Daring to be Daring – Lizzo’s Astrological Flute Traits

Greetings and welcome to a belated, but new, Flute Friday/Saturday! It has been a hot minute since I discussed the astrological traits of a famous flutists. Today’s blog is not about your typically flutist.. But that is what makes it fun, interesting, relevant, and just plain AWESOME. Today I am talking about Lizzo! Whether or not you consider her a “serious” flutist, there is no denying that Lizzo has brought the flute to a larger stage and made it popular again for a new generation. The flute is not just a band instrument anymore and not just for serious students who say please and thank you and practice for the requisite number of hours each day. The flute is sassy. The flute is strong. The flute says things you thought you could only keep to yourself. Daring to be daring, in today’s blog I will discuss how Lizzo’s astrological traits make their way into her flute life and overall musical style.

About Lizzo

Okay, we are going to start with a brief biography, in case you have been living under a rock. Lizzo, aka Melissa Viviana Jefferson, was born April 27, 1988 in Detroit, Michigan, and is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and actress (most recently you may have seen her cameo in The Mandalorian). Lizzo moved to Houston, Texas when she was 10 years old and later to Minneapolis, Minnesota where she kicked off her hip hop career. Prior to signing record deals with Nice Life Recording and Atlantic Records, she released two studio albums: Lizzobangers (2013) and Big Grrrl Small World (2015). Her first major-label EP, Coconut Oil, was released in 2016. She reached mainstream success with her 3rd album, Cuz I Love You, in 2019, which reached #4 on the US Billboard 200 list. This album put her 2017 single, “Truth Hurts” on the scene, which topped Billboard’s Hot 100 and became the longest-leading solo sung by a female rapper. This album also brought new fame to her 2016 single, “Good as Hell,” which reached the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. Lizzo received eight nominations at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, winning awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts,” and Best Traditional R&B Performance for the song, “Jerome.” Her 2021 single “Rumors,” which featured Cardi B., debuted in the top 5 of Billboard’s Hot 100. Her 4th studio album, Special, released in 2022, featured the lead single, “About Damn Time,” which reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Lizzo received the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for this album, making her the first African American female singer since Whitney Houston in 1994 to win the award. Lizzo has also appeared in film, serving as a voice actor in the animated film UglyDolls (2019), and has appeared as host of Amazon Prime’s video series, Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, which won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Competition Program. In 2019, Lizzo was honored by Time Magazine as Entertainer of the Year. She has also won a Billboard Music Award, a BET Award, and two Soul Train Music Awards.

The Meadows -Lizzo in concert

Lizzo Astrological Traits

Sun in Taurus – Taurus is often known as a down-to-earth sign, often stubborn, but always reliable, loyal, and tenacious. Taurus rules the second house of self-worth and income. The overall message in Lizzo’s music is often about self-love, no matter what. She definitely empowers her listeners to crush it no matter how big you may be, how sassy others may consider your attitude, or how precise your Bach Flute Sonatas sound. Taurians also value their possessions and tend to invest in high quality, expensive items that make them feel awesome and fierce. This explains the expensive, highly ornate flute that Lizzo brought to Met Gala earlier in the year. Gorgeous – Showcasing the instrument at such a widely publicized event was her way of showing the world what she values the most. She looked amazing and so did the flute! She also showcased James Madison’s crystal flute at a concert at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. in September 2022. A beautiful flute, in a beautiful setting, loaned to her by the Library of Congress. She is literally bringing items out of the archive to showcase for the world to see, again promoting what she loves the most in a way that reaches the largest audience.

LOS ANGELES – JUN 26: Lizzo at the 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA

Leo Rising – I know this trait quite well as a fellow Leo rising! Leos are the kings and queens of the Zodiac. They own who they are, they demand the spotlight, and they are as charming and optimistic as they can possibly be at all times. A Leo rising likes to look their best, whether that is toting amazing and flashy outfits (like Lizzo does at her performances), matching their nails to their flute, or even matching their entire outfit to their flute (like she did at the Met Gala). Guided by the influence of the Sun, they aim to shine brighter than anyone else in the room, either literally or through their talent. We can all agree that Lizzo does just that! Their skill may not be as refined as, say, a Virgo or a Capricorn, but they can deliver it better than any sign in the Zodiac. A Leo Rising can sell a snow cone to Eskimo in January using the powers of their charm and positivity. Lizzo’s positivity is infectuous! She has popularized the flute for a whole new generation in a way that we have not yet seen. She has literally used her Leo rising charisma to make playing the flute cool again. Let’s also not forget that she recently appeared on stage, performing on a thrown (hello Leo Queen of flute!) with none other than one of the kings of the flute world, Sir James Galway. Leo star power!

Virgo Moon – Our moon signs help us to understand our emotions and the thoughts that run through our minds when all is silent and still. Virgos are the perfectionists of the Zodiac. They are not boisterous like Leos or task-masters like Capricorns, but quietly meticulous. The work ethic of a Virgo Moon is extraordinary. They are never quite satisfied with “good enough.” While she may appear cool as a cucumber on stage, there is no doubt that Lizzo has worked her way up to the top by applying that meticulous Virgo energy to her work. She has refined the details not only in her flute playing but in her entire music career, crafting and re-crafting her work until it is Billboard-worthy, Grammy-worthy, and flute world-worthy. She has worked tirelessly throughout many years to rise to the top. This is likely due to her Virgo Moon asking her to consistently refine, rework, re-release, and repeat.


How do you see Lizzo’s astrological traits making their way through her music and flute playing life? In what other ways do you see these traits manifest in her career? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!


It’s in the BAG – Creating a BAG Inventory for Goal Setting

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

Several years ago I took a deep dive into various self-help literature thanks to a gift card to an actual bookstore (remember those?!). I came across a book that had a bit of fluffy wishful thinking techniques, but interestingly also contained a few really good practical ideas that translated easily to my flute playing life. One of these methods, known by it’s acronym, the BAG technique, really helped me navigate through difficult times filled with confusion and crushing self-doubt. It reminded me that I am an awesome, accomplished flutist with clear, achievable goals for the future. In today’s blog, I will go over this BAG goal setting technique and how it may be useful in your own flute career.

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What does BAG stand for? BAG is an acronym for Blessings, Assets, and Goals. Blessings are exactly what they sound like: A list of things you are thankful for and achievements you are most proud of (awards, degrees, chair placements, etc.). Assets are things that you have, people that guide and support you, or other resources that help you achieve your goals. Goals are the things you’d like to achieve. Of course there is a proverbial missing elephant in the room with this acronym: Liabilities. The idea is to focus more on the positive things in your world and transform your liabilities into clear, achievable goals.

What is a BAG inventory? A BAG inventory is a simple listing of your top ten items in each category. What are your top 10 blessings? Top 10 assets? Top 10 goals? Divide a piece of paper into 3 columns. On the left list your blessings. In the middle list your assets. And on the right list your goals. Examples of blessing might include any music degrees you have or competitions you have won. Assets can include your flute, any nifty software programs you use, and your flute teacher or a mentor whose advice your really value. Goals may identify jobs you would like to land, auditions you’d like to take, or recitals you’d like to perform. This is your BAG inventory.

Why is designing a BAG inventory important? First of all, it puts all of your warm fuzzies in one place. We spend a lot of time as musicians analyzing the problems and challenges in our playing. Many of us are perfectionists and sometimes that means we forget about all of the positive experiences and resources we have at our fingertips to help us achieve our goals. Blessings show us that we are capable of achieving great things. Assets remind us of the great tools we have at our disposal to make those things happen. Goals put our intentions into writing and out into the World.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

What does my BAG inventory look like? This is just a sample of my current top 3:

  • B (Blessings) – DMA, Super Awesome Flute Blog, Book Contract with Oxford
  • A (Assets) – New Burkhart Flute, Super Supportive Colleagues in the Flute 360 Program, SmartMusic AI App (that has been essential in my practice routine and studio for many years)
  • G (Goals) – Host a Fall Flute Recital, Finish my Oxford Book, Expand my Flute Studio

Conclusion – Creating a BAG inventory is very good for your soul! And it also helps clarify your goals and see all of your best resources on one page. We some time forget about all of the things we have in flute lives that literally nobody can take away. These things are what make our flute goals possible and achievable.


What is on your BAG inventory? Has creating a BAG inventory helped you in your flute career? What categories do you find most helpful and most challenging? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Triple Threat – On Triple Tonguing

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

In a recent lesson with one of my beginning flute students, just as I was introducing the concept of double tonguing, my very clever student asked, “If there is single tonguing, and there is double tonguing, is there such a thing as triple tonguing?”

Of course there is!

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But before I launched into my triple tonguing spiel, I first had to confront my own inner childhood trauma from learning triple tonguing. I tried so very hard to master the TKT KTK method to no avail. It just didn’t click. As an adult, I can accept that this is totally okay. There is a different method that works better for me. Therefore, in order to heal this childhood frustration, and to help my readers (and students) better understand this concept, in today’s blog I will cover the nuts and bolts of triple tonguing; What it is, how to do it, what exercises to practice, and other resources to welcome triple tonguing into the toolbox of flute articulations with open arms.

Photo by Nikita Khandelwal on Pexels.com

What is triple tonguing? Triple tonguing is a pattern of tonguing groups of three notes (aka triplets). Akin to double tonguing, this method uses both the front and back of the tongue to articulate notes faster in a way that is far less physically taxing for your tongue. The tongue is placed just behind the upper teeth for the “tu” syllable and half-way back on the pallet for the “ku” sound. This divides the muscles needed to articulate into two areas rather than one.

How do you do it? There are two primary ways to practice triple tonguing, and both methods vary the syllables used to achieve essentially the same result. In the first way, the basic syllable combination is tu-ku-tu tu-ku-tu (TKT TKT). Notice that these syllables are arranged in triplets to correspond to the notes. The pro to this method is that it is super easy to remember (TKT) and the reiteration of the “tu” sound at the beginning of each triplet grouping acts like secret breath-kick to help you reinforce the beat. The con is that you will need to articulate the “tu” twice in succession, cutting down the effectiveness of alternating muscle groups on the tongue. In the second method, the syllable combination that is used is tu-ku-tu ku-tu-ku (TKT KTK). Again, the syllables are arranged in triples to align with the music. The good thing about this method is that there are no double reiterations of the “tu” syllable, making the most out of the alternating muscles needed to articulate. The downside is that it is more difficult to remember which syllable combo you are on in a given passage (wait, was I on TKT or was I supposed to say KTK???) and it often leads to rushing because you don’t have that natural breath-kick in the line. The method you choose to use is totally up to you! If one works better than the other, use that one!

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What are the benefits of triple tonguing? The primary benefit is that it helps you play your triple figures faster, but it also helps maintain an even tone quality, and it is far less taxing your tonguing. Less work is good!

What are the best ways to practice triple tonguing? Start slowly. Find your favorite exercise or piece of music with triples and slow it waaay down to practice the new syllable combination. Another great approach that will improve both your double and triple tonguing is to practice your triple tonguing passages only on “ku”s. The back of the tongue is naturally weaker than the front as it is not used as often. Practicing only your “ku”s is like weight-lifting for the back of the tongue. You may work on this method using your favorite piece or, if you have a favorite melody, try putting triple figures on each note. If you notice an unsteadiness to your triple-tongued passages, experiment using a ku-tu-ku ku-tu-ku combination. This is essentially the reverse of the standard TKT TKT pattern. This will also strengthen the back of your tongue helping to achieve a better balance between muscle areas.

Hot Tip – You can use different syllables to create different types of sound. Check out my blog You Say Potato, I Say Potahto for a full list of double and triple tonguing syllables you may use and what the corresponding sound is for each pattern. You may try a doo-goo-doo doo-goo-doo pattern for a connected, legato sound or a tut-kut-tut tut-kut-tut for a super staccato pattern. Try practicing a new syllable pattern each day to find the one that resonates the most with your playing.

Recommended Exercises: **Note: This section contains affiliate links.**

YouTube Videos:

Check out this great video from The Flute Practice discussing the triple tonguing method and drills you may practice to refine the technique:


How do you practice triple tonguing? What is your preferred method of triple tonguing? What are your favorite exercise? How do you teach your own students to triple tongue? Please comment below!

Happy fluting (and triple tonguing)!

Earning Your Keep – 100 Ways to Make Money as a Flutist

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! Today we are talking about the bottom line. The storyline of the starving artist is a common theme in books and movies and, well, let’s be honest, real life. But there are a number of ways that we can earn an income, both primary and passive, when we start thinking outside the box. The traditional “perform in an orchestra and teach at a college” route isn’t always available to everyone in today’s saturated market nor is it a sustainable model in an ever-changing, tech-savvy world. In today’s blog, I offer 100 ideas on how to make money as a flutist. Some suggestions are obvious. Some are off-the-wall. Some are super unique. All require a creative mind and a self-promotional spirit. Put yourself out there – You are worth it!

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100 Ways to Make Money as a Flutist

  1. Teach in-person private lessons from a home studio.
  2. Teach in-person lessons for an instrument retail shop.
  3. Teach in-person lessons for a college/university.
  4. Perform in a paid orchestra position.
  5. Teach band/orchestra as part of school program in a salaried position.
  6. Publish a book with a reputable publisher. Often paid on the basis of % of total sales.
  7. Teach music courses for a college/university (ex. Music Theory, History, Alexander Technique, Ear Training, etc.).
  8. Record and sell a flute album with a reputable record label.
  9. Perform at weddings in a solo or small group capacity.
  10. Host a masterclass (in-person). Require performer and auditor fees to participate.
  11. Host a masterclass (online). Require performer fees and auditor fees to participate.
  12. Perform substitute flute work for paid orchestral position (often flat-fee contract work).
  13. Serve as an adjudicator for junior high, high school, and college seating placement exams (often flat-fee contract work).
  14. Serve as a guest clinician for a school/college band and/or orchestra program.
  15. Serve as a guest soloist for a school/college band and/or orchestra program.
  16. Serve as a guest soloist for a professional band/orchestra.
  17. Host a recital, charging admission ticket fees.
  18. Serve as a guest clinician for a private music school.
  19. Serve as a page turner (contract work).
  20. Develop and sell practice guides, patented practice card manuals, or other useful pedagogical documents.
  21. Develop, create, and market a flute accessory (ex. cleaning cloths, flute bags, cleaning rods, etc.).
  22. Compose a piece of music and publish with a reputable music publisher.
  23. Compose a piece of music and sell directly from your website.
  24. Develop and sell instructional videos on your website.
  25. Compose an edition of a popular tune for flute choir and sell with a reputable sheet music publisher.
  26. Compose an edition of a classical piece for flute and piano and sell with a reputable sheet music publisher.
  27. Compose an edition of a popular tune for flute or flute choir and sell directly from your website.
  28. Compose an edition of a classical piece for flue or flute choir and sell directly from your website.
  29. Collaborate with an audiobook retailer (such as Audible) to read flute books aloud for a fee.
  30. Host a flute website with Google Ad Sense or other click-based monetization features enabled.
  31. Host a flute blog with Google Ad Sense or other click-based monetization features enabled.
  32. Participate in affiliate programs (such as those offered through Amazon, etc.) and post affiliate links on your various social media platforms.
  33. Participate in affiliate programs (such as those offered through Amazon, etc.) and post affiliate links on your flute blog.
  34. Recommend products on your various social media outlets under partnerships with product developers for %-based kickbacks.
  35. Offer editing, proof-reading, or ghost writing services on flute-related topics.
  36. Participate in sponsorships with product or platform designers and advertise their services/products on your various social media platforms.
  37. Offer fee-based coaching services for other flutists, students, musicians, and teachers.
  38. Host a podcast with paid sponsorships.
  39. Recruit at least 10k followers on Instagram and host paid Instagram Live sessions.
  40. Host a series of YouTube videos featuring performances or pedagogical discussions and monetize based on clicks.
  41. Advertise your services (lessons, tutoring, gig work) on YouTube, providing click-based videos sampling your work.
  42. Perform paid gigs either as a solo artist or with a group. Advertise your services on your website, blog, and other social media platforms.
  43. Speak, teach, or perform at a music conference and earn a speaking fee.
  44. Pursue an endorsement deal with a flute accessory company, flute maker, or other music industry company.
  45. Arrange a commission-based contract with a local music store who can recommend new flute students to your studio for a nominal commission kick-back.
  46. Perform in a military band. These often provide an annual or performance-based salary arrangement.
  47. Pursue an national fellowship or award for a qualifying music-related project (ex. National Endowment for the Arts grant, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers award, etc.).
  48. Participate as an affiliate for other books and guides offered through independent companies for % based kick-backs.
  49. Sell videos of your live recordings on your website. Offer videos free to concert attendees and package videos for those unable to attend the event.
  50. Produce music recordings for other flutists. This may take some time to learn the basics but once you’ve brushed up your producer chops, you can offer this as a service on your website.
  51. Transcribe music for other musicians. This may be for composers or other performers wanting an edition of a work originally composed for another instrument in the key and range of their instrument of choice.
  52. Take stock photos of the flute and/or flute players and sell them to imaging companies or on your private website.
  53. Research and enter various sweepstakes targeted at musicians (this requires more luck than skill).
  54. Record music and offer to Direct Sync Licensing companies. These are often connected to the film industry…
  55. Crowdfund your next album, recital series, or flute tour. GoFundMe has a large reach and features easily shareable links for your social media pages.
  56. Display paid advertising on your YouTube channel (and post a whole lot of videos).
  57. Serve as a substitute music teacher at schools in/around your community.
  58. Serve as a visiting lecturer/professor at a college/university as a sabbatical replacement.
  59. Create a flute or teaching app. This will require some upfront costs but will provide passive income once up and running.
  60. Perform on a street corner, shopping area, or farmer’s market. Keep your case open for donations. This is super old school but a classic way to earn a few bucks.
  61. Host regular YouTube live sessions (either performance-based, pedagogical discussions, or interviews with other flutists/musicians) with the donations feature enabled.
  62. Contract with coffee shops or restaurants to perform during high-traffic times (weekends, evenings, etc.).
  63. Create and sell ringtones. You can sell these on your website or offer through iTunes.
  64. Design and sell flute studio merch. Hats, shirts, keychains – All of these things can be created by companies such as VistaPrint or InkMonkey and sold on your website.
  65. Create a recording and sell through CD Baby. You don’t need to have a whole album – Just start with one track!
  66. Create and record an improvisation background loop in various keys. Sell the tracks individually through your website.
  67. Become a music manager for other skilled musicians. Help talented musicians land more gigs with your own networking skills.
  68. Play music on a cruise ship. This will require some flexibility in your domestic life, but the cruise industry often looks for musicians who can play music in various genres.
  69. Pursue a side career in music therapy and work with medical institutions seeking alternative treatments involving music.
  70. Host a summer recital series in a local park. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with other musicians and share a piece of the pie. Form a wind quintet and perform standard and not-so-standard repertoire.
  71. Reach out to music companies offering sponsored tweets on Twitter. Visit SponsoredTweets.com for more information.
  72. Publish poetry about the flute with a reputable publisher.
  73. Publish poetry about the flute on your website, offering direct downloads for a fee.
  74. Sell instruments as part of an ambassador program with a flute retailer.
  75. Record and sell your CDs at the local farmer’s market.
  76. Earn print rights for your flute compositions, earning money each time your composition is printed.
  77. Create a Premium Fan Club, selling a monthly or annual subscription with various coaching or teaching programs or masterclass performing opporunitites.
  78. Organize a music conference involving your particular flute-playing niche. A flute-teacher conference is always a good idea! Charge for admission.
  79. Become a music librarian. You may need an extra side-degree for this but most music librarians are salaried positions.
  80. Sign up for MicroSync Licensing with YouTube. This is a way of getting paid whenever someone uses your music as background on one of their YouTube videos.
  81. Rent your home recording space to other musicians (if you have one). This is also great if the space is sound-proofed as louder instruments, such as live drum kits, often are silenced in private homes. Drummers need a space to rock out too!
  82. Record cover songs, acquiring the appropriate mechanical license for the songs, and sell them on your website.
  83. Go on tour! Arrange a tour around your state or around the country performing new and interesting music at a host of venues.
  84. Work with instrument companies to review and demo instruments on YouTube and Instagram for kick-back deals. Approach companies with products you like to see if they will compensate you for a review.
  85. Host an educational lecture recital, charging ticket fees. This is great for college towns!
  86. Create and sell and a digital guide for marketing yourself as a musician, available for purchase and download on your website.
  87. Provide performances in private homes (aka living room concerts). Wealthy homeowners can open their home and sell tickets to the event. This is great for a wine tasting event at a private residence.
  88. Sell your recordings on Spotify and earn kick-backs for every download of your songs.
  89. Create an online music course and sell access to modules on your website.
  90. Teach a music course at a local community center (ex. flute 101).
  91. Create and sell sound effects created with your flute. Movie producers are always in need of unique sound effects. Create something eerie and awesome and sell your sound effects through places such as AudioJungle or through your own website. It is best to sell sound effects in a bundle rather than individually.
  92. Create a Patreon account to offer behind-the-scenes content like documentaries, sheet music, and other exclusive content to your biggest fans.
  93. Collect royalties on your recordings through digital royalty services like SoundExchange.
  94. Sell old instruments. Purchase used instruments in not-so-great shape, overhaul what can easily be overhauled, and sell on Amazon or eBay for a profit.
  95. Learn to repair flutes and/or become a certified flute pad technician. Advertise your services on your website or in conjunction with instrument shops and/or school music programs.
  96. Sell old vinyl flute recordings. Historians love to dig into records that receive little to no play time these days.
  97. Create and sell creative flute-related graphics for blog posts, company logos, and other marketing needs. These can be purchased on your website or sold through a reputable company.
  98. Offer social media marketing services to companies and individual artists searching for a wider internet audience.
  99. Create a unique and monetized podcast. Think outside the box!
  100. Design and set up websites for less-tech savvy flutists. Market your services on your website.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com


Do you have a creative way that you earn money as a flutist? What methods in the above list do you find most lucrative? Which ones yield the most kick-backs for the least amount of work? What methods do you find most fulfilling. Share your experiences below!

Happy fluting!

-Dr. G.

Can I ask you a Question? On Informational Interviewing

Greetings and welcome to a belated flute Friday/Saturday.

In my monthly flute horoscopes, I often suggest conducting informational interviews with other influential flutists in the industry. Some may be familiar with this somewhat corporate-speak type term and others may have no idea what I am talking about. In my other life outside of fluting, I have found informational interviews to be a very useful tool in gathering information about the career trajectory of others, making valuable connections with other top performers, and gaining helpful advice to forge a new path forward in my career. We can use some of these same principles when it comes to our flute careers. In today’s blog, I will be discussing what informational interviewing is, how to do it, and sample questions you might ask. Hopefully this will empower some of you to connect with your flute idols, who are likely to have some great words of wisdom, if you simply reach out and ask.

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What is an Informational Interview? An informational interview is a meeting you arrange (either by Zoom, telephone, in-person, etc.) with another flutist that has a career role of interest to you. The main purpose of an informational interview is to gather information about the profession, a particular niche, or a certain career trajectory. Do not mistake an informational interview for a job interview – This is only about information gathering and making connections. Essentially the interview is about them – Not you :).

Benefits of Informational Interviewing – You will gain a better understanding of the flute world and how it operates in the greater music industry. You will learn about new and interesting careers that have led directly or indirectly to other positions both in and out of the music industry. You will be able to clarify some of your flute playing goals. You will often learn about current trends in the flute world and potential job openings. You will discover which experiences and/or skills you still need and who might help you develop them. You might even gather ideas for courses or work projects to pursue to increase your visibility. And of course, at the end of the day, you are making new contacts with important flutists in the business.

How to Identify Flutists to Interview? Social media is a powerful tool! Look up flutists you admire on Instagram or Facebook. Spend some time perusing flute videos on YouTube. Leave comments on social media, like and share posts, and, well, be a bit of stalker during this initial phase. Who do you resonate most with? Is there a flutist that you truly admire? Is there someone who has your dream flute career? Reach out! Try to find a direct email for this person. If none exists, send them a direct message on their social media platform.

Asking for the Interview – Introduce yourself and explain that you are investigating positions in the flute industry. Explain how you got their name and why you are interested in learning more about their career. Request a scheduled time to meet either virtually, over the phone, or in-person. Try to stick to 20-30 minutes of their time to keep things efficient. Ask them for a time that works around their schedule (and try to be flexible with your own schedule, if at all possible). Be prepared for a few “no thank you”s. Not everybody you contact will have the time or wherewithal for an interview, but you may be surprised by the ones that return with a yes :).

Preparing for the Interview – Make sure to prepare a list of questions. You may not have time to go through every question as follow-up questions tend to evolve naturally as the conversation evolves. Learn as much as you can about the person and their bio ahead of time so you have background information that you will not necessarily need to cover in the short amount of time you are allotted. Prepare your elevator speech – Who are you and where are you at in your flute career? Where do you hope to go with your flute playing in the future?

Conducting the Interview – As you pull together your list of questions, make sure you are asking open-ended questions and not simply yes/no inquiries. You want your interviewee to expound on their experiences and wisdom. Take brief notes – If you know short-hand, even better! You can make a longer list of notes to yourself after the interview. Ask for referrals or resources that might help you as your navigate your own flute career. Watch the time carefully – You don’t want to be remembered as the person that scheduled a 30-minute interview but ended up imposing yourself for double that time! Finally, try to listen more than talk. After all, this is a fact-finding mission – Not a chance to sell yourself.

Sample Questions

  • How long have you been playing the flute?
  • How and when did you know you wanted to be a professional flutist?
  • What were the flute jobs you’ve held that helped get you to your current position? How did they pave the way to where you are today?
  • What was the audition process like throughout your career? How has it changed over the years?
  • How long did it take you to land the flute job you currently have? What were some of the things you learned during the audition/interview process?
  • Who are your flute idols and why? What would you ask them if you could conduct an informational interview with them?
  • What suggestions do you have for me as I navigate my way through the flute world?
  • What do you like best about being a flutist?
  • What courses, certificates, or degree programs do you recommend in order to make oneself more marketable as a flutist?
  • Do you have a special flute niche? How did you discover your niche?
  • How would a flutist with my background fit into a more professional role?
  • What are the challenges of being a professional flutist in today’s world?
  • Where do you see the future of flute playing going?
  • What professional associations do you belong to? How has being a member of these groups helped excel your flute career?
  • Who else do you recommend I speak to?
  • What can I do to make myself more marketable as a flutist?
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Wrapping it All Up – First thing’s first: Send a thank you note. This could be an email but a thank you card is sometimes a bit more thoughtful in a world obsessed with technology. Make it personal and thank them for specific pieces of advice that you intend to follow-up on. Then actually follow-up with those resources and reach out to any other artists or professionals they recommended. If they asked you for any other documentation, make sure that you follow-up in a timely manner. Keep a folder with all of your notes from your informational interviews. Use the info, tools, and resources you receive from these meetings to help lead you to the very next best step in your flute career.

I am always game for an informational interview myself! If you’d like to schedule an interview with me, please do not hesitate to reach out via direct message.

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Have you conducted informational interviews? What did you learn from your time with other professional flutists? What resources and advice did you find to be most valuable. Please comment below!

Happy fluting! (And interviewing)

Flute Identity

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

Close-up of a silver-plated flute on a wooden surface by Roy Tanck is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Earlier this week I attended a training on equity and identity where we discussed how identity is formed and reinforced. As children, the world seems like a blank canvas. And even as adults, the concept of identity is flexible and ever-changing, like a kaleidoscope. We keep moving the cylinder until we find an image that resonates with us. What occurred to me during this training is that all of us, at one time or another, created an identity as a flutist. We arrived at this in different ways, influenced by different internal and external forces. What is even more striking is the way that this identity makes its way into many, if not all, of our other identities. In today’s blog, I will be discussing the idea of a flute identity – How we form it, how we embrace it, and how we utilize it in other areas of our lives.

The first exercise in the training was simple yet insightful. Using the below template, we were asked to place our name into the middle circle and write aspects of our identity in the outer boxes. This may include such things as teacher, performer, student, collaborator, daughter, wife, social media expert, or anything else that you value about yourself. Some of my own categories included writer, teacher, performer, astrologer, and super-organized administrative superstar. Yet, when I thought about the things that tie all of these things together, they all seemed to point to flute playing in some way or another. My reputation as a writer and astrologer is built on flute-related subjects. I am in the zone whenever I teach flute lessons. And even my organizational skills originated from how I organized my time and practice routines as a young flutist. If there was a single core aspect to who I am, it is first an foremost a flutist.

But I seriously doubt I am alone.

In fact, I suspect if anyone reading this right now completes their own chart of identity, they may come to similar conclusions. (As always, please share any insights in the comments below!).

Next, we were asked to think back to our earliest memories of one aspect of our identity. I could not escape the memory of when I first began playing the flute. Corny, I know. But somehow I knew even back then that I had unlocked something. A magic key. The thing that really spoke to me about playing the flute as a child was that it was something that I could do in my own unique way that represented me, my imagination, my creativity, and my unstoppable drive. I remember the newfound confidence I experienced teaching myself new notes and learning how to read music. Suddenly things just made sense. The Universe allowed me to unapologetically shine.

I also realized how much I enjoyed practicing and working independently. Practice, after all, has a lot to do with focus, discipline, and achievement which, decades later, I would discover are my Clifton top three strengths. I would not be surprised if there are other flutists out there that mirror these top three strengths. It is how we learned. It is how we formed who we are. It is how we became the flutists we are today. Those strengths show themselves in virtually every aspect of our lives.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

This week I challenge you to think about your beginnings as a flutist. What did you learn about yourself? What resonated right away? Could you see aspects of your identity forming right away? Do you still see these things today?

A job is not meant to completely define your identity. What you do and who you are are indeed two different things. However, music often muddles these waters. Sometimes being a musician leaves markers on identity. Markers you simply cannot shake or ignore. Today I urge you to embrace your identity as a flutist, however it shows up in your life. Consider all the ways that playing the flute has made you into the uniquely awesome person that you are. Music often opens doors to you in other avenues that you may never thought possible. Celebrate these experiences and create more in the future using the power of your identity.

How has playing the flute shaped your identity? What have you learned about yourself by playing the flute? What insights do you have about your connection to the flute? Please comment below.

Happy fluting!

Focused Fluting – Playing with Intention

Welcome to another Flute Friday! Even though it is already mid-February, I am still holding firmly to the promise that a new year refresh brings. 2023 still holds so many more possibilities in the coming months for growth and rebirth. Of course, a new year does not need to be the only time we can make changes to our lives, goals, or mindsets. Sometimes the need for change comes out of nowhere – Often in the form of a proverbial smack on the back of the head from the Universe. I experienced one of these jolts earlier this week that, in a beautiful moment of clarity, revolutionized my playing and my entire approach to recording my playing for the better. In today’s blog, I am going to share what I learned when I started playing (and recording) with intention. Hopefully my own experience will strike a nerve with other flutists battling with their own perfectionism and hoping for a new way forward.

My relationship with recording has been tumultuous throughout the years. When I was young, I found it fun. Playing the flute was new and exciting and the idea of playing something “well” or “perfectly” was not even on my list of priorities. I just wanted to learn more and excel to the next level. As I advanced in my studies, opportunities to compete against other flutists increased tenfold and it seemed that with each year I advanced, the competition was more and more fierce and I began doubting myself and my own skill. As a professional, I find myself faced with this self-doubt every time I press “record.” Sometimes these recordings are just for myself, other times I am recording for my YouTube channel, and of course there are times when I am recording for a competition. Yet, the general pattern remains the same – The first couple of recordings are okay and then the perfectionist in me takes over and derails my many attempts to create that perfect recording that best represents my playing. Most of the time I find myself settling on recordings that are only “good enough” because my frustration and rage recording create blockages between what I know I can play and what I can actually play under pressure. The internal battle with myself is always there.

Until this week.

After a few days of rage recording for a competition entry, I found myself without a decent recording. Just a collection of five or so not-that-great recordings that I was hesitant to submit. I decided to try something new. Before I hit record, I decided what I was going to do with all of the bits that I was making mistakes on or that otherwise intimidated me. I played through these sections slowly and in chunks. I carefully planned out how fast to make my trills, where I would breathe and where to take catch-breaths if needed, and where I would use rubato and exactly which notes I would stretch and which I would condense. I reviewed these places in my mind carefully, calmly, and confidently. In essence, I was creating intentions. Intentions not based in fear or perfectionism but based on non-judgmental choice.

What happened next was amazing! Those tricky sections where I would normally make mistakes, stop the recording, and start over from the top (after a few choice expletives) were smooth, seamless, and without the typical accompanying nervous energy from the previous takes. I reached that state in performance that we all try to attain – relaxed, confident, and unapologetically on fire!

What I learned was how to play with intention.

Intention doesn’t mean threatening yourself (“If you don’t play this part right, you suck.”) or comparing yourself to others (“I bet James Galway doesn’t play this so terribly) or talking down to yourself because you are not perfect (“Why can’t you play this!!?!”). Intention is about silencing that bully Inner Critic that whispers falsehoods into your ear when you are vulnerable. Intention puts judgement in a time-out. Intention is about making choices and seeing them through. Intention is how we remove those blockages between the player we know we are and the player that shows up on the recording. Intention is how we play from our authentic selves.

There was a moment before each one of my musical hurdles where I experienced a strange moment of calm. My brain knew what was coming next and it was ready for it! It was almost as if my brain shut off my emotions (aka fear, uncertainty) before they had the opportunity to react. My brain was finally in control of a situation that normally felt out of control. I was finally the player on the recording that I wanted to be!

This week I want to encourage everybody reading this to play with intention. What are your musical hurdles? What do you struggle to play when the “record” button is pressed? What can you do about it? What choices are you going to make the next time this section of music is before you? Practice those choices calmly and without judgement. Let your brain know what the plan is and recite that plan to yourself before recording or performing. You will find a closer connection between your authentic flute playing skill and your ability to communicate that skill to others.

How often do you play with intention? Have you had similar experiences? What did you learn and how did this experience effect your future performances? Please comment below!

Happy fluting (and recording)!

Musical Motivation

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! I’m back! I took a bit of a hiatus from this blog for the past few months as my life spun recklessly in a few different directions, but your favorite flute blogger is back and better than ever. During my time away, I often struggled finding my musical motivation, whether it was for writing about music, practicing, researching, performing, or working on other musical projects. Sometimes it is difficult to look at the bigger picture – Why do we practice and perform? Is it just for us? Is it for an audience? Is it to build something resembling a “career” or a “hobby”? Or are we motivated by passion? While we are all different and may pursue music for different reasons, I realized that, at least for myself, passion is the greatest motivation. No matter how bad everything else may seem at times, our passions keeps us connected to our own personal life-force, making it all worthwhile. We often toss the word “passion” into our discussions about what makes a good artist, but I would argue that passion is so much more than that. It keeps us focused on something valuable in our lives. Passion represents a higher purpose to everything we do. It makes the rough parts of the road a bit easier when we know there is a field of tulips waiting just around the bend. In today’s blog, I will discuss some of the ways you may reconnect to your musical motivation and rediscover your passion, even if it has strayed under the distractions of the daily grind. Music can indeed keep you going when the going gets tough.

  1. Take a step back and just listen. Who is your favorite composer? Who is your favorite performer? Do you have a favorite group or a favorite style of flute playing? Immerse yourself in it! Block out some time in your schedule, grab some camomile tea, lock yourself in a cozy room, and have yourself a YouTube binge. You don’t need to have the score in front of you. You don’t need to hum along. You don’t need to take notes (unless that makes you happy – which, as a writer, I totally understand). Just listen. Watch the musicians connect to the music. Notice anything that makes you smile, makes your heart pound a little faster, draws tears to your eyes, or gives you a case of the goosebumps. You may hear something super inspiring that makes you want to try something new. You may come across a piece or an excerpt that you find exciting and wish to add to your repertoire list. Keep an open mind and a sensitive ear.
  2. Attend a performance, or two (or five). YouTube is great but, as we all know, there is nothing like the thrill of live music. There is often a pre-concert talk (particularly at orchestra concerts) where you might get to ask questions of the conductor or the other musicians in attendance. Take it all in. Look for new and different things in each performance. Listen carefully to the soloists – Is there something about their playing that you might want to emulate in your own? This is a great place to find new ideas about standard repertoire and also a good opportunity to listen new works or works you’ve never heard before. Immersing yourself in great music is an excellent way to rediscover motivation to create great music of your own.
  3. Audit a masterclass. Flute clubs such as the Chicago Flute Club still offer virtual masterclasses that you may attend from the comfort of your home, in your PJs, drinking Starbs. Masterclasses are a great place to gather new ideas and approaches to favorite pieces you may not have considered before. I just attended a masterclass last weekend where the flutist spoke about changing your tone color based on the silent vowel sound used. Mind blown! And now I have an interesting new concept to practice during my long tone studies. Whether you attend these virtually or in-person, a masterclass is a great place to ask questions about various techniques and connect with other flutists in the field.
  4. Talk about music with an old colleague. Sometimes musical motivation can be found in our own memories. Reminisce about fabulous (or infamous) past performances. Compare notes on the projects or performances that you are most proud of or ones that shaped your career. Talk about challenges you may be facing in your studio practice or performing life. You may be able to bounce ideas off each other and create a support system moving forward. You may also find some great ideas for collaborative music projects down the road (joint recital, anyone?).
  5. Practice new music. You may be in a rut because you are working on the same old repertoire and method books in the same way you have for years and are simply bored. Break the routine! Visit a music store or music library and pick up anything that looks interesting. You might come across a piece you heard in a recital recently that you really enjoyed. You may also find a new method book with an interesting way to practice in the high register or one that uses scales in less predicable ways than Taffanel and Gaubert. Try something new and breathe new life into your routine.
  6. Write about it! No – you don’t have to share your writings with the world if you do not want to. Journal about what you love about playing the flute. Write about your challenges and possible steps you might take to address these issues. Write about a piece of music that you love. Write about your first flute and what inspired you to start playing. Discuss your star student and what cool new techniques you are excited to teach them. Write poetry about the flute or music-making. You can often motivate yourself with a decent journal prompt.
  7. Window-shop new instruments. Perhaps your instrument itself is not inspiring you. Take a trip to your local flute shop or stop by an exhibit at an upcoming flute festival and just try out the latest models to hit the market. Do you have the budget to invest in a new flute? If not, perhaps opting for a new headjoint or fancy new crown would help you achieve a better, more vibrant sound. Even the shopping trip can help spark some newfound interest in the newest gadgets and gizmos.
  8. Improvise without rules. We often get so bogged down by the shoulds, need-tos, and musts in the Classical Music world that we forget that music, and the very heart of it all, is a communication device. Toss out the rules at the end of each practice session and just improvise. Play from your heart in any key that your heart wants to hear. If improvising sounds terrifying or way too un-structured for you, there are fabulous improvisation background tracks you can use on YouTube and through vendors such as Walter White. https://walterwhite.com/product-category/wwshop/walterwhitelongtoneaccompaniment/
  9. Read a composer’s biography. Who is your favorite composer? What is your favorite flutist? Do they have a biography or, even better, and autobiography? Read it! Mozart and Beethoven have a couple of very famous biographies on their life and works (Mozart: https://amzn.to/3wi3T95 , Beethoven: https://amzn.to/3wjofid) but we also have fabulous biographies on Taffanel (https://amzn.to/3XOtrGr) and Moyse (https://amzn.to/3HhBx57) on the market. Reading their stories might inspire you in your own flute life. Are there any lessons that you can learn from their careers and/or personal lives?
  10. Give yourself a flute challenge. Perhaps you need a challenge or a game to create new motivation in your practice routine. This could mean practicing a new Debost articulation pattern each day on your Taffanel and Gaubert Ex. 4 or it could be practicing one new Karg-Elert etude each day. Motivation for you may require concrete goals and super clear routines. For more ideas on flute challenges to add to your routine, please see my previous blog 30-Day Flute Challenges for the New Year.

No matter what trials and tribulations you face in your daily life or the disappointments you may encounter in the flute world, keep in mind that your passion to be a musician is the driving force behind everything you do. It can’t be taken away from you and its importance cannot be diminished without your permission. The most important takeaway I had over these past few months is that organizing your passion around your life does not create happiness. Organizing your life around your passion, however many boundaries it takes, is the key to motivation and bliss.

Have you ever fallen off-course or lost your motivation? What helped you get back on track? What inspired you when you found yourself stuck in a rut? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Flute Music for Grief

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

I suffered a devastating loss in my family this week. I am very sad and empty and did not think I would post anything on my blog today. Grief is like a shadow over the soul. Your emotions are left completely out of wack and time seems to move at a slower, more grueling pace. The only thing we can do is seek comfort in any way possible. I have found that listening to calming music provides a bit of peace amidst a storm of emotions. In today’s blog, I will be sharing a few selections of calming flute music for those who may also be suffering from grief in any form and for any reason. Please take care of yourselves and one another during difficult times.

Note – I may be posting on and off for the next several weeks. This is a great time to submit a guest posting. If you are interested in writing a blog for the Flute Friday series, please direct message me at racheltgeier@gmail.com. I would love to feature your work on my platform while my heart heals. Thank you!

Practice Blueprints – TMEA Audition Repertoire 2022/2023

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

Photo by Yigithan Bal on Pexels.com

Last year around this time I posted a Practice Blueprints series covering the various All-State auditions taking place around the country, ending, of course, with a master All-State index for all states. This year, I am streamlining this series a bit by focusing only on the Texas All-State audition repertoire. Why? The TMEA auditions are super fierce! Band directors and studio teachers prepare their students to tackle the rather complex repertoire well in advance of deadlines, supported by various instructional blog postings and videos on their social media outlets. If you do not live in Texas, I still think that learning the audition repertoire is a fantastic exercise for your students. You could even have a mock TMEA audition in your studio!  In today’s blog, we will look at the TMEA audition material for 2022-2023 and the various ways we, and our students, can master the exercises in record time.

Photo by nagaraju gajula on Pexels.com

The same basic guidelines apply to this year’s auditions as in my previous blog. Remember to check-in with your band director and/or division chair regarding deadline and regional audition deadlines.

Excerpt #1 – Karg-Elert 30 Caprices for Flute Solo, Op. 107 / 19

  • Keep articulation super light in this excerpt. Practice using the “tut” syllable throughout, which will strengthen the tip of the tongue. Then practice using the “coo” syllable to strengthen the back of the tongue. Finally, practice the entire excerpt in chirps, or syllable-less puffs of air. This will help lighten articulation overall.
  • This excerpt features huge octave leaps. Practice increasing your embouchure versatility away from the excerpt with flexibility exercises from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone and Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Daily Exercises, Exercise #10.
  • Try not to rush the trills on longer notes – Keep these quick yet graceful.
  • Really bring out the lower pedal notes marked with tenutos. Make these notes slightly louder and place breath kicks on the fronts of of each. A pulse or two of vibrato goes a long way!
  • Make sure to mark all accidentals so you don’t miss anything – It’s better to be safe (and accurate) than sorry.
  • Try to bring out the note groupings as they are beamed in the score. Use these beamed groups to practice the excerpt in chunks with long rests placed between note groups.
  • Make a huge crescendo in the second to last measure to show your dynamic and tone color range. Start as softly as possible to give yourself enough room to hit your max volume at the downbeat of the last measure.

Excerpt #2 – Andersen 24 Etudes for Flute Op. 33 / 19

  • This excerpt is lyrical and sweeping. Focus on being as expressive as possible while retaining impeccable control over sound and dynamics.
  • Use wide vibrato and try incorporating vibrato directly into the sound rather than sitting on top. I like to think of this as “washing machine” vibrato to emulate the sound a washing machine makes on the spin cycle.
  • This excerpt features a few wide leaps (for example, the 3rd line E octaves in the first measure as well as the end of the 1st line). Think of your air here like a gas pedal – Gradually increase the air speed and pressure to achieve the higher note. You may also try angling your air upward toward the ceiling while lifting the back of your head and moving your lips forward to gracefully play the higher note.
  • Make the most out of all written dynamics, particularly the changes in lines 3-4 as well as the hair-pin crescendos and decrescendos toward the end of the excerpt.
  • Keep the grace notes graceful (example, lines 2-4). These are longer than you may think. Create a more singing type of grace note (like an ornament on a Christmas tree).
  • The last three lines highlight extremes in dynamics and technique. Remember to make the most out of all dynamics (playing as expressively as possible) and keep fingers snappy between fast moving notes. Think of these like robot fingers – in other words, move your fingers quickly and deliberately like that of a robot.
  • Bring out the last line of the excerpt as much as possible. Play out a bit louder than the written dynamics – This is your last chance to show off your sound.

Excerpt #3 Boehm 24 Caprice-Etudes Op. 26 / 6

  • This excerpt is all about technique and articulation!
  • Practice this alongside various arpeggio exercises such as Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17th Daily Exercises, Exercise #12.
  • Like in the first excerpt, practice keeping articulation light. Practice the “tut” syllable to strengthen the tip of the tongue and “coo” to strengthen the back. This will lighten and even out articulation. Also experiment with the syllable combo “duc-ky” or “toe-ky.” These combos help project your sound a bit better by creating a more resonance.
  • Bracket all broken arpeggios in the score and write in the chord names above. This will take out some of the mental guesswork for these lines.
  • Add slight breath kicks on the 16th notes that fall on the larger downbeats. These can take the form of slightly elongated notes or notes with an addition pulse of vibrato.
  • Start by practicing this excerpt slowly with a metronome until you can play all of the accidentals. Gradually increase speed until you can play up to tempo.
  • This excerpt requires steady playing and stamina. Record yourself playing the excerpt from beginning to end without stopping. It may be more difficult than you think…
  • Don’t forget about the key change (minor to major) in the 3rd line from the end. Bring this change out of the texture using a different tone color.
Photo by Chris Smith on Pexels.com

Other Key Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the final recording, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.


Are you auditioning for the Texas All-State Band/Orchestra program? Which one of the above tips works best for you? What are your own practice tips? What are you struggling with? What questions do you have about the audition or All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your Texas flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Happy Fluting! (and auditioning)