Happy Friday! Those of you who have been following my blog may have noticed that new posts are typically added once or twice per month. Beginning with the below post, I will be coming out with new blogs once a week on Fridays. FLUTE FRIDAYS! Some will be longer, some will be short and sweet but all will be informative, entertaining and fun.
Inspired by “favorites” videos on YouTube, I have put together my own list of favorites beginning with some of my favorite books about flute, performing and understanding what it means to be a musician. Please leave a comment below with your own favorite books and lets inspire the greater flute community to flip through thousands of pages of new ideas.
1. Indirect Procedures; A Musician’s Guide to the Alexander Technique by Pedro De Alcantara. This is by far the best book I have come across dealing with the Alexander Technique, complete with sample exercises, graphics depicting proper use in musical and non musical circumstances and a straight forward explanation regarding the history and theory behind the practice. If you suffer from performance anxiety and wish to change your approach to the stage, and lets face it, life in general, this is a must read. “Stage fright is but a reaction to a stimulus. The stimulus may be universal to all performers, but the reaction to it varies from person to person.” -page 262
2. The Flute and Flute Playing in Acoustical, Technical and Artistic Aspects by Theobald Boehm. This book has a special place in my heart as it was the first book about the flute given to me from a very supportive middle school band director. The Flute and Flute Playing features a detailed description of the Boehm flute, complete with graphics of historical Boehm style flutes and the additions made to older models that led to the development of the modern flute we know today. What I love most about this book is Part II which deals with historically grounded approaches to flute playing (long tones, finger exercises, practicing, etc.) and developing musical interpretation. “The interpretation of a piece of music should evidently give to the hearer what the composer has endeavored to express in notes.” -page 145
3. The Art of Practicing; A Guide to Making Music From the Heart by Madeline Bruser. This book is great for those of you looking for ideas on how to spice up your practice routine or to make daily exercises meaningful and less automatic pilot. What I love the most about this book is that it encourages the readers to be conscious of their practice environment (and not just the notes on the page) but also dares us to be spontaneous in our practice sessions. Play from the heart. Improvise! Stop thinking about right and wrong and simply make music. “Practicing is a chance to be with the music you love. You can bring your best to it or you can cheat yourself of the opportunity to discover the depths of the music and of your own gifts.” -page 30
4. The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green. While Indirect Procedures deals more with retraining your mind to improve your performance (a reprogramming, if you will), the Inner Game of Music approaches stage fright by addressing the inner dialog that plays in a musician’s mind as they perform. I have used this book for several years now and always refer to it before an audition to silence the “oh my god what if I mess up” voice that seems to scream at me for several hours before I hit the stage. The greatest lesson I received from this book is that you must give yourself permission to fail. What is the worst thing that could happen? Most of the time the worst thing really isn’t as big of a tragedy as the voice in your head wants you to believe. “Many musicians find there is a big difference between the way they play when they are trying and when they are simply being aware. The awareness mode encourages the conscious mind to listen to what’s happening, and this increases the amount of feedback we receive, which allows positive changes to occur almost without effort.” -page 47
5. Psychology for Musicians; Understanding and Acquiring the Skills by Andreas C. Lehmann, John A. Sloboda and Robert H. Woody. This book was a huge eye opener for me and came at a time when I was really trying to understand why my playing changed so drastically in different group settings, surrounded by different performers and in front of different conductors. I was searching for answers that explained how I related to music making, how I got this way and how I can understand the music profession in terms of psychological causes and effects. I find this book to be similar to a psychic personality reading where answers about how you are the way you are and what influences your attitudes and approaches to life seem to pop out of nowhere and present you with light bulb, AHA! moments that you didn’t really see coming. “Are contemporary audiences less prepared to buy the “unadulterated” classical model? They may not want to sit motionless in a concert hall all evening. We may have to change the concert experience to make it more attuned to their different ways of engaging with music.” -page 240
Have you read any or all of the above books? Do you have your own life changing quotes from these pages? Has any of the content listed here change your flute playing for the better? Please comment below.