Author: racheltgeier

Post-Convention Pep Talk- Finding Your Niche

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! 

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Today’s blog is a bit more introspective than usual Flute Friday postings. Many of you reading this have recently returned from the NFA Convention in Chicago. You no doubt had a great time connecting with other flutists, picked up a ton of new ideas at lectures and workshops, and attended some fabulous concerts featuring world-class performers. That is awesome! As it should be! That being said, there is a side of attending conventions that sometimes does not get addressed and because this is a platform where we can unpack the good, the bad, the difficult, and the fabulous, I am going to unleash the Kraken. In today’s blog, I will be discussing some of the quietly insecure thoughts and feelings that may be running through our heads after the stage lights have gone down. How we might instead reframe these into inspirational positive goals for the future?

Photo by Charles Parker on

The truth is that when we attend music conventions and other professional conferences, we sometimes end up feeling bad about our own progress (or lack thereof) when we are surrounded by musicians who have already built successful performing careers. We look up at the mountain of practice we still need to do to become experts in our craft or behind at the opportunities that we bypassed on our way to different life experiences that may have been off the perfectly paved highway to success. Perhaps we did not follow the magic formula to become A Professional Performing Flutist. Maybe we do not perform as much as we “should” or do not teach as many students as we “should.” It is easy to ignore the “shoulds” when we are out in the World living a flute life designed on our own terms. At a convention, however, we are reminded of the “shoulds” when we start comparing ourselves and our flute playing to others around us. It is hard not to compare. Anybody that has tested out new instruments in the Exhibit Hall knows this all too well. So much of what we do is competitive, whether it is auditioning for chair placements, interviewing for teaching positions, or even just sparking interest to attend our performances over other events. Even the learning process encourages a bit of compare and contrast as we judge who we would like to study with, whose sound we would like to emulate, and which performances to use to model our own style. You may even run into old colleagues at conventions who graduated from the same studio, studied with the same teachers, and performed with all the same groups who are now performing fantastic works and living very successful music careers and think to yourself, “Where did I go wrong? How did I veer off-track? Where did they find the magic formula?” We sometimes forget under these circumstances that the only person we ever need to prove anything to is ourselves.

Yet, how do we stop this comparative game in its tracks when our confidence finds its way onto shaky ground? How do we embrace where we are in our flute playing and love it for what it is?

The answer is to find your niche and own it!!!

Photo by Charles Parker on

There may not be workshops offered in your particular interest. You may find that you can only attend a certain amount of performances before you forget who you are and what it is about the flute that you love. Don’t be afraid to do something different, even if it does not end up in the typical schedule of events. Okay, I’m about to drop a cold, hard truth: Being a flutist isn’t all about performing. Not all of us love playing in an orchestra. Some of us do not really enjoy solo performances. Maybe flute choir just isn’t our thing. Some are drained by teaching. Others of us, like yours truly, like to write and share ideas that are way outside the normal flute-playing tradition. And guess what? That type of variety makes what we do interesting. It breathes new life into old practices. We all learn the same pieces. Practice the same techniques. Drill scales and arpeggios. Host recitals. Take auditions. End up at the bar when we get cut in the first round. It’s okay to exit the hamster wheel and try out a roller coaster. Doing something different makes comparing yourself to others impossible. It is freeing, inspirational, and helps you put your own creative stamp on the flute world.

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What we can do instead is use the lessons learned at the convention as motivation to create new goals that combine who we are with new, super creative ideas for the future. I carry a notebook to these types of conventions and always end up with a ton of great new ideas for future blog posts, inventive ways to reorganize my practice routine, new types of music I would like to try out, who I would like to connect with for interesting collaborative work in the future, and where I would like to be in my flute career by this time next year. What is in your notebook? Write it all out! What new goals can you add to your list? What are the action steps needed to attain those goals? Is there a fabulous flutist that you would like to connect with? Message them! Do you have a great idea for a creative project inspired by your time at the convention? Start brainstorming! Use your convention experience to further develop your niche and start thinking bigger, better, and way outside of the box. That is the very best way to silence your inner critic and turn your attention toward positive, awesome new possibilities for the flute and flute playing in the future.

Photo by Jean-Paul Wright on


What is your niche and did you find any new ideas to build upon at the convention? What are your new goals for the year ahead? How can you put your own stamp on the flute world as we know it? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!!


Product Reviews – NFA Convention 2022

Greetings and welcome to a new/belated Flute Friday/Saturday. Sorry for my lateness! I am currently attending the National Flute Association Convention in Chicago and suffering from sensory overload! In a good way, of course!

I have spent some time these past couple of days touring the Exhibit Hall, perusing scores, flutes, piccolos, and investigating the world of fun and fascinating flute accessories. I had a similar mission at the NFA Convention in 2018 (see blog here, where I found one of my favorite ride-or-die devices, the Win-D-Fender More on that below, but needless to say, if you have not picked up a Win-D-Fender, you should absolutely add one to your collection, particularly if you are performing at the NFA this weekend and battling with the crazy strong air conditioning system. After speaking with folks at various booths and performing some good, old fashioned, flute retail therapy, I have picked up at least one cool new product from each of the major flute swag retailers. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing some of these great accessories. If you are looking to score something new and interesting, be sure to swing by the Exhibit Hall and grab these awesome gems for your collection.

Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company

Cleaning Essentials Take Down Microfiber Pouch Flute Swab – I am going to start with my favorite new piece of equipment. This cleaning rod is EVERYTHING. Yesterday I was sitting quietly in rehearsal for the Professional Flute Choir, listening to the fabulous Jasmine Choi play through the Habanera section of the Carmen Fantasie, when I felt the cold, wet drip of condensation and inner flute grossness travel from the end of my flute down to my calves. Ewwwww! If I had this cleaning rod at the time, I could have quickly and easily cleaned my flute between movements (or during long measures of rest). The great part about this cleaning rod is that you can clean your entire flute without taking the instrument apart! How many of us have been super jealous of oboe and clarinet players that can simply clean their instruments whenever they need with a bit of string and a piece of cloth. No disassembling required! And the part I love the most is that the rod is built in two pieces that screw into each other to form the entire length of the cleaning rod. Why is this important? Because it can easily fit into your flute case, like a standard cleaning rod, when not in use. Genius! I Finally, there is a small tie on the end of the cloth that can be hung from a simpIe folding music stand. I am definitely a fan and will be using this puppy in rehearsal later today. You can pick this up from the Carolyn Nussbaum booth or by visiting the following link:

Flute World

Via Handgrip –  So, I was skeptical about this one… It looked fun. Brightly colored with varying degrees of resistance to build up finger strength and dexterity. After attending the workshop on Arnold Jacobs breathing techniques, I was reminded just how important it is from time to time to work on our flute playing away from the flute. This is a fun hand-held exerciser for your fingers that you can use while binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix, sitting on a 4-hour flight from Chicago, or listening to a great concert or workshop. Hello, multitasking! I really like this device but do recommend the light resistance model to air on the side of caution and avoid any potential strain and/or injury. This is also a great gift idea if you are a non-flute player wanting to support your flute-playing friends and/or family. Pick up your Via Handgrip at the Flute World booth or by visiting the following link:

Flute Specialists

Rio Piccolo Master Cleaner – I recently had my piccolo overhauled by the fantastic John Gil in Sacramento (who quite honestly performed miracles on a piccolo that has been collecting dust for the past several years). I figured it was time for a piccolo gear upgrade. I asked the folks at the Flute Specialists booth what their most popular accessory this year was and they recommended this swab. I loved the color (hot pink – of course!) and was curious about the super absorbent tip. It says “master cleaner” on the name of the product – Does it truly live up to the hype? Well, I love the idea and if I had a different type of piccolo, I think it would a great find! I was also a bit biased after purchasing the new Carolyn Nussbaum swab on my flute and wanted the Piccolo Master Cleaner to be a similar idea. When I tried this swab on my piccolo, I found it was a bit difficult to fit into the smaller end of my conical shaped piccolo. I also really wanted this swab to come in two pieces to make it compact enough to fit in a typical piccolo case. Unfortunately, it does not collapse so you will need to keep it separately in your flute bag or with your regular flute swab. Still, if you own a straight-bored piccolo and carry all of your instruments in a single bag (Fluterscooter, Alteri, Crescendo, etc.), then this product could really work for you. Be sure to stop by the Flute Specialists booth to check out these swabs or pick one up at the following link:

Flute Center of New York

Flute Barrel Bling– This booth had a lot of razzle dazzle! I was initially attracted to their blinged out collection of headjoints (and am still considering adding a sparkly custom crown on my recently-purchased flute), but for a fraction of the price, you can add a bit of sparkle to the body of your flute, while also adding slightly more weight to the instrument itself, with a Flute Barrel Bling. This is by far the most fun and the most ME item I have purchased so far at the convention. The Flute Barrel Bling comes in five different colors and features a sparkly elastic glove that fits over the top of the barrel. The Flute Barrel Bling comes with copper tape that is applied over the barrel to protect against potential scratches. Once the copper tape is smoothed with the accompanying acrylic smoothing stick, apply the Bling from a 45 degree angle gently onto the barrel. And then POOF – your flute is ready for the red carpet! I love this item and cannot wait to feature it in my next Solo Sunday video. So very stylish! Pick up your Flute Barrel Bling at the Flute Center of New York’s booth (in your preferred color, of course) or by visiting the following link:

Flute Gallery – Schmitt Music

Hagerty Silver Protection Strips – Schmitt Music was one of the first booths I visited. Having won the Crescendo Bag at last year’s giveaway, I had to give them a huge THANK YOU! When I asked what the best selling accessory was at Schmitt Music this year, I was handed the Hagerty Silver Protection Strips. These little strips neutralize tarnish causing gases inside enclosed storage or display areas, keeping polished silver and gold “shining and ready for immediate use for six full months.”  These strips are safe and non-toxic, according to the package. One strip should be used for every square foot of area and kept away from outside air. While I cannot really take these out of the package just yet and test drive them, I think they are a great idea for those of us that have flutes on our shelves that we do not use as often as our primary instruments. Several months ago when my Miyazawa was being overhauled, I dug out the original headjoint (which I hadn’t played in over a decade) and found an incredible amount of tarnish on the outside. It all eventually came off but it was a chore that required an impressive amount of elbow grease. These strips, when used regularly, would have stopped that tarnish in it’s tracks. Now that I have upgraded my Miyazawa to a Burkart, I will be taking extra care of my old flute with these strips to make sure it is still shiny and sparkly years down the road. Be sure to visit the Schmitt booth if you are attending the NFA, or pick up your Hagerty Silver Protection Strips at the following link:

Other Super Cool Flute Accessories I Picked Up/Recommend:

The Picc Pocket by Win-D-Fender

I know I have already given a shout out to this product on previous blogs, but I finally purchased one of my own after chatting with awesome Christine Cleary who was modeling the Picc Pocket at the Carolyn Nussbaum booth. I was scheduled to perform piccolo with the Professional Flute Choir on a work that featured six (6) piccolos and, prior to the convention, was trying to plot out the best way to bring my piccolo on stage and keep it relatively warm under the blasting hotel air conditioning system. I knew I had to pick up one of these awesome slings for my performance. The Picc Pocket is like a Baby Bjorn for your piccolo. Instead of fiddling back and forth with your various instrument stands, this product allows you to keep your piccolo attached in a safe, secure place and makes quickly transitioning between instruments super easy. There are even extra pockets on the sides for pencils and a pocket at the top that can hold a tuner or even a phone. In my younger days, I once damaged a piccolo right before a band concert after trying to juggle my flute, piccolo, instrument stands, and music resulted in tumble down a set of bleacher stairs. Had I been wearing the Picc Pocket, no damage would have been done except to my pride (and maybe my shoes). I love this product and highly recommend it to doublers or those performing in flute choirs. Stop by the Carolyn Nussbaum booth to pick up one of these or check them out at the following link:

Win-D-Fender (Clear Version). I wrote a blog about this product back in 2018 and I stand by my option back then – The Win-D-Fender is AWESOME! Many of us have been playing and teaching outdoors over the past couple of years due to the pandemic and this little add on does a fantastic job at cutting down the interference of outside wind on the sound and projection of the flute. It is super light and snaps right on to your headjoint wherever works best for you. This year I invested in the clear version of the Win-D-Fender out of sheer selfishness to make sure the gold of my new flute can still be seen while I use the Win-D-Fender to combat strong drafts from the air conditioner. I also live in Northern California where frequent 100 degree temperatures during the summer keep us all indoors and under the AC for 6 months out of the year. I highly recommend the Win-D-Fender, particularly for those of us that perform outdoors or in warmer climates with intense air conditioning systems. Score yours at the Carolyn Nussbaum booth or at the following link:


Are you attending the National Flute Association Convention in Chicago? Have you picked up a super cool new accessory or handy dandy flute-related contraption? Do you have a favorite booth or flute manufacturer? Are you a product designer with an awesome new product for the flute-playing audience? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Splitting the Difference – The Split-E Mechanism

Greetings and welcome to a new/belated Flute Friday/Sunday! Sorry for the late post – Deadlines on Friday had me postponing some of my writings and other personal projects.

I recently purchased a new flute. This was quite an accomplishment for me as I have been playing on the same Miyazawa model since 2003. It was time for an upgrade! I decided to spare no expense this time – I invested in the C# key, the D roller, the offset G (to be nice to my small hands and freakishly small pinky), and, new to me, the split-E mechanism. I had always skipped the split-E on previous flutes because I was not convinced that the expense was justified for a note that I could achieve by strengthening my embouchure and practicing my harmonics. I have come to find that this little addition to my flute actually makes my job in the high register quite a bit easier. In today’s blog, I will be discussing this split-E mechanism – What it is, how it works, and if it is worth it.

The Split-E Mechanism

What is the Split-E Mechanism? The split-E mechanism uses an extra rod connecting the E key to the second G key to split the two keys that close for a G. Whenever you press the G key on a standard model, two keys close at the same time, the G and the key to the immediate right. The split-E mechanism allows this second key to close independently for the high E which typically, on standard instruments, remains open. Closing this key on a third register E gives the note better response, sound, stability, and intonation. The downside of the mechanism is that it adds weight to the flute and is quite a pricey little upgrade. It also cannot be installed on a flute after the flute is made and most flute makers only offer the split-E on offset G models. If you prefer an inline G, you may be out of luck.

Split-E Alternative – The High E Facilitator. If you are not ready to commit to the split-E mechanism, you may instead consider adding a high E facilitator. This is a small doughnut-shaped device placed under the second G key that decreases the amount of air that can escape. This also improves the stability of the high E, making it easier to produce and slightly more in tune. The great part about this device is that it is removable – If you don’t like it, you can ask your favorite flute tech to remove it. The split-E mechanism, on the other hand, is a permanent addition to your flute.

Is it Necessary? If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said no on the flute but yes on the piccolo (yes – the split-E is available on piccolos, too!). The high register on a piccolo is often tricky, abrasive, and, let’s be honest, chronically super sharp. But I am finding that the split-E on my new flute has offered a bit of unexpected magic to my high register. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you already know that i am a huge proponent of harmonics. I love them, I practice them regularly, I assign them to my students, and they have made my high register sing beautifully. But…that high E… I’ve had to use various trick fingerings over the years to achieve a better response on this note and have tried every trick in the book to bring the pitch out of the stratosphere. The split-E makes this note as easy as pie. I find it most helpful whenever playing passages that move from a high E to a high A (which is more common than you might think in flute repertoire). No more hoping and praying that my lips will know what to do – The notes just appear like Harry Potter magic. The one thing that I am not crazy about is having the extra rod at the back of the flute. Although I know this will take some getting used to, it sometimes gets in the way of my modified Rockstro hand position. All in all, I am not sure if the mechanism is a necessity or just a nice-to-have add on. You can still achieve the high E on a standard flute by sticking to your harmonic practice and strengthening your embouchure. But, in this day and age of fierce competition for few performing gigs, the split-E does give you a slight advantage over your competitors (particularly when it comes to orchestral excerpts). I think if you can afford it, you may consider making the investment.

Conclusion. I am indeed a fan of this add-on but I also understand that it is a permanent fixture on any new flute. If you would like to keep things a bit more flexible, I recommend opting instead for a high E facilitator. I also would encourage beginners to invest in a high-E as it makes learning the high register a bit less intimidating. An important thing to keep in mind is that a split-E mechanism is not a substitution for working on your harmonics and strengthening your embouchure – These are still fundamental skills needed for playing the flute. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual player if the split-E is something they would like to invest in. Some players love and some don’t. No one is right or wrong.


Jane Cavanagh’s video is a nice introduction to the split-E:

I also really like Rebecca Fuller’s video intro to the split-E:


Do you have a split-E mechanism? What pros and cons have you experienced ? Do you love it or can you leave it? Do you believe the expense is worth the results? Is the high E facilitator a better alternative to the split-E? Do your students perform on flute models featuring a split-E mechanism? Please share your thoughts below!

Happy fluting!

Double Trouble – Thoughts on Doubling 

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! Today we have another wonderful guest blog on Doubling by one of my favorite flute colleagues, and fellow DePauw alum, Kim Tiede (Thanks Kim!).

Enjoy! And as always, Happy Fluting!

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Double Trouble – Thoughts on Doubling 

The traditional dream of becoming an orchestral flutist is dying, if not dead.  You may not agree, but I beg of you to look at what is happening across the country.  Orchestras are cutting salaries, declaring bankruptcy, musicians are going on strike.  This is incredibly upsetting and while I absolutely believe we should continue to support the traditional arts, if we flutists want to actually make a living doing this then we need a new plan.  We need to get creative and versatile.  For me that has meant honing my saxophone and clarinet skills to make myself more marketable.  I am able to make a living completely off of music, however if I counted on only my flute business, I would generate only 25% of my current income.  Doubling isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever thought about it, here are some ideas to get you started.  

I always think it’s odd how many saxophonists play flute but how few flutists play saxophone.  It would indicate that saxophone is the more challenging of the two, but that is anything but true.  I think as flutists we tend to have a one-track mind.  Our entire identity has always been as a flutist- even having the confidence to try something new is scary.  While the saxophone embouchure is something to master and the reeds are definitely an adjustment, the saxophone is not even 3 octaves with 90% of the fingerings being flute fingerings.  So, pick up a saxophone sometime – the tone may not be great, but you’ll automatically be able to play all of your scales.  How many times can you pick up a brand-new instrument and do that?  Clarinet is a bit more challenging, but once you’ve got your saxophone chops, then add the clarinet to your mix.  

When I was starting out, I joined several community bands to build my endurance and chops on saxophone and clarinet.  They are such a great resource in most communities.  You get to meet other musicians and force yourself to practice.  If you’re anything like me, you may have trouble finding motivation to practice something new on your own.  Jumping into a community group gives you the push that you need to just try.  And no one is going to judge where you are in your ability level- that’s the great thing about community groups.  They are for just regular every-day members of the community.   In one of my groups, I met a woman who had always wanted to play the saxophone and started at 65, when her husband got her one for her birthday.  She had been playing with the group for 10 years and loved it!  And you never know, maybe through it someone will get word of your mad flute skills and ask you to concerto with the band (as has happened to me twice).  I can guarantee you I wouldn’t have found those opportunities otherwise.  

Photo by Petrol u30c4 on

Another thing to do is find musicians who play these instruments and take a few lessons.  You won’t need a lot, but learn about reeds and how to care for them in your climate.  Learn about embouchure and oral cavity shape.  A couple lessons will go a long, long way.  If you attend any music educator conferences, make sure to take in all of the saxophone and clarinet classes you can.  There are also both clarinet and saxophone Etude of the Week Facebook groups that you can join online.  Find other people like you who are learning something new.  Don’t be afraid to be the student.  We spend so much of our time teaching our skills that we forget how to learn.  You may find that hearing other teaching perspectives helps you become a stronger flute teacher, too. 

Remember that you don’t have to have the instrument mastered to teach it.  Flutists tend to be perfectionists (I know I am!), so we don’t like to do anything halfway.  And that is a good thing.  But just because you aren’t the best clarinetist doesn’t mean you can’t be the best teacher.  You still have all of your teaching skills.  Most of what we teach (especially to beginners) is note reading, musicality, and just the self-discipline and responsibility that comes with learning a new instrument.  The instrument itself is sort of arbitrary.  When I first started teaching clarinet, I was very intimidated.  I tried to stay a few pages ahead of my first students.  There were a couple of times I didn’t know a fingering a student asked me, and I said, “This is a great time to look at your fingering chart and make sure you can understand it.”  You do what you have to do!  But those students never questioned my knowledge.  And they learned how to play.  If you’re not comfortable playing clarinet or sax in a lesson, you can always demonstrate rhythms on flute.  And you get to practice your transposition skills!  Fake it until you make it.  You always know more than the student, even if you feel like you don’t know enough.  And if a student gets “too good” for you- don’t be afraid to tell them so and pass them on.  Parents appreciate the honesty and want their child to excel.  If you’ve given them all you can, then you’ve done your job.  Most of us had several private teachers that shaped us, not just one.   It’s ok for students to outgrow you, but it’s not a reason not to teach them in the first place.  

Photo by cottonbro on

Finally, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as a doubler as you get more confident.  Groups want to hire 1 musician instead of 3.  Local musicals are a great place to start where instead of reading a specific instrument, you read the “Reed 1” book, where you may play flute, alto sax, and bass clarinet.  Once you become known as a doubler, you create a unique niche for yourself which makes you more marketable.  Connect yourself to other members of your community- both face to face and online so that they think of you when they need a woodwind player, not just a flute player.  

Certainly not every flutist needs to double instruments.  But we do live in a world where we are all having to get much more creative about how to thrive in classical music.  I know that I personally wouldn’t be able to make a living in music if this wasn’t my life.  Clarinet (which is my weakest instrument), somehow makes up 50% of my students!  So, I’m thankful that I just jumped in and figured it out.  Maybe saxophone and clarinet aren’t for you, but you could teach piano or voice.  Or even double reeds!  Don’t ever be afraid to maximize your skills and talents.  Just because you are first and foremost a flutist doesn’t mean you can’t be these other things too.  Most importantly, always try to view life with fresh eyes and think outside of the box.  What unique skill sets do you have?  What can you do to branch out and enhance your marketability?  

Photo by Jean-Paul Wright on


Kim Tiede holds a Bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance from DePauw University.  She currently lives in Lakewood, Colorado, where she plays bari sax with the Tivoli Club Brass Band and teaches flute, clarinet, and saxophone at Do Re Mi and Achord Studios, and works with several local middle schools as their woodwind technician.

Product Review – Practice Note

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

I discuss goal setting a lot on this blog and have even published some practical advice in my article Top 10 Practice Productivity Hacks from the December 2021 volume of The Flute View. Goal setting is a topic very near and dear to my heart. Luckily, there is a great new product that makes goal setting in the practice room super easy, super practical, super portable, and even super stylish. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing the Practice Note, a fabulous new practice notebook that structures and streamlines practice routines by focusing on continuous progress and personal accountability to achieve your most important flute-playing goals.

What is the Practice Note – According to the Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company website: “Practice Note is a vibrant planner for every modern musician to use at any point in their musical journey. Weekly full-color practice pages are minimal and clean, so you can spend time on progress not paperwork. Designed to organize and inspire, Practice Note is the perfect practice companion for instrumentalists and vocalists at any age or experience level. Their simple and customizable approach allows you to start Practice Note any time of the year with a private teacher, an ensemble, or when learning an instrument on your own. They believe in the musical notes of life, and their goal is to inspire every musician to practice with intention. Practice Note includes 12 months of Practice Pages (start any time!), monthly Recaps, Short-Term and Long-Term Goal Setting, 20 pages of tried-and-true Practice Tips, and Trackers to help record your achievements. In addition to its stylish, straightforward approach to weekly practice pages, what sets Practice Note apart is its beautiful, dynamic details. Who said practice can’t be exciting? Every time you open Practice Note, you’ll immediately notice the hard cover with spot gloss uv, blue wire binding, elastic strap, glossy ribbon bookmark, full-color pages, and high-quality paper. Created by professional studio musician, Gina Luciani (Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Cobra Kai, Arcane), Practice Note is a way to reinvigorate the types of practice journals she kept as a young musician, updating them with a modern flare that hits all the right notes.”

How it is Organized – After an introduction describing the book and the background of its author, Gina Luciani, the Practice Note begins with a set of short chapters discussing how to use the book, practice gear essentials, how to prevent injuries, dealing with rejection or failure, tips on how to practice, how to structure your practice session, and (most importantly) how to set goals. This is followed by two pages with spaces to establish 6-month, 1- year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, and 6+-year goals that can be referenced at a glance at any time. Before launching into weekly practice templates, the book includes a page to jot down strengths, what you would like to improve on, and what your short-term goals are for the month ahead. The bulk of the Practice Note contains weekly practice templates, arranged in two-page segments for each week. The left page includes spaces to record the warm-ups, scales and etudes, and repertoire to be practiced during the week, as well as daily trackers and space to add total practice time each day. The right page features spaces to write down notes, questions, new goals, reflect on how you are feeling that week, and includes two lines of blank staves to record passages, fingering, melodies, or any other notes from a teacher or melodies from a budding composer. At the end of each four weeks, there is a page to reflect on the past month, with spaces to record what you did well, what you want to improve upon, and what your goals are for the next four weeks. At the conclusion of the Practice Note, there are two pages dedicated to your Goals in Review with spaces to record what goals you accomplished, what goals you still need to work on, what new skills or interests you’ve developed, and what new goals you have for coming year. The book concludes with a number of trackers including a repertoire list, performances, achievements, notes, and, of course, blank manuscript paper (no more printing off manuscript paper from suspicious internet sources).

What I Love about The Practice Note

The cover is gorgeous! A professional matte black, spiral bound, hard cover journal with colorful touches on the title and spine make this a beautiful display piece on your music stand. I proudly display my Practice Notebook on my stand, visible in any Zoom meeting I attend from my home studio.

The size of the notebook is perfect for transport while still providing tons of space to write and reflect on daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and long-term goals. I have used similar-sized notebooks for, well, DECADES. In my younger days, they were used for my flute teacher to record notes and weekly assignments, a practice that lasted into my college years. As a professional, I keep the same types of notebooks, usually haphazardly with a fraction of the structure that the Practice Note offers. Often, I use multiple notebooks and random sheets of papers to collect the same information that is contained in one place in the Practice Note.

The short, introductory chapters are like a series of blog posts to reference daily or whenever you need a refresher on a certain topic. I really love the practical advice offered in these sections and the way they address different audiences (teachers, parents, younger students, professionals, etc.). The writing is engaging yet accessible, encouraging, and inspiring. The topic choices are perfect, addressing very common concerns such as preventing injuries, dealing with rejection, and gear recommendations, while introducing the basic concept of goal setting and using the Practice Note to your best advantage.

The chapter on Practice Gear Essentials provides very specific recommendations on music stands, metronomes, tuners, microphones, and even earplugs. This takes the guesswork out for students and parents and even gives us professionals ideas for new products to try. Super helpful!

There are so many great, encouraging quotes. We all need encouragement sometimes. Being a flutist is not easy – not even for professionals! The opening chapters remind us to keep trying when the going gets tough, to keep our priorities reasonable and measurable, and to experiment with new approaches no matter how intimidating. Some of my favorite quotes include the following: 

  • “There is NOTHING more important than your health!  Your health and wellness should be your top priority. No practice session, competition, or performance should come before your health.” (From “How to Prevent Injuries”)
  • “Every musician has dealt with rejection in their life, including the greats. Trust me, you are not alone.” (From “Dealing with Rejection or Failure”)
  • “..set a goal for what you want to practice that day rather than a particular amount of time. The “Total Practice Time” in Practice Note is there not to hold you hostage to the clock, but merely for reference.” (From “Tips on How to Practice”)
  • “The best way to end all practice sessions is by playing something that makes you happy. It really doesn’t matter what it is (pop tunes, duets with a family member) it just needs to be fun FOR YOU!” (From “How to Structure your Practice Session)
  • “A goal you set now might change in the future and that’s totally okay! Your goals will naturally evolve over time. Just make sure that you’re aware of whether you’re changing because your interests have shifted, or if it’s because you feel like giving up due to frustration. Work through that frustration by setting up small, achievable goals.” (From “How to Set Goals”)
  • “Being “successful” as a musician is however YOU define it.” (From “How to Set Goals”)

The weekly template pages are clean, well-organized, with plenty of room to jot down everything you are working on any great ideas that may pop up while you practice. I don’t know about you, but I have some of my best ideas when I am practicing. Keep the Practice Note open on your stand, piano, or desk to record any of these great ideas for later.

There is a blank section on the weekly templates to record any other projects you may be working on. These could include practicing for an orchestra audition or brushing up on your sight-reading skills. Sometimes repertoire is not the only thing you prep in the practice room. Think outside the box (and then record your progress in the Practice Note box).

I love that the weekly templates feature checkboxes asking the question, “Did I Practice Something Fun?”  How many times on this blog have I suggested ending your practice session with five minutes of fun, free-style improvisation? This is the perfect place to track this! Also, practicing should be fun! It doesn’t always have to be about endless boring scales or woodshedding impossible technical passages. This tracker reminds us to add the little bit of sugar each day to help the practice medicine go down.

I very much appreciate the separate pages each week for notes and questions. You guessed it – I typically keep an entire separate notebook just for these items (sometimes called a “capture notebook”). I am also a writer and love to write up a storm! This section really speaks to me (and anyone else that enjoys journaling). Recording notes right next to your goals for the week helps to connect your larger practice visions to the smaller details you need to get there.

The “How Am I Feeling This Week” weekly tracker is a great reminder that the way we are feeling influences how creative and productive we are during each week. Check in with yourself! How do your emotions positively or negatively effect your practicing?

The trackers at the end of the book at great to use for updating your resume at the end of the year. Take pride in how far you’ve come. Remember that the process is often more important than the goal itself. Celebrate all of your wins and think optimistically about the wins that await in the future.

Finally, and most importantly, the very best part about the Practice Note is the goal-oriented approach to practice. This is a perfect reminder that we are constantly practicing towards something important to us and not just mindlessly drilling music on autopilot. I absolutely love that this book asks us to establish both long-term and short-term goals and requires us to reflect on our goals at the end of each week, each month, and each year. This is how we hold our own selves accountable for our progress. Without going too in-depth (which might be intimidating for younger students), the Practice Note encourages SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related), which have been proven in countless studies to be effective across many disciplines. This is a great way to think about practice and offers a way to revise our goals or change our paths as our interests and abilities change.

Photo by Yan Krukov on

Where Can I Get the Practice Note?  Purchase your copy of the Practice Note at Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company:   

Closing Thoughts on the Practice Note – This is an essential resource for students, teachers, and professionals. It does a masterful job combining the notebooks and trackers we all have scattered around our practice rooms into one beautiful, portable, and easy to use system. The short chapters at the beginning are encouraging, insightful, and practical while the goal-setting sheets and the beginning, between each month, and at the conclusion of the book are essential for keeping us accountable to ourselves. This is also the perfect time to purchase the Practice Note with a new school year looming around the corner. Set your students on the right track from the beginning of the school year to the end of next summer.


Have you purchased the Practice Note? How do you use the Practice Note in your own practice? Do your students use the Practice note? What possibilities do you see for using the Practice Note for current and/or future students? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

200TH BLOG! Flute Blog Index

Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday! Today is a special day as it marks my 200th flute blog! The past 100 blogs have featured of some of my best content with topics ranging from practice and performing tips, practice blueprints, astrology-based themes, and other reflective pieces written straight from my heart. To commemorate blog number 200, I have compiled an index of my past 100 posts. This is a great resource if you are new to my blog and would like a snapshot of my content or a faithful follower wanting a quick way to reference your favorite posts. A similar index was previously posted for the first 100 blogs on the following blog: 100th Blog!!!

Photo by Jean-Paul Wright on

Enjoy! If you have any suggestions for the next 100 blogs, please comment below!

FLUTE BLOGS #100-200

Blog #101 – What’s Your Sign, Jean Pierre? This blog is a continuation of my previous “What’s Your Sign, Wolfgang” posting, addressing how the astrological sun signs traits of some of our most famous flute virtuosos may have influenced their approach to the flute. It’s okay if you do not believe in astrology. I only offer these as fun, possible explanations on how different personalities manifest through flute playing. Perhaps you will see some of these same traits in your own flute playing!

Blog #102 – Flute Meme Friday – Part III. I have collected 20 more flute memes for you to enjoy or even share with your students! This is just a friendly reminder that we do not necessarily need to take ourselves so seriously all of the time.

Blog #103 – Forever Young – Adult Flute Students. In this blog, I will be discussing the unique issues that crop up for adult flute students and how flute teachers may best support older students to effectively set and attain all of their flute playing goals. You are never too old to learn to play the flute!

Blog #104 – The Flute Quiz. Today’s post is my version of a pub quiz for the flute! This is a great exercise to give to your students in preparation for a studio masterclass or a fun, Friday scavenger hunt activity. You could also use it simply to test your own knowledge of flute related topics.

Blog #105 – Top 10 Collaborative Music Making Tips. I am including my Top 10 Collaborative Music Making Tips for everyone out there making music in groups. Practice these tips in your ensembles to strengthen your non-verbal communication skills and successfully fit your flute voice into larger collections of sound.

Blog #106 – Top 20 Flute Jokes. Today’s post is a collection of the top 20 flute jokes I have found on the internet (rated G, of course!). None of these jokes are meant to offend so please do not take them personally. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves once in a while, right? Enjoy and remember to laugh a little whenever times get tough.

Blog #107 – Scale Exposure Therapy. Today’s blog is a review of 4 other scale books that I have come to love over the years whenever I need to spice up my scale routines with something new. If you feel yourself entering a scale rut or are just in need of a break from good, old T&G, test drive some of these other options to rejuvenate your daily practice routine. It’s okay! Taffanel and Gaubert will understand.

Blog #108 – Suggested Flute Repertoire List. Today’s blog will feature a sample repertoire list for those of you searching for new pieces to try, listed according to compositional era. If you are searching for a new piece to sight read and possibly add to your next program, I hope today’s post will help you find a new, inspiring work to incorporate into your practice routine.

Blog #109 – Top 10 Flute Teaching Tips. Today’s blog features my Top 10 Teaching Tips based on my own teaching experiences and what I have valued over the years. I really hope these tips help you reevaluate how you interact with your students and inspire you to encourage students to follow their dreams. Help your students along their paths and always remain a beacon of hope rather than locked doorway to another dimension.

Blog #110 – Short Cuts – Orchestral Excerpt Edition. Short cuts in orchestral excerpts are literally lifesavers at auditions when your physical and mental facilities are being put through the spin cycle. They are also great for performance time when the spotlight may hinder your ability to BRING IT! the same way you do in rehearsals. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am grateful that these short cuts have been available to me during my early career years and hope they can help you as they have helped me.

Blog #111 – 20 Reasons to be Grateful that you play the Flute. Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of the holiday, today’s blog features 20 reasons to be grateful that you are a flute player (as if you needed more of an incentive to play the flute).

Blog #112 – The Value of Free Online Resources. Today’s blog is a bit different than most of my other blogs. There are no Top 10 or Top 20 lists today. No practice tips or teaching suggestions. No product recommendations. No stories about stage fright or strategies for dealing with anxiety. Today, I am simply on my soap box.

Blog #113 – Flute Playing Snippets. 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.

Blog #114 – Holiday Flute Music. 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.

Blog #115 – Stage Stories. 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.

Blog #116 – 30-DAY TAFFANEL & GAUBERT EXERCISE #4 CHALLENGE. 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.

Blog #117 – 2018 Reading List Recommendations (Biographies). 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!

Blog #118 – Learning Something New. 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!

Blog #119 – Flute Accessories. 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).

Blog #120 – Schedule C. 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.

Blog #121 – Flute Pitch Tendencies. 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.

Blog #122 – Grit. 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.

Blog #123 – Astrological Practice Habits. In the spirit of the flute and astrology, today’s blog features a look into the practice habits of each of the 12 astrological signs. Every sign approaches the world a bit differently. Where do you fit? Do you show these characteristics in the practice room? Have you noticed other signs displaying these common astrological traits?

Blog #124 – Interpreting Debussy’s Syrinx. In today’s blog, we will take a closer look a Debussy’s Syrinx for flute seule and examine how Debussy uses notes in place of brush strokes to create a musical version of a painting.

Blog #125 – 50 States, 50(ish) Summer Masterclasses. I mention summer masterclasses periodically in my monthly flute horoscopes (published in The Flute View Magazine) and was inspired this week to compile a list of summer music opportunities for the upcoming masterclass season. When I began researching for today’s blog, however, I assumed for sure that there would be at least one masterclass or band camp available in each of the 50 states. I quickly discovered that summer opportunities were not easily found in a Google search for a handful of states (including Alabama, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and West Virginia). If you reside in these states and know of a summer festival, masterclass, or band or orchestra camp in your area, please comment below and I will be sure to add them to the following list. If not, I hope today’s post inspires you to connect to other local flute teachers and start your own summer masterclass!

Blog #126 – Music Audiobooks. Today’s blog features 10 very good audiobooks about music that are currently available on

Blog #127 – Top 20 Dos and Don’ts of Recital Prep. Today’s blog features my top 20 Dos and Don’ts of recital preparation. Number 19 is probably the most important tip and I urge all of you to enjoy the process. No matter what happens, have fun! If making music is not fun then we are going about it all wrong.

Blog #128 – Practice Blueprints: Repertoire 101 – Gavotte by F.J. Gossec. If you are relatively new to the flute and motivated to start learning repertoire or if you are a teacher searching for creative ways to introduce repertoire to your beginners, today’s blog will help point you in the right direction. We all need a good place to start and can accomplish amazing things with a well-outlined plan.

Blog #129 – Practice Blueprints: Repertoire 101 – Menuet by Bizet. If you are a teacher, today’s blog will also help you identify some of the musical priorities to discuss with your beginners. You may even add your own creative exercises to address any of the below musical elements. Grace and beauty is the name of the game for this work. Never let the technique distract from the beauty buried within the manuscript.

Blog #130 – On the Cusp. Today’s blog will take a look into how the unique characteristics of cuspers manifest in our flute playing lives. Whether you are a cusper or not, I hope to leave you with better understanding of some of your flute playing colleagues who fall within these very special astrological zones.

Blog #131 – Top 5 Flute Recording Recommendations. In today’s blog, I will share my top 5 favorite (and highly recommended) flute recordings. If you are searching for new inspiration, spend some time with these masterpieces (and a pair of earbuds). Listen for new ways to approach tried and true repertoire that you may not have considered before, or simply soak in some beautiful flute music under the summer sun.

Blog #132 – What is a Shakuhachi? In today’s blog, we will be examining the Shakuhachi. I hope to leave you with a new appreciation for this instrument and encourage you to find fresh inspiration buried deep within its sound.

Blog #133 – Practice Blueprints Repertoire 101 – Siciliano, Sonata No. 2 in E-flat Major by J.S. Bach. Today’s blog is a continuation of the Practice Blueprints – Repertoire 101 Series (Are you all still enjoying this series? Please comment below!). The Siciliano movement from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in Eb major is an excellent introduction to Baroque repertoire and often one of the first pieces I assign to beginners just learning to subdivide sextuplets (they are really not as scary as they look). This piece was requested by one of my readers (thank you!) and I encourage anyone searching for practice blueprints on a particular piece to please comment below or send me a direct message so that I can discuss your piece on an upcoming blog.

Blog #134 – Scammers. Scammers on the internet have been known to pose as parents searching for a private music instructor for their hypothetical children, requesting lesson rates, contact information, and lesson locations. Some of these scam emails are more convincing than others and it may be easy to fall into their trap if you are desperately seeking students.

Blog #135 – Top 10 Reasons to Attend the NFA Convention. If you are on the fence about whether to attend the NFA Convention this summer (aka. wondering if it is worth the money and time it will take to get there), today’s blog will give you 10 reasons to consider purchasing a ticket. If you are a poor college student like I was, look into conference funding in your college departments. Some schools set aside research funding for students to attend conferences like the NFA. And remember that as a student, you do qualify for discounted membership and convention registration rates! Attending the NFA Convention will likely give you fresh new inspiration to kick off the new academic year with renewed ambition, determination, and of course style.

Blog #136 – Flute FAQs – Flute Forum Edition. Today’s post is a spin on FAQs, featuring some of the questions posted on the Flute Forum group page. I hope they give all of my readers some insight into questions that might have also crossed their minds at one time or another.

Blog #137 – Blood Moon / Mercury Retrograde and your Flute Playing. I had a different topic originally selected for today’s post, but the energy of Friday’s Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse/Mercury Retrograde reminded me that everybody’s lives might be a hot mess this weekend. Perhaps an explanation from your favorite flute astrologer about how the eclipse will make its way into your flute playing for the next 6 months might be a bit more appropriate today.

Blog #138 – Tips for the Pit. In today’s blog, I will discuss some of my best tips for performing in the pit. Remember to remain flexible and do your best to enjoy the show.

Blog #139 – Does this thing Really Work?! Flute Products Review. In today’s flute blog, I will be reviewing some of my favorite new things in a “does this thing really work?” style post (inspired by the YouTube series popularized by Grav3yardGirl).  There are some great flute accessories out there! If you are in need of some major retail therapy (thanks Mercury retrograde..), I hope one of the products below speaks to your needs. Happy shopping!

Blog #140 – Flute Polls. Today I thought we would have a little fun! I have created a series of super easy-breezy flute polls below for all of us to compare notes on our flute playing experiences. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions as most of the answers are simply based on preferences. Have fun with this one and if you would like to elaborate on any of your answers, please comment below!

Blog #141 – Flute Meme Friday Part IV. 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.

Blog #142 – Solo vs. Flute & Piano Performances. 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.

Blog #143 – Flute Attitude Dos and Don’ts. 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.

Blog #144 – Abstract Thinking (and Writing). 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.

Blog #145 – Flute Meme Friday: Animals and Flutes. 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.

Blog #146 – Announcement: Flute Friday Hiatus. 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! 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.

Blog #147 – Sacramento Summer Flute Immersion. I will be teaching at the Sacramento Flute Club’s Summer Flute Immersion at American River College from June 21-23. Would you like to kick off the summer by diving head first into flute study? Are you interested in learning more about some of the crazy techniques discussed on this blog?

Blog #148 – It’s a Small Flute World After All. 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?

Blog #149 – Four-Week Flute Boot Camp. 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-ignite 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.

Blog #150 – Thoughts on Failure. 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.

Blog #151 – Imperfect Balance – Hand Position Correctors. Several years ago, I was reading through Madeline Bruser’s book, The Art of Practicing; A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, and was intrigued by her discussion on the various ways to adapt instruments to our own individual practicing needs. It is true – No two performers are alike. We all have different sized hands, fingers, elbows, embouchures, everything! For centuries, we have been contorting ourselves to fit the instrument, resulting in physical ailments ranging from permanent blisters to Tendonitis. Luckily, instrument makers and accessory manufactures have found clever ways to modify the standard flute to make it easier and affordable for those of us struggling to reach the G# or key or finding perfect balance between our imperfect fingers. In today’s blog I will be discussing some of these accessories and modifications and other options available to make your instrument work better for you.

Blog #152 – Virtual Concerts – Keeping the Music Alive. There has been a lot of discussion about practicing “self-care” while we try to conduct business as usual under quarantine. This may be easier said than done for musician around the World, but what we can do is support each other by keeping the music alive.  The following is a list of concerts available to view virtually this weekend from performing groups around the globe. Please check them out and add “attending a virtual concert” to your list of self-care activities. Support the arts, support our colleagues, and let’s continue to support our craft!

Blog #153 – Top 10 Self Care Tips for Flutists. In today’s blog, I will discuss my top 10 self-care tips for flutists. This is a great opportunity to use music as a form of relaxation.

Blog #154 – Top 10 Quarantine Practice Challenges. In today’s blog I will discuss my top 10 Quarantine Challenges to spruce up your practice time. Give them a try! You might find some new and interesting connections between pieces you had not noticed before (thanks Quarantine!).

Blog #155 – Virtual Masterclasses and Summer Programs 2020. Below is a list of masterclasses being held virtually that are still accepting applications for performers and auditors. I encourage those of you looking for summer learning opportunities to check out these programs. Summer can still be a great time to learn a lot from the most prominent flutists in our field through virtual formats.

Blog #156 – Flute Meme Friday/Saturday, Part V. These are very challenging times. With all of the tension and anxiety in the World over the past few weeks, I figured we could all use a break to simply chuckle at a few flute memes. I give you Flute Meme Friday, Part V (I think).

Blog #157 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #1: Idaho). The next few weeks will feature a new series on my blog: Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions. We will start with the state most near and dear to my heart: Idaho.

Blog #158 – The Myth of the Magic Formula. I attended a wonderful panel discussion today on Tips for Entrepreneurial Musicians that really hit home and inspired me to share with you today some of the experiences and lessons I have also faced in the ongoing struggle to find a flute “career.” Many of the stories were eerily similar to my own and echoed some of the same questions I have asked myself for years. What today’s session helped to finally understand (and accept) is that I am not alone. I was never alone. If I could turn back the clock and tell my college-aged self this, I would. 

Blog #159 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #2: Texas). Today we will be continuing our Practice Blueprints – All State Audition series with good, old Texas. All-State auditions in Texas are intense (Don’t mess with Texas!)! The repertoire is quite difficult and the state is very large, making competition for spots in All-State groups fierce.

Blog #160 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #3: Illinois). Today we will be continuing the Practice Blueprints – All-State Audition series with Illinois. I have really enjoyed the Fluting with the Stars Masterclass series offered by the Chicago Flute Club this year and was therefore inspired to select Illinois as the next state on the Practice Blueprints list.

Blog #161 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #4: Florida). We will continue the Practice Blueprints – All-State Audition Series this week with Florida. Auditions across the state will start today (September 11th) and continue through September 25th. Although most of the prep work may already be done for students auditioning into these groups, the below will serve as a few last-minute ideas for those still in preparation mode.

Blog #162 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #5: Oregon). Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday. We will again be continuing our Practice Blueprints-All State Auditions series this week with Oregon. Oregon has a special place in my heart as my husband and I were married in Yachats, Oregon 10 years ago and still visit at least once a year. We also briefly owned a beach house along the Oregon Coast where I taught young flute students and participated in the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA).

Blog #163 – Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #6: California). I will be continuing the Practice Blueprints All-State Audition series this week with my home state of California. California is indeed a huge state with a couple of hotbeds for creative musical talent – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The musical culture in this state is creative and forward-thinking. That does not mean that competition for spots in All-State ensembles will be any less fierce! There are numerous talented young musicians in California with unique backgrounds, world-class teachers, and superior skills and talents.

Blog #164 – Don’t Throw your Tart in the Bin – 10 Lessons on Competition Recordings. Today’s blog will be a bit more reflective than instructive, but there are a number of important lessons to be learned for those of you in similar circumstances.

Blog #165 – Rampal’s Astrological Chart. Today we will be discussing Jean Pierre Rampal’s astrological chart.

Blog #166 – What’s the Frequency, Fido? In today’s blog, I will discuss the connection between the flute and hearing sensitivity in dogs. Disclaimer: I am so not a veterinarian – just an overprotective dog mom. If you are reading this and know something animal sciencey that I don’t, please comment below! A lot of us flutists are proud puppy owners and would love to know more about updated hearing data.

Blog #167 – Flute Meme Friday – November 2021 Edition. Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! I think it is high time for another Flute Meme Friday, don’t you??? Let’s close Scorpio season with a few laughs (We Scorpios need to lighten up sometimes too).

Blog #168 – Top 20 Grateful List. Today I am sharing the top 20 items on this list. I encourage you to create your own lists! We have a lot of reasons to celebrate our passion and resilience as artists. What are you grateful for? 

Blog #169 – Dr. G’s Flute Gift Guide. In today’s blog, I will share a few gift ideas for the flutist in your life. These are some of my favorite things and I hope you will enjoy them as much I do! (*Please note – none of these items are sponsored. I’m just a superfan!)

Blog #170 – All State’s All-State Band Info. Today’s blog features general info and links to resources for all-state band auditions and festivals from all 50 states. Want a fun challenge for your studio? Ask students to prepare all-state audition material from another state and hold mock auditions during your next studio masterclass. Want to attend another state’s all-state festival to compare notes on all-state experiences and/or repertoire? Are you a band director searching for a new way to model your state’s all-state process (or at least reboot the all-state website)? This blog is for you! Hopefully, at the very least, this will be a good resource for navigating your state’s all-state processes now and in the future.

Blog #171 – Top Flute Blogs. In today’s blog, I will introduce a handful of my favorite flute blogs from around the internet. Check them out below!

Blog #172 – 30-Day Flute Challenges for the New Year.In today’s blog, I offer suggestions for various 30-day challenges to tackle tone studies, improve technique, conquer super intimidating etudes, master new (and old) repertoire, and work on various other challenging elements of flute playing that allude even the best of us. Dare yourself this month to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much better your flute playing is by the beginning of February!

Blog #173 – Moyse’s Astrological Chart. Today we will be discussing Marcel Moyse’s astrological chart.

Blog #174 – As Light as Air – Articulation Exercise Recommendations. In today’s post I will be discussing some of my favorite exercises to practice lightening and simplifying articulation. The first part of this list includes my recommended never-fail, gold standard exercises. This is followed by a list of exercises that can be used to diversify your articulation practice or focus on specialized articulation challenges. You may choose any combination of articulations to use for many of these exercises, but a good place to start is by practicing your toos, coos, and too-coos. For more ideas on articulations to practice and some of their suggested uses, please see my blog “You Say Potato, I Say Potatho”

Blog #175 – Fixing a Faulty Trill – Dr. G’s Top Five Trill Etude Recommendations. In today’s blog, I will highlight my top five favorite etudes to work on trills. Remember that one of the best ways to improve trills is by taking the pressure off of the trilling key. To do this, use a slightly firmer grip on the depressed key adjacent to the trilled key (for example, put slightly more pressure on the 2nd finger of your left hand while trilling a middle register G). Like everything, practice makes perfect (even when it comes to trills!).

Blog #176 – Burpees for Burgers – Getting Back into Flute Playing Shape. In today’s blog, I will discuss some of my best advice on how to get back into flute playing shape. The road ahead may be long and filled with lions and tigers and bears (oh my), but with a bit of optimism and a plan, we can all find our way back to the Emerald City of our flute playing.

Blog #177 – Flute Polls. I have compiled a number of flute polls on various questions we flutists receive from time to time. You may notice that some of the options include an “other” response. Please feel free to expound on any of these “other” responses in the comments section of this post. I am fascinated to see how we all answer! This may become a recurring type of post if it gains enough popularity.

Blog #178 – Fluteboxing. In today’s blog, I will take you on a deep dive into flute beatboxing: The background, the key performers, and the videos that make it a famous new-ish flute genre.

Blog #179 – BOOK REVIEW: The Top Octave Book – Playing with Artistry by Patricia George. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing this book, discussing, among other things, some of my favorite elements on the design of the studies, the creative warm-ups and exercises, and the flexible nature of the entire work (Please note: This is not a sponsored post. Just supporting a book I am enjoying). Thank you, Patricia George, for creating such as wonderful way to work on my Achilles heel!

Blog #180 – A Sleight of Lung – Circular Breathing. In today’s blog, I will be looking at circular breathing – what it is, how to do it, what resources are available, and if it is worth learning. For all of you fellow shy or rebellious breathers, hopefully this post will inspire you to try something new!

Blog #181 – Playing from the Heart – Lessons from Irish Music. It was refreshing to see performers free themselves from the crushing need to play the notes “correctly” and just, well, play! I walked away with many valuable lessons about Irish music and playing from the heart. In today’s blog, I will be sharing some of these lessons. Irish music isn’t just about playing fun jigs on tin whistles – It is also about connecting with others in new and meaningful ways.

Blog #182 – Getting Experimental: Singing and Playing on the Flute. Hey there musicians! Spring has finally sprung! And I am so glad to be back for another guest post this Flute Friday. My name is Aleah, and I’m going to be talking about the benefits of singing and playing. 

Blog #183 – Top 10 Flute Rock Cover Videos. Below are my top 10 picks for best flute cover videos. We definitely need more! I think one of my pet projects after I complete my book is to find my leather jacket and record a few Gn’R cover tunes. Gotta make Slash wish that he played flute! Happy viewing and ROCK ON!

Blog #184 – Practice Blueprints – Chant de Linos. This week we are revisiting the Practice Blueprints series with a bang. Chant de Linos is a super difficult work not for the faint of heart. Chalk full of technical gymnastics and crazy abrupt changes of mood, this work is intended for an unapologetically intense flutist looking for a challenge who is not afraid to test their performing endurance. In today’s blog, I will offer a few helpful hints for tackling this, pardon the pun, Herculean feat, hopefully taking the scaries out of learning such a technically difficult but beautifully virtuosic piece.

Blog #185 – Feel Good Flute Friday. Today’s blog is all about warm fuzzies. Below I have complied a number of affirmations and journal prompts to help you feel good about your flute playing. Use a few affirmations this week to remind yourself that you are flute playing rock star! Grab a cup of chamomile tea and reflect on your most important flute playing memories and performing values in a journal prompt. Make this week all about positivity and optimism. After all, flute playing should make you feel awesome and happy – So let it!

Blog #186 – The Gizmo Key. Today’s blog is somewhat of an op-ed. Lately I have spent some time thinking about the gizmo key on my flute. What are all of the possible uses for this key? Am I paying enough attention to this handy-dandy device? Is it as necessary as everyone seems to suggest? In today’s blog, I would like to chat about what exactly this key is and how to best use it.

Blog #187 – Solo Sunday – #1 Syrinx (Claude Debussy). Today marks the beginning of a new series on this blog entitled Solo Sunday! As I have discussed in previous Flute Friday posts, I do not have a lot of flute videos circulating on the web, and one of my goals this year is to record more. Cue in Solo Sunday! I will release a short solo flute performance on Sundays for the next five weeks. I may continue this series if successful or update release dates moving forward. Today’s solo is Debussy’s Syrinx.

Blog #188 – Business Writing for the Busy Flutist. In today’s blog, I am sharing some of my best business writing tips for the busy flutist. Looking to streamline and restructure your outgoing emails? This blog is for you!

Blog #189 – Solo Sunday – #2 Danse de la Chèvre (Arthur Honegger). Greetings and welcome to a new Solo Sunday. The second installment in this series, today’s video features Danse de la Chèvre by Arthur Honegger. I have also previously posted a Flute Friday blog entitled “Barnyard Dreaming,” analyzing of this wonderful piece, which may be found here:

Blog #190 – Practicing Improvisation. In today’s blog, I will offer a few suggestions on how to practice improvisation. Ditching the rules is not really as scary as it sounds! You might even be surprised at the music just waiting to escape from your soul.

Blog #191 – Solo Sunday – #3 Kokopeli (Katherine Hoover). Greetings and welcome to a new Solo Sunday! Today’s video is Kokopeli for Solo Flute by Katherine Hoover. I love this piece because it sounds haunting and almost ethereal, like walking  into a forest on a misty evening – You know there are secrets in the tress but cannot see the path in front of you. Spooky!

Blog #192 – Headjoints 101. In today’s blog, we will look at some of the basics of headjoints. Bottom line: a headjoint will sound different for different players. The best approach is to gather your list of sound wants/needs and try everything. The perfect headjoint may not look the way you expect.

Blog #193 – Solo Sunday – #4 El Bachiano for Solo Flute (Raimuno Pineda). Today’s video, El Bachiano by Raimundo Pineda, is a newer piece (2017) and a spicier spin on the famous Bach Partita. I worked on this piece late last year in preparation for a competition and absolutely fell in love with it. Doesn’t it just make you want to dance? Well, that is the point (see the description from the composer below).

Blog #194 – Violin Transcriptions. In today’s blog, we will sit back, grab a cold drink, and enjoy a handful of the most famous transcriptions of violin works, comparing various videos/recordings from renowned soloists on each instrument. What do you think are the biggest difference between transcriptions?

Blog #195 – Solo Sunday – #5 Mimosa for Solo Piccolo (Hong-Da Chin). Greetings and welcome to a new Solo Sunday! I am switching things up a bit today with a video featuring a piccolo solo (who doesn’t love the piccolo, am I right??). Today’s solo is a newer work by Hong-Da Chin entitled Mimosa for Piccolo Solo (2009) and yet another piece I fell in love with in preparation for a contest earlier this year.

Blog #196 – Do-it-Yourself Duets – Acapella App Reviews. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing three acapella apps to create these types of Do-It-Yourself Duets (not sponsored – although I should be). These are great to use for fun, as assignments for your students, or as a handy way to perform small ensemble pieces on various social media outlets.

Blog #197 – Rock(stro) and Roll! In today’s blog, we will look a bit more closely at the Rockstro position – What it is, where it came from, how to do it, and the possible benefits to applying the Rockstro or Modified Rockstro positions to your daily routine.

Blog #198 – Brace Yourselves – Playing with Braces. Wishing that I had a better frame of reference from the player’s perspective, today I would like to share a few tips that I have gathered from the teacher’s perspective. Braces are not easy but keep in mind that in most cases they are not forever. And the best part is that your embouchure will be even better by the end which often makes your sound even better than it was pre-braces.

Blog #199 – Flute Poems. In today’s blog, I am featuring a handful of poems that discuss the flute, including one at the end written by yours truly. Enjoy!

Blog #200 – 200th BLOG! Flute Blog Index.


Happy Fluting!

Flute Poems

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

Photo by Thought Catalog on

There seems to be a lot of ugliness in the world this week. I think this is the perfect time for some self-care! Grab a cup of tea (iced or hot – depending on your climate), kick up your heels, and join me as we dive into the rabbit hole that is poetry. There are some beautiful words written about the flute and flute playing. In today’s blog, I am featuring a handful of poems that discuss the flute, including one at the end written by yours truly. Enjoy!


No Conflict by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky) Original Language English



When the flute is playing

For then I see every movement emanates

From God’s




Invisible Caravans by Muhammad Shirin Maghribi, English version by David & Sabrineh Fideler, Original Language Persian/Farsi

Love’s concert is calling,

but the flute can’t be seen.

The drunks are in sight,

but the wine can’t be seen.

Hundreds of caravans

have passed

this very way —

Don’t be surprised

if their trace can’t be seen.


Song at Dawn by Meshullam da Piera, English version by T. Carmi, Original Language Hebrew

When they sang together,

when my morning stars sang

     as the night was ending

     and light came up from all sides;

when the night was ending,

     the darkness expelled,

     and my sun rose in the East;

when my thoughts shook off slumber

     and my limbs woke from their sleep of night —

then I sought to greet the dawn with music

     and to worship the morning with song.

In my hands I held the lyre and the pipe,

     and my left hand moved skillfully over the strings.

I tied the timbrel and the flute to my side

     and adjusted their loops,

     now tightening, now loosening them.

Then I began to sing and improvise,

     to see if my instruments would answer my words,

     to see if they would comfort me in my wandering,

     in this land of exile which is my home.

But though I sang, my flute did not answer,

     and even the birds did not raise their voices in mirth.

O masters of mysteries,

     have you ever known a musical instrument

     that would not strike up when I sing —

     and the birds voiceless among the branches, the swallows songless in my house?

Yet I wish them well,

     for with their silence

     they counsel me to hide my works,

     to hide my words from men,

     to conceal my secrets from all men

     with even greater care.



I am dust particles in sunlight.

I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.

To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,

and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,

and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,

I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.

Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,

a spark off a stone, a flickering in metal.

Both candle and the moth crazy around it.

Rose and nightingale lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,

the evolutionary intelligence, the lift and the falling away.

What is and what is not.

You who know Jelaluddin,

You are the one in all, say who I am.

Say I am you.


Flute By Maruetta Shaginian, Translated by Yulia Berry

The springs are still sweet

And autumn is quiet and empty …

And the sad dewy damp is poured into the soul, like it fills in flowers.

The corn is turning red in the fields,

Grapes has turned in amber.

The yellowing garden bent over under the sweer ripe cargo.

On the tower of the old chime

Dawn makes a detour.

Musicians are watching from the balcony

When the steam boat arrives.

They will be silent, then someone’s complaint,

Like a sad dove, again

The gloomy flute coos

About autumn, about pain, about love …


The Old Prison, Written by Judith Wright

The rows of cells are unroofed,

a flute for the wind’s mouth,

who comes with a breath of ice

from the blue caves of the south.

O dark and fierce day:

the wind like an angry bee

hunts for the black honey

in the pits of the hollow sea.

Waves of shadow wash

the empty shell bone-bare,

and like a bone it sings

a bitter song of air.

Who built and laboured here?

The wind and the sea say

-Their cold nest is broken

and they are blown away-

They did not breed nor love,

each in his cell alone

cried as the wind now cries

through this flute of stone.


Flute By Dr. Ram Sharma

I want to become your flute,

place it on your lips,

please fulfil my last wish,

fill the life in it,

move the slightest particle of the universe,

produce symphony of such melody,

hynotine every listener,

silence the inner evils,

drive away the darkness

led us to light


The Amateur Flute By Anonymous

Hear the fluter with his flute,

Silver flute!

Oh, what a world of wailing is awakened by its toot!

How it demi-semi quavers

On the maddened air of night!

And defieth all endeavors

To escape the sound or sight

Of the flute, flute, flute,

With its tootle, tootle, toot;

With reiterated tooteling of exasperating toots,

The long protracted tootelings of agonizing toots

Of the flute, flute, flute, flute,

Flute, flute, flute,

And the wheezings and the spittings of its toots.

Should he get that other flute,

Golden flute,

Oh, what a deeper anguish will his presence institoot!

How his eyes to heaven he’ll raise,

As he plays,

All the days!

How he’ll stop us on our ways

With its praise!

And the people–oh, the people,

That don’t live up in the steeple,

But inhabit Christian parlors

Where he visiteth and plays,

Where he plays, plays, plays,

In the cruellest of ways,

And thinks we ought to listen,

And expects us to be mute,

Who would rather have the earache

Than the music of his flute,

Of his flute, flute, flute,

And the tootings of his toot,

Of the toots wherewith he tooteleth its agonizing toot,

Of the flute, flewt, fluit, floot,

Phlute, phlewt, phlewght,

And the tootle, tootle, tooting of its toot.


The Golden Flute by Sri Chinmoy

A sea of Peace and Joy and Light

Beyond my reach I know.

In me the storm-tossed weeping night

Finds room to rage and flow.

I cry aloud, but all in vain;

I helpless, the earth unkind

What soul of might can share my pain?

Death-dart alone I find.

A raft am I on the sea of Time,

My oars are washed away.

How can I hope to reach the clime

Of God’s eternal Day?

But hark! I hear Thy golden Flute,

Its notes bring the Summit down.

Now safe am I, O Absolute!

Gone death, gone night’s stark frown!


Performance Anxiety By Rachel Taylor Geier

My confidence hands me a celebratory beer,

But my fear reminds me that it may still go wrong.

My brain tells me it doesn’t matter,

But my heart does not want to let me down.

I watch the seconds slowly tick by,

And feel the pit in my stomach grow larger as time draws near.

I care too much.

My lioness pride holds me captive.

The perfectionist in my soul aches for a flawless performance,

While the rebel awaits impending disaster to declare anarchy.

I’ve rehearsed what can be rehearsed,

Planned what can be planned,

But understand the unpredictable nature of fate.

The greenroom is shrouded in an invisible sheet of ice,

That only I can feel.

I hear the applause of an audience that is not yet there,

And see the stone-faced gaze of the critics waiting to pounce.

The stage manager is waving me on stage.

The show must go on,

Whether I am ready or not.

Breathe. Just breathe.


Photo by Pixabay on

Now it’s your turn! Do you have a poem that you’ve written about the flute or flute playing? Share it below! Do you have a favorite flute poem written by somebody else? Also share it below! Today is all about beautiful words and warm fuzzies.

Happy fluting!

Brace Yourselves – Playing with Braces

Greetings and welcome to a belated Flute Friday/Saturday.

Photo by Nick Oz on

I was blessed with relatively straight teeth. With the exception of one tooth in the back that grew in wonky from the beginning (requiring a crown later in my teenage years), my teeth have been low drama. I know that I am not the norm. I watched many of my friends and family members struggle with braces in my youth and have seen my own students struggle with them in my adulthood. I received an inquiry on my blog several years ago to discuss how best to approach the flute with braces. Wishing that I had a better frame of reference from the player’s perspective, today I would like to share a few tips that I have gathered from the teacher’s perspective. Braces are not easy but keep in mind that in most cases they are not forever. And the best part is that your embouchure will be even better by the end which often makes your sound even better than it was pre-braces.

Photo by cottonbro on

What Happens When the Braces Go On.

Your lips will have some serious gymnastics to perform as they must now extend beyond your braces. You may immediately notice a loss in lip strength and flexibility which, in turn, may make your sound a bit more difficult to produce. Your mouth needs time to adjust and your lips need practice moving slightly more forward. If you have a naturally “smiley” embouchure, you may have an even more difficult time fighting against the tendency to pull the corners of your mouth back which, with braces, can be very painful. The bottom braces also make it difficult to place the headjoint in the ideal spot.

What You Can Do to Make Playing with Braces Less of an Obstacle.

  1. A good place to start is by practicing getting your lips around the braces to shape the aperture. Practice blowing through a narrow coffee straw to form the aperture. When this becomes more comfortable, move to practicing just on the headjoint.
  2. Be patient with your sound. Your sound will be airy while your embouchure builds back strength. Spend some time playing through long tones and octaves to slowly re-build these muscles. Octaves in particular will help build embouchure flexibility.
  3. Do smaller, more frequent amounts of practice. You do not want to tax your developing lip muscles too much with longer practice sessions.
  4. Practice in front of a mirror or record videos of yourself playing. This will help you see how you are positioning your lips. You may be holding yourself or the flute in ways that cause more harm than good.
  5. Make sure your embouchure is relaxed. A tight embouchure may lead to the metal digging into your mouth (ouch!).
  6. Practice in short sessions with and without the topical wax on your braces. You may find that the wax helps your lips and vice versa. Find what works for you.
  7. Experiment with your blowing angle. Try aiming your air toward the ceiling and then toward the floor. Again, find what works for you. Remember that in general the lips should cover the tone hole approximately 25-30%.
  8. Try placing the flute lower on the lip. This is just a good tip in general (with or without braces). We all have a tendency to play too high on the lip. Bringing the flute down will help with both sound production and intonation.
  9. If you have a “smiley” embouchure, practicing harmonics will help as they require the lips to move out and forward.
  10. Use this time to focus less on your sound and more on technique. This is a great time to focus on your scales and etudes. Your fingers are not connected to your braces (that’s the good news!). Practice all of those technical bits that don’t necessarily need a great sound to execute.

Other Things to Keep in Mind.

  1. Make sure your teacher knows that you will be getting braces. They can help you come up with a game plan. Teachers – work with your students on that game plan using some of the tips from above.
  2. Schedule putting on your braces at a time that doesn’t conflict with any major performances or auditions. Summer break is great for this. Can you schedule during the summer break?
  3. Having braces often improves your sound after they are taken off because your embouchure is stronger and the extra space in your mouth creates more resonance.
Photo by SHVETS production on


Did you ever play the flute with braces? Do you have students struggling to play with braces? What does your braces game plan look like? What are the biggest challenges? What are the best changes that occur when the braces come off? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Rock(stro) and Roll!

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

I was performing in a masterclass in college when I was first introduced to the Rockstro position. No, this is not some weird yoga move. The Rockstro position is an approach to holding and balancing the flute that takes the pressure off the fingers while improving the center of the sound by aiming the airstream closer to the outside edge of the tone hole. As a performer that has always tended to play on the sharp side of the pitch, the Rockstro position immediately improved my sound and intonation while helping correct some of my bad habits (such as putting too much pressure on the outer edge of my left-hand index finger). In today’s blog, we will look a bit more closely at the Rockstro position – What it is, where it came from, how to do it, and the possible benefits to applying the Rockstro or Modified Rockstro positions to your daily routine.


What is it? The Rockstro position originates from Richard Shepherd Rockstro’s treatise, A Treatise on the Flute (1980). Part of the Rockstro approach involves positioning the headjoint relative to the rest of the flute so that the headjoint is rolled inward while the body of the flute is rolled outward. The tone hole in then aligned so that the far-left side aligns with the center of the keys. The left index finger then comes more under the flute to form a shelf while the right thumb slides to the back of the flute. This balances the flute on three different points: 1.) The lip plate pushing against the chin, 2.) The left index finger “shelf”, and the 3.) Right thumb at the back of the flute which guides the flute forward against the pressure of the lip plate pushing against the chin. The support of the instrument therefore falls in a triangle formation between the left index finger, right pinky, and the right thumb.

Benefits. The Rockstro position relieves some of the pressure on the left index finger and the tendency to grip the flute too much with the right hand. It also takes the pressure off the lower lip while freeing up the fingers so they move more fluidly between notes. The sound is also bit more responsive as it is easier to aim the airstream to the tone hole, creating more center to the sound and, in some cases, producing a darker overall sound while increasing embouchure flexibility. This is great for players that tend to play on the bright side. It is also great for those of us that veer sharp and the natural tendency of the position will lean under the pitch. This of course means that you may have to correct other pitches that tend to fall on the flat side. Word of warning: Try to avoid pulling the corners of the mouth back as this produces a buzzy, forced sound. The Rockstro position is also great to combine with placing the lip plate slightly lower on the bottom lip.

The Modified Rockstro Position. The Modified Rockstro position is discussed in books such as Music and the Flute by Thomas Nyfenger and The Flutist’s Progress by Walfrid Kujala.  In the Modified Rockstro, the tone hole is placed somewhere between centered with the keys and far-side aligned. The left index finger is more under the flute than to the side, but not quite forming a shelf. The right thumb is placed halfway between under the flute and around the back of the flute. Finally, the right pinky does not press down as hard in the Modified Rockstro, making it easier to lift without losing the balance of the flute. This is a great compromise if you want some of the benefits of the Rockstro position without compromising the balance between the triangle of support points.

Where did the Rockstro position originate? The Rockstro position was not new when Rockstro discussed it in his treatise. This positioning was the traditional approach of flutists prior to the introduction of the Boehm flute. In fact, in his treatise, Rockstro references historians and performers such as Quantz, Devienne, Berbiguier, Drouet, Dressler, Lindsay, Tulou, Nickolson, and Coche as proponents of the approach. He even quotes Drouet’s Methode by stating, “The flute should be supported by the. . . . first finger of the left hand; by the thumb of the right hand, and by the lower part of the under lip. It is necessary to practise holding the flute perfectly steadily, and supported only by the three points indicated above, so that when it is placed to the mouth every finger, with the exception of the right hand thumb, may be free to move without endangering the steadiness of the instrument….” The tip of the thumb should be pressed against the inner side of the third joint of the flute, between the fourth and fifth [of the six open finger-] holes.” (A Treatise on the Flute, Rocktro, Page 424) He continues to cite the following individuals as supportive of moving the right-hand thumb to the back of the flute: Tromlitz, Tulou, Walckier (Tulou’s pupil), and Drouet.

Famous performers that use the Rockstro Position include James Galway, Susan Milan, Geofrey Gilbert, and William Bennet.

More Resources:

I have used and loved the Modified Rockstro for many years and often experiment with the full Rockstro from time to time. The key is to experiment to find the position that works best for you. If the Rockstro throws off your sound and your equilibrium, it may not be for you. If you are a sharp player, then you might give it a go. Bottom line, experiment and find the best approach for your unique flute style.


Do you use the Rockstro or Modified Rockstro position? What were your experiences with the approach? What do you find most beneficial in using the Rockstro position? What is most challenging with this position? Please comment below!

Happy fluting!

Do-it-Yourself Duets – Acapella App Reviews

Welcome to a very much belated Flute Friday/sorta Solo Sunday combo blog.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

When I was just starting to learn to play the flute, back in the days of cassette tape recorders, I loved to practice duets by recording myself playing the 2nd lines so that I could play along with the top line on playback. I mostly did this for fun but it also helped me to prepare both parts, as was typically required at my flute lessons, and memorize some of the trickier entrances and cues. I noticed a couple of years ago that some of my colleagues were making amazing videos of themselves performing duets, trios, quartets, and even entire flute choir pieces in a single video. How cool! I finally looked into this for myself and tested out a couple of apps that made this possible. In today’s blog, I will be reviewing three acapella apps to create these types of Do-It-Yourself Duets (not sponsored – although I should be). These are great to use for fun, as assignments for your students, or as a handy way to perform small ensemble pieces on various social media outlets.

1. TOP CHOICE – Acapella. This app was super easy to use! What I love about this app, aside from how user-friendly it is, is, unlike the other apps, you can set it to record in durations from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. I also really like that the countdown timer appears very large on your screen so you know exactly when the recorder is set to start, which makes timing your entrances easier. Finally, this apps give you a number of choices when it comes to saving the final product. If you do not want to publish immediately to social media, you can save to your My Photos folder and post later. There is also a great trimming feature so you can edit anything out from the beginning and end of your video and you can also add interesting filters and fun boarders. The bummer is that it is not free (*enter sad violin music). This app will cost you $9.99/month after a 7-day trial. I still think it is worth it if you enjoy creating these types of videos or would like to encourage your students to create videos of their own. I was able to easily create a short video featuring Mozart’s “Non so piu” from The Marriage of Figaro:

2. DO NOT RECOMMEND – Riff. This app seemed user-friendly at first. You may only record up to 1 minute on the free version but the custom timer on the paid version of the app ($1.99/week after a 7-day trial) does not have a max. The countdown timer is not nearly as clear as the Acapella app and it does not let you add cool filters and boarders. What I found to be the automatic fail in my book was they delay in playback. I recorded the same Mozart duet with this app in the same way as Acapella, but the playback on the top line was delayed slightly, which unsynced the version of the piece that I was playing along with. Below is the recording of this video using Riff (warning – this video is horrible due to the delay in playback):

3. DO NOT RECOMMEND – Mixound. I couldn’t even get this app to work! There is no countdown, no settings for the time limit, and certainly no filters or boarders. Totally not user-friendly. You don’t even know that the video is recording when it is on! I don’t even have a terrible sample to share with you because this app was such a flop. Do not recommend.

So the clear winner is Acapella. I will likely keep this app and record more extensive duets in future Solo Sunday videos (although, I guess it would be more like Duet Sunday). Get ready for a future Doppler Solo Sunday! Here is another short video I was able to throw in using the Acapella app (featuring Blavet’s Tambourin)


What acapella apps do you use? Do you have a favorite? Have you had success with any of these apps in the past? Share your stories (and your videos) below!

Happy Fluting!