Spring has sprung! Easter Sunday is upon us and in most places around the country flowers and plants are already in bloom. Spring marks an annual time of renewal – a season of welcoming what is new and rebuilding what has fallen into disrepair. In the spirit of the season, this is the perfect time to rebuild your flute playing from the bottom up. A great way to experiment new approaches to basic fundamentals like tone development, technique, intonation and breathing is to participate in (or even just attend) a masterclass. Masterclasses are very popular during the summer months but in Spring they are generally hosted by regional flute clubs or universities. If you are not in a position to attend a masterclass due to location or cost, you can still audit a masterclass of your own creation through the magic of the internet. There are a number of videos on YouTube from masterclasses hosted by extraordinary professional flutists near and far covering a wide range of pieces and techniques. Today’s blog features a few of these videos that you may combine to create a video masterclass. The sky is the limit, however, and I encourage you to peruse videos covering those areas of your technique that may have fallen into disrepair or those that simply need a breath of fresh air.
James Galway talks about embouchure placement and tone development. Tips directly from the master of masters! I really like this simple headjoint exercise for daily tone improvement:
Emmauel Pahud discusses opening up the sound of the flute using postural nuances (specifically from the nose and eyes):
Ian Mullin discusses how singing and playing helps to improve and center flute tone. Singing and playing is quite difficult at first but the end result is a sound that is significantly more focused:
Gareth Davies discusses performing select orchestral excerpts and his advice on what to bring out/avoid. We could all always use some great advice on performing orchestral excerpts.
Jim Walker discusses how to tackle rhythm by singing the rhythm then playing:
Leone Buyse discusses intonation on those pesky Db/C#s:
Carol Wincenc discusses understanding style by comparing French works to the waltz and cabaret and as well as placing forward articulation:
And finally for everything in between (expression/approach), Rampal masterclasses. If you take anything away from today’s blog it will be to watch this series of Rampal masterclasses. Rampal makes playing the flute not the chore that it sometimes turns into in the practice room but an extension of expression that is available to all of us:
Is there a video masterclass that you have found inspirational? How has your playing changed after attending a masterclass? Have you found any hidden gems on YouTube that have breathed new life into your approach or technique. Please comment below!