Author: racheltgeier

Thoughts on Failure

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

Be sure to check out your flute horoscopes for February on The Flute View webpage. There is a Full Moon this weekend! Find out what this means for your flute playing here: https://thefluteview.com/2020/02/dr-gs-flute-horoscopes-february-2020/

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This week’s blog post will be a bit more reflective than instructive. In an interview earlier this week, I was asked the question, “Explain a time when you felt that you had failed at something.” I mustered up some courage, put my pride aside, and began to discuss my music career. I would like to share my answer with you this week because I think there is a good lesson here for those of you who may also struggle with disappointment in your own music careers.

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I completed my DMA in 2010 and was absolutely on fire about the future of my career! I wanted to teach, I wanted to perform, and I wanted to publish. I immediately began applying to teaching positions around the country. I was ready to make my start as a lecturer in a smaller school while performing in local orchestras. And then the first set of rejection emails rolled in. Meanwhile, I also began working a day job on the same college campus that my husband (then fiancé) was completing his Ph.D. With every new rejection email that arrived in my inbox, I felt more and more like a failure. This cycle continued for a year, then two years, and then five. I felt that the music career I spent several years trying to create was in the toilet. At the same time, I began to excel in my day job, earning a good living while still having the time to teach lessons and perform in local orchestras on nights and weekends. It wasn’t until I stopped comparing my current reality to the reality I expected was waiting for me on the other side of my DMA that I realized characterizing my career as a “failure” was just not right. There is no single cookie cutter version of a music career. I may not have achieved what I thought I would when I received my DMA, but I have successfully achieved many other things in my post-doctoral career. I have built my own flute studio. I have published articles and am currently working on a book with a large publisher. I publish monthly flute horoscopes. I have performed in orchestras and flute choirs and have even appeared at the NFA convention as part of the Professional Flute Choir. I have achieved all of these things while also maintaining a successful career outside of music. I have turned a career that I originally thought to be a “failure” into a series of successes.

If you ever find yourself referring to your music career as a “failure” while staring at rejection emails in your inbox or reflecting on the career path that you envisioned while you were working your way through college, remember that having a music career looks very different from one person to another. The flutist you thought you would be in high school may look very different from the flutist that you end up becoming in the future. Keep an open mind and avoid viewing your career in black and white terms. A successful music career is truly what you make of it.

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Happy Fluting!

Four-Week Flute Boot Camp

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As some of you may know, I have spent the past several months working on a book. While my writing and transcription skills have improved tenfold, my flute playing has unfortunately fallen into a sad state of neglect. One of my New Years’ Resolutions for 2020 is to get back into proper flute playing shape! I have devised the below plan as my own personal four-week Flute Boot Camp. On this program I will review some of the basic fundamentals, revisit etudes with which I previously had a love/hate relationship, re-ignight my passion for practicing pieces that I love, re-memorize pieces I have forgotten, and learn new repertoire to take me well into the new year. If you are in the same boat, you may want to use this plan as an example to devise your own four-week Flute Boot Camp. There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to organize your Boot Camp. Simply select exercises and repertoire that you know you will practice (and love) and new pieces that will inspire you.

 

FOUR-WEEK FLUTE BOOT CAMP

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WEEK 1 – Back to Bach

Long Tones – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Tone. All lower register exercises.

Scales/Articulation  – Taffanel and Gaubert Exercise #4. Alternate continuous slurs and single tonguing every other day.

Flexibility Exercises – Taffanel and Gaubert Exercise #12. Have rememorized by end of week.

Etudes – Bachstudien (Studies on Bach), Select 1-2 etudes

Excerpts – Polonaise and Badinerie from Bach’s Orchestral Suite #2 in B Minor

Revisit Repertoire – Bach Sonata in C Major (rememorize first movement by end of week)

New Repertoire – Bach Sonata in E Minor (not a “new” piece, but one I will be programing on a near future recital)

 

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WEEK 2 – Missing Mozart

Long Tones – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Tone – All middle register exercises.

Scales/Articulation – Taffanel and Gaubert Exercise #4. Alternate “coos” with chirps (or “air puffs”) every other day.

Flexibility Exercises – Taffanel and Gaubert – Exercise #10. Practice 1 new page per day.

Etudes – Karg Elert 30 studies, Opus 107 (select 1-2 etudes)

Excerpts – Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 3 (Opening-mm. 36, mm. 328-360)

Revisit Repertoire – Mozart Concerto in G Major. Work to have first movement rememorized by the end of the week.

New Repertoire – Poulenc Sonata (another not so “new” piece, but one I would like to program for an upcoming recital)

 

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WEEK 3 – French Frenzy

Long Tones – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Tone – Transitions from middle to high registers

Scales/Articulation – Taffanel and Gaubert Exercise #4. All double tonguing, alternating days between “too-coo” and “duc-ky”

Flexibility Exercises – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Tone. Flexibility exercise #1.

Etudes – Furstenau Bouquet Des Tons (edited by Moyse) (select 1-2 etudes)

Excerpts – Debussy Afternoon of a Faun, Daphnis and Chloe

Revisit Repertoire – Faure Fantasie. Work on rememorizing by end of the week.

New Repertoire – Dutilleux Sonata. Another piece I would like to program on an upcoming recital.

 

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WEEK 4 – Twentieth Century in 2020

Long Tones – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Tone – All high register exercises.

Scales/Articulation – Taffanel and Gaubert Exercise #1. Change articulation with every new scale from single tonguing, “coos,” and double tonguing

Flexibility Exercises – Trevor Wye Practice Book on Articulation. Flexibility exercise #2

Etudes – The dreaded Jean Jean etudes. True Flute Boot Camp material! Select 1 exercise.

Excerpts – Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis – Movement III, Peter and the Wolf (all excerpts)

Revisit Repertoire – Nielsen Concerto. Work on rememorizing first movement by the end of the week.

New Repertoire – Lieberman Sonata. Another piece to program for my next recital.

 

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Are you also trying to get your flute playing back on track in 2020? What does your Flute Boot Camp program look like? What exercises do you find essential? What pieces do you revisit from time to time and what new repertoire are you adding to your 2020 practice list? Please comment below.

 

Happy Fluting!

 

 

It’s a Small Flute World After All

Happy Friday! I’m baaaaack. One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 is to get back on my Flute Friday game. I may not post EVERY Friday, but in the coming weeks I will have short (or not so short) posts covering various topics relating to performing, teaching, repertoire, new products, and general fluting tips and tricks. With that said, I welcome any suggestions for topics. Please comment below or send me a private message.

If you haven’t checked out your flute horoscopes in a while, please visit https://thefluteview.com/2020/01/dr-gs-flute-horoscopes-january-2020/ to see what January 2020 holds for your flute playing.

For those of you that follow my Facebook or Instagram pages, you will likely know that my husband and I are Disneyland fanatics. At a recent visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, I noticed a number of representations of characters playing the flute on the It’s A Small World ride. Way to represent, Disney! However, there seemed to be a bit of inconsistency in the position of the flute relative to the body. Perhaps this was intended to add to the playful and whimsical nature of the Disneyland environment or maybe we are meant to face our preconceived judgments of what is “correct” and “not correct” and simply co-exist with the “not correct” for a while. Of course, they may have just had it wrong. But what is “right” and what is “wrong” after all? Okay, I’m getting too philosophical on a Friday evening… For the purposes of this post, I am going to classify the flute positioned to the right of the character as “traditional” and to the left as “non-traditional.” What do you think? Do you think these inconsistencies were created on purpose? Comment below!

It’s a Small World – Photo #1, Traditional (flute to the character’s right)

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It’s a Small World – Photo #2, Traditional (flute to the character’s right)

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It’s a Small World – Photo #3, Non-Traditional (flute to the character’s left)

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It’s a Small World – Photo #4, Non-Traditional (flute to the character’s left)

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Do you have any photos of Disney characters playing the flute? Have you noticed these inconsistencies before? Do you think these characters add to the whimsy of the park? Please comment below!

 

Happy Fluting!

Announcement: Flute Friday Hiatus

Happy Wednesday, Everybody!

I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing a Critical Edition of the Altes Method with Oxford University Press! This project is based on my culminating DMA paper, expanded and improved of course, with the objective of bringing this wonderful pre-French Flute School collection in it’s original form out of the archives and into flute studios everywhere. Hopefully even yours!

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As I will transcribing and writing away on this book for the next several months, I will need to temporarily step away from Flute Friday postings. Flute Friday will appear intermittently during this time. Please follow me on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for updates on future postings.

Remember to also check your Flute Horoscopes each month on The Flute View http://thefluteview.com/sections/dr-gs-flute-horoscopes/ .

Please DM me if you have any questions about this project or any burning flute related inquires. Always happy to help out my fellow flute divas near and far!

Happy Fluting (until further notice)!!!

Flute Meme Friday: Animals and Flutes

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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I don’t know about all of you, but with the beginning of the new school year well underway, and both Mars and Mercury going forward, my World has become a bit bonkers. I thought we would take things a little easy this week and simply enjoy a few pictures of animals playing the flute! Have fun and relax this weekend. Leave the cram practicing until Monday.

Enjoy! 🙂

Animals and Flutes

Abstract Thinking (and Writing)

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday!

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As I was going through my email this week, I discovered a number of calls for paper/presentation abstracts for upcoming 2019 conferences. Writing an abstract may sometimes be intimidating for performers – How do we put into words what we intend to communicate without words? “You will love this piece,” will sadly not earn you a spot on the conference agenda. In today’s blog, I will be discussing some of the basic guidelines for constructing a convincing abstract. I hope this topic will be useful to those currently trying to boil down completely brilliant ideas about the flute into 300 words or less.

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First thing’s first – Brainstorm Ideas. The most challenging part about constructing an abstract is coming up with a great idea that you would either like to speak about or music that you would like to perform for an audience. A good place to start is by simply asking yourself what interests you about the flute. Are you curious about flute history? Are you attracted to new, exciting pieces of music utilizing extended techniques? From there, you can narrow down your topic by focusing on certain composers, compositional eras, techniques, and so forth. You may even start looking at particular pieces in your collection and, through the magic of compositional analysis, begin to make connections between the notes on the page and the affect those notes produce when performed on the flute.

Too many ideas? Narrow down by selecting ideas that fit into the theme of the conference. Many conferences have a title or theme that changes from year to year. Check out the conference website – what type of music are they showcasing at the upcoming convention? What composers or performers are they highlighting? Can you tailor one of your ideas to include these themes or musicians? For example, if the conference is emphasizing world music, you could discuss pieces that include non-traditional techniques taken from around the globe (hello, Takemitsu). Perhaps an easier way to connect your topic to the conference is by researching the location of the conference and discussing or performing works by composers or styles connected to that particular area. A good example of this would be to propose a recital of Jazz inspired works for a conference taking place in New Orleans or performing variations on a movie theme song for a conference taking place in Los Angeles. Tying your project to the conference is not necessarily a requirement, but if you are having trouble coming up with a good idea, this is another great place to start.

Too few ideas? Crack open a flute magazine and research current trends in the flute world. Performance anxiety is always a hot topic, but the way we discuss coping techniques has changed over the years. You might find a topic that interests you – How can you take it to the next level? What other topics can you connect to those published in these periodicals?

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Organize your ideas into a clear format. What do you intend to perform or discuss? What pieces and/or composers are involved? Why is it important to you? What would you like your audience to take away from your presentation? Before putting paper to pen (or fingertips to keyboard), create a bullet-point list of these items, identifying clearly the who, what, where, and why of your topic. From here, writing your abstract will be a piece of cake!

Writing the abstract. The key to writing an abstract is to be clear and concise, yet powerful. Begin with a wonderfully inspiring sentence or question that addresses why your topic is interesting and important. Why should your reader care? How does your idea relate to the flute community at large? This should be limited roughly to one or two sentences. You may throw in a quote from a composer or performer if it seems relevant and/or powerful to your message. The middle of your abstract should outline exactly what you plan to present to support your idea and in what order. Which pieces will you discuss or perform? What concepts will you address? Which composers will you highlight? What group activities do you have planned? What handouts do you plan to circulate and discuss? This should also be limited to 1-2 sentences tops. Finally, the closing sentence should state exactly what you expect your audience to walk away with after listening to your presentation. Is this a new understanding of the works of a particular composer or an appreciation for compositions written for a specific type of flute? What is the overall point of your topic?

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Need an example? Below is an abstract that I submitted for the 2015 Canadian Flute Association Conference, which was accepted and converted into an hour-long workshop. Feel free to use this as an example to format your own abstract:

PAPER PRESENTATION

The brilliance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositional construction transcends numerous musical mediums, most notably that of opera. Intricate relationships, particularly those between men and women, serve as preeminent themes in operas such as The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro. “Character” development can also be found in Mozart’s instrumental works where dynamics, rhythmic figures, changing styles, patterns of articulation and ornamentation serve to illustrate masculine and feminine qualities of the musical line. Mozart’s Concerti for Flute and Piano in both D Major and G Major outline such character distinctions within the solo flute line using sharp staccato rhythms and forte dynamics to initiate strong, antecedent phrases (masculine) which are often followed by legato, melodic consequent replies ranging from mezzo piano to mezzo forte dynamics (feminine). This paper addresses the various compositional techniques used in both Mozart flute concerti that depict masculine and feminine “characters” in the flute solo line and how these “characters” interact with one another to create an instrumental opera without words. In this regard, Mozart shows us that music does not necessarily need a libretto to convey intricate relationships between multiple characters.

Remember: You will likely have a word count limit. Be as concise as possible. Going over the word count is a no-no. Avoid run-on sentences or over-explaining concepts that could be easily be abbreviated into a short, sweet sentence. When it comes to abstracts, following the rules is key to getting your idea through the velvet ropes of the review committee. Be sure to dot your “I”s and cross your “t”s.

Finally, keep in mind that a rejection does not mean that your idea is no good. I have had abstracts rejected from smaller, regional conference that ultimately went on to become published articles. Take any rejected abstract and turn it into something new and wonderful. A “no” is not a “no” forever. A “no” can become a “yes” with a little bit of elbow grease.

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Are you preparing an abstract for an upcoming conference? How did you come up with your idea and translate it into 300 words or less? What other tips do you have when it comes to constructing a good paper abstract? Please comment below!

 

Happy fluting (and writing).

 

Flute Attitude Dos and Don’ts

Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday. Just a reminder to check your September flute horoscopes on The Flute View (written by yours truly) to discover what this month holds for your flute playing. http://thefluteview.com/2018/09/dr-gs-september-flute-horoscopes/

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While I was at the NFA convention this year, I was very much inspired by the incredible sense of community present during many of the panels, recitals, lectures, and even in the exhibit hall. I am so grateful to be part of an industry that encourages and promotes art, no matter what form it takes! Unfortunately, I also noticed a few instances where pettiness and unnecessary competition sadly reared its ugly head. In today’s blog I will be discussing a few Dos and Don’ts when it comes to having good “Flute Attitude,” based on some of my observations. Bottom line: we should encourage each other no matter what level, celebrate our differences, and continue to embrace all of our shared knowledge and flute playing experiences.

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FLUTE ATTITUDE DOS and DON’Ts

DO appreciate others and what they bring to the table. We are all unique players and approach playing the flute from vastly different backgrounds. When listening to another flutist, it is important to resist the temptation to immediately compare your flute playing to theirs. Take yourself out of your observations and appreciate the wonderful sounds and techniques of other players. What can you learn from them. What inspires you?

DON’T be a know-it-all. Try not to finish the conductor’s sentences when they are addressing a group (or individual players – including yourself). I have done this myself and it just isn’t a great idea. You may totally understand what they are trying to say and are excited to be part of the conversation/teaching moment, but in these instances it is best to just listen and really dissect what they are asking from the group. There may be others that do not quite understand the concept and need further clarification directly from the horse’s mouth.

DO fit into each other’s sound without judgement when performing with a group. It is about blending, not outplaying.

DON’T try to one up other flutists by lecturing about what an expert or panelist meant. This also goes back to not being a know-it-all. It is okay to help others out if they don’t understand something or sharing your experiences if they relate to the topic, but try not to take over as the expert and pontificate in front of a group in an attempt to upstage others. Let the experts do their thing and build upon their ideas in constructive ways with others.

DO support each other and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, no matter what level. Sometimes we get so focused on being “the best” that we forget about how difficult the journey is along the way. I love attending high school and college competitions because I remember how difficult it was to learn and excel at that level when so many flutists are trying to do the very same thing. Celebrate the moments when the younger generation breaks through the barriers of skill. Embrace the instances when a flutist playing 3rd part is promoted to 2nd. Good work!

DON’T go crazy with the name dropping. “I studied with X teacher at Y school, and then performed with Z famous flutist in W group on V super fancy stage in U Hall, etc.” It is great to be proud of your experiences, but if you are using names of famous flutists or places to intimidate your competition (or students – yikes!), you may be annoying rather than inspiring other flutists.

DO let go of past rivalries. Put the past in the past and cultivate newfound collaborations (or at least respect) for old colleagues. I was fortunate to run into an old college friendly rival at the NFA and was super happy to discover that we had become two very different types of flutists with mad respect for each other’s respective successes. It was like that rivalry never existed (seriously – back in the day it was like a Britney vs. Christina scenario) and, really, in the end it did not matter. Let it go!

DON’T leap into other’s music to correct notes. There is a very professional way to check notes that does not involve pointing at your neighbor’s score. Simply ask politely to double check a measure to make sure you do not have a misprint. Boom! They will almost always figure out the problem themselves and if there IS a misprint, you aren’t the person falsely accusing others of making mistakes.

DO listen to learn, not to judge. We can learn something new in everything we hear and everything we see. What new ideas or techniques can you bring into your own practices by listening to others?

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What are your Dos and Don’ts when it comes to having good “Flute Attitude”? What helps you keep a positive attitude and encourage others? How do you promote and celebrate the work of others. Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!

Solo vs. Flute & Piano Performances

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday. September 2018 flute horoscopes have been posted in The Flute View. Check them out here to discover what September holds for your flute playing: http://thefluteview.com/2018/09/dr-gs-september-flute-horoscopes/ . These horoscopes are available without a subscription this month!! (But of course, you should also subscribe because The Flute View is totally awesome!).

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While I was at the NFA Convention this year, I attended a wonderful recital of solo flute works that really made me appreciate the differences between performing solo pieces versus repertoire written for flute and piano. The two approaches are so very different, but we often take some the nuances for granted, particularly when we are teaching others. In today’s blog, we will look at some of these differences and how to better approach performing works from each of these scenarios. Remember to adapt to the role you play and embrace the spotlight when it is your time to shine.

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Solo vs. Flute & Piano Performances

Performing flute & piano works is a partnership. There is a natural give and take in this performance scenario. Sometimes you are the star and sometimes you are the accompaniment. This is a great opportunity to display your ability to adapt your playing technique based on your role. In contrast, performing solo works requires you to be in the spotlight at all times.

 
You have more creative freedom as a soloist. When performing solo works, you are like a musical painter in which every color change or slight variance between notes contains a brand-new meaning. You may have opportunities to do this periodically in flute and piano works during cadenzas, but it is not the focus of the entire performance.

 

Flute and piano works test your ensemble skills. This performance scenario highlights how well you communicate with other musically, challenging how you indicate changes in tempo, rubato, dynamic changes, mood changes, fermatas, ending and beginnings, and much, much more.

 
Solo playing tests your pacing and projection ability. There is literally no room to hide or blend into the texture when it is just you and the stage. You must be brave and play out no matter what!

 
Physical stage movements and stand/equipment changes are much stricter in a flute and piano scenario. You must be able to see each other to effectively communicate both musically and non-musically. In contrast, as a solo performer, where you stand and how much light you require is far more flexible. For example, at the closing performance during this year’s NFA Convention, Jim Walker performed Debussy’s Syrinx in a darkened room, while slowly walking from the back of the hall, up the isles, and to the front of the stage (accompanied by the sounds of the thunderstorm occurring outside). Very effective!

 
Stamina is a concern in solo playing. You must be prepared to go from Point A (the beginning of the work) to Point B (the end) without collapsing on stage from exhaustion. There are no rests, leaving little time for you to catch your breath.

 
Introverts may prefer solo playing. Extroverts may gravitate towards collaborative opportunities. Know your personality before programming a solo-heaving recital versus an all flute and piano recital. A healthy balance of both types of pieces will help give you a well-rounded performance.

 

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What other differences can you identify between performing flute and piano works versus solo repertoire? What types of works do you prefer to play? What are the challenges between each performance scenario? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!

Flute Meme Friday Part IV

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! To celebrate the Labor Day weekend (aka unofficial last weekend of the summer season), I thought today would be a good time for another installment of Flute Meme Friday. 10 more flute memes posted below!

Enjoy, have fun, laugh a little, and leave the marathon practice sessions for next week.

Happy fluting!