New Year’s Flute Playing Resolutions

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January typically marks the time each year when we force ourselves to ponder over questions such as, “What do I need to change about myself?  What goals do I wish to achieve within the next 12 months?  Which bad habits do I need to conquer and which ones do I need to cultivate?”  Among our long lists filled with everything from weight loss to household renovation projects and financial savings goals, we may find a few general notes regarding our flute playing (“develop a better sound,” “buy a new headjoint,” “learn 3rd movement of Ibert Flute Concerto”), however, as The Dude from the movie, The Big Lebowski, would say, playing the flute is filled with “a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what have you.”  Why not create a New Year’s Resolution List specifically tailored to playing the flute???  This is an excellent way to think critically about performance elements you would like to change, new techniques or styles you would like to learn, repertoire you would like to master, improvements you would like to make to your instrument and much more.  Separating these elements into multiple categories on a New Year’s Resolution list will help you to focus on next actions to take or exercises to practice that will bring you closer to achieving your flute playing goals.

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I have created a basic New Years Flute Playing Resolutions template to help you to get started or to pass along to your own flute students as they begin to think about ways to improve their flute playing in 2015.  You may edit this template however you would like, adding categories and line items as you see fit.

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To provide you with a detailed example, below is a copy of my own New Year’s Flute Playing Resolutions.  The only resolution I do not include here is to update my blog more often and include more entries from the Performer Spotlight Series.  As you can see, in many instances I include notes regarding exercises that will help me isolate the technique I wish to improve.  As I was developing this list, #2 in the General category simply stated “have leaks repaired on flute, ” however the decision to have this done was made for me last week when a couple of torn pads sent me to the repairman right away.  I guess sometimes the University reads your New Year’s Resolution List and takes its own actions.

NEW YEAR’S FLUTE PLAYING RESOLUTIONS

GENERAL (ex. PRACTICE, COLORING MUSIC, PURCHASING NEW ACESSORIES, OVERHAUL, etc.)

  1. Organize practice sessions better – designate certain days to focus on particular techniques, orchestral pieces and solos, dividing time evenly.
  2. Overhaul – Summer 2015 (complete rebuild).
  3. Purchase speakers and foot pedal for studio. Purchase new flute stand.
  4. Draft a new/updated teaching philosophy.

TONE/SOUND:

  1. Work on building a larger, more vibrant tone in the middle register (Trevor Wye Tone book exercises, Moyse).
  2. Work on controlled pp dynamic in high register (Daphnis and Chloe excerpt, Beethoven Lenore Overture excerpt (opening).
  3. Develop better distinction between blue and green tone color concepts.

POSTURE:

  1. Seated posture – sit further forward with back away from back of chair.
  2. In technical passages, think “up and forward” – do not let posture sink because you are distracted by the notes.
  3. Practice wall exercise at least once during each 2 hour practice session.

SCALES:

  1. Work on extended scales paying particular attention to the upper extremities of the range – fingers tend to fly wild up there!
  2. Spend more time working on chromatic scale exercises (Taffanel and Gaubert).
  3. Revisit Hughes scale book.

ARTICULATION:

  1. Work on creating even “coos” – Isolate using Taffanel and Gaubert scale exercises #1, #2, #4.
  2. Practice “uka-tuka” to develop crisp double tonging.
  3. Develop more connected legato tonging – slow Taffanel and Gaubert #4 down and work on various styles of legato tonging.

VIBRATO:

  1. Work on “bendy” vibrato using pitch bends rather than air manipulations.
  2. Adapt varying vibrato speeds to color concept selection.

REPERTOIRE (ex. SOLOS, CHAMBER MUSIC, ORCHESTRAL EXCERPTS)

  1. Mike Mower Flute Solo – Time to learn jazz!!!
  2. Work on Jazz Improve exercises with Smart Music App.
  3. Record 4 pieces with Smart Music equipment to send out as demo CD.

MEMORIZING:

  1. Re-memorize Nielsen Flute Concert, 1st Movement
  2. Re-memorize both Mozart Concerti (D and G)
  3. Re-memorize Carmen Fantasie

CONCERTS/RECITALS TO ATTEND:

  1. SF Symphony
  2. SF Opera
  3. London Symphony at Mondavi Center

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What is on your list?  Have you set a New Year’s Flute Playing Resolutions List like this in the past?  Has it helped you to clarify and achieve your goals?  What other categories have you added to your list?  Please share your comments below.

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