Author: racheltgeier

Top 20 Dos and Don’ts of Recital Prep

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday. Happy Earth Day weekend!

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I used to schedule my Spring semester recitals during this time of year when I was in college. I really liked having the 4 months or so after the Christmas break to strategically plan out my recital preparations and budget my personal practice time as well as rehearsal time with my accompanist. Fall always seemed a bit more frantic and filled with distractions (there are so many holidays and celebrations in the Fall months). Hosting a recital at the end of the Spring semester was almost like a reward for a year’s worth of hard work. Many of you reading this may also be preparing for your Spring semester recitals and searching for a few words of wisdom to help you get to the finish line. 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.

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  1. DO plan out your practice schedule well in advance. That’s right – Make yourself a weekly schedule detailing exactly which pieces you plan to target and in what order. This can be done on a simple Excel spreadsheet or on your Google Calendar.


  1. DON’T cram practice. Sunday evenings are ripe for opportunities to cram practice for the upcoming week. This will eventually lead to burnout and delayed progress. Instead…


  1. DO make sure you are practicing for about the same amount of time each day. Practicing is a lot like exercise; Daily progress will build up muscle more efficiently than spending every Sunday at the gym. Likewise, daily practice will help develop stronger performances than periodic marathon practice sessions.


  1. DON’T wait until the last minute to rehearse with your accompanist. Start early with weekly rehearsals if possible. If this isn’t possible either due to crazy schedules or financial constraints…


  1. DO invest in SmartMusic or a similar music accompaniment program. This will really help you practice fitting your solo part into the piano accompaniment outside of rehearsals with your accompanist. Listen for piano cues and try to distinguish between your role as a soloist and moments when you are accompaniment.


  1. DON’T always begin rehearsing at the beginning of a piece. Isolate weaker sections of your music and try to devote more time to breaking those parts down, practicing slowly with a metronome, and putting them back together gradually. If you always start at the beginning, you will have a strong opening but your piece may crumble when the going gets tough in the middle of work.


  1. DO combine flute and piano works with smaller chamber group performances, if possible. A strict flute and piano recital may be predictable and mono-tone. Chamber music adds a bit of variety with the addition of other instruments.


  1. DON’T forget to add a flute solo piece between longer flute and piano works. The weirder, the better. I love to slip in a contemporary work between a Bach Sonata and an explosive French Flute School piece. This keeps the program interesting for your audience and helps display the variety of repertoire available for the flute.


  1. DO add a piece featuring the piccolo, alto, or bass flute, if possible. This also promotes variety in your program by showcasing the entire flute family.


  1. DON’T forget about intonation. Bracket any selections in your music that contain long sustained tones and integrate intonation practice on these tones (using a tuner) into your daily practice. Practice making crescendos and decrescendos on these tone while sustaining the pitch. It is easy to forget about intonation in the midst of stressful recital preparation.


  1. DO select a recital outfit that is both professional and comfortable. Despite popular opinion, you do not need to be red carpet ready to perform a recital. The difference between a flutist performing a recital and an actor attending an award ceremony is that flutists are performing a physical activity onstage for roughly an hour. You wouldn’t expect to see a football player playing in the Super Bowl wearing a suit, would you? Make sure that your outfit allows you to breathe comfortably, stand with good posture, and allows for easy arm movement. Add a pop of color with a beautiful scarf or accessory.


  1. DON’T wear heels, ladies. This is not only painful after an hour of standing, but it will also mess with your posture and equilibrium. Pick a pair of simple black flats that will help center your posture and connect your feet closer to the ground. I always like to tell the story of how I fell down a flight of stairs at a middle school band concert because I was wearing impractical, but very cute, black heels. I ended up damaging my instrument and butchering an exposed flute solo due to a bent rod on my instrument. If I had just wore different shoes that night…


  1. DO schedule time to rehearse in your performance space at least 1 week prior to your recital. I know in many instances this may not be possible, but it is very important to prepare yourself in advance for balance issues in the room and potential distractions from the stage (including lighting difficulties). This is also a good time to make sure the piano on stage is tuned properly.


  1. DON’T ignore performance anxiety. Even if you feel confident and relaxed in the days prior to your performance, you cannot predict the anxiety that may arise backstage or even onstage. Practice breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and positive self-talk as the recital date draws near. Use a breathing bag backstage to combat rising anxiety quickly. Most importantly….


  1. DO schedule a session with an Alexander Technique instructor prior to your performance. You may be tensing up and not realize it! Your Alexander Technique practitioner will help you identify where you are misusing your muscles and how to effectively let go of tension.


  1. DON’T stress about the after party. There is often a reception that follows a recital. Delegate reception set up to your friends, family, or even another flutist whose reception could be your future trade off. Panic over the number of mini muffins should not interfere with your presentation. Save the drama for Obama.


  1. DO make sure you have enough music stands and that they are placed exactly where you need them on stage. There will typically be an usher backstage that will work with you to make sure these logistics are perfect. Communicate with them but let them take care of everything. No need to micromanage.


  1. DON’T schedule anything else on the day of your recital, if possible. This is your day and you do not need extra distractions or potential stressors to get in the way of your success. Everything can wait until tomorrow.


  1. DO enjoy the process. Remember that no matter what happens or how well or poorly your performance is, tomorrow is another day. You are not defined by one performance. In that case, simply enjoy whatever happens. Live in the moment. Enjoy the success and hard work that got you to this point. Good job!


  1. DON’T dwell on mistakes. Use mistakes as a way to improve your next performance. Everybody makes mistakes! You can either choose to let them destroy you or use them to make your next performance stronger.


What helps you prepare for a recital? What obstacles do you typically face and what do you do to address these issues? What are your own Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to recital prep? Please comment below.

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Happy fluting!


Music Audiobooks

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday. Mercury retrograde is finally ending on Monday! Any projects that you have been struggling to get done during this time will start moving forward again.  Hope this week is indeed very productive for all of my readers.

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Earlier this week I was listening to one of my favorite inspirational audiobooks on my Audible app, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (I often do this while folding laundry or taking my lunchtime walk by the local creek). I began to think about what other books may be available on Audible and if, maybe, some of the great flute books and treatises have be translated to audiobook. Unfortunately, this is a niche that has not been explored yet on Audible…BUT there are a number of other great audiobooks about music, music history, music biographies, and much, much more. Listening to audiobooks while performing passive activities such as laundry, cooking, or taking a stroll through the park is a good way to efficiently absorb new ideas or review some forgotten lessons from yesteryear. Today’s blog features 10 very good audiobooks about music that are currently available on

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If you do not yet have an Audible subscription, you may sign up for a free 30-day trial. After that, it’s only $14.95/month which gives you 1 credit to use on any audiobook (even if the normal download price is waaaay above $14.95). You also get 30% off any additional Audible purchases. The app is free to download on your phone and allows you to upload and store audiobooks directly on your device (meaning you do not need to be connected to the internet to enjoy your audiobooks – hello, plane ride!). The best part is that you can cancel anytime and keep all of your audiobooks. I have done this several times (cancel, renew, cancel, renew) and have never lost any of my books. Of course, I always end up going back to Audible because it is so awesome and I get a lot out of listening to audiobooks. I am a busy woman! I need to mutli-task whenever possible. Pro-Tip: Keep your eyes peeled on Groupon for special subscription deals. I once got a free 3-month subscription rather than the standard 1-month by going through Groupon.

To subscribe for your free trial, please click here:

Top 10 Music Audiobooks at Audible

  1.  How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition; Narrated by: Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D. University of California Berkeley

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition

Publisher’s Summary: If you have ever longed to appreciate great concert music, to learn its glorious language and share in its sublime pleasures, the way is now open to you, through this series of 48 wonderful lectures designed to make music accessible to everyone who yearns to know it, regardless of prior training or knowledge. It’s a lecture series that will enable you to first grasp music’s forms, techniques, and terms – the grammatical elements that make you fluent in its language – and then use that newfound fluency to finally hear and understand what the greatest composers in history are actually saying to us.

  1. How to Make It in the New Music Business; Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician by: Ari Herstand, Narrated by: Ari Herstand, Derek Sivers

How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

Publisher’s Summary: In the last decade, no industry has been through as much upheaval and turmoil as the music industry. If you’re looking for quick fame and instant success, you’re in the wrong field. It’s now a democratic DIY business, and any guide to success in these new waters must be told by someone who’s already survived them. Giving today’s aspiring musicians the practical tools they need to build and maintain a lifelong career, How to Make It in the New Music Business becomes not only a brilliantly compiled tutorial on how to accomplish specific tasks – routing a tour, negotiating contracts, getting paid for Spotify and Pandora plays, or even licensing music to commercials, film, and television – but also a manifesto that encourages musicians to pave their own paths. Iin clear, easy-to-follow chapters, Ari Herstand’s necessary and definitive handbook promises to redefine what it means to make it in the brave new world of professional music.

  1. This Is Your Brain on Music; The Science of a Human Obsession, By: Daniel J. Levitin, Narrated by: Edward Herrmann

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Publisher Summary: In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music – its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it – and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world

Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre

That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise

How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our heads

  1. Great Masters: Mozart – His Life and Music, By: The Great Courses, Narrated by: Professor Robert Greenberg Ph.D. University of California Berkeley

Great Masters: Mozart – His Life and Music

Publisher’s Summary: Beginning with an examination of the many myths that surround Mozart to this day, Professor Greenberg offers not only an understanding of his music, but also a realistic view of Mozart the boy and man, from his emergence as youthful prodigy to his posthumous deification.You’ll learn about his difficult and ultimately doomed relationship with his father, his troubled marriage, his relationships with luminaries like Haydn, Emperor Joseph II, and his operatic librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, and the triumphs and disappointments that marked his career – including the astonishing and inexplicable creative recovery that enabled him to create his great Masonic opera, The Magic Flute, only months before his death.

**SIDE NOTE – There are several other biographies in this series including Haydn, Beethoven and much more. Listening to an audiobook is a great way to understand more about the composers behind the music!

  1. Processing Creativity, The Tools, Practices and Habits Used to Make Music You’re Happy With, By: Jesse Cannon, Narrated by: Jesse Cannon

Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices and Habits Used to Make Music You’re Happy With

Publisher’s Summary: Covering the pitfalls of creating music, the book thoroughly explores the hidden reasons we actually like music, how to get along with your collaborators, and patterns that help creativity flourish. While every musician says that being creative is the most important part of their life, they barely explore what’s holding back them back from making music they are happy with. When trying to navigate the ways our creative endeavors fail there’s no YouTube tutorial, listicle, or college course that can help navigate the countless creative pitfalls that can ruin your music.

  1. Jazz: A History of America’s Music, By: Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns, Narrated by: LeVar Burton

Jazz: A History of America’s Music

Publisher’s Summary: Here are the stories of the extraordinary men and women who made the music: Louis Armstrong, the fatherless waif whose unrivaled genius helped turn jazz into a soloist’s art and influenced every singer, every instrumentalist who came after him; Duke Ellington, the pampered son of middle-class parents who turned a whole orchestra into his personal instrument, wrote nearly two thousand pieces for it, and captured more of American life than any other composer. Bix Beiderbecke, the doomed cornet prodigy who showed white musicians that they too could make an important contribution to the music; Benny Goodman, the immigrants’ son who learned the clarinet to help feed his family, but who grew up to teach a whole country how to dance; Charlie Parker, who helped lead a musical revolution, only to destroy himself at thirty-four; and Miles Davis, whose search for fresh sounds made him the most influential jazz musician of his generation, and then led him to abandon jazz altogether.

But Jazz is more than a mere biography. The history of the music echoes the history of twentieth-century America. Jazz provided the background for the giddy era that F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Jazz Age. The irresistible pulse of big-band swing lifted the spirits and boosted American morale during the Great Depression and World War II. The virtuosic, demanding style called bebop mirrored the stepped-up pace and dislocation that came with peace. During the Cold War era, jazz served as a propaganda weapon – and forged links with the burgeoning counterculture. The story of jazz encompasses the story of American courtship and show business; the epic growth of cities, and the struggle for civil rights and simple justice that continues into the new millennium.

  1. Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting, By: John Mauceri, Narrated by: John Mauceri

Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting

Publisher’s Summary: John Mauceri brings a lifetime of experience to bear in an unprecedented, hugely informative, consistently entertaining exploration of his profession, rich with anecdotes from decades of working alongside the greatest names of the music world. With candor and humor, Mauceri makes clear that conducting is itself a composition: of legacy and tradition, techniques handed down from master to apprentice – and more than a trace of ineffable magic.

He reveals how conductors approach a piece of music (a calculated combination of personal interpretation, imagination, and insight into the composer’s intent); what it takes to communicate solely through gesture, with sometimes hundreds of performers at once; and the occasionally glamorous, often challenging life of the itinerant maestro. Mauceri, who worked closely with Leonard Bernstein for 18 years, studied with Leopold Stokowski, and was on the faculty of Yale University for 15 years, is the perfect guide to the allure and theater, passion and drudgery, rivalries and relationships of the conducting life.

  1. The History of Classical Music, By: Richard Fawkes, Narrated by: Robert Powell

The History of Classical Music

Publisher’s Summary: From Gregorian Chant to Henryk Gorecki, the first living classical composer to get into the pop album charts, here is the fascinating story of over a thousand years of Western classical music and the composers who have sought to express in music the deepest of human feelings and emotions. Polyphony, sonata form, serial music – many musical expressions are also explained – with the text illustrated by performances from some of the most highly praised recordings of recent years.

  1. Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering Your Instrument Like a Professional, By: David Dumais, Narrated by: Jennifer Capunitan

Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering Your Instrument Like a Professional

Publisher’s Summary: Learn all the best practice tips, tricks, and techniques used by the greatest musicians in the world – all for the price of a coffee!

Do you want to know how to practice like the professionals do? Are you struggling with your playing? Having trouble getting motivated? Do you want to improve your playing and bring it to the next level. If you are serious about playing, practicing, and improving your skills on your instrument, then this audiobook is for you! Whether you are a beginner or professional, classically trained or not, this audiobook contains proven strategies that can be applied by anybody. This audiobook is a compilation of the best practice tips and strategies from the best musicians in the world. You will learn practice tips used by world class musicians, ranging from pianists to violinists, and trumpeters to clarinetists. This audiobook contains over 80 tips for practicing everything from rhythm to intonation to challenging passages. You will learn how to practice effectively and efficiently.

  1. The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything, By: Daniel Coyle, Narrated by: John Farrell

The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything

Publisher’s Summary: How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

Where does talent come from, and how does it grow?

New research has revealed that myelin, once considered an inert form of insulation for brain cells, may be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Journalist Daniel Coyle spent years investigating talent hotbeds, interviewing world-class practitioners (top soccer players, violinists, fighter, pilots, artists, and bank robbers) and neuroscientists. In clear, accessible language, he presents a solid strategy for skill acquisition – in athletics, fine arts, languages, science or math – that can be successfully applied through a person’s entire lifespan.

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Do you have any favorite audiobooks about music? Did you know there were books about music on Audible? Which flute books do you think should be available on Audible? How do you listen to audiobooks? Do they help you to multitask? Please comment below!

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Happy Fluting!

50 States, 50(ish) Summer Masterclasses

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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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! Many of the states listed below, such as California and Texas, have numerous masterclasses planned for this summer (a single listing really does not do justice for these larger states). For a more extensive list of summer opportunities in these states, please visit the National Flute Association’s List of Masterclasses and Flute Talk Magazine’s annual listing of Masterclasses, Camps and Festivals . These two listings are the most compressive directories of summer flute masterclasses available in the Unites States and abroad. Please check them out!

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50 States, 50(ish) Summer Masterclass/Music Festival/Music Camp Opportunities


(No summer masterclasses in Alabama? Anybody game to host?)


Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival-Flute Masterclass, Fairbanks, offers classes in all art disciplines including opportunities in flute. July 15-29. Masterclass teachers TBA.,


Curry Summer Music Camp, Flagstaff, provides a combination of college life and summer camp activities for student interested in dance, choir, band, orchestra, jazz choir, jazz band, and musical theater. Under the San Francisco Peaks on the Northern Arizona University campus student (grades 7-13) work with university faculty and renowned musicians. 6/17-30, 7/1-7. 160 students, 53 teachers per session. Contact: 928-523-2323,


(No summer masterclasses in Arkansas? Anybody game to host?)


The Keith Underwood Flute Masterclass, Carmel Valley, is for advanced flutists. Tuition w/housing $1150. June 1-6. 15 participants. Keith Underwood.,

*Side note – I attended this masterclass in 2008 and it literally changed my life. Highly recommend!


Flute! in Crested Butte, Mount Crested Butte, will focus on repertoire, performance, musical artistry, and audition skills. Tuition w/housing $950. Tuition alone $725. July 26-30. 15 participants. Masterclass teacher Mary Karen Clardy.,


Hartt Suzuki Institute, West Hartford. The 2018 Hartt Suzuki Institute will be offering student and teacher classes for flute, August 5-10. Students, ages 4-18, must be studying with a Suzuki-trained teacher and be in Book 1 or beyond. Students receive between 4-5 hours of masterclasses, group classes, and enrichment courses daily, with the week culminating in several final concerts. Teacher training for Suzuki Flute Unit 2 will be offered for teachers who qualify. All activities are held at the University of Hartford. Tuition: students $475-$575 depending on level; teacher course $450 with graduate credit option for $550. 8/5-10. 15 teachers. Contact: 860-768-4451,


Flutefest! featuring Guest Flutist Erica Peel – The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington Branch, Wilmington, DE. Flutefest! dedicates a whole day to the flute with enrichment activities and the opportunity to work with guest flutist and piccoloist Erica Peel. Piccoloist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Erica Peel enjoys an exciting career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist, composer and teacher. She is praised for her effortless performances which expertly maneuver from the strictly classical to rock and roll. Ages 8-Adult, Saturday June 16 9:00 am – 3:30 pm. Cost $77. To register:!&d=June%2016,%209am%E2%80%933:30pm


Marina Piccinini International Masterclasses, Miami, features classes in three divisions plus exhibitors. Tuition w/housing $1750 single, $1470 double. Tuition alone: $1150. June 18-24. 40 participants. Masterclass teachers Marina Piccinini, Brook Ferguson, Kristin Bacchiocchi-Stewart, Katy Wherry, Femi Oladeji, Steven Finley, Adam Workman.,


FLUTISSIMO!, Athens, offers private lessons, masterclasses, and performance opportunities for advanced high school, college and professional flutists plus participants are eligible to compete in the Flutissimo Young Artist Competition. Tuition w/housing $890. Tuition alone $615. June 18-22. 25 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Mark Sparks, Nicole Esposito, Angela Jones-Reus, Katherine Emeneth.,


Flute! in Hawaii, Honolulu, is focused on repertoire, performance, musical artistry, and audition skills. Tuition alone $725. June 21-15. 15 participants. Masterclass teachers Mary Karen Clardy, Sabrina Saiki-Mita.,


Passion Flute 2018, Boise, is designed to enhance your individual skills through inventive workshops and masterclasses. Tuition w/alone performer $575, participant $475, auditor $350. Add $250 for room and board. June 13-18. 25 participants. Masterclass teachers Angeleita Floyd, Claudia Anderson, Jill Felber, Nicole Molumby.


Credo Flute, Elmhurst, is for the serious flutist ages 14 and up. Tuition w/housing $1090, Tuition alone $610, July 23-28. 25-30 participants. Masterclass teachers Jennie Brown, Mimi Tachouet, Luke Fitzpatrick, Walfrid Kujala, Alexa Still, Gary Woodward.,


Indiana University Summer Music Clinic, Bloomington, IN. This dynamic musical experience is for string, brass, woodwind, and percussion students currently in grades 8-12. Primarily focused on orchestra and band performances, the clinic also offers jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles, electives in conducting, composition, jazz improvisation, music theory, leadership, and classes led by IU Jacobs School of Music faculty! Tuition with housing $740. 6/17-23. 225 students, 30 teachers. Contact: 812-855-1372,


Iowa Flute Intensive, Iowa City, is designed for the serious flutist. Topics include fundamentals of sound, articulation, technique and phrasing, orchestral and opera excerpts, concerti, solo repertoire and body mapping plus a mock orchestral audition, exhibits and faculty recitals. Tuition alone performer $495, auditor $295. May 30-June 2. 15 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Nicole Esposito, Julien Beaudiment, Michel Bellavance, Kaori Fujii, Rena Urso-Trapani, Andrea Fisher,,


University of Kansas Midwestern Music Camp, Lawrence, KS. Since 1936, the Midwestern Music Camp has brought young musicians to the University of Kansas to study and play with our outstanding faculty and world-renowned guest musicians. Students from across the United States and other nations have come together each summer to learn and perform together on one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. To date more than 65,000 young musicians have been a part of this tradition. Many of them are now performing in major symphony orchestras, service bands, and choirs, while others teach at great schools and universities around the world. Join us this summer on the campus of the University of Kansas and discover and develop your musical talents! Camps include Middle School Band & Orchestra June 10-14 (grades 6-9) and the High School Band & Orchestra June 17-22 (grades 9-12). Pricing and online registration will be posted on our website on March 1 ( Contact: 785-864-3367,


Jamey Aebersold’s Summer Jazz Workshops, Louisville. Our workshops have earned a reputation for producing the best intensive programs for learning jazz improvisation. Each year we assemble the nation’s leading educators and performers dedicated to providing an intensive learning experience for musicians of all ages and ability levels. are open to students of all ages and abilities. Theory classes, ear training, combo performance, masterclasses, and jam sessions allow students the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential. Beginner improvisers and seasoned pros will leave with tons of new and exciting ideas about how to improve their playing. 6/30-7/13. 300+ students, 50 teachers. Contact: 812-944-8141,


(No summer masterclasses in Louisiana? Anybody game to host?)


Bowdoin International Music Festival Woodwind Fellowship Program, Brunswick, is designed to provide mature, college-aged or older, high-level players with the insight and experience necessary to pursue a performing career. The 2018 Festival has openings for 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, one bassoon and one horn. Each fellow will be provided with full tuition, room, board, and fees. Wind fellows will perform in quintets, mixed ensembles, as soloists; in the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music; and in limited orchestral performances. Tuition Full Fellowship. June 23-Aug 4. 2 students. Masterclass teacher Linda Chesis.,


FluteSpaBaltimore, suburban Baltimore, is a participatory masterclass designed for performers and teachers (advanced high school through adult) to explore fundamentals of flute playing and rehearsing/performing in a flute choir. Class topics include embouchure development and flexibility, breathing, articulation, vibrato, building a technique, practice strategies (chunking), musical gestures, shaping a phrase, tone color, note-groupings, style considerations, and set-up. Tuition alone $325 early bird, $350. Daily rate $175. 30 participants. July 13-14. Masterclass teachers Patricia George, Sara Nichols, Wendy Webb Kumer.,,


ARIA International Summer Academy, South Hadley, provides three intensive 10-day for advanced flutists, ages 16-28. Tuition w/housing per session $1,925 per session. Tuition alone $975 per session. June 28-July 9, July 11-22, July 24-August 4, 2018. 20 participants/ session. Master-class teachers Aaron Goldman, Alexa Still, Linda Toote, Molly Barth, Christina Jennings, Judith Mendenhall, John Thorne, Donna Shin, Jonathan Keeble. Check website for masterclass teacher residency dates.,


Amy Porter’s Anatomy of Sound, Ann Arbor, will include instruction with special guest, Ali Ryerson on inspiring both classical and jazz flutists to stretch their boundaries and experience the freedom and joy of jazz improvisation. Ryerson’s masterclass sessions offer a primer course in jazz improv along with individual and group coaching sessions, all accompanied by our swingin’ resident rhythm section. Every age adult and performance level (student, amateur, semi-professional, professional) is encouraged to apply. Tuition $700. June 2-5. 32 participants. Masterclass teachers Amy Porter, Ali Ryerson, Jerald Schwiebert, Laura Dwyer.,


The Complete Flutist, Minneapolis, is for serious flutists high school, college and beyond who want to develop all aspects of their playing and musicianship. In addition to flute fundamentals, the master class will include orchestral excerpts, solo repertoire, an intro to baroque flute, and Alexander Technique. Tuition w/housing $750. Tuition alone $500. Auditors $75 per day. June 14-18. 15 performers, unlimited auditors. Masterclass teachers Immanuel Davis, Christina Smith.,


Southern Flute Festival, Hattiesburg, features masterclasses for flutists middle school through graduate school as well as for amateurs. Tuition alone $60. Housing on your own. June 1-2. Up to 100 participants. Teachers: Eva Amsler, Carlos Feller, Danilo Mezzadri.,


UMKC Jazz Camp, Kansas City, brings world-renowned performers and jazz educators to Kansas City to work with talented young instrumentalists ages 12 and up. Jazz Camp co-directors Bobby Watson and Dan Thomas and distinguished clinicians provide insight and inspiration to student combos in a welcoming environment. Tuition with housing $570, tuition alone $370. 6/24-28. 100 participants, 10 teachers. Contact: 816-235-5448, .


University of Montana, Band/Jazz Camp – Missoula, MT. June 24-30, 2018 – For students entering grades 7- 2018 High School graduates.  Participants in this summer program will enjoy full concert band, small ensemble, and solo performance opportunities. Students interested in jazz will have the opportunity to participate in jazz combos, theory, listening, big band, and jazz improvisation classes. We also offer a special track for students who are interested in learning more about jazz rhythm section playing.  Optional classes include Conducting, Composing Music online, Jazz Improvisation, Private Lessons, and much more. Fees include: Camp Tuition, Room & Board, Camp T-shirt, Recreational Activities & Group Photo. Tution:  $460, Deposit: $100 (Due at the time of registration), 1/2-hour Private Lessons (optional): $20. Contact James Smart at for more information about Band Camp 2018.


(No summer masterclasses in Nebraska? Anybody game to host?)


(No summer masterclasses in Nevada? Anybody game to host?)


Creative Musicians Retreat at The Walden School, Dublin, NH. New Skills for Lifelong Learners. Invigorate your music, participate in a diverse community & engage in creative music making. Join us for an 8-day residential get-away in beautiful New England. Lessons, coachings, master classes, chorus, seminars, concerts. For performers, composers, teachers & more. Immerse yourself in music, emerge inspired. Tuition with housing $2,125. 6/16-24. 8 teachers. 415-648-4710,


Westminster Conservatory’s 22st Annual Flute Camp, Princeton, features classes on building flute technique, learning solo and small ensemble repertoire, hearing faculty recitals and gaining performance experience. Tuition w/housing $900, Tuition alone $600. July 22-28. 30 Participants. Masterclass teachers Gerald Carey, Sandy Olson, Sue Gillio, Diana Charos Reilly.,


Santa Fe Flute Immersion, Santa Fe, focuses on baroque flute and 18th century performance for modern flutist. Tuition alone $750. Scholarships and housing available. May 28-June 4. 12 performers, 100 auditors. Masterclass teachers Wendy Rolfe, Linda Marianiello, Carol Redman, Valerie Potter, Alaina Diehl.,


Gary Schocker Summer Masterclass, West Park, features flute study with a master performer, teacher, and composer. Tuition w/housing performers $920, auditors $695. Tuition alone $695, auditors $475. July 11-15, 25 participants. Master-class teacher Gary Schocker.,


Asheville Flute Vacation, Asheville, is for adult amateur flutists to focus on small ensembles, flute choir, private lessons. Tuition $550. May 28-June3. 12 participants. Teachers Lea Kibler, Deborah Heller.,


International Music Camp, Dun­seith. Founded in 1956, IMC offers over 40 one-week programs in all areas of the Fine Arts including Band, Orchestra, Choir, Dance, Drama, Visual Art, and more! 2,000 grade 5-12 campers from 76 countries grow and learn together each season with instruction ranging from beginning to advanced. Auditions are not required. Tuition with housing $400/week if registered before 5/1, $415 after 5/1. One-week sessions running 6/17-7/28. 250-400 students, 185 teachers. Contact: 701-838-8472,


Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, Oberlin, offers instruction in Baroque instruments and voice. This summer’s program will focus on “A Celebration of Couperin and Charpentier.” The institute is for high school students (with audition) through adult and for all playing levels. Tuition alone high school $550 for two weeks, for others one week $575, two weeks $1100. Housing available one week single $275, two weeks single $525; one week double $250, two weeks double $480. Food plans available. June 17-30. 8 flutists. Masterclass teachers Christopher Krueger and Oberlin Baroque Ensemble members Mark Edwards, Michael Lynn, Marilyn McDonald, Catharina Meints.,


Oklahoma State University Summer Music Camp, Stillwater, offers high school students the opportunity to study their instruments in a comprehensive collegiate setting. The camp offers three tracks of study: band, orchestra and piano. Students participate in large ensembles, masterclasses, chamber ensembles, and elective courses. Private lessons with OSU faculty are also available. Tuition with housing $439-$499 before 6/18, tuition alone $339-$399 before 6/18. 7/8-7/13. 21 teachers. Contact: 405-744-4420,


2018 Portland Flute Spa & Flute Choir Retreat, Portland, is for flutists 18 years through adult (especially for teachers, flute choir directors and players) to examine the fundamentals of flute performance and chamber music playing. Tuition alone $275 (before May 1, $250). Housing available. June 29-July 1. 30 participants. Masterclass teachers Patricia George, Phyllis Avidan Louke.,,


The Consummate Flutist, Pittsburgh, is an inspirational week of masterclasses, lectures and workshops for advanced high school, college and professional flutists. Tuition Performer $650, Participant $450, Auditor. $50/day, $150/entire class. Additional lessons $75. For housing suggestions see website. June 12-16. Masterclass teachers Alberto Almarza, Marianne Gedigian, Lorna McGhee, Soo-Kyung Park.,


(No summer masterclasses in Rhode Island? Anybody game to host?)


Christian Performing Artist Fellowship “Masterworks Festival 2018,” Converse College Spartanburg, features a four-week orchestral program and a two-week flute intensive. Tuition with housing $4100, June 17-30 (flute) June 17-July 14 (orchestral), 5 to 6 flutists. Masterclass teachers Paula Kasica, Anne Harrow. email:,


University of South Dakota Summer Music Camp, Vermillion. The University of South Dakota Summer Music Camp is a six-day experience of learning and music-making open to students who have completed grades 5-12. Activities include vocal and instrumental ensembles, as well as a variety of other musical activities. Op­por­tun­ities for private lessons on a specific instrument are also available. Tuition with housing $460, tuition alone $285. 7/8-13. 200 students, 50 teachers. Con­tact: 605-677-5274,


William Bennett Summer Flute Academy, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. A week-long, intensive flute course which emphasizes “singing” the music through the flute by utilizing principals such as a beautiful tone, nuances in colors and expression, and understanding of line and phrasing to create a musically satisfying performance.  During daily masterclasses, Wibb’s inspirational teaching and enthusiasm for the flute will help students realize their musical artistry. Dates: 6/15/2018 – 6/22/2018; Play Level: Advanced high school through professional; Ages: professional flutist, teachers, students, and amateurs; Number of Performers: 15; Performers Cost: $495-$525; Number of Participants: 15, Participants Cost: $450-$495; Contact:


2018 Texas Summer Flute Symposium, Commerce, will offer masterclasses, chamber music, electives, and performances. Tuition w/housing performer $618. Tuition alone $398 performer. June 10-15. 18 performers, 50 auditors. Masterclass teachers Julien Beaudiment, Terri Sundberg, Raffaele Trevisani, Jake Fridkis, Mayu Saeki, Julee Kim Walker.,


BYU Musicians’ SummerFestival and Institute, Provo, UT. BYU Musicans’ Institute is for elite musicians ages 14-18 who want to improve their musicianship through a highly focused and rewarding chamber music, masterclass, and private instruction experience with members of BYU’s acclaimed School of Music faculty. June 12-16, 2018. Regular Tuition: $284 (includes daily lunch). To apply:


Flute Overhaul Techniques, Richmond. Participants learn many of the skills needed to overhaul fine flutes including removing dents and scratches, stretching worn keys, repairing solder joints, polishing and cleaning the flute, re-pinning, replacing broken springs, etc. Time will be devoted to the techniques of making special tools, operating a lathe, hardening steels, and important machine shop tips. Tuition alone $1800. Session dates April 9-13, June 11-15, July 16-20, Aug 27-31. 4 students. Masterclass teacher Jonathon A. Landell.,


National Flute Workshop, Old Presbyterian Meeting House Alexandria, is open for flutists ages 13-professional of all playing levels with private lessons, masterclasses, small ensembles, and other activities. Tuition alone $450. Hotel info upon request. July 16-20. 40 participants/unlimited auditors. Masterclass teacher Jonathan Snowden, Rebecca Carey. or


Marrowstone Music Festival, Bellingham, is an orchestra and chamber music camp. Tuition w/housing $2900. July 22-Aug. 5. 8 performers. Masterclass professors Jill Felber,,


(No summer masterclasses in West Virginia? Anybody game to host?)


Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Flute Camp, Milwaukee, is a week-long flute camp for young flutists. The daily schedule includes private lessons, a performance class, seminars, and flute ensemble rehearsals. Tuition alone $329. August 6-10, 9 AM to 4 PM daily. 40 participants.Masterclass teachers Jennifer Bouton Schaub, Aaron Gardner, Emma Koi, Julia Richter.;


The Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive, Laramie, is a three-day masterclass focusing on tone, learning creative practice tips, and auditioning. Tuition/with housing $218, Tuition alone $100. June 22-24. 20 participants. Masterclass teacher Nicole Riner.;


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Is there a camp not listed here that you are planning to attend? Do you happen to know of any camps or festivals planned in states that do not have entries above? Would you like to host your own masterclass? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!













Interpreting Debussy’s Syrinx

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday. Happy full moon/April fools/Easter weekend!


My husband and I are Disney fanatics. There is seldom a weekend that goes by that we do not find ourselves in front of the television watching one of the classics. A few weekends ago, we were watching Bambi (a traditional Disney staple if there ever was one), and were stunned by just how incredibly beautiful the art of animation was before the onset of the digital age. As children, we do not typically have an artistic frame of reference when watching films and often miss the beauty of the art to concentrate on the story being told (and, in this case, drying our eyes when Bambi’s mother is met by a hunter’s bullet). This film uses rich, warm-toned colors so magnificently that it is as if you are watching a sequence of paintings placed one after the other. I began to compare this type of Disney “impressionism” to works by Debussy, who, as we know, was inspired by impressionist artists such as Monet. I began to see the same type of warm-toned paintings in my imagination as I listened to Syrinx and was fascinated by the new interpretation I was able conjure by connecting this story to art. 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.


First thing’s first – The Story. Syrinx tells the story of the river nymph, Syrinx, who was pursed by the god Pan. In a panic, Syrinx runs to the edge of the water and begs the water nymphs to help her escape Pan’s pursuit. In response, she is transformed into a bundle of hollow reeds. Pan discovers the reeds, which created a haunting sound when the god’s frustrated breath blew across them. Legend states that Pan subsequently cut the reeds and fashioned them into a set a pan pipes, know better today as a pan flute.

This is a story about transfiguration that occurs not once but twice. The piece begins with what we may call the Syrinx “theme,” but given the range and chromatic meanderings of the melody, it sounds more like her cry for help to the water nymphs:

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We begin the work in a state of panic, which brilliantly sets the scene for the ensuing drama. The next phrase, beginning in measure 3, develops Syrinx’s cry for help and, with the addition of triplet figures, helps her to explain her wishes to be transformed into reeds to the water nymphs. The pause at the end of this phrase, which follows the sustained pitches of Syrinx’s final pleas, gives the water nymphs a pause to hear her cry and roll up their proverbial sleeves to perform a bit of magic. The muffled octave transposition of Syrinx’s cry for help indicates that she has been taken under the water where, following a series of explosive and free falling chromatic pitches (reminiscent of the scene in Disney’s Cinderella when the carriage and horses transfigure back into a pumpkin and 4 mice at the stroke of midnight), Syrinx is changed into a bundle of reeds. Her new persona is indicated in the following phrase, marked by clunky grace notes that suggest the sound of reeds knocking against one other in the evening breeze.

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The melody speeds up quite suddenly 5 measures after the measure marked “Rubato,” with the presence of triplet 16th notes, indicating that the frustrated god, Pan, has found his way to the river and is enraged when he cannot find Syrinx. The trills beginning 2 measures before au Mouvt represent the god’s breath as it falls across the reeds and the sustained Bb that concludes the phrase is the idea lightbulb being lit in Pan’s mind to create a flute from these reeds (this note always makes me think about the scene from How The Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch smiles maniacally as he comes up with “wonderful, awful idea”).

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The au Mouvt represents Syrinx’s final cry for help as she is again transformed into a pan flute. Unfortunately, there is nobody to help her this time as Pan gathers the reeds and, with the help of a few more spinning triplet 16th notes, wraps twine carefully around the bundle to create his infamous pan flute. En reteant usher in the melody that Pan plays on his pan flute. This concluding phrase is solemn, a little bit creepy, and, somehow, ironically calming as the last 2 measures outline all of the pitches in Pan’s flute.

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Syrinx is traditionally performed in the dark. This is done in part to help the audience picture the events of the story in their imaginations without any distractions from the stage or gallery. I think that modern performance of this work also calls for digital projections of impressionistic artworks depicting rivers, water (Monet’s Water Lilies for example), magic, or the story of Syrinx itself. As the music winds its way through transfigurations, so do the colors of these paintings from object to object and scene to scene. Combining music and artwork may help to create a deeper interpretation of the story by connecting music to story and color. I urge you to experiment with digital projections in your next performance of Syrinx to create a more vivid story between the lines of manuscript.

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How do interpret Debussy’s Syrinx? What pictures come to your mind when playing through this work? Have you performed this work in the past? Did you use a darkened room or digital projections? Please comment below.


Happy Fluting!



Astrological Practice Habits

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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Be sure to check out The Flute View this month to catch my short article on Astrology and the Flute and to check your Flute Horoscopes for March .

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? Please comment below!

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ARIES – Do not get in the way of an Aries when they want to get something done! Mars, the God of War, is the ruler of Aries. Musicians falling under this Sun sign tend to set very clear daily goals and do not rest until they achieve everything on their list. An Aries will stay in the practice room until the building closes if they feel that there is still work to be done for the day. The list may be short but their ambition is quite expansive. Aries is also a very stubborn sign. They often get stuck because they hold on to traditional, tried and true, methods of doing things and sometimes overlook new techniques or exercises that would accomplish more with less time and effort. If you are an Aries and find yourself frustrated by old techniques, find an Aquarius or Sagittarius friend to show you some great time savers. These two signs are fairly hip to new trends and good at finding clever shortcuts.

TAURUS – “Slow and steady. Steady and slow. That’s the way I always go.” This is the motto of a Taurus. Musicians falling under this Sun sign love slow practice. When learning a new piece of music, a Taurus will dial the metronome back to quarter note = 40 and slowly increase the tempo each day until they are playing the piece up to tempo. They are also quite interested in sound production and will spend a good amount of time with De la Sonorite by Marcel Moyse working on developing a solid center for each note. Much like an Aries, a Taurus is very stubborn and likes to stick to traditional forms of practicing in a very organized, formulaic fashion (ex. long tones are followed by scales which are always followed by etudes, and so forth). A Taurus is also all about efficiency and does not generally enjoy improvising. If you are a Taurus and struggling with improvisation, find some time to jam with a Pisces. This sign will help you find your unique voice.

GEMINI – Geminis need to talk things through, preferably with other people (but don’t be surprised if you find them frequently talking to themselves in the practice room). This Sun sign thrives on communication. Geminis often find themselves practicing in groups where they can talk things through with their colleagues. They are most productive when they rehearse with at least one other person and prefer to visit the practice room during the busiest times of the day. You may find yourself in periodic chats with your Gemini friends if you are practicing within their vicinity. Don’t worry – they just need a break from the awkward solitude of the practice room or literally just need someone to discuss different ways they could tackle technical passages. This may annoy signs like Scorpios or Cancers who like to withdraw from the world to practice, but may lead to creative, inspiring new ideas whenever a Gemini strikes up a dialog with a Pisces or a Libra. Schedule a practice session with a Gemini friend if you are struggling with a piece of music and need to talk it out. They will have some great ideas.

CANCER – Cancers value their family above all else in the world. You may not even see a Cancer in the practice rooms because they likely have a home rehearsal space they prefer to use. This makes it easy for a Cancer to sneak in a bit of practice here and there while still devoting most of their evening hours to their family. Cancers like to hold mock performances for their friends and family, who often end up being the “jury” in a mock audition. It is very important for Cancers to share their passion and creativity with their loved ones. This means more to them than winning competitions or landing a great chair placement in an orchestra. Cancers will have the largest audience at a recital or orchestral performance as support from friends and family is very important to them. Whenever they are hurt by a disrespectful colleague or disappointed by a less than great performance, Cancers will sometimes snap, say things they don’t really mean, and retreat to a quiet place to cool down. Give them their space. They just need a little time in their shell before revisiting the outside World. Patience is not their forte so when they do come out of their shell, it is always a good idea to have a sympathetic Pisces or Scorpio nearby for them to calmly discuss alternative ways to approach their situation.

LEO – Leos are the Beyoncé’s of the World. As the proverbial divas of the Zodiac, this Sun sign loves to put on a show. You typically won’t find musicians falling under this sign locked up in a practice room, if they can help it. Leos prefer to practice on a stage. It doesn’t matter if it is in an empty concert hall, outside in nature, or one that they have crafted in their own garage (with the doors open, of course, to entertain the neighbors). Leos also like to make sure that everybody likes them (which is not difficult because they are very likeable people). This sign will go out of their way to make sure they are doing whatever they can to make the group sound better, whether it is through excellent attention to dynamics or precisely matching vibrato speed with their neighbors. When it is recital time, you can bet that a Leo will be dressed to the nines and will likely have a spectacular final piece on their programs (something French, perhaps, with a lot of fireworks). It is sometimes difficult for Leos to address difficult problems. They do not like telling others that something is wrong. It is important for Leos to connect to signs like Capricorn or Aries, who can give this sign the bit of confidence they need to communicate issues to other members of their group or, in some instances, to themselves. Of course, they will always put a positive spin on whatever negative enters their world. This is a wonderful gift!

VIRGO – As the natural perfectionists in the Zodiac, Virgos are the best of the best. This sign will spend hours examining a score before heading to the practice room. Their manuscripts are typically covered with notes referencing everything from definition of terms to specific plans for rubato passages. Virgo will pack their schedules with opportunities for practice time to make sure that all of their passages are metronomically correct, their runs are super clean, dynamics are perfectly planned out, and their performance is 100% technically perfect. Virgos are the masters of scale studies and love, love, love their metronome. They may have trouble sometimes with slower, expressive pieces or finding creative interpretations for more lyrical passages. Connecting with water signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio) will help Virgos discover deeper interpretations for the music they are working on. Water signs bring the Virgo’s attention to the meaning behind the notes, not just the notes themselves.

LIBRA – Libras love to embrace all things beautiful. This Sun sign likes to beautify their environment with gorgeous (and often meaningful) works of art, bundles of brightly colored flowers place strategically around the house, and cascading draperies for every season of the year. Libras also like to decorate their practice space in this manner. They might bring in portable lamps to soften harsh overhead lighting, gorgeous (yet perhaps a bit impractical) instrument stands, and various linens or silk coverings (just to give their environment a bit of color). Libras also gravitate towards more lyrical works, or pieces that have longer sections of melody mixed in among technical passages (French Flute school works are ideal for Libras for this reason.). Libras do not really enjoy chance or minimalistic works without a melody.  They often struggle, however, when dealing with difficult people or problems as they just want everything in their world to be harmonious. Libras should work with signs like Aries or Sagittarius to gain more confidence in addressing sticky situations. These two signs are action driven and dealing with difficulties is second nature for them in order to get things done.

SCORPIO – Leave this sign alone when they are practicing. Scorpios like to practice in quiet solitude, away from the distractions that other signs may bring. It is not necessarily because they are anti-social, but rather because they have lazar-sharp focus on very specific selections of music that they simply cannot break. Interrupting a Scorpio when they are fixated on their music may result in a silent wrath that you really do not want in your life. They do not mean to hurt you (in fact, Scorpios will help out other signs whenever they are in need, no matter what – even if they would rather FedEx you directly to Timbuktu) – They are simply workaholics that take their projects very seriously. Scorpios prefer to practice at night when most other people have gone home for the evening. They will typically come to the practice room armed with very specific passages (often bracketed) that they intend to work on until perfect and burned into their memories. If you are hanging around the practice rooms around 9:00 pm and hear someone playing the same passage over, and over, and over, AND OVER again, it is likely a Scorpio. Give them space. Scorpio have a hard time taking breaks, which can lead to injury and other psychological issues down the road. They need other water signs (Cancer and Pisces) around to remind them to take care of themselves. It’s okay for Cancers to give Scorpios a cut off time and politely knock on the door when time is up. Cancers can diffuse a potential stinger with thoughtfulness.

SAGITTARIUS – The expression, “Don’t be such a ham!” was probably intended for a Sagittarius. Sagittarians love to be the center of attention and, unlike Leos, they generally do not care if you love them or loath them – They want your attention regardless. Sagittarians will practice in hallways and outside of buildings so everybody within a 3-mile radius can hear them. They typically have no problem with the stage and would rather be on stage that in a confining practice room. They work extremely hard to earn principal seats in orchestra so that they may have opportunities to shine on solo passages. Sagittarians also love flute karaoke and enjoy entertaining family and friends with fun, popular tunes that they can sign along to. This Sun sign is very kind, often going out of their way to make sure that everyone they meet is happy and having a good time. You may find Sagittarians roaming the halls with bottles of water for their hard-working fellow musicians or toting a plate of cookies around for exhausted pianists.  Sagittarians may find themselves struggling with folks in authority as they do not like to be told what to do. They value their creative freedom too much to accept any kind of censorship. This is where a Taurus or an Aquarian may help their fellow sign learn patience and flexibility. Take a Sagittarius out to lunch and talk over the situation calmly and rationally. They will appreciate a new perspective.

CAPRICORNS – Capricorns love, love, LOVE the details. This Sun sign often prefers to work on intricate Baroque music or Phillip Glass pieces that have a lot of moving parts. Like Virgos, Capricorns spend a good amount of time on score preparation before practicing their music, but unlike Virgos, they will focus quite deeply on harmonic analysis, often outlining each scale and arpeggio involved in longer technical passages and documenting how leading tones or grace notes emphasize the underlying harmony. They are like walking theory dictionaries (which definitely may come in handy during orchestral sectionals). Capricorns prefer to practice in the wee morning hours before most people have had their morning cup of coffee. This may annoy fixed signs like Scorpio and Aries, so Capricorns are advised to schedule rehearsals with these signs later in the morning if at all possible. Front-loading all of their creativity in the AM, Capricorns may lose focus during evening rehearsals. This is where their fixed sign friends may help them out a bit by drawing their limited attention to specific details in the music that may need some finesse. They sometimes find themselves trimming the trees at the expense of the forest. It is important that Capricorns periodically step back (perhaps with assistance from an Aquarius) and study the form of their music to find the bigger picture.

AQUARIUS – The practice environment of an Aquarius can best be described as a beautiful disaster. Aquarians prefer to quickly jump from one project to another and back again, therefore their practice room may be littered with 9 or 10 pieces that they practice in a circuit routine (5 minutes on this piece, 10 minutes on that piece, 7 minutes on the other piece, and so forth). They may even have projects that they are working on outside of their practice room littered periodically during their allotted practice time. We have all walked by that one abandoned practice room, usually in the corner, that appears to have been hit by a F5 tornado sometime within the past 24 hours. It likely belongs to an Aquarian. Do not be fooled by the mess, however. Aquarians know exactly what needs to be done to prepare a very cohesive performance. They are also very flexible and, for this reason, are favored by many conductors. If the conductor says jump, an Aquarius will find a pogo stick and jump (as long as it makes sense for the overall concept of the piece they are working on…if not, they will at least question before jumping). Aquarians, however, have a difficult with the details, and may become easily stressed by the nitty-gritty. It is important for this sign to collaborate with a Capricorn from time to time as they may be able to help each other find a balance between analysis of the minute and the form of the bigger picture.

PISCES – A Pisces loves to jam. And why not? They are the most creative sign in the Zodiac. Improvisation is very important for a Pisces and they often need to clear their heads either before or after a practice session by playing from the heart. Pisces gravitates toward genres such as Jazz or Rock n’ Roll where opportunities to chuck the rules and create something unique off the top of their heads appeal to their creative nature. This Sun sign is generally okay in a practice room, but prefers to practice in their garage, sometimes with others and sometimes with themselves (depending on their mood). They are also brilliant composers and song writers as their creativity and emotional depth help them express themselves to the world however and whenever they want. Represented by a fish, it is important to remember that a Pisces does not have an outer level of protection from the elements (such as a shell or fur) and is quite sensitive. No-nonsense Virgos or Capricorns may easily, yet unintentionally, hurt the feelings of a Pisces and drain their creative energy. Having fellow water signs around them (Scorpio and Cancer) will help a Pisces express their emotions to other signs that may sympathize and help patiently put things in perspective. This may help a Pisces feel a bit more confident when encountering harsh conductors or uncompressing judges. Water signs gently remind a Pisces that tomorrow is another day.

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Happy Fluting!


Apologies for the absence of Flute Friday these past couple of weeks. I have been under the weather lately and avoiding all non-critical responsibilities. But today I am back and ready to share my thoughts with the internet world.


Last weekend I saw a remarkable film that brought me back to the days when I was young, ambitious musician (with a bit of an edge), competing in a field of flutists whose backgrounds were very different from my own. The movie was I, Tonya. I know what you are thinking: What in the world does figure skating have to do with music? How can you relate to such a weird, crazy story? Whoa – did your ex try to injure another flutist?? (That’s messed up!) Luckily, the thought of harming another musician never crossed my ex’s mind (If it had, I would have gladly handed him over the cops ASAP), but growing up without a lot of money and being surrounded by other kids who often reminded me that I was never good enough are two themes with which I can absolutely identify. I know that I am not alone. As an adult, I realize that there are things that we can learn from this film (and from our own experiences) to better help those students that show incredible talent but do not have the resources or support that may be readily available to other students. 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.


Like figure skating, music is a competitive “sport” (if you will) where the refinement of physical skill is juxtaposed against individual, creative interpretations of art. We are ranked in competitions and in orchestral seating assignments with a 1st (gold), 2nd (silver), or 3rd (bronze) depending on how our playing is judged by a committee. Different committees will judge us differently. We play the same canon of pieces just as figure skaters use the same types of standard jumps and flips in their routines, and our success is not only judged by how well we execute various techniques, but also by what we add to the expression behind the notes. Our fields, in many ways, are very similar, both requiring numerous hours of practice to attain mastery. There are also a number of etiquette rules in both figure skating and music that we learn along the way. For kids that may not be exposed to proper etiquette in their home or school life, these guidelines are much more difficult to master than children whose parents can afford to regularly take them out to restaurants, dinner parties, trips, and other social gatherings. I think that one of the most important similarities between figure skating and music, however, is the financial cost of success. This is where children who come from lower income families often find themselves alienated from their counterparts. Skates are expenses. Flutes are expensive. Private lessons with talented coaches and teachers put parents on the hook for monthly expenses that rival the power bill, the phone bill, and other essential monthly family expenses. I began learning to play the flute on an old school Bundy model flute that my parents purchased from a pawn shop for $100. Did that stop me from practicing harder that the other kids in band class whose parents had purchased shiny new Yamaha models? Not one bit! Kids without resources to buy the best equipment or study with talented teachers sometimes find themselves having to work much harder for the same results as kids whose families can afford the best of the best. Yet, it is that inner fight that gives some of the truly talented students the ambition, or grit, to rise above their circumstances. (Merriam-Webster defines “grit” as, “ firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”) They have to find a way to make it work with less. It is not easy, but the reward on the other side is worth more than money. The confidence that is attained with success is priceless and essential for building bigger dreams and achieving loftier goals. I, Tonya reminded me of what it is like to have grit in the face of obstacles. In the movie, they also referred to it as having an “edge.”  In real life, folks often use words such as “unorthodox,” “ambitious,” or “scrappy.” Whatever it is, the drive that propels kids with financial or social obstacles forward is irreplaceable and, in a word, magical.


I remember watching this real life drama in the figure skating world unfold and, even as a child, thought that Tonya Harding was treated unfairly and that barring such an incredible talent from the figure skating world was a huge mistake. She took responsibility for knowing what had transpired and for her honesty, her dreams were taken away from her as the sport simultaneously threw away a very talented athlete. She was mixed up with a bad crowd who did not care about her or her talent – only themselves. Only cowards, like the band of thugs that hurt Nancy Kerrigan, could do something so awful and unprofessional. These cowards had Tonya trapped. It was an obstacle that she simply could not skate away from. What was the message that young, scrappy girls were left with as they watched these events transpire on the nightly news? Honesty does not matter – they will still take everything away from you if given the opportunity? That message just adds more fuel to the fire. “Prove them wrong,” was the message I took away from that story. Whenever someone told me I was not going to be able to do something, that is when I went over the top to show them I could. As an adult, I feel that my grit has disintegrated. Yet, when I see a student with that same type of ambition, doing what they can to excel with limited resources, I am inspired to be the very best coach I can, providing them with the encouragement they need to rise to the next level.


As teachers, we have a responsibility to support gifted students, no matter what their backgrounds may be, and tailor our teaching methods to suit their individual learning styles. There is a fantastic moment in I, Tonya, taken directly from the real life 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which really sums up how we need to approach talented students with grit. Tonya Harding was the first woman skater in history to land a triple axel in a competition during her free skate at the 1991 U.S. Championship. The split second after she landed this amazing jump, complete with a larger than life smile on her face, the commentator (who I believe was Dick Button) enthusiastically exclaimed into the microphone, “good girl!” When your students accomplish their goals, celebrate their successes with them. When they prove others wrong, and rise to the top, let them know how proud you are of them. One of the things that separates my experiences as a young flutist from Tonya’s experiences (fact, or fiction) is that I was nearly always surrounded by people who supported me. I had great teachers and a great family that did everything they could to send me to top, even when money was tight. During the other times when kids seemed to be heckling me or telling me that I wasn’t good enough, or when other teachers brushed off my accomplishments as “flukes,” I used their words as reasons to try even harder next time to prove them wrong. The haters gave me my grit. Be that support system for your students, because they may or may not have a decent support system in their personal lives. Encourage them to prove the haters wrong and harness that magical sense of grit that will help them achieve their goals.


Did you overcome social or socioeconomic hardships to become the flute player you are today? Do you have experiences teaching students with incredible talent that rose above their circumstances? How did you show them your support? How did you help them rise above their limits? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!



















Flute Pitch Tendencies

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday.

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I once attended a wonderful presentation by John Barcellona at an NFA convention regarding pitch tendencies on the flute that completely changed the way I approached tuning to other instruments. The flute is constructed in a way that leads certain notes to naturally fall sharp and others that tend to lean flat. These pitches differ from the tendencies of other instruments, particularly wind instruments such as the oboe and clarinet. It is important to know exactly which way each note on the flute leans so that you may anticipate tuning issues before they arise. 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.

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Basic Guidelines

  • Low notes will generally be flat. High notes are typically sharp. Knowing this ahead of time will help you tune with other instruments.

  • Open notes (such as middle and high C’s and C#’s) are generally sharp. Bring these notes down by placing fingers from the right hand down on the keys one by one until the note is in tune.

  • Check your cork. Check your cork periodically by placing the end of your cleaning rod in your headjoint, lining up the line in the rod with the center of the tone hole. Make any adjustments by unscrewing the crown. Turn the headjoint cap to the right to flatten or to the left to sharpen.

  • Remember to play with good posture and a supported air stream. If you are trying to tune slumped over with a weak air stream, your sound will likely be flat. Sit up and project.

  • Practice with a tuner. Check in from time to time on sustained notes. Are you flat or sharp? What is your natural tendencies? Adjust based on these readings.

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Online Intonation Reference

1.  Your Guide to Woodwind Intonation

This is a great reference page not only for the practical tips on improving overall intonation (embouchure placement, cork alignment, tuning to harmonics, how to adjust), but the section covering alternate fingerings is also a great resource to have on hand during orchestral rehearsals or any other group rehearsals where you will be working with different instruments. Print this out and keep it in your music folder. These fingerings will come in handy during exposed sections in the music or during measures of sustained pitches where having proper intonation with other instruments is vital to the harmonic structure of the piece.

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2.  Century High Bands Flute Intonation Resources

I like this PDF due to its very practical suggestions for tuning problem notes (“bad notes”). I do, however, believe that some of the tuning suggestions are unfortunately out of date. Cate Hummel’s article on this resource offers a better set of guidelines for tuning notes that are still problematic on the flute (see ). The chromatic scale on page 1 is a straight-forward approach to remembering the tendencies of notoriously out of tune notes and will be very helpful for beginning or intermediate students as they become familiar with fingerings in the higher ranges. I also really enjoy the last page, which is essentially a worksheet for students to map out the intonation tendencies of their own instrument. I may be borrowing this page as an exercise for my own students

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3.  Jen Cluff’s Flute Tuning “How To”

This resource is great as an FAQs for flute tuning. Jen explains just how temperature affects the flute, how to tune in ensembles, using a tuning CD, and addresses basic tuning issues we all encounter at one time or another. I really like her simple, yet effective suggestions for common flute tuning issues.

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4.  Blank Pitch Tendencies 2.2

I am not sure which book this came from (if you know, please comment below!), but this is another good resource for the visual learner who likes to use colors and figures to understand new concepts. I also like the short notes on the gizmo key and use of harmonic fingerings. Like the PDF above, this also contain a handy worksheet for students to test their own pitch tendencies (although I would have liked to see more space to write possible solutions..). Finally, the chart on the last page features a good list detailing why certain pitches lean flat and why other may lean sharp.

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Do you have an intonation reference chart that you like to use? Which one of the above resources has been the most helpful for you or for your students? Do you have other online intonation references that you like to consult or refer you students to? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!

Schedule C

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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This week in the mail, my husband and I received most of our W2s, 1099s, 1098s, and many of the other tax forms needed to get started on our 2017 tax return. As a private flute studio practitioner, however, I will still need to prepare my Schedule C form (to accompany the standard 1040 form). Tax time can be stressful for independent musicians and private teachers. Receipts, invoices, mileage calculations, and conference travel records can often make your head spin during this time of year, leading many of us to spend big bucks on professional CPAs. 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.

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What is Schedule C?

Schedule C is a tax form from the IRS to report profit or loss from a business (this includes privately owned business such as studio practices). The type of businesses that fall under Schedule C are those that you are involved in on a continual and regular basis. If you only periodically teach masterclasses or host your own summer flute camp, those expenses would be considered a “hobby” and not subject to Schedule C, but you will still need to report those earnings on Form 1040, line 21.

In a nutshell, Schedule C is how to report your business earnings, minus expenses, and how much in taxes you must pay the government based on those earnings. The “minus expenses” is often the trickiest part, but some of the tips below will help you keep better records throughout the year to streamline the process during tax time. If your business expenses were less than $5000, you may be able to file the Schedule C-EX instead of Schedule C (which is exactly what it sounds like – an easier version of Schedule C).

In addition to Schedule C, you will also need to fill out the Schedule SE, or the Self-Employment Tax form. This form is used to pay taxes for social security and Medicare. If your net profit from your Schedule C is $400 or less, you may not need to pay this tax (but there are other considerations on this form – check it out to make sure you do not owe).

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Where can I find Schedule C, Schedule C-EZ, and Schedule SE? of course! Or on the following links:

Schedule C –

Schedule C-EX –

Schedule SE –

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Helpful Ways to Prepare for Schedule C

Save your receipts as they come in. There are several easy ways to do this in the digital age that do not require digging through a shoebox full of receipts. Take a picture of any receipt that would be considered a “business expense” and email it to yourself. From here, you may save the receipt in a convenient email folder (“Studio Expenses” or something along those lines) or save it to your desktop under a local file. You may also scan receipts to be placed in the same files throughout the year. If you order music through Flute World or Amazon, simply place your order confirmations in this box for tax time. When it is time to fill out your Schedule C, all of your records will be in one place, helping you to easily total your expenses in each category.

Save invoices from each student. I know a lot of teachers that do not use paper invoices. Come tax time, they find themselves staring at a yearly calendar trying to remember how many lessons each student had each month, who skipped lessons, who went on vacation when, and so on. This is the easiest way to earn yourself an audit. To save yourself the stress, and to help you keep accurate records of your studio income, email PDF copies of monthly bills directly to students and/or parents at the close of the month. Keep these invoices saved locally in your business expenses folder on your desktop or in your email business folder. At the end of the year, simply total the monthly invoices for each student to arrive at your total studio income for the year. Save these records somewhere convenient in case of an audit.

Set up a separate bank account for your studio income and expenses. This is by far the easiest way to keep track of how much you’ve made and how much you have spent. Sign up for online banking to receive your statements electronically each month and file them in your designated business folder. Online banking can also help you compile yearly reports and break up your expenses into categories that correspond to those in Part II of Schedule C.

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Use a separate credit or debit card for business purposes. Any time you purchase music, accessories, music stands, office equipment, conference registrations, or any other items that relate to your studio business, use a designated card that is tied to your business account. This will prevent you from having to dig around in your personal account for transactions that could, maybe, possibly be related to your studio.

If you have a large studio business or are currently drowning in possible business expenses but are not sure which expenses qualify, consider hiring a CPA. They are the professionals, after all. They will most likely take you through the Expenses portion of Schedule C, so start taking some notes on the items you know you purchased during the calendar year that fit into these categories.

Understand what is considered a “business expenses” according to Schedule C. Did you have any expenses for your studio this year that fit under the following categories? List them on your Schedule C.


Car and Truck Expenses

Commissions and Fees

Contract Labor



Employee Benefit Programs

Insurance (including instrumental insurance paid by yourself)

Interest (Mortgage or Other)

Legal and Professional Services

Office Expenses

Pension and Profit-Sharing Plans

Rent or Leases on Vehicles, Machinery, or Equipment

Repairs and Maintenance


Taxes and Licenses

Travel, Meals, and Entertainment



Other Expenses

Did you drive anywhere for studio recitals, masterclasses, or any other studio field trips? Make sure to report this under the “travel” category. It is very easy to forget about this one. The Federal Standard Mileage Rate for 2017 is 53.5 cents per mile.

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Do you have to file a Schedule C this year? Have you filed out one in the past? What tips do you have to streamline your studio accounting? Please comment below!

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Happy fluting (and happy tax prep)!



Flute Accessories

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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Sometimes in these colder winter months, I like to curl up with a cup of tea, laptop in hand, and do some online shopping. Gone are the days when we had to schlep out into the cold to our nearest Woodwind/Brasswind or other mega music store to find fun, useful, or beautiful items to add to our gig bags. In researching for today’s blog, I found a number of flute accessories that can be ordered from the comfort of your own home. 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).

Flute World

Flute World is the best place on the internet to purchase anything having to do with the flute. I have been a Flute World customer for well over 20 years now. Most of my music library has been purchased directly from Flute World, and I often find myself perusing the accessories section whenever I am in the mood for some retail therapy. Show them support and check out the flute swag on their site!

Finger Position Corrector

Shopping Finger Position Corrector.jpg–TA-FPC-.html?t=0

I needed something like this 20 years ago! My wild, flying flute fingers always got the best of me during tricky, technical runs. This is a great helper for your students (or yourself) if you find that flying fingers often slow down technical passages. This will also save your fingers from undue strain that could lead to larger problems down the road such as tendonitis.

Anfree Swab for C Flute

Shopping Anfree Swab.jpg–CC-FlAnfree-.html?t=0&sort=0

Admit it – You’ve always been a bit fascinated by those swabs oboists use that just seem to glide magically through the instrument using the weight of a heavier end piece.  Now, you can have the same style swab for the flute! The only drawback to this swab is that it will not work very well on the headjoint, so using the standard silk swab will still be required. The payoff, though, is that the body and foot joint will be much cleaner through the use of the microfiber material.

Concert Folio

Shopping Concert Folio–OS-CF-.html?t=0&sort=0

I’ve always had a weakness for those traditional, timeless band and orchestra folders made with the durable pressboard shells and rough and tough inner pockets. I was always sad to hand these back at the end of an academic year or orchestral season. Standard paper folders just don’t seem to cut it for me. Now you can have your own leatherette folder forever! These are great for the stage and hold a ton of music. The pencil holder is also very handy (and a good reminder to always bring a pencil to rehearsal).

Valentino ClearView Flute Stand

Shopping ClearView Flute Stand.jpg–101092-.html?t=0&sort=0

The black, plastic, fold-up flute stands have become a staple due to their portability, however over the years many flutists have been opting for more beautiful, yet bulkier, wooden flute stands. I think this is a great compromise, providing both portability and a little bit of class. This stand looks far better on stage than the traditional fold-up stands and is more secure than stands using the standard moveable wooden pegs.

BG Pad Dryer

Shopping Pad Dryer–MT-PD-.html?t=0

Are you sick of buying cigarette paper or ordering expensive pad cleaning paper (or, heaven forbid, using the side of your music..)? Save the Earth by switching to a reusable pad cleaner like this one! Each strip lasts over one year and is washable. Save the planet while you are saving your pads.

Copper Headjoint Fitting Strips

Shopping Copper Strips–101068-.html?t=0&sort=2

These are great if you have a headjoint that is just a bit smaller than the body of your instrument. Keep in mind, though, that these are only a temporary solution. Take your headjoint in to your local flute tech guru for a proper fitting.


Did you also know that Amazon sells flute accessories!!??!?! (This was news to me when I was shopping researching for today’s blog). If you want to make good use of your Amazon Prime membership this year, check out some of the flute goodies offered below.

Bo-Pep Flute Thumb Guide

Bo-Pep Flute Thumb Guide

Shopping Bo Pep

These have been around forever and, although I prefer to use Flute Gels for the side of the left index finger, I really like the Bo-Pep thumb guide for proper right-hand thumb placement. These are great for your students who may have a wandering thumb. Correcting your right-hand thumb will provide a better foundation for your fingers to move faster with greater ease. Make 2018 the year that you correct those bad thumb habits.

Beaumont Damson Lace Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Flute Cleaner Cleaning Cloth – Lint Free, Microfibre – Beaumont Damson Lace

Shopping Beaumont Cloth

Who says you have to use those ugly blue polishing cloths from yesteryear to polish your flute before the show? These are all the rage right now as they are not only beautiful (and come in a wide array of styles), but the microfiber fabric will shine up your instrument gently and effectively with a few easy swipes. I am a fan!

ANKO Music Stand Kit

Music Stand, ANKO Professional Collapsible Music Stand with Music Book Clip, LED Music Stand Lamp and Carrying Bag. suitable for Violin, Guitar, Flute and Instrumental Performance. (BLACK-1 PACK)

Shopping ANKO

I love that this kit comes with everything and fits into a discrete and practical carrying case. This is perfect for those flute choir performances where stands are not necessarily provided, and the lighting may be less than perfect (although the venue is gorgeous). In this kit, you will get a collapsible music stand, music book clip, LED music stand lamp, and a carrying case. This is all the gear you need for your next performance!

Flute Fingerings & Flute Parts Flashcard Set

Flute Fingerings & Flute Parts Flashcard Set

Shopping Flute Flashcards

Studio masterclasses do not have to consists only of performances. These flashcards are great to use with your beginning students as a fun masterclass game activity. You could also use this as a warm up for your beginners during their initial flute lessons. I really like the idea of adding a game to the studio environment to make learning fun for younger students. These will definitely be a hit.

Yamaha Flute Lip Plate Patches

Yamaha YAC 1089P2 Flute Lip Plate Patch

Shopping Flute Patches

I have featured these on my blog in the past and during the summer months, these babies are my go-to for keeping my flute from sliding all over my face. They attach to your lip plate just like simple, paper stickers. Simple but very effective. I also like to use these to guard against any potentially embarrassing fluter’s chin moment during important performances.

Comica CVM-VS08 Condenser Microphone

Comica CVM-VS08 Professional Cardioid Condenser Directional Mini Shotgun Microphone for SmartPhones ,Vlogging Microphone for iphone and YouTube video ( Wind Muff included)

Shopping Mic

This is a great purchase for those of you who are wanting to set up a YouTube channel or who may be preparing an audition CD for one of the upcoming NFA competitions. This handy dandy microphone plugs directly into your smartphone and keeps any wild, screaming high notes from creating unflattering feedback on your recordings. Use this mic with the Garage Band app and your recordings will sound as if you had been performing in a large empty church (when in reality you were recording in your garage).

Which flute accessories do you love? What is currently on your shopping list? What types of products are you looking to splurge on? Comment below and share the results of your own flute retail therapy.



Happy Fluting!

Learning Something New

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

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Today’s blog is a little different from my typical Tips and Tricks posts or even my fun Flute Meme or Flute Quiz Fridays. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to learn to play the guitar. I have always wanted to learn but have put it off thinking that my tiny flute fingers and short, stubby pinky would make things quite challenging. In reality, I was simply just afraid to try something new. As musicians, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect at anything musical that is placed in front of us. I’ve wanted to be the next Slash or Joe Perry for so long, but could not see a way to get there. Of course, the quick answer was just to jump in. That is precisely what I plan to do this year. I mentioned this intention to my husband, who immediately purchased a pink guitar for me to practice on (he is a drummer and was excited to have a chance to jam as a family). I have the instrument, a basic guide to chords, and dozens of YouTube tutorials to get me started. What I am discovering, however, is that the guitar is very different from the flute and some of my flute habits (such as playing on the pads of my fingers rather than the tips) often get in the way of my ability to play basic guitar chords. I am a student all over again! I can now put myself in my own student’s shoes, experiencing the desire to learn something but frustrated by my own lack of skill. I find myself feeling the same way my beginning flute student feel when they struggle to produce a clean sound on the flute or forget new fingerings, and often need to give myself the same pep talks I give to my students (“practice makes perfect,” “keep working a little bit at a time,” “you cannot become a master at something overnight,” “you’ll get there! Just keep working hard). It has been very eye opening to learn something new as an adult. I suddenly have a new understanding about how my students approach the early stages of learning. 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!

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Leave your expectations at the door. One of my greatest challenges as a beginning guitar student is muted chords. As a woodwind player, I have come to expect that if I use the right fingering for a note, I will produce the necessary sound (even if the tone is a bit questionable). On the guitar, you may have the “right” fingering, but if your fingers are touching any of the other strings, you will have a muted tone. I have been trying to teach myself that there are other components to master before I can achieve the sound I desire. This is something that we can also teach our flute students. A fingering is not the end of the story. Air placement/direction and embouchure are as vital to sound production on the flute as placing your fingers exactly between the strings are to playing the guitar.

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Playing one instrument very well does not necessarily mean you will be able to play all instruments well. Learning a second instrument is quite a humbling experience. I remember learning to play the piano as an undergraduate student and struggling to read a new clef. Sight reading was always a frightening experience because I was not very confident in my abilities to quickly read, and understand, the bass line, especially when numerous chords were stacked on top of one another. Although my skills strengthened with time, I was never a concert pianist. What mattered in this scenario is that I enjoyed the instrument and enjoyed the challenge of learning something new. As I learn to play the guitar, I am reminded that I do not know everything. I can read music, I understand chord progressions, but those two things alone will not help me achieve the physical ability to create chords on this new instrument or memorize exactly where my fingers must go to play a good, old I, IV, V, I chord progression. This is also something that we can teach flute students who may have had previous musical training. It’s okay to struggle. This is not the same instrument that you are used to. It does not function the way a piano functions. The skills necessary to be a successful drummer are not the same as those needed to rock cello solo. Every instrument is different. Learn those differences from the bottom up without assumptions.

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Practice a little bit every day and avoid long, tiring, frustrating, repetitive practice sessions. There is a point when practicing simply to drill something into your brain is detrimental to your development as a musician. This is where bad habits occur. In the beginning, you are building strength gradually and, like any bodybuilder, you must give your muscles the opportunity to rest, strengthen, and reboot between sets. Your brain also must have time to process what you are learning, and calmly come up with new approaches to challenges. I advise beginning students to practice 20 minutes per day and build up their time gradually as they gain more experience with the instrument. I, myself, has been limiting myself to 20 minutes per day on the guitar as I get used to the numbing pain on my fingertips and the work out that my left hand index finger gets from holding down the strings. This helps me to rethink ways to position my fingers so that they do not mute the strings as much. I also use the time away from the instrument to set goals for the next practice session. Sometimes the mental work we accomplish away from the instrument is just as valuable as the work we accomplish with the instrument in hand.

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Posture is key. Developing good posture from the very beginning of your study is critical. I was initially trying to play the guitar with the neck too far down and outward, making it difficult for me to stretch my arm properly, which in turn caused me to misuse my left hand thumb. The left hand thumb is an important stabilizing anchor for the entire left hand (much like the side of the left index finger in combination with the right hand thumb is for the flute). When I altered my posture, my thumb was freed up and my fingers fell easier on the strings. Good posture, of course, is just as important for flute playing and should be the absolute starting point with beginning students. Remind students as the get tired or frustrated in the early stages that their posture will help them conserve both mental and physical energy.

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Finally, do not give up. This goes hand-in-hand with slow, daily bursts of practice in the initial stages of learning an instrument. I’ve had a few practice sessions on the guitar that brought out my inherited Irish temper. The more I practiced, the worse my playing sounded. At the end of the failed practice session, I found myself saying things I didn’t really mean (“This is a waste of my time!” “My fingers are too fat for this instrument.” “I suck at the guitar. What is the point??”). These statements were mere reflections of my frustration and not grounded in the truth. I always, however, picked up the instrument and tried again the next day. Beginnings are difficult, so take them slowly and remain calm. Rampal was not an overnight success (nor was Slash). Learn something new every day and set reasonable, attainable goals. Remind your students that frustration is totally normal as they learn a new instrument. It is the ones that stick with it that end up successful. Stay calm and learn on!

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Have you taken up a second instrument? What was it like for you in the early stages? What was it like to be a student again? Did you learn new things that could help your own students as they learn to play the flute? Please comment below!


Happy Fluting!