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.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

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?
Photo by fauxels on

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.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on


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

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.
  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: , Beethoven: but we also have fabulous biographies on Taffanel ( and Moyse ( 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 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

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

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

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)

Post-Convention Pep Talk- Finding Your Niche

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! 

Photo by SHVETS production on

Today’s blog is a bit more introspective than usual Flute Friday postings. Many of you reading this have recently returned from the NFA Convention in Chicago. You no doubt had a great time connecting with other flutists, picked up a ton of new ideas at lectures and workshops, and attended some fabulous concerts featuring world-class performers. That is awesome! As it should be! That being said, there is a side of attending conventions that sometimes does not get addressed and because this is a platform where we can unpack the good, the bad, the difficult, and the fabulous, I am going to unleash the Kraken. In today’s blog, I will be discussing some of the quietly insecure thoughts and feelings that may be running through our heads after the stage lights have gone down. How we might instead reframe these into inspirational positive goals for the future?

Photo by Charles Parker on

The truth is that when we attend music conventions and other professional conferences, we sometimes end up feeling bad about our own progress (or lack thereof) when we are surrounded by musicians who have already built successful performing careers. We look up at the mountain of practice we still need to do to become experts in our craft or behind at the opportunities that we bypassed on our way to different life experiences that may have been off the perfectly paved highway to success. Perhaps we did not follow the magic formula to become A Professional Performing Flutist. Maybe we do not perform as much as we “should” or do not teach as many students as we “should.” It is easy to ignore the “shoulds” when we are out in the World living a flute life designed on our own terms. At a convention, however, we are reminded of the “shoulds” when we start comparing ourselves and our flute playing to others around us. It is hard not to compare. Anybody that has tested out new instruments in the Exhibit Hall knows this all too well. So much of what we do is competitive, whether it is auditioning for chair placements, interviewing for teaching positions, or even just sparking interest to attend our performances over other events. Even the learning process encourages a bit of compare and contrast as we judge who we would like to study with, whose sound we would like to emulate, and which performances to use to model our own style. You may even run into old colleagues at conventions who graduated from the same studio, studied with the same teachers, and performed with all the same groups who are now performing fantastic works and living very successful music careers and think to yourself, “Where did I go wrong? How did I veer off-track? Where did they find the magic formula?” We sometimes forget under these circumstances that the only person we ever need to prove anything to is ourselves.

Yet, how do we stop this comparative game in its tracks when our confidence finds its way onto shaky ground? How do we embrace where we are in our flute playing and love it for what it is?

The answer is to find your niche and own it!!!

Photo by Charles Parker on

There may not be workshops offered in your particular interest. You may find that you can only attend a certain amount of performances before you forget who you are and what it is about the flute that you love. Don’t be afraid to do something different, even if it does not end up in the typical schedule of events. Okay, I’m about to drop a cold, hard truth: Being a flutist isn’t all about performing. Not all of us love playing in an orchestra. Some of us do not really enjoy solo performances. Maybe flute choir just isn’t our thing. Some are drained by teaching. Others of us, like yours truly, like to write and share ideas that are way outside the normal flute-playing tradition. And guess what? That type of variety makes what we do interesting. It breathes new life into old practices. We all learn the same pieces. Practice the same techniques. Drill scales and arpeggios. Host recitals. Take auditions. End up at the bar when we get cut in the first round. It’s okay to exit the hamster wheel and try out a roller coaster. Doing something different makes comparing yourself to others impossible. It is freeing, inspirational, and helps you put your own creative stamp on the flute world.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

What we can do instead is use the lessons learned at the convention as motivation to create new goals that combine who we are with new, super creative ideas for the future. I carry a notebook to these types of conventions and always end up with a ton of great new ideas for future blog posts, inventive ways to reorganize my practice routine, new types of music I would like to try out, who I would like to connect with for interesting collaborative work in the future, and where I would like to be in my flute career by this time next year. What is in your notebook? Write it all out! What new goals can you add to your list? What are the action steps needed to attain those goals? Is there a fabulous flutist that you would like to connect with? Message them! Do you have a great idea for a creative project inspired by your time at the convention? Start brainstorming! Use your convention experience to further develop your niche and start thinking bigger, better, and way outside of the box. That is the very best way to silence your inner critic and turn your attention toward positive, awesome new possibilities for the flute and flute playing in the future.

Photo by Jean-Paul Wright on


What is your niche and did you find any new ideas to build upon at the convention? What are your new goals for the year ahead? How can you put your own stamp on the flute world as we know it? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!!

Product Reviews – NFA Convention 2022

Greetings and welcome to a new/belated Flute Friday/Saturday. Sorry for my lateness! I am currently attending the National Flute Association Convention in Chicago and suffering from sensory overload! In a good way, of course!

I have spent some time these past couple of days touring the Exhibit Hall, perusing scores, flutes, piccolos, and investigating the world of fun and fascinating flute accessories. I had a similar mission at the NFA Convention in 2018 (see blog here, where I found one of my favorite ride-or-die devices, the Win-D-Fender More on that below, but needless to say, if you have not picked up a Win-D-Fender, you should absolutely add one to your collection, particularly if you are performing at the NFA this weekend and battling with the crazy strong air conditioning system. After speaking with folks at various booths and performing some good, old fashioned, flute retail therapy, I have picked up at least one cool new product from each of the major flute swag retailers. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing some of these great accessories. If you are looking to score something new and interesting, be sure to swing by the Exhibit Hall and grab these awesome gems for your collection.

Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company

Cleaning Essentials Take Down Microfiber Pouch Flute Swab – I am going to start with my favorite new piece of equipment. This cleaning rod is EVERYTHING. Yesterday I was sitting quietly in rehearsal for the Professional Flute Choir, listening to the fabulous Jasmine Choi play through the Habanera section of the Carmen Fantasie, when I felt the cold, wet drip of condensation and inner flute grossness travel from the end of my flute down to my calves. Ewwwww! If I had this cleaning rod at the time, I could have quickly and easily cleaned my flute between movements (or during long measures of rest). The great part about this cleaning rod is that you can clean your entire flute without taking the instrument apart! How many of us have been super jealous of oboe and clarinet players that can simply clean their instruments whenever they need with a bit of string and a piece of cloth. No disassembling required! And the part I love the most is that the rod is built in two pieces that screw into each other to form the entire length of the cleaning rod. Why is this important? Because it can easily fit into your flute case, like a standard cleaning rod, when not in use. Genius! I Finally, there is a small tie on the end of the cloth that can be hung from a simpIe folding music stand. I am definitely a fan and will be using this puppy in rehearsal later today. You can pick this up from the Carolyn Nussbaum booth or by visiting the following link:

Flute World

Via Handgrip –  So, I was skeptical about this one… It looked fun. Brightly colored with varying degrees of resistance to build up finger strength and dexterity. After attending the workshop on Arnold Jacobs breathing techniques, I was reminded just how important it is from time to time to work on our flute playing away from the flute. This is a fun hand-held exerciser for your fingers that you can use while binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix, sitting on a 4-hour flight from Chicago, or listening to a great concert or workshop. Hello, multitasking! I really like this device but do recommend the light resistance model to air on the side of caution and avoid any potential strain and/or injury. This is also a great gift idea if you are a non-flute player wanting to support your flute-playing friends and/or family. Pick up your Via Handgrip at the Flute World booth or by visiting the following link:

Flute Specialists

Rio Piccolo Master Cleaner – I recently had my piccolo overhauled by the fantastic John Gil in Sacramento (who quite honestly performed miracles on a piccolo that has been collecting dust for the past several years). I figured it was time for a piccolo gear upgrade. I asked the folks at the Flute Specialists booth what their most popular accessory this year was and they recommended this swab. I loved the color (hot pink – of course!) and was curious about the super absorbent tip. It says “master cleaner” on the name of the product – Does it truly live up to the hype? Well, I love the idea and if I had a different type of piccolo, I think it would a great find! I was also a bit biased after purchasing the new Carolyn Nussbaum swab on my flute and wanted the Piccolo Master Cleaner to be a similar idea. When I tried this swab on my piccolo, I found it was a bit difficult to fit into the smaller end of my conical shaped piccolo. I also really wanted this swab to come in two pieces to make it compact enough to fit in a typical piccolo case. Unfortunately, it does not collapse so you will need to keep it separately in your flute bag or with your regular flute swab. Still, if you own a straight-bored piccolo and carry all of your instruments in a single bag (Fluterscooter, Alteri, Crescendo, etc.), then this product could really work for you. Be sure to stop by the Flute Specialists booth to check out these swabs or pick one up at the following link:

Flute Center of New York

Flute Barrel Bling– This booth had a lot of razzle dazzle! I was initially attracted to their blinged out collection of headjoints (and am still considering adding a sparkly custom crown on my recently-purchased flute), but for a fraction of the price, you can add a bit of sparkle to the body of your flute, while also adding slightly more weight to the instrument itself, with a Flute Barrel Bling. This is by far the most fun and the most ME item I have purchased so far at the convention. The Flute Barrel Bling comes in five different colors and features a sparkly elastic glove that fits over the top of the barrel. The Flute Barrel Bling comes with copper tape that is applied over the barrel to protect against potential scratches. Once the copper tape is smoothed with the accompanying acrylic smoothing stick, apply the Bling from a 45 degree angle gently onto the barrel. And then POOF – your flute is ready for the red carpet! I love this item and cannot wait to feature it in my next Solo Sunday video. So very stylish! Pick up your Flute Barrel Bling at the Flute Center of New York’s booth (in your preferred color, of course) or by visiting the following link:

Flute Gallery – Schmitt Music

Hagerty Silver Protection Strips – Schmitt Music was one of the first booths I visited. Having won the Crescendo Bag at last year’s giveaway, I had to give them a huge THANK YOU! When I asked what the best selling accessory was at Schmitt Music this year, I was handed the Hagerty Silver Protection Strips. These little strips neutralize tarnish causing gases inside enclosed storage or display areas, keeping polished silver and gold “shining and ready for immediate use for six full months.”  These strips are safe and non-toxic, according to the package. One strip should be used for every square foot of area and kept away from outside air. While I cannot really take these out of the package just yet and test drive them, I think they are a great idea for those of us that have flutes on our shelves that we do not use as often as our primary instruments. Several months ago when my Miyazawa was being overhauled, I dug out the original headjoint (which I hadn’t played in over a decade) and found an incredible amount of tarnish on the outside. It all eventually came off but it was a chore that required an impressive amount of elbow grease. These strips, when used regularly, would have stopped that tarnish in it’s tracks. Now that I have upgraded my Miyazawa to a Burkart, I will be taking extra care of my old flute with these strips to make sure it is still shiny and sparkly years down the road. Be sure to visit the Schmitt booth if you are attending the NFA, or pick up your Hagerty Silver Protection Strips at the following link:

Other Super Cool Flute Accessories I Picked Up/Recommend:

The Picc Pocket by Win-D-Fender

I know I have already given a shout out to this product on previous blogs, but I finally purchased one of my own after chatting with awesome Christine Cleary who was modeling the Picc Pocket at the Carolyn Nussbaum booth. I was scheduled to perform piccolo with the Professional Flute Choir on a work that featured six (6) piccolos and, prior to the convention, was trying to plot out the best way to bring my piccolo on stage and keep it relatively warm under the blasting hotel air conditioning system. I knew I had to pick up one of these awesome slings for my performance. The Picc Pocket is like a Baby Bjorn for your piccolo. Instead of fiddling back and forth with your various instrument stands, this product allows you to keep your piccolo attached in a safe, secure place and makes quickly transitioning between instruments super easy. There are even extra pockets on the sides for pencils and a pocket at the top that can hold a tuner or even a phone. In my younger days, I once damaged a piccolo right before a band concert after trying to juggle my flute, piccolo, instrument stands, and music resulted in tumble down a set of bleacher stairs. Had I been wearing the Picc Pocket, no damage would have been done except to my pride (and maybe my shoes). I love this product and highly recommend it to doublers or those performing in flute choirs. Stop by the Carolyn Nussbaum booth to pick up one of these or check them out at the following link:

Win-D-Fender (Clear Version). I wrote a blog about this product back in 2018 and I stand by my option back then – The Win-D-Fender is AWESOME! Many of us have been playing and teaching outdoors over the past couple of years due to the pandemic and this little add on does a fantastic job at cutting down the interference of outside wind on the sound and projection of the flute. It is super light and snaps right on to your headjoint wherever works best for you. This year I invested in the clear version of the Win-D-Fender out of sheer selfishness to make sure the gold of my new flute can still be seen while I use the Win-D-Fender to combat strong drafts from the air conditioner. I also live in Northern California where frequent 100 degree temperatures during the summer keep us all indoors and under the AC for 6 months out of the year. I highly recommend the Win-D-Fender, particularly for those of us that perform outdoors or in warmer climates with intense air conditioning systems. Score yours at the Carolyn Nussbaum booth or at the following link:


Are you attending the National Flute Association Convention in Chicago? Have you picked up a super cool new accessory or handy dandy flute-related contraption? Do you have a favorite booth or flute manufacturer? Are you a product designer with an awesome new product for the flute-playing audience? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Splitting the Difference – The Split-E Mechanism

Greetings and welcome to a new/belated Flute Friday/Sunday! Sorry for the late post – Deadlines on Friday had me postponing some of my writings and other personal projects.

I recently purchased a new flute. This was quite an accomplishment for me as I have been playing on the same Miyazawa model since 2003. It was time for an upgrade! I decided to spare no expense this time – I invested in the C# key, the D roller, the offset G (to be nice to my small hands and freakishly small pinky), and, new to me, the split-E mechanism. I had always skipped the split-E on previous flutes because I was not convinced that the expense was justified for a note that I could achieve by strengthening my embouchure and practicing my harmonics. I have come to find that this little addition to my flute actually makes my job in the high register quite a bit easier. In today’s blog, I will be discussing this split-E mechanism – What it is, how it works, and if it is worth it.

The Split-E Mechanism

What is the Split-E Mechanism? The split-E mechanism uses an extra rod connecting the E key to the second G key to split the two keys that close for a G. Whenever you press the G key on a standard model, two keys close at the same time, the G and the key to the immediate right. The split-E mechanism allows this second key to close independently for the high E which typically, on standard instruments, remains open. Closing this key on a third register E gives the note better response, sound, stability, and intonation. The downside of the mechanism is that it adds weight to the flute and is quite a pricey little upgrade. It also cannot be installed on a flute after the flute is made and most flute makers only offer the split-E on offset G models. If you prefer an inline G, you may be out of luck.

Split-E Alternative – The High E Facilitator. If you are not ready to commit to the split-E mechanism, you may instead consider adding a high E facilitator. This is a small doughnut-shaped device placed under the second G key that decreases the amount of air that can escape. This also improves the stability of the high E, making it easier to produce and slightly more in tune. The great part about this device is that it is removable – If you don’t like it, you can ask your favorite flute tech to remove it. The split-E mechanism, on the other hand, is a permanent addition to your flute.

Is it Necessary? If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said no on the flute but yes on the piccolo (yes – the split-E is available on piccolos, too!). The high register on a piccolo is often tricky, abrasive, and, let’s be honest, chronically super sharp. But I am finding that the split-E on my new flute has offered a bit of unexpected magic to my high register. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you already know that i am a huge proponent of harmonics. I love them, I practice them regularly, I assign them to my students, and they have made my high register sing beautifully. But…that high E… I’ve had to use various trick fingerings over the years to achieve a better response on this note and have tried every trick in the book to bring the pitch out of the stratosphere. The split-E makes this note as easy as pie. I find it most helpful whenever playing passages that move from a high E to a high A (which is more common than you might think in flute repertoire). No more hoping and praying that my lips will know what to do – The notes just appear like Harry Potter magic. The one thing that I am not crazy about is having the extra rod at the back of the flute. Although I know this will take some getting used to, it sometimes gets in the way of my modified Rockstro hand position. All in all, I am not sure if the mechanism is a necessity or just a nice-to-have add on. You can still achieve the high E on a standard flute by sticking to your harmonic practice and strengthening your embouchure. But, in this day and age of fierce competition for few performing gigs, the split-E does give you a slight advantage over your competitors (particularly when it comes to orchestral excerpts). I think if you can afford it, you may consider making the investment.

Conclusion. I am indeed a fan of this add-on but I also understand that it is a permanent fixture on any new flute. If you would like to keep things a bit more flexible, I recommend opting instead for a high E facilitator. I also would encourage beginners to invest in a high-E as it makes learning the high register a bit less intimidating. An important thing to keep in mind is that a split-E mechanism is not a substitution for working on your harmonics and strengthening your embouchure – These are still fundamental skills needed for playing the flute. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual player if the split-E is something they would like to invest in. Some players love and some don’t. No one is right or wrong.


Jane Cavanagh’s video is a nice introduction to the split-E:

I also really like Rebecca Fuller’s video intro to the split-E:


Do you have a split-E mechanism? What pros and cons have you experienced ? Do you love it or can you leave it? Do you believe the expense is worth the results? Is the high E facilitator a better alternative to the split-E? Do your students perform on flute models featuring a split-E mechanism? Please share your thoughts below!

Happy fluting!

Double Trouble – Thoughts on Doubling 

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! Today we have another wonderful guest blog on Doubling by one of my favorite flute colleagues, and fellow DePauw alum, Kim Tiede (Thanks Kim!).

Enjoy! And as always, Happy Fluting!

Photo by Pixabay on

Double Trouble – Thoughts on Doubling 

The traditional dream of becoming an orchestral flutist is dying, if not dead.  You may not agree, but I beg of you to look at what is happening across the country.  Orchestras are cutting salaries, declaring bankruptcy, musicians are going on strike.  This is incredibly upsetting and while I absolutely believe we should continue to support the traditional arts, if we flutists want to actually make a living doing this then we need a new plan.  We need to get creative and versatile.  For me that has meant honing my saxophone and clarinet skills to make myself more marketable.  I am able to make a living completely off of music, however if I counted on only my flute business, I would generate only 25% of my current income.  Doubling isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever thought about it, here are some ideas to get you started.  

I always think it’s odd how many saxophonists play flute but how few flutists play saxophone.  It would indicate that saxophone is the more challenging of the two, but that is anything but true.  I think as flutists we tend to have a one-track mind.  Our entire identity has always been as a flutist- even having the confidence to try something new is scary.  While the saxophone embouchure is something to master and the reeds are definitely an adjustment, the saxophone is not even 3 octaves with 90% of the fingerings being flute fingerings.  So, pick up a saxophone sometime – the tone may not be great, but you’ll automatically be able to play all of your scales.  How many times can you pick up a brand-new instrument and do that?  Clarinet is a bit more challenging, but once you’ve got your saxophone chops, then add the clarinet to your mix.  

When I was starting out, I joined several community bands to build my endurance and chops on saxophone and clarinet.  They are such a great resource in most communities.  You get to meet other musicians and force yourself to practice.  If you’re anything like me, you may have trouble finding motivation to practice something new on your own.  Jumping into a community group gives you the push that you need to just try.  And no one is going to judge where you are in your ability level- that’s the great thing about community groups.  They are for just regular every-day members of the community.   In one of my groups, I met a woman who had always wanted to play the saxophone and started at 65, when her husband got her one for her birthday.  She had been playing with the group for 10 years and loved it!  And you never know, maybe through it someone will get word of your mad flute skills and ask you to concerto with the band (as has happened to me twice).  I can guarantee you I wouldn’t have found those opportunities otherwise.  

Photo by Petrol u30c4 on

Another thing to do is find musicians who play these instruments and take a few lessons.  You won’t need a lot, but learn about reeds and how to care for them in your climate.  Learn about embouchure and oral cavity shape.  A couple lessons will go a long, long way.  If you attend any music educator conferences, make sure to take in all of the saxophone and clarinet classes you can.  There are also both clarinet and saxophone Etude of the Week Facebook groups that you can join online.  Find other people like you who are learning something new.  Don’t be afraid to be the student.  We spend so much of our time teaching our skills that we forget how to learn.  You may find that hearing other teaching perspectives helps you become a stronger flute teacher, too. 

Remember that you don’t have to have the instrument mastered to teach it.  Flutists tend to be perfectionists (I know I am!), so we don’t like to do anything halfway.  And that is a good thing.  But just because you aren’t the best clarinetist doesn’t mean you can’t be the best teacher.  You still have all of your teaching skills.  Most of what we teach (especially to beginners) is note reading, musicality, and just the self-discipline and responsibility that comes with learning a new instrument.  The instrument itself is sort of arbitrary.  When I first started teaching clarinet, I was very intimidated.  I tried to stay a few pages ahead of my first students.  There were a couple of times I didn’t know a fingering a student asked me, and I said, “This is a great time to look at your fingering chart and make sure you can understand it.”  You do what you have to do!  But those students never questioned my knowledge.  And they learned how to play.  If you’re not comfortable playing clarinet or sax in a lesson, you can always demonstrate rhythms on flute.  And you get to practice your transposition skills!  Fake it until you make it.  You always know more than the student, even if you feel like you don’t know enough.  And if a student gets “too good” for you- don’t be afraid to tell them so and pass them on.  Parents appreciate the honesty and want their child to excel.  If you’ve given them all you can, then you’ve done your job.  Most of us had several private teachers that shaped us, not just one.   It’s ok for students to outgrow you, but it’s not a reason not to teach them in the first place.  

Photo by cottonbro on

Finally, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as a doubler as you get more confident.  Groups want to hire 1 musician instead of 3.  Local musicals are a great place to start where instead of reading a specific instrument, you read the “Reed 1” book, where you may play flute, alto sax, and bass clarinet.  Once you become known as a doubler, you create a unique niche for yourself which makes you more marketable.  Connect yourself to other members of your community- both face to face and online so that they think of you when they need a woodwind player, not just a flute player.  

Certainly not every flutist needs to double instruments.  But we do live in a world where we are all having to get much more creative about how to thrive in classical music.  I know that I personally wouldn’t be able to make a living in music if this wasn’t my life.  Clarinet (which is my weakest instrument), somehow makes up 50% of my students!  So, I’m thankful that I just jumped in and figured it out.  Maybe saxophone and clarinet aren’t for you, but you could teach piano or voice.  Or even double reeds!  Don’t ever be afraid to maximize your skills and talents.  Just because you are first and foremost a flutist doesn’t mean you can’t be these other things too.  Most importantly, always try to view life with fresh eyes and think outside of the box.  What unique skill sets do you have?  What can you do to branch out and enhance your marketability?  

Photo by Jean-Paul Wright on


Kim Tiede holds a Bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance from DePauw University.  She currently lives in Lakewood, Colorado, where she plays bari sax with the Tivoli Club Brass Band and teaches flute, clarinet, and saxophone at Do Re Mi and Achord Studios, and works with several local middle schools as their woodwind technician.