Apologies for the absence of Flute Friday these past couple of weeks. I have been under the weather lately and avoiding all non-critical responsibilities. But today I am back and ready to share my thoughts with the internet world.


Last weekend I saw a remarkable film that brought me back to the days when I was young, ambitious musician (with a bit of an edge), competing in a field of flutists whose backgrounds were very different from my own. The movie was I, Tonya. I know what you are thinking: What in the world does figure skating have to do with music? How can you relate to such a weird, crazy story? Whoa – did your ex try to injure another flutist?? (That’s messed up!) Luckily, the thought of harming another musician never crossed my ex’s mind (If it had, I would have gladly handed him over the cops ASAP), but growing up without a lot of money and being surrounded by other kids who often reminded me that I was never good enough are two themes with which I can absolutely identify. I know that I am not alone. As an adult, I realize that there are things that we can learn from this film (and from our own experiences) to better help those students that show incredible talent but do not have the resources or support that may be readily available to other students. As coaches, we must find ways to encourage our students to reach for the next level despite whatever obstacles, personal or professional, stand in the way. Today’s blog is dedicated to all of us that have overcome hardship and to any students who may facing their own tumultuous circumstances. If you believe you can, if you put in elbow grease, if you tune out the haters, if you keep working towards greatness no matter what, you will eventually achieve your goals.


Like figure skating, music is a competitive “sport” (if you will) where the refinement of physical skill is juxtaposed against individual, creative interpretations of art. We are ranked in competitions and in orchestral seating assignments with a 1st (gold), 2nd (silver), or 3rd (bronze) depending on how our playing is judged by a committee. Different committees will judge us differently. We play the same canon of pieces just as figure skaters use the same types of standard jumps and flips in their routines, and our success is not only judged by how well we execute various techniques, but also by what we add to the expression behind the notes. Our fields, in many ways, are very similar, both requiring numerous hours of practice to attain mastery. There are also a number of etiquette rules in both figure skating and music that we learn along the way. For kids that may not be exposed to proper etiquette in their home or school life, these guidelines are much more difficult to master than children whose parents can afford to regularly take them out to restaurants, dinner parties, trips, and other social gatherings. I think that one of the most important similarities between figure skating and music, however, is the financial cost of success. This is where children who come from lower income families often find themselves alienated from their counterparts. Skates are expenses. Flutes are expensive. Private lessons with talented coaches and teachers put parents on the hook for monthly expenses that rival the power bill, the phone bill, and other essential monthly family expenses. I began learning to play the flute on an old school Bundy model flute that my parents purchased from a pawn shop for $100. Did that stop me from practicing harder that the other kids in band class whose parents had purchased shiny new Yamaha models? Not one bit! Kids without resources to buy the best equipment or study with talented teachers sometimes find themselves having to work much harder for the same results as kids whose families can afford the best of the best. Yet, it is that inner fight that gives some of the truly talented students the ambition, or grit, to rise above their circumstances. (Merriam-Webster defines “grit” as, “ firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”) They have to find a way to make it work with less. It is not easy, but the reward on the other side is worth more than money. The confidence that is attained with success is priceless and essential for building bigger dreams and achieving loftier goals. I, Tonya reminded me of what it is like to have grit in the face of obstacles. In the movie, they also referred to it as having an “edge.”  In real life, folks often use words such as “unorthodox,” “ambitious,” or “scrappy.” Whatever it is, the drive that propels kids with financial or social obstacles forward is irreplaceable and, in a word, magical.


I remember watching this real life drama in the figure skating world unfold and, even as a child, thought that Tonya Harding was treated unfairly and that barring such an incredible talent from the figure skating world was a huge mistake. She took responsibility for knowing what had transpired and for her honesty, her dreams were taken away from her as the sport simultaneously threw away a very talented athlete. She was mixed up with a bad crowd who did not care about her or her talent – only themselves. Only cowards, like the band of thugs that hurt Nancy Kerrigan, could do something so awful and unprofessional. These cowards had Tonya trapped. It was an obstacle that she simply could not skate away from. What was the message that young, scrappy girls were left with as they watched these events transpire on the nightly news? Honesty does not matter – they will still take everything away from you if given the opportunity? That message just adds more fuel to the fire. “Prove them wrong,” was the message I took away from that story. Whenever someone told me I was not going to be able to do something, that is when I went over the top to show them I could. As an adult, I feel that my grit has disintegrated. Yet, when I see a student with that same type of ambition, doing what they can to excel with limited resources, I am inspired to be the very best coach I can, providing them with the encouragement they need to rise to the next level.


As teachers, we have a responsibility to support gifted students, no matter what their backgrounds may be, and tailor our teaching methods to suit their individual learning styles. There is a fantastic moment in I, Tonya, taken directly from the real life 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which really sums up how we need to approach talented students with grit. Tonya Harding was the first woman skater in history to land a triple axel in a competition during her free skate at the 1991 U.S. Championship. The split second after she landed this amazing jump, complete with a larger than life smile on her face, the commentator (who I believe was Dick Button) enthusiastically exclaimed into the microphone, “good girl!” When your students accomplish their goals, celebrate their successes with them. When they prove others wrong, and rise to the top, let them know how proud you are of them. One of the things that separates my experiences as a young flutist from Tonya’s experiences (fact, or fiction) is that I was nearly always surrounded by people who supported me. I had great teachers and a great family that did everything they could to send me to top, even when money was tight. During the other times when kids seemed to be heckling me or telling me that I wasn’t good enough, or when other teachers brushed off my accomplishments as “flukes,” I used their words as reasons to try even harder next time to prove them wrong. The haters gave me my grit. Be that support system for your students, because they may or may not have a decent support system in their personal lives. Encourage them to prove the haters wrong and harness that magical sense of grit that will help them achieve their goals.


Did you overcome social or socioeconomic hardships to become the flute player you are today? Do you have experiences teaching students with incredible talent that rose above their circumstances? How did you show them your support? How did you help them rise above their limits? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!




















Flute Pitch Tendencies

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday.

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I once attended a wonderful presentation by John Barcellona at an NFA convention regarding pitch tendencies on the flute that completely changed the way I approached tuning to other instruments. The flute is constructed in a way that leads certain notes to naturally fall sharp and others that tend to lean flat. These pitches differ from the tendencies of other instruments, particularly wind instruments such as the oboe and clarinet. It is important to know exactly which way each note on the flute leans so that you may anticipate tuning issues before they arise. There are a host of very good resources online to help you understand the natural tendencies of the flute and the modifications that can be made to bring certain pitches back to planet Earth. Today’s blog features a handful of these resources for you review and distribute to your students. These have helped me immensely in my own career and I hope they will do the same for you.

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Basic Guidelines

  • Low notes will generally be flat. High notes are typically sharp. Knowing this ahead of time will help you tune with other instruments.

  • Open notes (such as middle and high C’s and C#’s) are generally sharp. Bring these notes down by placing fingers from the right hand down on the keys one by one until the note is in tune.

  • Check your cork. Check your cork periodically by placing the end of your cleaning rod in your headjoint, lining up the line in the rod with the center of the tone hole. Make any adjustments by unscrewing the crown. Turn the headjoint cap to the right to flatten or to the left to sharpen.

  • Remember to play with good posture and a supported air stream. If you are trying to tune slumped over with a weak air stream, your sound will likely be flat. Sit up and project.

  • Practice with a tuner. Check in from time to time on sustained notes. Are you flat or sharp? What is your natural tendencies? Adjust based on these readings.

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Online Intonation Reference

1.  Your Guide to Woodwind Intonation

This is a great reference page not only for the practical tips on improving overall intonation (embouchure placement, cork alignment, tuning to harmonics, how to adjust), but the section covering alternate fingerings is also a great resource to have on hand during orchestral rehearsals or any other group rehearsals where you will be working with different instruments. Print this out and keep it in your music folder. These fingerings will come in handy during exposed sections in the music or during measures of sustained pitches where having proper intonation with other instruments is vital to the harmonic structure of the piece.

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2.  Century High Bands Flute Intonation Resources

I like this PDF due to its very practical suggestions for tuning problem notes (“bad notes”). I do, however, believe that some of the tuning suggestions are unfortunately out of date. Cate Hummel’s article on this resource offers a better set of guidelines for tuning notes that are still problematic on the flute (see ). The chromatic scale on page 1 is a straight-forward approach to remembering the tendencies of notoriously out of tune notes and will be very helpful for beginning or intermediate students as they become familiar with fingerings in the higher ranges. I also really enjoy the last page, which is essentially a worksheet for students to map out the intonation tendencies of their own instrument. I may be borrowing this page as an exercise for my own students

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3.  Jen Cluff’s Flute Tuning “How To”

This resource is great as an FAQs for flute tuning. Jen explains just how temperature affects the flute, how to tune in ensembles, using a tuning CD, and addresses basic tuning issues we all encounter at one time or another. I really like her simple, yet effective suggestions for common flute tuning issues.

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4.  Blank Pitch Tendencies 2.2

I am not sure which book this came from (if you know, please comment below!), but this is another good resource for the visual learner who likes to use colors and figures to understand new concepts. I also like the short notes on the gizmo key and use of harmonic fingerings. Like the PDF above, this also contain a handy worksheet for students to test their own pitch tendencies (although I would have liked to see more space to write possible solutions..). Finally, the chart on the last page features a good list detailing why certain pitches lean flat and why other may lean sharp.

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Do you have an intonation reference chart that you like to use? Which one of the above resources has been the most helpful for you or for your students? Do you have other online intonation references that you like to consult or refer you students to? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!

Schedule C

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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This week in the mail, my husband and I received most of our W2s, 1099s, 1098s, and many of the other tax forms needed to get started on our 2017 tax return. As a private flute studio practitioner, however, I will still need to prepare my Schedule C form (to accompany the standard 1040 form). Tax time can be stressful for independent musicians and private teachers. Receipts, invoices, mileage calculations, and conference travel records can often make your head spin during this time of year, leading many of us to spend big bucks on professional CPAs. Today’s blog is devoted to helpful tips for private flute teachers as we all prepare our Schedule C forms. I am obviously not a tax consultant – just a girl with experience filling out these tedious forms. If you have specific questions regarding this or any other form from the IRS, please consult a licensed CPA.

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What is Schedule C?

Schedule C is a tax form from the IRS to report profit or loss from a business (this includes privately owned business such as studio practices). The type of businesses that fall under Schedule C are those that you are involved in on a continual and regular basis. If you only periodically teach masterclasses or host your own summer flute camp, those expenses would be considered a “hobby” and not subject to Schedule C, but you will still need to report those earnings on Form 1040, line 21.

In a nutshell, Schedule C is how to report your business earnings, minus expenses, and how much in taxes you must pay the government based on those earnings. The “minus expenses” is often the trickiest part, but some of the tips below will help you keep better records throughout the year to streamline the process during tax time. If your business expenses were less than $5000, you may be able to file the Schedule C-EX instead of Schedule C (which is exactly what it sounds like – an easier version of Schedule C).

In addition to Schedule C, you will also need to fill out the Schedule SE, or the Self-Employment Tax form. This form is used to pay taxes for social security and Medicare. If your net profit from your Schedule C is $400 or less, you may not need to pay this tax (but there are other considerations on this form – check it out to make sure you do not owe).

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Where can I find Schedule C, Schedule C-EZ, and Schedule SE? of course! Or on the following links:

Schedule C –

Schedule C-EX –

Schedule SE –

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Helpful Ways to Prepare for Schedule C

Save your receipts as they come in. There are several easy ways to do this in the digital age that do not require digging through a shoebox full of receipts. Take a picture of any receipt that would be considered a “business expense” and email it to yourself. From here, you may save the receipt in a convenient email folder (“Studio Expenses” or something along those lines) or save it to your desktop under a local file. You may also scan receipts to be placed in the same files throughout the year. If you order music through Flute World or Amazon, simply place your order confirmations in this box for tax time. When it is time to fill out your Schedule C, all of your records will be in one place, helping you to easily total your expenses in each category.

Save invoices from each student. I know a lot of teachers that do not use paper invoices. Come tax time, they find themselves staring at a yearly calendar trying to remember how many lessons each student had each month, who skipped lessons, who went on vacation when, and so on. This is the easiest way to earn yourself an audit. To save yourself the stress, and to help you keep accurate records of your studio income, email PDF copies of monthly bills directly to students and/or parents at the close of the month. Keep these invoices saved locally in your business expenses folder on your desktop or in your email business folder. At the end of the year, simply total the monthly invoices for each student to arrive at your total studio income for the year. Save these records somewhere convenient in case of an audit.

Set up a separate bank account for your studio income and expenses. This is by far the easiest way to keep track of how much you’ve made and how much you have spent. Sign up for online banking to receive your statements electronically each month and file them in your designated business folder. Online banking can also help you compile yearly reports and break up your expenses into categories that correspond to those in Part II of Schedule C.

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Use a separate credit or debit card for business purposes. Any time you purchase music, accessories, music stands, office equipment, conference registrations, or any other items that relate to your studio business, use a designated card that is tied to your business account. This will prevent you from having to dig around in your personal account for transactions that could, maybe, possibly be related to your studio.

If you have a large studio business or are currently drowning in possible business expenses but are not sure which expenses qualify, consider hiring a CPA. They are the professionals, after all. They will most likely take you through the Expenses portion of Schedule C, so start taking some notes on the items you know you purchased during the calendar year that fit into these categories.

Understand what is considered a “business expenses” according to Schedule C. Did you have any expenses for your studio this year that fit under the following categories? List them on your Schedule C.


Car and Truck Expenses

Commissions and Fees

Contract Labor



Employee Benefit Programs

Insurance (including instrumental insurance paid by yourself)

Interest (Mortgage or Other)

Legal and Professional Services

Office Expenses

Pension and Profit-Sharing Plans

Rent or Leases on Vehicles, Machinery, or Equipment

Repairs and Maintenance


Taxes and Licenses

Travel, Meals, and Entertainment



Other Expenses

Did you drive anywhere for studio recitals, masterclasses, or any other studio field trips? Make sure to report this under the “travel” category. It is very easy to forget about this one. The Federal Standard Mileage Rate for 2017 is 53.5 cents per mile.

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Do you have to file a Schedule C this year? Have you filed out one in the past? What tips do you have to streamline your studio accounting? Please comment below!

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Happy fluting (and happy tax prep)!



Flute Accessories

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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Sometimes in these colder winter months, I like to curl up with a cup of tea, laptop in hand, and do some online shopping. Gone are the days when we had to schlep out into the cold to our nearest Woodwind/Brasswind or other mega music store to find fun, useful, or beautiful items to add to our gig bags. In researching for today’s blog, I found a number of flute accessories that can be ordered from the comfort of your own home. Today’s blog is devoted to those of us in need of a bit of retail therapy to freshen up our daily practice environment. Go ahead! Order that wonderful new gadget or beautiful new silk cleaning cloth. Even the smallest item can bring a smile to your face (and some zip to your routine).

Flute World

Flute World is the best place on the internet to purchase anything having to do with the flute. I have been a Flute World customer for well over 20 years now. Most of my music library has been purchased directly from Flute World, and I often find myself perusing the accessories section whenever I am in the mood for some retail therapy. Show them support and check out the flute swag on their site!

Finger Position Corrector

Shopping Finger Position Corrector.jpg–TA-FPC-.html?t=0

I needed something like this 20 years ago! My wild, flying flute fingers always got the best of me during tricky, technical runs. This is a great helper for your students (or yourself) if you find that flying fingers often slow down technical passages. This will also save your fingers from undue strain that could lead to larger problems down the road such as tendonitis.

Anfree Swab for C Flute

Shopping Anfree Swab.jpg–CC-FlAnfree-.html?t=0&sort=0

Admit it – You’ve always been a bit fascinated by those swabs oboists use that just seem to glide magically through the instrument using the weight of a heavier end piece.  Now, you can have the same style swab for the flute! The only drawback to this swab is that it will not work very well on the headjoint, so using the standard silk swab will still be required. The payoff, though, is that the body and foot joint will be much cleaner through the use of the microfiber material.

Concert Folio

Shopping Concert Folio–OS-CF-.html?t=0&sort=0

I’ve always had a weakness for those traditional, timeless band and orchestra folders made with the durable pressboard shells and rough and tough inner pockets. I was always sad to hand these back at the end of an academic year or orchestral season. Standard paper folders just don’t seem to cut it for me. Now you can have your own leatherette folder forever! These are great for the stage and hold a ton of music. The pencil holder is also very handy (and a good reminder to always bring a pencil to rehearsal).

Valentino ClearView Flute Stand

Shopping ClearView Flute Stand.jpg–101092-.html?t=0&sort=0

The black, plastic, fold-up flute stands have become a staple due to their portability, however over the years many flutists have been opting for more beautiful, yet bulkier, wooden flute stands. I think this is a great compromise, providing both portability and a little bit of class. This stand looks far better on stage than the traditional fold-up stands and is more secure than stands using the standard moveable wooden pegs.

BG Pad Dryer

Shopping Pad Dryer–MT-PD-.html?t=0

Are you sick of buying cigarette paper or ordering expensive pad cleaning paper (or, heaven forbid, using the side of your music..)? Save the Earth by switching to a reusable pad cleaner like this one! Each strip lasts over one year and is washable. Save the planet while you are saving your pads.

Copper Headjoint Fitting Strips

Shopping Copper Strips–101068-.html?t=0&sort=2

These are great if you have a headjoint that is just a bit smaller than the body of your instrument. Keep in mind, though, that these are only a temporary solution. Take your headjoint in to your local flute tech guru for a proper fitting.


Did you also know that Amazon sells flute accessories!!??!?! (This was news to me when I was shopping researching for today’s blog). If you want to make good use of your Amazon Prime membership this year, check out some of the flute goodies offered below.

Bo-Pep Flute Thumb Guide

Bo-Pep Flute Thumb Guide

Shopping Bo Pep

These have been around forever and, although I prefer to use Flute Gels for the side of the left index finger, I really like the Bo-Pep thumb guide for proper right-hand thumb placement. These are great for your students who may have a wandering thumb. Correcting your right-hand thumb will provide a better foundation for your fingers to move faster with greater ease. Make 2018 the year that you correct those bad thumb habits.

Beaumont Damson Lace Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Flute Cleaner Cleaning Cloth – Lint Free, Microfibre – Beaumont Damson Lace

Shopping Beaumont Cloth

Who says you have to use those ugly blue polishing cloths from yesteryear to polish your flute before the show? These are all the rage right now as they are not only beautiful (and come in a wide array of styles), but the microfiber fabric will shine up your instrument gently and effectively with a few easy swipes. I am a fan!

ANKO Music Stand Kit

Music Stand, ANKO Professional Collapsible Music Stand with Music Book Clip, LED Music Stand Lamp and Carrying Bag. suitable for Violin, Guitar, Flute and Instrumental Performance. (BLACK-1 PACK)

Shopping ANKO

I love that this kit comes with everything and fits into a discrete and practical carrying case. This is perfect for those flute choir performances where stands are not necessarily provided, and the lighting may be less than perfect (although the venue is gorgeous). In this kit, you will get a collapsible music stand, music book clip, LED music stand lamp, and a carrying case. This is all the gear you need for your next performance!

Flute Fingerings & Flute Parts Flashcard Set

Flute Fingerings & Flute Parts Flashcard Set

Shopping Flute Flashcards

Studio masterclasses do not have to consists only of performances. These flashcards are great to use with your beginning students as a fun masterclass game activity. You could also use this as a warm up for your beginners during their initial flute lessons. I really like the idea of adding a game to the studio environment to make learning fun for younger students. These will definitely be a hit.

Yamaha Flute Lip Plate Patches

Yamaha YAC 1089P2 Flute Lip Plate Patch

Shopping Flute Patches

I have featured these on my blog in the past and during the summer months, these babies are my go-to for keeping my flute from sliding all over my face. They attach to your lip plate just like simple, paper stickers. Simple but very effective. I also like to use these to guard against any potentially embarrassing fluter’s chin moment during important performances.

Comica CVM-VS08 Condenser Microphone

Comica CVM-VS08 Professional Cardioid Condenser Directional Mini Shotgun Microphone for SmartPhones ,Vlogging Microphone for iphone and YouTube video ( Wind Muff included)

Shopping Mic

This is a great purchase for those of you who are wanting to set up a YouTube channel or who may be preparing an audition CD for one of the upcoming NFA competitions. This handy dandy microphone plugs directly into your smartphone and keeps any wild, screaming high notes from creating unflattering feedback on your recordings. Use this mic with the Garage Band app and your recordings will sound as if you had been performing in a large empty church (when in reality you were recording in your garage).

Which flute accessories do you love? What is currently on your shopping list? What types of products are you looking to splurge on? Comment below and share the results of your own flute retail therapy.



Happy Fluting!

Learning Something New

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

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Today’s blog is a little different from my typical Tips and Tricks posts or even my fun Flute Meme or Flute Quiz Fridays. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to learn to play the guitar. I have always wanted to learn but have put it off thinking that my tiny flute fingers and short, stubby pinky would make things quite challenging. In reality, I was simply just afraid to try something new. As musicians, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect at anything musical that is placed in front of us. I’ve wanted to be the next Slash or Joe Perry for so long, but could not see a way to get there. Of course, the quick answer was just to jump in. That is precisely what I plan to do this year. I mentioned this intention to my husband, who immediately purchased a pink guitar for me to practice on (he is a drummer and was excited to have a chance to jam as a family). I have the instrument, a basic guide to chords, and dozens of YouTube tutorials to get me started. What I am discovering, however, is that the guitar is very different from the flute and some of my flute habits (such as playing on the pads of my fingers rather than the tips) often get in the way of my ability to play basic guitar chords. I am a student all over again! I can now put myself in my own student’s shoes, experiencing the desire to learn something but frustrated by my own lack of skill. I find myself feeling the same way my beginning flute student feel when they struggle to produce a clean sound on the flute or forget new fingerings, and often need to give myself the same pep talks I give to my students (“practice makes perfect,” “keep working a little bit at a time,” “you cannot become a master at something overnight,” “you’ll get there! Just keep working hard). It has been very eye opening to learn something new as an adult. I suddenly have a new understanding about how my students approach the early stages of learning. Today’s blog is devoted to some of the things I have learned in the short 3 weeks I have been plugging away on the guitar. I hope they help you to understand your own students a bit better and encourage any beginners to keep going. Anything great requires time, dedication, and a bit of elbow grease. You can do it!

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Leave your expectations at the door. One of my greatest challenges as a beginning guitar student is muted chords. As a woodwind player, I have come to expect that if I use the right fingering for a note, I will produce the necessary sound (even if the tone is a bit questionable). On the guitar, you may have the “right” fingering, but if your fingers are touching any of the other strings, you will have a muted tone. I have been trying to teach myself that there are other components to master before I can achieve the sound I desire. This is something that we can also teach our flute students. A fingering is not the end of the story. Air placement/direction and embouchure are as vital to sound production on the flute as placing your fingers exactly between the strings are to playing the guitar.

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Playing one instrument very well does not necessarily mean you will be able to play all instruments well. Learning a second instrument is quite a humbling experience. I remember learning to play the piano as an undergraduate student and struggling to read a new clef. Sight reading was always a frightening experience because I was not very confident in my abilities to quickly read, and understand, the bass line, especially when numerous chords were stacked on top of one another. Although my skills strengthened with time, I was never a concert pianist. What mattered in this scenario is that I enjoyed the instrument and enjoyed the challenge of learning something new. As I learn to play the guitar, I am reminded that I do not know everything. I can read music, I understand chord progressions, but those two things alone will not help me achieve the physical ability to create chords on this new instrument or memorize exactly where my fingers must go to play a good, old I, IV, V, I chord progression. This is also something that we can teach flute students who may have had previous musical training. It’s okay to struggle. This is not the same instrument that you are used to. It does not function the way a piano functions. The skills necessary to be a successful drummer are not the same as those needed to rock cello solo. Every instrument is different. Learn those differences from the bottom up without assumptions.

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Practice a little bit every day and avoid long, tiring, frustrating, repetitive practice sessions. There is a point when practicing simply to drill something into your brain is detrimental to your development as a musician. This is where bad habits occur. In the beginning, you are building strength gradually and, like any bodybuilder, you must give your muscles the opportunity to rest, strengthen, and reboot between sets. Your brain also must have time to process what you are learning, and calmly come up with new approaches to challenges. I advise beginning students to practice 20 minutes per day and build up their time gradually as they gain more experience with the instrument. I, myself, has been limiting myself to 20 minutes per day on the guitar as I get used to the numbing pain on my fingertips and the work out that my left hand index finger gets from holding down the strings. This helps me to rethink ways to position my fingers so that they do not mute the strings as much. I also use the time away from the instrument to set goals for the next practice session. Sometimes the mental work we accomplish away from the instrument is just as valuable as the work we accomplish with the instrument in hand.

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Posture is key. Developing good posture from the very beginning of your study is critical. I was initially trying to play the guitar with the neck too far down and outward, making it difficult for me to stretch my arm properly, which in turn caused me to misuse my left hand thumb. The left hand thumb is an important stabilizing anchor for the entire left hand (much like the side of the left index finger in combination with the right hand thumb is for the flute). When I altered my posture, my thumb was freed up and my fingers fell easier on the strings. Good posture, of course, is just as important for flute playing and should be the absolute starting point with beginning students. Remind students as the get tired or frustrated in the early stages that their posture will help them conserve both mental and physical energy.

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Finally, do not give up. This goes hand-in-hand with slow, daily bursts of practice in the initial stages of learning an instrument. I’ve had a few practice sessions on the guitar that brought out my inherited Irish temper. The more I practiced, the worse my playing sounded. At the end of the failed practice session, I found myself saying things I didn’t really mean (“This is a waste of my time!” “My fingers are too fat for this instrument.” “I suck at the guitar. What is the point??”). These statements were mere reflections of my frustration and not grounded in the truth. I always, however, picked up the instrument and tried again the next day. Beginnings are difficult, so take them slowly and remain calm. Rampal was not an overnight success (nor was Slash). Learn something new every day and set reasonable, attainable goals. Remind your students that frustration is totally normal as they learn a new instrument. It is the ones that stick with it that end up successful. Stay calm and learn on!

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Have you taken up a second instrument? What was it like for you in the early stages? What was it like to be a student again? Did you learn new things that could help your own students as they learn to play the flute? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!

2018 Reading List Recommendations (Biographies)

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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A common New Year’s resolution is to spend more time reading and January is the time when many of us put together a reading list for the upcoming year. A great addition to any reading list is a biography of a renowned, historical figure, to help inspire a better, more grounded direction in your career and your daily life. In today’s blog, I have tracked down 10 wonderful biographies of composers and flutists to add to your 2018 reading list. I hope they inspire you as they have inspired me. Enjoy!

Books - Mozart

Mozart by Maynard Solomon

Available on Amazon: Mozart: A Life

This biography about Mozart’s life examines not just how he developed as a composer but also how his relationships shaped both his musical and personal lives. The central relationship in Mozart’s life, his father, Leopold Mozart, is explored in depth through letters circulated between the two that shed light on the psychological damage caused by a demanding and unyielding father and emotional reactions of a highly sensitive, tortured genius searching desperately for the serene utopia promised in his compositions. By examining the history of the letters, Solomon gives us a very personal account of Mozart and his struggles as a child prodigy turned struggling genius.

About the Author: Maynard Solomon’s books on Beethoven and his renowned writings on Mozart, Schubert, and Ives led a contributor to Music & Letters to name him “the leading musicologist-biographer of our time.” His classic biography, Beethoven, has been translated into seven languages and his Beethoven Essays received the Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for best book of the year in 1989. Mr. Solomon, who lives in New York, has taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Yale Universities. (Source: Harper Collins Publishers)

Books - Taffanel

Taffanel, Genius of the Flute by Edward Blakeman

Available on Amazon: Taffanel: Genius of the Flute

Known as the “father of the French Flute school,” Paul Taffanel (1844-1908) was the most celebrated French flutist, composer, and pedagogue of the late 19th century. The flute playing world owes quite a debt to Mr. Taffanel and his support for the Boehm-style flute, which has now become standard in flute studios everywhere. Blakeman’s historical account of Taffanel’s career includes a number of unpublished letters and papers painting the composers as a major musical figure in fin de siécle Parisian society. This biography beautifully tells the story of an artist thriving in an extraordinary political and cultural era, exploring relationships with other musicians and prominent French composers as he solidified his reputation as one of the most extraordinary musicians of the French Romantic era.

About the Author: Edward Blakeman is a commissioning and program Editor at BBC Radio 3, where his responsibilities include overseeing the broadcasts of the annual season of BBC Proms. Before joining the BBC, he freelanced as a flute player, writer and presenter, and was Head of the Wind Department at the London College of Music. He is a member of the Council of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and editor of various music editions. (Source: Faber & Faber)

Books - Moyse

Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute by Ann McCatchan

Available on Amazon: Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute

Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute is the definitive biography of this legendary figure. Drawing on her five years of scholarly research and well over one hundred interviews with European and American students, colleagues and Moyse family members, Ann McCutchan traces his career with particular attention to the cultural and political conditions that helped mold him, his colleagues, and his followers on both sides of the Atlantic. The result is a full and truthful portrait of this charismatic, complex and often puzzling man. (Source:

About the Author:  Ann McCutchan holds music performance degrees from Florida State University and the University of Michigan, and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston.  The founding director of the University of Wyoming’s MFA creative writing program, she taught creative writing for ten years at the University of North Texas, where she received the Kesterson Award for outstanding graduate teaching and was Editor of UNT’s American Literary Review.  Ann was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters in 2010 and sits on the artistic advisory board of Voices of Change, the Dallas contemporary music ensemble. (Source:

Books - Barrere

Monarch of the Flute: The Life of Georges Barrère by Nancy Toff

Available on Amazon: Monarch of the Flute: The Life of Georges Barrère

This is a great biography to read after reading Taffanel: Genius of the Flute as George Barrère was one of the most prominent flutists that studied with Paul Taffanel at the Paris Conservatorie during the turn of the century. George Barrère brought the French flute playing style from Paris to New York, solidifying his place in the history of American flute playing and setting a new standard for flute performance in The States. He is best known for his performances of Poem of Charles Tomlinson Griffes and Density 21.5 by Edgard Varese, both of which were dedicated to him. Based on archival research and oral histories, this biography follows Barrère throughout his early studies and career in Paris, his interactions with contemporary composers during his time in both Paris and New York, his experiences as principal flute of the New York Symphony, and his experience as a touring chamber musician.

About the Author: Nancy Toff is author of The Flute Book, The Development of the Modern Flute, and Georges Barrère and the Flute in America and is a past president of the New York Flute Club. Toff is the 2012 winner of the National Flute Association’s National Service Award. Ms. Toff currently serves as an executive editor at Oxford University Press.

Books - Beethoven

Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

Available on Beethoven, Revised Edition

Maynard Solomon is on this list twice because his biographies are some of the best researched and best written biographies on the market. This biography is very similar to his biography on Mozart, tracing the parallels between Beethoven’s profession and personal lives and comparing the impact of his relationships with others (and with himself) to his psychological development. To truly decipher what a composer is trying to say in a composition, we must try understanding where they are coming from personally, politically, and professionally. Maynard Solomon helps us achieve this by looking at the letters and documents written by the composer himself. We all know that Beethoven was a genius, but we often forget just much how he struggled with his health and emotional life during the later part of his life. This biography connects the political landscape of the time to Beethoven, his music, his emotions, and his personal struggles as a tormented genius.

About the Author: Maynard Solomon’s books on Beethoven and his renowned writings on Mozart, Schubert, and Ives led a contributor to Music & Letters to name him “the leading musicologist-biographer of our time.” His classic biography, Beethoven, has been translated into seven languages and his Beethoven Essays received the Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for best book of the year in 1989. Mr. Solomon, who lives in New York, has taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Yale Universities. (Source: Harper Collins Publishers)

Books - Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music by R. Larry Todd

Available on Amazon: Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

In this account of Felix Mendelssohn, R. Larry Todd masterfully connects many of the composer’s best known (and little known) compositions to events and relationships in Mendelssohn’s life using analyses of autographed manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, and paintings. Mendelssohn often gets a bad wrap as a composer writing overly sentimental work, however Todd describes how the composer used understatement and subtle yet colorful orchestration to create masterpieces full of freshness and vividness. This biography also discusses the impact of Mendelssohn’s Jewish heritage in relation to the anti-Semitic attacks on his music by Richard Wagner, his complex relationships with his sister Fanny, and his relationships with the cultural elite.

About the Author: R. Larry Todd was hailed in The New York Times as “the dean of Mendelssohn scholars in the United States.” A Professor of Musicology at Duke University, he has published widely on Mendelssohn and his time, and nineteenth-century music. (Source:

Books - Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christoph Wolff

Available on Amazon: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician

This engaging new biography portrays Bach as the living, breathing, and sometimes imperfect human being that he was, while bringing to bear all the advances of the last half-century of Bach scholarship. Wolff demonstrates the intimate connection between the composer’s life and his music, showing how Bach’s superb inventiveness pervaded his career as musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher. And throughout, we see Bach in the broader context of his time: its institutions, traditions, and influences. With this highly readable book, Wolff sets a new standard for Bach biography. (Source:

About the Author: CHRISTOPH WOLFF is Adams University Research Professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA and Visiting Professor at the Juilliard School in New York. He currently serves as Director of the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig and President of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales. Recipient of the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association in London (1978), the Humboldt Research Award (1996), an honorary professorship at the University of Freiburg, and several honorary degrees, he is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften. He has been awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, honorary membership by the American Musicological Society, the American Bach Society, and the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg. Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician” won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for the best musicological book published in 2000. (Source:

Books - Rampal

Music, My Love by Jean Pierre Rampal

Available on Amazon: Music, My Love

Finally – an Autobiography!! And it just happens to be about the most notable performing flutist of the 20th century, Jean Pierre Rampal. I must confess – I did not know that this book existed until I was researching for today’s blog. This is a very fun and personal account from the master himself about his love of flute playing and his experiences as a flute player. Fun fact: Jean Pierre Rampal had originally intended to be a doctor. This autobiography is just plain fun, written by a performer whose reputation stands the test of time.

About the Author: Jean-Pierre Rampal, in full Jean-Pierre-Louis Rampal, (born Jan. 7, 1922, Marseille, France—died May 20, 2000, Paris), French flutist who brought the flute to new prominence as a concert instrument and demonstrated the appropriateness of the flute as a solo instrument adaptable to a wide range of music, from Baroque masterpieces and English folk songs to improvised jazz. Rampal was the son of a flute teacher but was encouraged to become a doctor, and he attended Marseille Medical School. During World War II he was drafted into a German labour camp, and he abandoned his studies to go underground in Paris. Rampal began taking flute lessons at the Paris Conservatory and garnered attention after winning the school’s prestigious competition. After the war he began his career as a flutist in the Vichy Opéra orchestra (1947–51) and later was first flute at the Paris Opéra (1956–62). In 1968 he joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatory. Particularly devoted to chamber music, Rampal founded the French Wind Quintet in 1945 and the Baroque Ensemble of Paris in 1953. In addition to making international concert tours, he edited music by Baroque composers and taught. In later years he took up conducting. His popularity was in large part due to his extensive recording. Rampal gained admiration for his authentic interpretation of 18th-century music, his smooth, cleanly articulated tone, and his mastery of subtle tonal nuance. (Source:

Books - Wagner

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music by Martin Geck

Available on Amazon: Richard Wagner: A Life in Music

Like him or loathe him, Richard Wagner’s music has made a lasting impression on the world, and his contributions to opera in particular have earned him a permanent place in the canon of Western Classical music. This biography traces the dramatic life and career of Richard Wagner and his theatrical writings on culture, philosophy, literature, theater, visual arts, and composition. Best known for the four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung, Wagner also composed some of the most significant operas of the Romantic era including The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Tristan and Isolde. Geck brilliantly ties Wagner’s compositional life with his ever-evolving (or devolving, in some cases) understanding of aesthetics.

About the Author:  Martin Geck is professor of musicology at the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany. His other books include Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work and Robert Schumann: The Life and Work of a Romantic Composer, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press. Stewart Spencer is an independent scholar and the translator of more than three dozen books. (Source:

Books - Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky (Critical Lives) by Johnathan Cross

Available on Amazon: Igor Stravinsky (Critical Lives)

(Source: Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) was perhaps the twentieth century’s most celebrated composer, a leading light of modernism and a restlessly creative artist. This new entry in the Critical Lives series traces the story of Stravinsky’s life and work, setting him in the context of the turbulent times in which he lived. Born in Russia, Stravinsky spent most of his life in exile—and while his work was deliberately cosmopolitan, the pain of estrangement nonetheless left its mark on the man and his work, distinguishable in an ever-present sense of loss. Jonathan Cross shows how that work emerged over the course of decades spent in Paris, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, in an artistic circle that included Joyce, Picasso, and Proust and that culminated in Stravinsky being celebrated by both the White House and the Kremlin as one of the great artistic forces of the era. Approachable and absorbing, Cross’s biography enables us to see Stravinsky’s life and artistic achievement in a new light, understanding how his work both reflected and shaped his times.

About the Author: Jonathan Cross is professor of musicology at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford. (Source:

Books 2

What is on your 2018 reading list? Which one of the above biographies do you wish to add to your list? Which one of these figures inspires you the most? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting (and happy reading)!


Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday. So far, my New Year’s Resolution to post Flute Fridays actually ON Friday has bombed. Better luck next week.

30 day 2

Happy New Year! During this time each year, I typically post a blog about goal setting or action plans to improve your flute playing in the new year. For 2018, however, I have become fascinated by the idea of the 30-day challenge. This is a great way to set a single, focused, achievable goal to completely transform one area of your life, or in this case, your flute playing, over the course of a month. You may have seen videos on Facebook or YouTube documenting 30-day challenges such as the 30-day push-up challenge or a 30-day clean eating challenge. The results are incredible! Experts say that it takes approximately 21 days to develop a new habit. A 30-day challenge not only works to achieve a specific goal, but also helps to develop lasting, healthy habits that you can take with you beyond the 30-day mark.

30 day

If there is one daily practice habit that we could all use a bit more encouragement to develop, it is playing through our scale exercises. Therefore, in the spirit of the season, I have developed the following 30-Day Taffanel & Gaubert Exercise #4 Challenge. All of the below articulation are to practiced using Exercise #4 from Taffanel and Gaubert’s Exercices Journaliers de Mecanisme Flute (available for purchase on Amazon: SELRES_fcf84d72-cce4-43b9-8a44-34d54dbb388fSELRES_fa8d7d03-c544-4e4a-aaf9-4cf198841f67SELRES_0108399c-4669-4b6e-ab10-4296a4acf60117 Big Daily Finger Exercises / 17 Grands Exercises Jounaliers de Mecanisme / 17 Grandes Ejercicios Diarios de Mechanismo By Paul Taffanel & Philippe … Chinese, English, Spanish and French Edition)SELRES_0108399c-4669-4b6e-ab10-4296a4acf601SELRES_fa8d7d03-c544-4e4a-aaf9-4cf198841f67SELRES_fcf84d72-cce4-43b9-8a44-34d54dbb388f ). The great thing about this challenge is that you can begin again at the end of the 30 days by selecting another scale or interval exercise from the same book! Arpeggio challenge on Exercise #12, anybody

Make January 2018 your month of scale and articulation mastery! Enjoy this 30-day challenge and please comment below with your progress, challenges, and successes as you complete this challenge.

Happy practicing!

30 day 4


Play through Exercise #4 using a single articulation each day as indicated below. At the completion of the challenge, you may use the below articulation list to challenge yourself to another 30-day challenge using any exercise from Taffanel and Gaubert’s Exercices Journaliers de Mecanisme Flute.

DAY 1 Slur all
DAY 2 Single tongue all (legato)
DAY 3 Single tongue all (marcato)
DAY 4 Single tongue all (staccato)
DAY 5 Single tongue all using the “coo” syllable (articulating from the back of the tongue)
DAY 6 Double tongue all (syllables of your choice)
DAY 7 Double tongue all using “uka-tucka” syllables
DAY 8 Chirp all (syllable-less articulation that uses short puffs of air)
DAY 9 Flutter-tongue ascending passages, slur descending passages
DAY 10 Slur ascending passages, flutter descending passages
DAY 11 Swing all notes (slurred)
DAY 12 Swing all notes (single-tongued)
DAY 13 Two articulated (single-tongued) eighth notes on each pitch
DAY 14 Four articulated (double-tongued) 16th notes on each pitch
DAY 15 Three articulated (sing-tongued) eighth notes on each pitch
DAY 16 Six articulated (tripled-tongued) 16th notes on each pitch
DAY 17 Slur two, single-tongue two
DAY 18 Double-tongue two, slur two
DAY 19 Slur three, single-tongue one
DAY 20 Single-tongue one, slur three
DAY 21 Slur two, slur two
DAY 22 16th note, eighth note figure on each pitch
DAY 23 Eighth note, two 16th note figure on each pitch
DAY 24 Two 16th notes, eighth note figure on each pitch
DAY 25 Articulated quintuplets on each pitch (TKTTK)
DAY 26 Articulated septuplets on each pitch (TKTKTKT)
DAY 27 Single-tongue two, slur six
DAY 28 Double-tongue four (using duc-ky syllables), slur four
DAY 29 Single-tongue three, slur five
DAY 30 Slur all, playing as quickly, and fluidly as possible


30 day 3

Happy fluting!

Stage Stories

Hi Everybody!

I will be teaching a course at the Davis Arts Center during the Spring 2018 semester entitled Stage Stories. If you are in the Davis/Sacramento area, and want to learn about the many ways that classical music tells a story, please check out my class offering below. Registration is super easy: Simply visit to register online or over the phone by dialing (530) 756-4100

Check it out here:

Stage Stories – Brochure

Hope to see you there!



In this course, we will explore how classical music tells a story. By listening to and writing about works such as Rossini’s comic opera, The Barber of Seville, Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D Major, we will consider how aspects of musical expression and form create a storyline without a script. There will be two short writing projects, including a concert review where participants will apply their understanding of course topics to a live musical performance.


Day & Time: Wednesday; 7-9 pm

Price: $110      Member Price: $100


Session A: 1/17-3/7

Session B: 4/4-5/23

Holiday Flute Music

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

holiday 1

Today’s blog will be the last blog of 2017 as Flute Friday will be on a 2-week hiatus for the Holidays. In the meantime, please check out your December Flute Horoscopes on The Flute View (written by yours truly) . January Flute Horoscopes will be out early next month.

Holiday 3

In the spirit of the Holiday season, today’s blog is just, well, plain fun. No how-to’s this week. No soap boxes. No repertoire lists. Today we are simply going to listen to Christmas music. Below are 20 YouTube videos of flutists playing Christmas carols and other Holiday tunes. Enjoy these as you wrap presents or enjoy some hot chocolate by the fire. You might even be inspired to add your own video in the comments section or upload to YouTube. Happy fluting and happy new Flute year to all!

20 Holiday Flute Clips

  1. Greensleeves


  1. Silent Night


  1. O Holy Night


  1. We Wish You a Merry Christmas


  1. The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships


  1. We Three Kings


  1. Christmas Medleys (various)


  1. O Christmas Tree


  1. Christmas Time is Here (Native Flute)


  1. O Come, O Come Emmanuel


  1. All I Want for Christmas is You


  1. Pachelbel’s Canon / The First Noel


  1. Hark the Herald Angles Sing


  1. Oh Chanukah


  1. Dance of Reed Flutes


  1. White Christmas


  1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town


  1. Frosty the Snowman


  1. O Come, All Ye Faithful


  1. Jingle Bell Rock


Holiday 4

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Flute Playing Snippets

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

images (5)

Sometimes all we need is a few words of advice to get us thinking in a different direction. Today’s blog features a few snippets of encouragement and inspiration for various aspects of playing the flute. These are simply the first thoughts that come to my mind when I think about each category. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to add your own snippets in the comments below.

Flute Playing Snippets


Don’t be afraid to belt it out. The flute does not need to be a dainty and polite instrument. Play out loud and proud.


 There is a significant difference between playing mechanically and playing fluidly. While it is important for your fingers to know where they are going, it is equally important that they get there with grace.


Create your own story for each piece you perform. Who do you think the piece was written for? Is the piece about love? War? Loss? What is the storyline? Tie your musical interpretation to the story in your head. This will make the music more meaningful for yourself and for your audience.

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Take a few minutes out of your day to improvise. A fun way to do this is by sustaining a piano chord using the pedal and playing in the key of that chord. For extra fun, improvise over a chord progression, changing the key with every new note. I-IV-V-I.


Play your scales backwards (descending rather than ascending) or roller coaster-style (descend, turn around at the bottom, ascend back to starting position). This keeps things interesting.


Etudes are not all about elbow grease and technical gymnastics. Find the beauty in moments of surprise lyricism or inferred melodies buried under the sea of notes.

On Maintenance:

Take your flute into the shop for a tune up at least once a year. A good cleaning and adjustment will prevent larger, more expensive issues down the road. You’ll sound a lot better with an instrument that is in good shape.

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Sight reading:

Sight reading is like swimming; the best way to learn is to simply jump in! Find a piece, etude, or orchestral flute part that intimidates you, put on a recording device and go. Listen to yourself sight reading. What were your challenges? What did you hear on the recording that you didn’t notice while performing. Change it up next time.


Practicing is not about clocking a certain amount of hours each day. Practicing is about goal setting and strategic problem-solving. What are your challenges? How can you make things easier? What is the next step? How are you going to get there?

Tone Color:

Close your eyes whenever you play a beautiful melody. What color do you see? What can you do, using vibrato speed, dynamics, sound density, or any other element of tone production to emulate the color that you see in your sound?


It is tempting to abandon ship and start over after a not-so-good first take during a recording session (especially if you are a perfectionist). Resist and persist. Otherwise, you will spend the bulk of your time mastering the first half of your piece at the expense of the last half.


Memorize a piece in chunks and look for helpful sections where the music repeats. Learn these sections first and half the battle will already be won.


Find the scales. A run with a number of notes may just be a couple of scales, one right after another. Simplify by writing the scale name above the staff. Some runs may also just be a set of broken chords. Write the chord name above the staff. Don’t forget to practice your scales and arpeggios!


Treat your fellow flutists with respect when playing in an ensemble. You are part of a team within a team. Work together.


Concert Dress:

Wear flat shoes when performing on stage. I once fell down a flight of stairs on my way to the stage, crushing the outer most rod on my flute and subsequently bombing my solo. All because I wanted to wear heels. Learn from my mistakes!

Performance Anxiety:

Eat a banana if you are nervous. The natural beta blockers will calm your nerves and the sugar boost will give you some added pip.

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Practice you coos. Isolate the coo syllable in your daily scale routine to give your too-coo double tonguing better balance.

 And finally…

General Music Making

Does performing make you happy? If not, change your approach or join a new group. You never have to be stuck in a rut. The world is full of creative alternatives. Find something new!

Happy Fluting!