rolfe, Linda Marianiello, Carol Redman, Valerie Potter, Alaina Diehl. info@nmperformingartssociety.org, www.nmperformingartssociety.org


Gary Schocker Summer Masterclass, West Park, features flute study with a master performer, teacher, and composer. Tuition w/housing performers $920, auditors $695. Tuition alone $695, auditors $475. July 11-15, 25 participants. Master-class teacher Gary Schocker. juliemb@prodigy.net, www.garyschocker.com


Asheville Flute Vacation, Asheville, is for adult amateur flutists to focus on small ensembles, flute choir, private lessons. Tuition $550. May 28-June3. 12 participants. Teachers Lea Kibler, Deborah Heller. info@ashevilleflute.com, www.ashevilleflute.com


International Music Camp, Dun­seith. Founded in 1956, IMC offers over 40 one-week programs in all areas of the Fine Arts including Band, Orchestra, Choir, Dance, Drama, Visual Art, and more! 2,000 grade 5-12 campers from 76 countries grow and learn together each season with instruction ranging from beginning to advanced. Auditions are not required. Tuition with housing $400/week if registered before 5/1, $415 after 5/1. One-week sessions running 6/17-7/28. 250-400 students, 185 teachers. Contact: 701-838-8472, info@internationalmusiccamp.com.internationalmusiccamp.com


Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, Oberlin, offers instruction in Baroque instruments and voice. This summer’s program will focus on “A Celebration of Couperin and Charpentier.” The institute is for high school students (with audition) through adult and for all playing levels. Tuition alone high school $550 for two weeks, for others one week $575, two weeks $1100. Housing available one week single $275, two weeks single $525; one week double $250, two weeks double $480. Food plans available. June 17-30. 8 flutists. Masterclass teachers Christopher Krueger and Oberlin Baroque Ensemble members Mark Edwards, Michael Lynn, Marilyn McDonald, Catharina Meints. ahoffman@oberlin.edu, go.oberlin.edu/bpi


Oklahoma State University Summer Music Camp, Stillwater, offers high school students the opportunity to study their instruments in a comprehensive collegiate setting. The camp offers three tracks of study: band, orchestra and piano. Students participate in large ensembles, masterclasses, chamber ensembles, and elective courses. Private lessons with OSU faculty are also available. Tuition with housing $439-$499 before 6/18, tuition alone $339-$399 before 6/18. 7/8-7/13. 21 teachers. Contact: 405-744-4420, musiccamp@okstate.edu. musiccamp.okstate.edu


2018 Portland Flute Spa & Flute Choir Retreat, Portland, is for flutists 18 years through adult (especially for teachers, flute choir directors and players) to examine the fundamentals of flute performance and chamber music playing. Tuition alone $275 (before May 1, $250). Housing available. June 29-July 1. 30 participants. Masterclass teachers Patricia George, Phyllis Avidan Louke. georgeflute@hotmail.com, phyllislouke@gmail.com, fabulousflute.com/portland-flute-retreat


The Consummate Flutist, Pittsburgh, is an inspirational week of masterclasses, lectures and workshops for advanced high school, college and professional flutists. Tuition Performer $650, Participant $450, Auditor. $50/day, $150/entire class. Additional lessons $75. For housing suggestions see website. June 12-16. Masterclass teachers Alberto Almarza, Marianne Gedigian, Lorna McGhee, Soo-Kyung Park. director@theconsummateflutist.com, www.theconsummateflutist.com


(No summer masterclasses in Rhode Island? Anybody game to host?)


Christian Performing Artist Fellowship “Masterworks Festival 2018,” Converse College Spartanburg, features a four-week orchestral program and a two-week flute intensive. Tuition with housing $4100, June 17-30 (flute) June 17-July 14 (orchestral), 5 to 6 flutists. Masterclass teachers Paula Kasica, Anne Harrow. email: pkasica@gmail.com, masterworksfestival.org/2018


University of South Dakota Summer Music Camp, Vermillion. The University of South Dakota Summer Music Camp is a six-day experience of learning and music-making open to students who have completed grades 5-12. Activities include vocal and instrumental ensembles, as well as a variety of other musical activities. Op­por­tun­ities for private lessons on a specific instrument are also available. Tuition with housing $460, tuition alone $285. 7/8-13. 200 students, 50 teachers. Con­tact: 605-677-5274, david.holdhusen@usd.edu.


William Bennett Summer Flute Academy, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. A week-long, intensive flute course which emphasizes “singing” the music through the flute by utilizing principals such as a beautiful tone, nuances in colors and expression, and understanding of line and phrasing to create a musically satisfying performance.  During daily masterclasses, Wibb’s inspirational teaching and enthusiasm for the flute will help students realize their musical artistry. Dates: 6/15/2018 – 6/22/2018; Play Level: Advanced high school through professional; Ages: professional flutist, teachers, students, and amateurs; Number of Performers: 15; Performers Cost: $495-$525; Number of Participants: 15, Participants Cost: $450-$495; Contact: flutes@apsu.edu http://www.apsu.edu/muic/bennett/


2018 Texas Summer Flute Symposium, Commerce, will offer masterclasses, chamber music, electives, and performances. Tuition w/housing performer $618. Tuition alone $398 performer. June 10-15. 18 performers, 50 auditors. Masterclass teachers Julien Beaudiment, Terri Sundberg, Raffaele Trevisani, Jake Fridkis, Mayu Saeki, Julee Kim Walker. julee.walker@tamuc.edu, www.tamuc.edu/music/tsfs


BYU Musicians’ SummerFestival and Institute, Provo, UT. BYU Musicans’ Institute is for elite musicians ages 14-18 who want to improve their musicianship through a highly focused and rewarding chamber music, masterclass, and private instruction experience with members of BYU’s acclaimed School of Music faculty. June 12-16, 2018. Regular Tuition: $284 (includes daily lunch). To apply: https://summerfestival.byu.edu/registration


Flute Overhaul Techniques, Richmond. Participants learn many of the skills needed to overhaul fine flutes including removing dents and scratches, stretching worn keys, repairing solder joints, polishing and cleaning the flute, re-pinning, replacing broken springs, etc. Time will be devoted to the techniques of making special tools, operating a lathe, hardening steels, and important machine shop tips. Tuition alone $1800. Session dates April 9-13, June 11-15, July 16-20, Aug 27-31. 4 students. Masterclass teacher Jonathon A. Landell. jonathon.landell@gmail.com, www.landellflutes.com/courses


National Flute Workshop, Old Presbyterian Meeting House Alexandria, is open for flutists ages 13-professional of all playing levels with private lessons, masterclasses, small ensembles, and other activities. Tuition alone $450. Hotel info upon request. July 16-20. 40 participants/unlimited auditors. Masterclass teacher Jonathan Snowden, Rebecca Carey. rcarey@levinemusic.org or www.jonathansnowden.com


Marrowstone Music Festival, Bellingham, is an orchestra and chamber music camp. Tuition w/housing $2900. July 22-Aug. 5. 8 performers. Masterclass professors Jill Felber, felber@music.ucsb.edu, marrowstone.org


(No summer masterclasses in West Virginia? Anybody game to host?)


Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Flute Camp, Milwaukee, is a week-long flute camp for young flutists. The daily schedule includes private lessons, a performance class, seminars, and flute ensemble rehearsals. Tuition alone $329. August 6-10, 9 AM to 4 PM daily. 40 participants.Masterclass teachers Jennifer Bouton Schaub, Aaron Gardner, Emma Koi, Julia Richter. studentservices@wcmusic.org; https://www.wcmusic.org/summer-camps/


The Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive, Laramie, is a three-day masterclass focusing on tone, learning creative practice tips, and auditioning. Tuition/with housing $218, Tuition alone $100. June 22-24. 20 participants. Masterclass teacher Nicole Riner. nriner@uwyo.edu; http://www.uwyo.edu/faoutreach/summer-flute-intensive/


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Is there a camp not listed here that you are planning to attend? Do you happen to know of any camps or festivals planned in states that do not have entries above? Would you like to host your own masterclass? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!













Interpreting Debussy’s Syrinx

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday. Happy full moon/April fools/Easter weekend!


My husband and I are Disney fanatics. There is seldom a weekend that goes by that we do not find ourselves in front of the television watching one of the classics. A few weekends ago, we were watching Bambi (a traditional Disney staple if there ever was one), and were stunned by just how incredibly beautiful the art of animation was before the onset of the digital age. As children, we do not typically have an artistic frame of reference when watching films and often miss the beauty of the art to concentrate on the story being told (and, in this case, drying our eyes when Bambi’s mother is met by a hunter’s bullet). This film uses rich, warm-toned colors so magnificently that it is as if you are watching a sequence of paintings placed one after the other. I began to compare this type of Disney “impressionism” to works by Debussy, who, as we know, was inspired by impressionist artists such as Monet. I began to see the same type of warm-toned paintings in my imagination as I listened to Syrinx and was fascinated by the new interpretation I was able conjure by connecting this story to art. In today’s blog, we will take a closer look a Debussy’s Syrinx for flute seule and examine how Debussy uses notes in place of brush strokes to create a musical version of a painting.


First thing’s first – The Story. Syrinx tells the story of the river nymph, Syrinx, who was pursed by the god Pan. In a panic, Syrinx runs to the edge of the water and begs the water nymphs to help her escape Pan’s pursuit. In response, she is transformed into a bundle of hollow reeds. Pan discovers the reeds, which created a haunting sound when the god’s frustrated breath blew across them. Legend states that Pan subsequently cut the reeds and fashioned them into a set a pan pipes, know better today as a pan flute.

This is a story about transfiguration that occurs not once but twice. The piece begins with what we may call the Syrinx “theme,” but given the range and chromatic meanderings of the melody, it sounds more like her cry for help to the water nymphs:

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We begin the work in a state of panic, which brilliantly sets the scene for the ensuing drama. The next phrase, beginning in measure 3, develops Syrinx’s cry for help and, with the addition of triplet figures, helps her to explain her wishes to be transformed into reeds to the water nymphs. The pause at the end of this phrase, which follows the sustained pitches of Syrinx’s final pleas, gives the water nymphs a pause to hear her cry and roll up their proverbial sleeves to perform a bit of magic. The muffled octave transposition of Syrinx’s cry for help indicates that she has been taken under the water where, following a series of explosive and free falling chromatic pitches (reminiscent of the scene in Disney’s Cinderella when the carriage and horses transfigure back into a pumpkin and 4 mice at the stroke of midnight), Syrinx is changed into a bundle of reeds. Her new persona is indicated in the following phrase, marked by clunky grace notes that suggest the sound of reeds knocking against one other in the evening breeze.

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The melody speeds up quite suddenly 5 measures after the measure marked “Rubato,” with the presence of triplet 16th notes, indicating that the frustrated god, Pan, has found his way to the river and is enraged when he cannot find Syrinx. The trills beginning 2 measures before au Mouvt represent the god’s breath as it falls across the reeds and the sustained Bb that concludes the phrase is the idea lightbulb being lit in Pan’s mind to create a flute from these reeds (this note always makes me think about the scene from How The Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch smiles maniacally as he comes up with “wonderful, awful idea”).

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The au Mouvt represents Syrinx’s final cry for help as she is again transformed into a pan flute. Unfortunately, there is nobody to help her this time as Pan gathers the reeds and, with the help of a few more spinning triplet 16th notes, wraps twine carefully around the bundle to create his infamous pan flute. En reteant usher in the melody that Pan plays on his pan flute. This concluding phrase is solemn, a little bit creepy, and, somehow, ironically calming as the last 2 measures outline all of the pitches in Pan’s flute.

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Syrinx is traditionally performed in the dark. This is done in part to help the audience picture the events of the story in their imaginations without any distractions from the stage or gallery. I think that modern performance of this work also calls for digital projections of impressionistic artworks depicting rivers, water (Monet’s Water Lilies for example), magic, or the story of Syrinx itself. As the music winds its way through transfigurations, so do the colors of these paintings from object to object and scene to scene. Combining music and artwork may help to create a deeper interpretation of the story by connecting music to story and color. I urge you to experiment with digital projections in your next performance of Syrinx to create a more vivid story between the lines of manuscript.

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How do interpret Debussy’s Syrinx? What pictures come to your mind when playing through this work? Have you performed this work in the past? Did you use a darkened room or digital projections? Please comment below.


Happy Fluting!



Astrological Practice Habits

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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Be sure to check out The Flute View this month to catch my short article on Astrology and the Flute and to check your Flute Horoscopes for March http://thefluteview.com/ .

In the spirit of the flute and astrology, today’s blog features a look into the practice habits of each of the 12 astrological signs. Every sign approaches the world a bit differently. Where do you fit? Do you show these characteristics in the practice room? Have you noticed other signs displaying these common astrological traits? Please comment below!

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ARIES – Do not get in the way of an Aries when they want to get something done! Mars, the God of War, is the ruler of Aries. Musicians falling under this Sun sign tend to set very clear daily goals and do not rest until they achieve everything on their list. An Aries will stay in the practice room until the building closes if they feel that there is still work to be done for the day. The list may be short but their ambition is quite expansive. Aries is also a very stubborn sign. They often get stuck because they hold on to traditional, tried and true, methods of doing things and sometimes overlook new techniques or exercises that would accomplish more with less time and effort. If you are an Aries and find yourself frustrated by old techniques, find an Aquarius or Sagittarius friend to show you some great time savers. These two signs are fairly hip to new trends and good at finding clever shortcuts.

TAURUS – “Slow and steady. Steady and slow. That’s the way I always go.” This is the motto of a Taurus. Musicians falling under this Sun sign love slow practice. When learning a new piece of music, a Taurus will dial the metronome back to quarter note = 40 and slowly increase the tempo each day until they are playing the piece up to tempo. They are also quite interested in sound production and will spend a good amount of time with De la Sonorite by Marcel Moyse working on developing a solid center for each note. Much like an Aries, a Taurus is very stubborn and likes to stick to traditional forms of practicing in a very organized, formulaic fashion (ex. long tones are followed by scales which are always followed by etudes, and so forth). A Taurus is also all about efficiency and does not generally enjoy improvising. If you are a Taurus and struggling with improvisation, find some time to jam with a Pisces. This sign will help you find your unique voice.

GEMINI – Geminis need to talk things through, preferably with other people (but don’t be surprised if you find them frequently talking to themselves in the practice room). This Sun sign thrives on communication. Geminis often find themselves practicing in groups where they can talk things through with their colleagues. They are most productive when they rehearse with at least one other person and prefer to visit the practice room during the busiest times of the day. You may find yourself in periodic chats with your Gemini friends if you are practicing within their vicinity. Don’t worry – they just need a break from the awkward solitude of the practice room or literally just need someone to discuss different ways they could tackle technical passages. This may annoy signs like Scorpios or Cancers who like to withdraw from the world to practice, but may lead to creative, inspiring new ideas whenever a Gemini strikes up a dialog with a Pisces or a Libra. Schedule a practice session with a Gemini friend if you are struggling with a piece of music and need to talk it out. They will have some great ideas.

CANCER – Cancers value their family above all else in the world. You may not even see a Cancer in the practice rooms because they likely have a home rehearsal space they prefer to use. This makes it easy for a Cancer to sneak in a bit of practice here and there while still devoting most of their evening hours to their family. Cancers like to hold mock performances for their friends and family, who often end up being the “jury” in a mock audition. It is very important for Cancers to share their passion and creativity with their loved ones. This means more to them than winning competitions or landing a great chair placement in an orchestra. Cancers will have the largest audience at a recital or orchestral performance as support from friends and family is very important to them. Whenever they are hurt by a disrespectful colleague or disappointed by a less than great performance, Cancers will sometimes snap, say things they don’t really mean, and retreat to a quiet place to cool down. Give them their space. They just need a little time in their shell before revisiting the outside World. Patience is not their forte so when they do come out of their shell, it is always a good idea to have a sympathetic Pisces or Scorpio nearby for them to calmly discuss alternative ways to approach their situation.

LEO – Leos are the Beyoncé’s of the World. As the proverbial divas of the Zodiac, this Sun sign loves to put on a show. You typically won’t find musicians falling under this sign locked up in a practice room, if they can help it. Leos prefer to practice on a stage. It doesn’t matter if it is in an empty concert hall, outside in nature, or one that they have crafted in their own garage (with the doors open, of course, to entertain the neighbors). Leos also like to make sure that everybody likes them (which is not difficult because they are very likeable people). This sign will go out of their way to make sure they are doing whatever they can to make the group sound better, whether it is through excellent attention to dynamics or precisely matching vibrato speed with their neighbors. When it is recital time, you can bet that a Leo will be dressed to the nines and will likely have a spectacular final piece on their programs (something French, perhaps, with a lot of fireworks). It is sometimes difficult for Leos to address difficult problems. They do not like telling others that something is wrong. It is important for Leos to connect to signs like Capricorn or Aries, who can give this sign the bit of confidence they need to communicate issues to other members of their group or, in some instances, to themselves. Of course, they will always put a positive spin on whatever negative enters their world. This is a wonderful gift!

VIRGO – As the natural perfectionists in the Zodiac, Virgos are the best of the best. This sign will spend hours examining a score before heading to the practice room. Their manuscripts are typically covered with notes referencing everything from definition of terms to specific plans for rubato passages. Virgo will pack their schedules with opportunities for practice time to make sure that all of their passages are metronomically correct, their runs are super clean, dynamics are perfectly planned out, and their performance is 100% technically perfect. Virgos are the masters of scale studies and love, love, love their metronome. They may have trouble sometimes with slower, expressive pieces or finding creative interpretations for more lyrical passages. Connecting with water signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio) will help Virgos discover deeper interpretations for the music they are working on. Water signs bring the Virgo’s attention to the meaning behind the notes, not just the notes themselves.

LIBRA – Libras love to embrace all things beautiful. This Sun sign likes to beautify their environment with gorgeous (and often meaningful) works of art, bundles of brightly colored flowers place strategically around the house, and cascading draperies for every season of the year. Libras also like to decorate their practice space in this manner. They might bring in portable lamps to soften harsh overhead lighting, gorgeous (yet perhaps a bit impractical) instrument stands, and various linens or silk coverings (just to give their environment a bit of color). Libras also gravitate towards more lyrical works, or pieces that have longer sections of melody mixed in among technical passages (French Flute school works are ideal for Libras for this reason.). Libras do not really enjoy chance or minimalistic works without a melody.  They often struggle, however, when dealing with difficult people or problems as they just want everything in their world to be harmonious. Libras should work with signs like Aries or Sagittarius to gain more confidence in addressing sticky situations. These two signs are action driven and dealing with difficulties is second nature for them in order to get things done.

SCORPIO – Leave this sign alone when they are practicing. Scorpios like to practice in quiet solitude, away from the distractions that other signs may bring. It is not necessarily because they are anti-social, but rather because they have lazar-sharp focus on very specific selections of music that they simply cannot break. Interrupting a Scorpio when they are fixated on their music may result in a silent wrath that you really do not want in your life. They do not mean to hurt you (in fact, Scorpios will help out other signs whenever they are in need, no matter what – even if they would rather FedEx you directly to Timbuktu) – They are simply workaholics that take their projects very seriously. Scorpios prefer to practice at night when most other people have gone home for the evening. They will typically come to the practice room armed with very specific passages (often bracketed) that they intend to work on until perfect and burned into their memories. If you are hanging around the practice rooms around 9:00 pm and hear someone playing the same passage over, and over, and over, AND OVER again, it is likely a Scorpio. Give them space. Scorpio have a hard time taking breaks, which can lead to injury and other psychological issues down the road. They need other water signs (Cancer and Pisces) around to remind them to take care of themselves. It’s okay for Cancers to give Scorpios a cut off time and politely knock on the door when time is up. Cancers can diffuse a potential stinger with thoughtfulness.

SAGITTARIUS – The expression, “Don’t be such a ham!” was probably intended for a Sagittarius. Sagittarians love to be the center of attention and, unlike Leos, they generally do not care if you love them or loath them – They want your attention regardless. Sagittarians will practice in hallways and outside of buildings so everybody within a 3-mile radius can hear them. They typically have no problem with the stage and would rather be on stage that in a confining practice room. They work extremely hard to earn principal seats in orchestra so that they may have opportunities to shine on solo passages. Sagittarians also love flute karaoke and enjoy entertaining family and friends with fun, popular tunes that they can sign along to. This Sun sign is very kind, often going out of their way to make sure that everyone they meet is happy and having a good time. You may find Sagittarians roaming the halls with bottles of water for their hard-working fellow musicians or toting a plate of cookies around for exhausted pianists.  Sagittarians may find themselves struggling with folks in authority as they do not like to be told what to do. They value their creative freedom too much to accept any kind of censorship. This is where a Taurus or an Aquarian may help their fellow sign learn patience and flexibility. Take a Sagittarius out to lunch and talk over the situation calmly and rationally. They will appreciate a new perspective.

CAPRICORNS – Capricorns love, love, LOVE the details. This Sun sign often prefers to work on intricate Baroque music or Phillip Glass pieces that have a lot of moving parts. Like Virgos, Capricorns spend a good amount of time on score preparation before practicing their music, but unlike Virgos, they will focus quite deeply on harmonic analysis, often outlining each scale and arpeggio involved in longer technical passages and documenting how leading tones or grace notes emphasize the underlying harmony. They are like walking theory dictionaries (which definitely may come in handy during orchestral sectionals). Capricorns prefer to practice in the wee morning hours before most people have had their morning cup of coffee. This may annoy fixed signs like Scorpio and Aries, so Capricorns are advised to schedule rehearsals with these signs later in the morning if at all possible. Front-loading all of their creativity in the AM, Capricorns may lose focus during evening rehearsals. This is where their fixed sign friends may help them out a bit by drawing their limited attention to specific details in the music that may need some finesse. They sometimes find themselves trimming the trees at the expense of the forest. It is important that Capricorns periodically step back (perhaps with assistance from an Aquarius) and study the form of their music to find the bigger picture.

AQUARIUS – The practice environment of an Aquarius can best be described as a beautiful disaster. Aquarians prefer to quickly jump from one project to another and back again, therefore their practice room may be littered with 9 or 10 pieces that they practice in a circuit routine (5 minutes on this piece, 10 minutes on that piece, 7 minutes on the other piece, and so forth). They may even have projects that they are working on outside of their practice room littered periodically during their allotted practice time. We have all walked by that one abandoned practice room, usually in the corner, that appears to have been hit by a F5 tornado sometime within the past 24 hours. It likely belongs to an Aquarian. Do not be fooled by the mess, however. Aquarians know exactly what needs to be done to prepare a very cohesive performance. They are also very flexible and, for this reason, are favored by many conductors. If the conductor says jump, an Aquarius will find a pogo stick and jump (as long as it makes sense for the overall concept of the piece they are working on…if not, they will at least question before jumping). Aquarians, however, have a difficult with the details, and may become easily stressed by the nitty-gritty. It is important for this sign to collaborate with a Capricorn from time to time as they may be able to help each other find a balance between analysis of the minute and the form of the bigger picture.

PISCES – A Pisces loves to jam. And why not? They are the most creative sign in the Zodiac. Improvisation is very important for a Pisces and they often need to clear their heads either before or after a practice session by playing from the heart. Pisces gravitates toward genres such as Jazz or Rock n’ Roll where opportunities to chuck the rules and create something unique off the top of their heads appeal to their creative nature. This Sun sign is generally okay in a practice room, but prefers to practice in their garage, sometimes with others and sometimes with themselves (depending on their mood). They are also brilliant composers and song writers as their creativity and emotional depth help them express themselves to the world however and whenever they want. Represented by a fish, it is important to remember that a Pisces does not have an outer level of protection from the elements (such as a shell or fur) and is quite sensitive. No-nonsense Virgos or Capricorns may easily, yet unintentionally, hurt the feelings of a Pisces and drain their creative energy. Having fellow water signs around them (Scorpio and Cancer) will help a Pisces express their emotions to other signs that may sympathize and help patiently put things in perspective. This may help a Pisces feel a bit more confident when encountering harsh conductors or uncompressing judges. Water signs gently remind a Pisces that tomorrow is another day.

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Happy Fluting!