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Top 20 Grateful List

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday! Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! This week I have been reflecting on some of the things I am most grateful for as a flute player, particularly over the past year as our industry has made our way through a pandemic. Today I am sharing the top 20 items on this list. I encourage you to create your own lists! We have a lot of reasons to celebrate our passion and resilience as artists. What are you grateful for? 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com
  1. Flute Talk Magazine. It was announced a few weeks ago that Flute Talk will be discontinued. I am so very grateful for the many years this journal was in publication. Flute Talk was the inspiration for many things in my younger days (including this very blog). Thank you for all of the articles and priceless advice over the years!
  2. Win-D-Fender.  I was lucky enough to try this device out at a past flute convention and loved it! If you are an fan of practicing outside (or not a fan of trying to project through powerful air conditioners), check out this clever flute accessory: https://win-d-fender.com
  3. Flute Overhauls. I was very fortune this year to have both my flute and piccolo overhauled by the talented John Gil in Sacramento and now they both play like a dream. Thanks John!
  4. YouTube Piano Accompaniments. I know I know…nothing beats the real thing, but thanks to YouTube, we now have simple piano accompaniments for some of our standard repertoire on YouTube. This is a great resource if you are working on memorizing (or re-memorizing) the works we all know and love.
  5. Connecting with other Flutists via Social Media. I have met many wonderful flutists at conventions over the years and thanks to outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I can stay connected to these folks every day. It is wonderful to see what my colleagues are up to (and fun to share cute pet photos!).
  6. Community Flute Societies. These are also great for meeting and connecting with flutists in and around your own community or even those in larger cities. Many of the societies, such as the Chicago Flute Club, offer regular masterclasses that can be attended online from anywhere.
  7. Flute Masks. Although not fail-safe just yet, these have helped many of us and our students return to live rehearsals and performances. What is your favorite flute mask?
  8. Stylish Flute Bags. From Fluterscooter to Crescendo, there are a number a very colorful, stylish, and useful flute bags on the market today. I, myself, have a lilac Fluterscooter bag and was fortunate this year to win a Crescendo flute backpack at the NFA convention. I love them both!
  9. The 2021 National Flute Association Virtual Convention. Although the live convention is irreplaceable, this year’s virtual convention was absolutely wonderful! I was so very happy to experience the lectures and performances online this year from the comfort of my home studio. I also really enjoyed having the ability to chat virtually with my colleagues, some of which I have not seen in years.
  10. Youth Solo Competitions. These drove me to be the best flutist I could be when I was young and the best, most supportive judge I can be as an adult. I was fortunate to judge two of these competitions virtually this year and very much enjoyed all of the performances I reviewed and adjudicated. I am constantly impressed by the young talent out there today!
  11. Electro-Acoustic Flute Pieces. One of my very favorite parts of the NFA Convention this year was the gala concert featuring new, interesting works for the flute. Some of the electro-acoustic pieces featured here were wild but very cool! I love seeing the flute featured in non-traditional ways. 
  12. The Flute View Magazine. Shameless plug here: I love writing for this online publication! The Flute View always features fabulous articles highlighting what is new in the flute world and what we can reimagine in the future. I am super proud to be one of their monthly contributors.
  13. Any Video Performance by Jasmine Choi.  Okay, I know we all have our favorite performers and nobody has exactly the same taste, but Jasmine will always be Queen to me. Her performances are #fluteplayinggoals!
  14. Flute Players who Love Astrology. I publish monthly flute horoscopes in The Flute View and I am always grateful for other flutists who reach out and share their own love of all things tarot and astrology with me. I love hearing about horoscopes that come true or how they have come to understand more about themselves as performers by studying astrology. Yay to shared interests!
  15. Flute Players who Understand the Struggle. I am so grateful to have connected this year with flute players who, like myself, have struggled to build their careers along traditional lines. We are not alone! The world needs more flutists who have the courage and tenacity to do something different with their flute lives. Playing the flute does not need to look the same to everybody.
  16. The Bond of Flute Choirs. Playing in a flute choir is fun! I was fortunate to perform with the Professional Flute Choir at an NFA convention a couple years ago and loved it!  The people I met were great and the repertoire we performed was fabulous!  I have also played in local flute choirs for several years and really respect the bonds that are formed when we just play music and have fun. Isn’t that what it is all about anyways?
  17. The Creativity Behind Cleaning Cloths. I know this sounds weird, but have you checked out all of the super fun and useful cleaning cloths on the market these days??? From Sempre Flute to Beaumont, there is a style and fabric for everyone. I love being creative with my flute gear!
  18. Fancy Wood Flute Stands. I have a confession – I had been using cheap, utilitarian, foldable instrument stands since I started playing the flute in 6th grade. I hadn’t updated my instrument stand game until last summer when I invested in one of those super fancy stands with a large wood base and interchangeable flute pegs. I love this set up! Not as light as my old system, but very solid (aka nothing is tipping this one over) and very beautiful.
  19. Free Virtual Masterclasses. I have audited so many excellent masterclasses via Zoom this year that I would have otherwise had to pay beaucoup bucks to attend in person in the days of yesteryear. From Keith Underwood to Carol Wincenc, I have soaked up so many wonderful tips from the experts that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to under normal circumstances.  I hope platforms like this continue in the future!

And finally…..

  • Our industry has survived a pandemic! I know – We aren’t out of the COVID woods quite yet, but isn’t it inspiring to see the ways we have come together to do things differently and survive a very difficult, unpredictable set of circumstances? I am very proud to be part of the global flute community and hope that we can take some of the lessons we have learned during this time into the future.

What are you grateful for in your flute life? Do any of the above resonate with you? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!

What’s the Frequency, Fido?

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday.

Today’s blog is inspired by my precious English Bulldog, Patty. My husband and I adopted Miss Patty about a year ago. As first-time dog owners, we have been a bit overprotective when it comes to our pup (what she eats, what noises she makes and why, etc.). Prior to adopting Patty, I typically practiced my flute and piccolo in my home office with the door shut, as to not disturb the rest of the household. One Friday a few weeks ago, I moved my practice session to the living room (which has a much higher ceiling and significantly better resonance) while Patty slept in her favorite green chair across the room. As I was belting out a few high C#s, I started to wonder if the sound and frequency of my playing could potentially hurt my pup’s ears. If so, how will I know if she experiences any pain or hearing loss? In today’s blog, I will discuss the connection between the flute and hearing sensitivity in dogs. Disclaimer: I am so not a veterinarian – just an overprotective dog mom. If you are reading this and know something animal sciencey that I don’t, please comment below! A lot of us flutists are proud puppy owners and would love to know more about updated hearing data.

So, first thing’s first – There is not very much research on the impact of loud noises on dog’s ears. Bummer! Most of our understanding is based on comparisons with human hearing thresholds as the structure of our ears is similar (outer ear – pinna – ear cannel – eardrum). One of the most significant differences, however, is that a dog’s ear canal is longer and deeper than a human’s, allowing dogs to funnel sound more efficiently than humans. Loud noises may effect dogs in two ways – physical pain and/or hearing loss. As we will see below, is it unlikely that flute music (or piccolo music) will cause a dog physical pain, but hearing loss is a different story. It is important to carefully monitor your dog’s behavior if you are practicing in close proximity. Are they hiding? Are they covering their ears? Are they howling? Dogs experiencing pain will most likely run away from the sound, hide, or cover their heads. If you notice this, you should move your practice behind closed doors ASAP or plan to move your daily sessions off-site. If your dog is howling along to your playing, you may have more than just an adoring fan. The modern dog’s ancestor, the wolf, howls to other wolves in the wild to communicate to other pack members where they are or to warn off other animals from moving into their territory. They also howl to assemble the pack (Patty joins in a similar howl chain when the neighborhood dogs start yipping in the backyard). This behavior is ingrained in a dog’s genetic code. They may be trying to communicate with a sound from what they perceive to be another pack member. Or they may be howling along to something that you can’t even hear as dogs can pick up higher frequencies than the human ear (overtones, perhaps?). Dogs also surprisingly have a sense of pitch and may howl in a different pitch to individualize their own howl against the cacophony of other sounds. If your dog is howling along to Ibert, you are probably okay. If they are covering their ears or cowering in the corner, they are likely experiencing pain. Poor pups! Time to move your practice elsewhere ASAP.

And now for some science – Sound is generally measured by loudness/intensity and frequency (or pitch). Sound intensity refers to the number of decibels a sound emits. A dog barking is roughly 60 decibels while fireworks are around 140-150 decibels. According to the article, Piccolo Playing and Noise Inducted Hearing Loss by Kelly Wilson, The Noisy Planet website (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders) states that any sound over 85 decibels can damage hearing in humans. Again, we don’t have much research on where dogs fall on this spectrum, but it is safe to assume that if it can hurt our ears, it can hurt theirs as well. A sound registering 90 decibels over an 8-hour time period can cause serious damage while sounds at 140 decibels or higher can cause pain and immediate hearing damage. When it comes to sound frequency, according to Pet Dog Owner, humans can hear sounds from 64-20,000 Hz while dogs can hear from 67-45,000 Hz. Sounds can become uncomfortable for dogs around 25,000 Hz. The rule of thumb is the higher the frequency and the louder the noise (or higher the decibel), the more discomfort it will cause your pup.

When it comes to the flute, Kelly Wilson outlines in her article that the flute ranges from 92-103 decibels and the piccolo from 90-106 decibels. Elsewhere on the interwebs (particularly from hearnet.com), this can also range from 85-111 decibels for the flute and 95-112 for the piccolo. These are both above the 85 decibel threshold for potential hearing damage. As far as frequency, the flute ranges from 262 Hz to 2096 while the piccolo can reach up to 4096 Hz. Although these are not comfortable frequencies for humans, they are within the comfortable ranges for dogs.

All dogs are different. The science suggests that our flute/piccolo playing is unlikely to cause physical pain to dogs but the decibel level may eventually lead to hearing damage. Some dogs may also have behavior or emotional sensitivity to certain sounds. Again, it is important to monitor your dog if you practice in the same room or nearby. If they are experiencing pain, stop your practice immediately and relocate to another safer location (possibly off-site). If they seem cool, you are not necessarily in the clear as they may eventually experience a degree of hearing loss. Protect your pet if possible, and practice in another room. If they howl along to your sweet flute tunes, don’t panic – It’s just in their nature to sort out pitches and differentiate their voice from Bach’s. An after-practice treat is also a good idea (Patty’s note).

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Do you practice in close proximity to your pet? Does your pet howl along to your playing? What other behavior does your pet exhibit while you practice? Please comment below.

Happy fluting!

Rampal’s Astrological Chart

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!

In honor of Halloween, today’s blog will be a departure from the normal discussions of the shoulds and should-nots of flute playing (or if either of those things are even necessary anymore). We are going to have some fun with astrology! As many of you may know, I publish a monthly flute horoscope column for The Flute View (check out your horoscopes here if you are curious what the stars have in store for you:  https://thefluteview.com/sections/dr-gs-flute-horoscopes/). I find astrology to be fascinating and, at times, somewhat comforting (particularly if the world is spinning in directions that I do not understand). I always like to remind my readers (and my tarot clients) that I am not a witch or Voldemort, so please keep this in mind as you read today’s post. This is all for entertainment purposes only! I use astrology and tarot merely as a tool to understand people, places, things, and circumstances a bit better while also seeking creative solutions to problems I may have not yet considered. Okay, disclaimer over. Now upward into the stars!

Today we will be discussing Jean Pierre Rampal’s astrological chart.

Jean Pierre Rampal was a legendary flutist and teacher, inspiring generations of flutists not just on traditional French flute playing techniques, but on how to truly be an international flutist icon. Rampal was, has, and will always be #fluteplayinggoals (as the kids say). He began life as the son of flute teacher (Joseph Rampal) and was somewhat of a prodigy. He began playing the flute at the age of 12, eventually studying the Altes Method at the Marseille Conservatoire where he would go on to win first prize in the school’s annual competition in 1937 at the age of 16. Although quite talented at an early age, Rampal was encouraged by his parents to attend the Marseille Medical School to become a doctor or a surgeon (aka professions with a bit more stability than music). That was short-lived, however, as he was drafted for forced labour in Germany during the Nazi Occupation of France in 1943. He instead fled to Paris where he avoided detection by frequently changing his lodgings. While in Paris, he studied flute at the Paris Conservatorie with Gaston Crunelle, winning the coveted first prize in the conservatorie’s annual flute competition in a short four months (1944). Rampal received his big break in 1945 following the liberation of Paris, when he was invited by composer Henri Tomasi, conductor of the Orchestre National de France, to perform the Ibert Flute Concerto on French National Radio. In 1945 terms, Rampal essentially went viral! Thus began a series of performances, first in France in 1947, then in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. He joined the Vichy Opéra orchestra in 1947 and later served as principal flute at the Paris Opéra (1956-62). He joined the faculty at the Paris Conservatorie in 1968 (and needless to say the flute-playing world has not been the same since!). On the chamber music scene, Rampal founded the French Wind Quintet in 1945 and the Baroque Ensemble of Paris in 1953. Some may suggest that his popularity was in large part due to his expansive list of recordings (like a YouTube superstar before the days of the interwebs). Rampal was also well-regarded for his authentic interpretation of 18th-century music, editing several works by Baroque composers. His autobiography, Music, My Love: An Autobiography was published in 1989. Rampal died of heart failure on May 20, 2000 in Paris, France at the age of 78. French President Jacques Chirac led the tributes, saying “his flute spoke to the heart. A light in the musical world has just flickered out.” Flautist Eugenia Zukerman observed: “He played with such a rich palette of color in a way that few people had done before and no one since. He had an ability to imbue sound with texture and clarity and emotional content. He was a dazzling virtuoso, but more than anything he was a supreme poet.”

He was to many of us (myself included) the penultimate master of flute playing!

So, astrologically speaking, was there anything written in the stars that suggested he would be the best flutist in the World? Let’s look a bit deeper into some of his placements to answer this question.

For my fellow astrology experts, here is what Rampal’s natal chart looks like:

And what some of his primary placements are:

Let’s start with some of the basics:

Rampal’s Sun Sign was Capricorn. The Sun represents who a person is at the very core of their personality. Capricorns are extremely hard-working and realistic. They have the ability to act on their ambitions with the fire of an Aries but stick to it with the persistence of a Virgo or a Taurus. Capricorns get things done correctly and on time. They demand recognition for a job well-done and do not spend a lot of time on things they may find frivolous. They like to pare things down and often take pleasures in the simple things in life but appreciate quality rather than quantity when it comes to their surroundings. They may be a bit stubborn sometimes, but it is usually with a personal goal or good cause in mind (some may call this “strong-willed.”). Dependable, honest, responsible, and a very hard worker. Rampal clearly meets all of these Capricorn bench-marks just by looking at his long and successful career. When he was interested in something (such as Baroque music), he worked incredibly hard to edit the score and perform all of the details with the sensitivity of a master craftsman. That takes a degree of grit and persistency that often alludes other signs.

Rampal’s Moon Sign was Aries. The Moon represents how we deal with emotions. I sometimes like to think about the Moon as the personification of the whispers we hear in our own heads at night. How do we deal with the way we feel? A Moon placement in Aries suggests that Rampal may have loved to live in the moment. Whenever there was something he wanted, he would likely make it happen ASAP. Efficiency and speed are two very important values to people with this Moon placement (which we can hear just by listening to his 16th notes!). These folks do not waste time and do not like to wait for things to happen. They are quite independent but rarely sulk if they do not get their way. They just move on to the next thing!

Rampal’s Mercury was in Capricorn. Mercury represents the way that we communicate. For musicians, this could even be tied to the way that we communication non-verbally through our music. We have already discussed many of the general characteristics of a Capricorn, but when it comes to this Mercury placement, it suggests that Rampal appreciated structure and order in his communications (and in his music – which would explain his interest in editing Baroque compositions). Folks with Mercury in Capricorn are resourceful, reflective, and deep thinkers – they notice everything! Although this placement may lead to some skepticism and sarcasm, they do still possess a very sharp sense of humor (even when explaining the flute to Miss Piggy on the Muppet’s Show – Still one of my favorite clips of all time).

Rampal’s Venus was also in Capricorn. Rampal had a lot of Capricorn in his chart! This explains so much – always hardworking, reliable, dependable, and prolific. But at the core a flutist with clear convictions. Venus represents how we love. A person with Venus in Capricorn wins us all over by showing us their responsible side. We can trust them no matter what! They are goal-oriented, witty (I dare you to find a masterclass video where he was not witty!), savvy, and self-controlled. Nobody can get the best of them. They may not be all puppies and rainbows all the time like a Cancer, but rather enjoy to win others over by showing them how practical and realistic they can be when it matters the most.

Rampal’s Mars was in Scorpio. Mars represents how we take action (or how we get things done). As a Scorpio Sun myself, I can spot another Scorpio from a mile away! Scorpios like to get to the bottom of whatever it is that interests them. They throw themselves into activities with concentrated energy and incredible willpower. Tell us that something cannot be done and we will find a way to prove you wrong! We will research tirelessly for hours, or in Rampal’s case practice all of the things until they are completely transformed into something better, but will do so quietly and away from others. You will never see us sweat – we are calm and collected to the outside world. Didn’t Rampal prove to his parents that he could not only thrive as a musician (rather than a doctor) but indeed become the best flutist on Earth? Very Scorpio in Mars!

And Finally,

Rampal’s Jupiter was in Libra. This is a beautiful placement. Jupiter represents luck and grace. Someone with Jupiter in Libra attracts good fortune by being fair-minded. They treat others with equality and are fantastic promotors and mediators. They value relationships and find it comforting to relate to others. They use charm and grace to achieve all of their goals. This speaks to Rampal’s approach as a teacher. Generous and altruistic, he was a sensitive teacher that knew how to listen to others. A dreamer with a fantastic imagination – This is how he will continue to inspire generations of flutists now and in the future.

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Do you enjoy these astrology-based blogs? Is there another composer or performer that you would like me to discuss? Are there other ways that you believe Rampal embodied his astrological placements? Please comment below.

Happy fluting and Happy Halloween!

Don’t Throw your Tart in the Bin – 10 Lessons on Competition Recordings

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday. Apologies for my absence (thanks a lot, Mercury retrograde!).

Today’s blog will be a bit more reflective than instructive, but there are a number of important lessons to be learned for those of you in similar circumstances. My husband and I have recently been binge-watching The Great British Baking Championship (thanks to Netflix). In the first season of the show, contestants were required to make their own creative interpretations of a Baked Alaska, which is a dessert that features cake covered in a layer of ice cream. One contestant was struggling to keep the ice cream layer on his Baked Alaska from melting under the heat of the tent, so he placed his creation in the freezer and hoped for the best. Unbeknownst to him, another contestant accidentally removed his work-in-progress from the freezer and left it on the counter to melt. When it was discovered, the Baked Alaska had turned into soup. The contestant was understandably enraged. Rather than trying to salvage what he could of his cake to present to the judges, he tossed his entire dessert in the trash bin and stormed out of the tent. Needless to say, he was eliminated from the competition.

Wait a minute – this is a flute blog! Why am I talking about a baking show?

Well, I had a similar experience recently while preparing a competition recording. There were only two required pieces for this competition, one of which I had performed in a previous life, and the other was a new piece that I rather enjoyed practicing behind the scenes. I prepped both pieces over the course of about a month and was feeling quite confident about making the required videos. Unfortunately, my poor planning and overconfidence led me to procrastinate recording videos well in advance of the competition deadline. I only gave myself three days (which were also packed with a number of other responsibilities). The videos were not as easy as I thought they would be and my own perfectionism made it impossible to get through entire takes without stopping and scrapping them. I was frustrated with myself and discouraged by my playing.

I wanted to toss my Baked Alaska (aka competition videos) in the trash bin and give up just like the contestant did on The Great British Baking Competition. 

But I didn’t. I kept pushing onward. I kept recording my takes, no matter how disappointed I was with my not-so-perfect playing. I uploaded the best ones I could find, even though I knew they weren’t perfect and a far cry from the music I had been creating in the practice room in previous weeks. I put out what I could and entered the contest against the wishes of my inner critic. I did not advance to the next round, but learned a few very valuable lessons:

  1.  Give yourself a lot of time to record. Although you may not be performing these works for a live audience, your fight/flight instinct will be activated simply by pressing the “record” button. Make sure you have more than enough time to record as many takes as reasonably possible.
  2. Learn from each take (no matter how “good” or “bad”). Rather than stopping a take in the first few seconds because the beginning is not perfect (a cracked note here, an iffy articulation there, etc.), play the piece all the way through and reassess afterwards. What went well? Keep doing that! What could be improved? Mark it in your part!
  3. Be patient with mistakes. I am super guilty of angry practicing between takes when I make a mistake. What does it usually accomplish? Nothing. Just more frustration. Instead, try breaking down your mistake. Practice it slowly. Practice it in chunks. Change the way you think about note groupings. Transpose it to a number of different keys. Use your mistakes as opportunities to think about the music differently. With that being said, also…
  4. Take more time between takes. This will help you think calmly yet critically about what to change in the next take. I think one of my biggest mistakes was to immediately begin the next take after chucking the previous one over an attack I wasn’t quite happy with or other minor imperfection, restarting the video already frustrated with myself. Use the time between takes to reflect and refresh. Grab a glass of water and practice a few meditative breaths or meridian tapping sequences.
  5. Target tricky bits by listening carefully to others. YouTube is a great resource for videos and recordings of flute pieces by a number of performers. Listen very carefully to any technical bits you may be struggling with. How do other performers approach these parts? Do they take strategic breaths? Use rubato to help them over difficult fingerings? There may be an easier way to approach sections that are likely to throw you for a loop on recording days.
  6. Take a number of complete takes each day, but rank your top 3 from each session. More takes requires more review at the end of your recording project in order to select the right one to use for the competition. Be confident with your cuts. Second guessing your instincts will send you spiraling on the path of “what ifs.” Life is too short to live in “what ifs.”
  7. Location. Location. Location. Select a variety of locations to record in (if at all possible). Is there a recital hall at your school that you may use after hours? A church that remains quiet during the day? A studio space in your home with great acoustics. Experiment with any space available to you.
  8. Don’t forget about fundamentals. Remember to keep working on harmonics, long tones, scales, and articulation exercises while prepping your recordings. It is easy to become so focused on your recording project that you forget about the important fundamentals of flute playing. These fundamentals are often what separates the good flute players from the great ones.
  9. Give yourself a reasonable recording schedule and stick to your time blocks. Recording is intense! It is easy to keep saying “5 more minutes,” thinking that the perfect take is just around the corner, only to find yourself frustrated hours later with not much to show for it. Your sanity, health, and well-being are worth far more than the “perfect” recording.
  10. Finally, don’t throw your tart in the bin. No matter what, don’t give up. You may feel that your recordings aren’t perfect. You may also think that someone else out there will be “better” than you. These are misleading messages from your inner critic! Tune them out. So what if you do not win the competition? The work you have put in to creating your recordings, reviewing and thinking creatively about your playing, and trying (and trying again) is worth more than any prize or accolade. Remember that while submitting your application with pride! You did it (and nobody can take that away from you)! Think ahead to your next competition with all of the lessons you learned from this one.

Do you have your own tales from past recording projects? What have you learned through the recording process? Do any of the above lessons resonate with you? Share your stories below!

Keep performing. Keep recording. Keep competing. And above all keep fluting, no matter what!

Happy fluting!

Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #6: California)

Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday. Happy first week of Fall!

I will be continuing the Practice Blueprints All-State Audition series this week with my home state of California. California is indeed a huge state with a couple of hotbeds for creative musical talent – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The musical culture in this state is creative and forward-thinking. That does not mean that competition for spots in All-State ensembles will be any less fierce! There are numerous talented young musicians in California with unique backgrounds, world-class teachers, and superior skills and talents. I had the opportunity recently to serve as a judge for the San Francisco Flute Society’s Young Artist’s competition where I reviewed videos from high school students around the Bay Area. I was shocked by the mastery that some of these students already had over the flute! If this is any indication of the skill level required for placement in All-State ensembles, the adjudicators are going to have their work cut out for them. What I find most interesting about the audition process here in California is that everybody auditioning on flute will play the same piece, Chaminade’s Concertino, which is a very standard piece in flute repertoire. The piccolo audition seems a bit more complicated, with Lowell Liebermann’s Eight Pieces on the audition list, a piece not as well-known and full of rather complicated piccolo writing. Piccolo players – put your game faces on! Flutists – Add something new to a piece loved and performed by flutists young and old. Creative and courageous playing will earn you a ticket to All-State in the great state of California this year.

General Information (What you need to know):

  • The 2022 CASMEC All-State Convention will take place February 17-20, 2022 in Fresno, California. Concerts will be held at the William Saroyan Theater (730 M Street) and will be free and open to the public.
  • All All-State auditions must be submitted online by December 1st. Please plan to submit your recordings to your band director for upload by mid-November.
  • Make sure you read the 7 tips on how not to get DISQUALIFIED: https://cbda.org/all-state-ensembles/auditions/
    • Talking or coaching is heard during the recording
    • Digitally altering a recording (ex: the use of auto-tuning, etc.)
    • Wrong solo or excerpt is played
    • Wrong scales are played
    • Solo is missing sections requested
    • A metronome is heard during the scales or solo
    • Track/Recording Blank
  • All All-State Band auditions are uploaded online through the CBDA Digital Audition System. Please see your band director for more information.
  • For the 2022 California All-State Ensembles, all students are required to be fully vaccinated. If parents wish to apply for an exemption to this requirement, please complete this form: https://forms.gle/E9zNAu1p2BV6D1iB7 
  • To be eligible to submit All-State auditions, your band director must be a member of CBDA, www.cbda.org
  • Directors will submit their electronic signature, certifying the integrity of the audition as they submit each audition to CBDA for adjudication through the Digital Audition System.  Parents and students will be sent emails through DocuSign, so they can sign the audition agreement.  Director: Please verify that you have accurate email addresses for students and their parents.  Once the audition is created by the director, the DocuSign emails to students and parents will be initiated when the “Upload Audio” page is visited.  The form emails are not sent until you visit the “upload audio” page for the audition.  If they do not see the email, please have them check their spam folder.  Here is a walkthrough of the signature process:  Student Signature Form DocuSign Walkthrough
  • Student Fee – $55 per student audition – Can be paid by credit card by the parent from the student account or it can still be added to your cart from each student’s audition record on your Auditions Home page. 
  • The CASMEC All-State Leadership is requesting parent / student preferences for housing to help the team plan for the 2022 event.  Your students will need to provide you with their choice.  You will need to enter this information before you can submit your student’s audition.  We understand that information regarding COVID-19 protocols change regularly, but we need this information for contracting facilities for the event. The choice is editable until the audition is submitted. Unfortunately, you will not be able to change the selection after the audition is submitted. Self-Housed: If accepted to All-State, I will provide my own housing, meals outside of the rehearsal times, transportation to and from rehearsals/hotels/concerts, and chaperone during the entire event, understanding that these expenses are my responsibility, in addition to the All-State participation fee. CASMEC Housed: If accepted to All-State, I will be under the care of CASMEC, which includes housing, meals, chaperone, and transportation during the event. I will stay in the room block provided by CASMEC, understanding that everyone is required to be vaccinated and I will be placed in a room with 3 other students. I also understand that paying the cost of this option, which includes the All-State participation fee, is my responsibility. Housing is limited. Fees will be posted soon on this page ​​https://cbda.org/all-state-ensembles/faq/, and on https://casmec.org
  • CBDA All-State Student Information Form can be found here: https://cbda.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2022_CBDA_All-State_Student_Info_Form_fs.pdf Please submit these completed forms to your Band Director
  • All music files will be uploaded to the CBDA audition website. No CDs will be accepted.
  • Your director will need to create an audition account (new applicants) and / or audition record (applicants from previous years) for your 2022 audition at cbda.org.
  • The only approved recording format for upload is MP3.
  • Record all listed scales as separate tracks.  Missing scales will result in disqualification.
  • Solo excerpts, while they can be recorded in any order, need to be assembled in the correct order as noted on the solo list, and uploaded as one track with 3-5 seconds in between passages. Excerpts missing passages may be disqualified with no refund offered
  • DO NOT RECORD ANY SPOKEN WORDS ON YOUR TRACKS. Listening will be done “blind”.
  • Once you’ve uploaded all of your files and checked them, click “Check My Progress” and then “Submit for Director Approval”.  Your Director will need to review your files and submit them for judging.  Please check in with your director
  • All Piccolo, English Horn, Eb Clarinet players must record the additional audition material.  Be sure your second recording has correct scales.  There is no additional fee for Piccolo, English Horn, or Eb Clarinet auditions.
  • DO NOT use piano accompaniment.
  • Play passages as near the specified tempos as possible, using the preferred performance practice for that piece. 
  • Omit long rests.
  • Do not digitally alter tempo, pitch, rhythm or dynamics.  Do not digitally splice within phrases.  Excerpts not following these guidelines may be disqualified with no refund offered.
  • Your audition is not submitted for judging unless the status states “Submitted for CBDA Review” or “Submitted for CAJ Review”.  If you are uploading your own audition files, you must still submit them to your director for review.  Your director is the only one who can finish the submission process.  This process must be completed by 11:59 PM on December 1st.  There are no exceptions

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Practice Tips:

Scales (Ab Major, F Melodic Minor, E Major, C# Melodic Minor)

  • My best piece of advice for all of these scales is to memorize them. This will increase your confidence, particularly in the high register. Memorizing will also be a valuable exercise that will last well beyond All-State auditions.
  • Place air in your cheek as you ascend into the high register. This will give your high notes a bit more resonance.
  • To keep your tempo even, place small breath kicks on the sixteenth notes falling on the downbeat (a breath kick may take the form of additional vibrato, a very small accent, or holding the note a split second longer than the surrounding notes).
  • Remember to use standard fingerings. Although it may be tempting to use a trill fingering here or there, the committee will be listening closely to tone on each note.
  • Keep your metronome on silent while you record each scale. There are many apps that will give you visual cues to show you the beat. This will help you retain the marked tempo throughout.

Chromatic Scale:

  • Start practicing your scale slowly to make sure your fingerings are correct and your 16th notes are even. Start with a tempo of dotted quarter note = 60 (or below) and work your way up slowly to dotted quarter note = 96. Try not to exceed this tempo in the practice room. You will likely be a bit nervous on recording day, making it very easy to rush the tempo. Your brain may decide that day that it prefers the faster tempo! Sorry brain, you are wrong today.
  • The high register turnaround point to the high C requires fingering gymnastics. Keep your finger transitions from note to note “snappy.” I sometimes refer to this as “robot fingers” with my students. Of course, do not actually play like a robot! Just keep your finger movements quick and deliberate from one note to the next.
  • Don’t forget about that gizmo key on the high C! The gizmo is your friend.
  • The goal, if you can swing it, is to play the excerpt in one breath. I know – scary, but it can be done. Memorize your scale and practice! Use it as part of your warm-up routine in band rehearsals or at the beginning of each practice session. Alter your dynamics so that you are using less air but still retaining a center to your sound. A mp-mf should work nicely, staying on the mp-side if at all possible. If playing this in one breath is just not an option, take a quick breath after the third C (C3) on your way back down the scale.
  • If I haven’t driven this home yet, keeping the tempo steady is very important. Another great way to accomplish this is by placing small breath kicks on the first 8th note of each beat. A breath kick may take the form of a very small accent or a small bit of vibrato on the downbeat.
  • To keep your tempo consistent on recording day, program your metronome to dotted quarter note = 96 and keep it on silent while you play. This works best if you have memorized your chromatic scale. And finally..
  • Memorize your scale! Memorizing your chromatic scale will help you well beyond All-State auditions.

Chaminade Concertino – Beginning through Rehearsal C

  • The opening of this solo is all about two primary things: 1. Big sound! 2. Solid technique. Let’s start by discussing sound. Veer toward the louder edge of each dynamic and play out with your very best sound. Use your widest, most dramatic vibrato for any passages marked with a forte (f) or beyond. In my (very) old score to this piece, I have the words “BIG SOUND” and “JAMES GALWAY” marked in all caps. That says it all!
  • Now for technique.. Two measures before letter B is where the swirling sixteenths begin and where you must be very calm, cool, and collected when it comes to the beat. It is easy to rush these lines, but you must resist. Why? Because the grouping are deliberately outlined in 6s and 7s therefore if you are not even with your notes and clearly outline where the downbeat falls, all your audience will hear is a cacophony of notes meandering toward rehearsal B rather than a swirling line deliberately climbing back to the melody. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to bracket how your smaller grouping within each beat are organized. For example, are you thinking of the groups of 7s as 4+3 or 3+4? Write these brackets in your music. The next thing is to practice with a metronome, fitting all of your notes as bracketed within each beat. Start slowly and gradually increase the beat until you can easily fit all notes within each beat (and in one breath). Finally, add some breath kicks to the notes falling on the downbeats. This will help keep your technique grounded when the metronome is not on and will make it clear to your listener where your beats fall.
  • There are a number of moving scales in this excerpt that extend from the mid/high registers to the very depths of the low register and back again (8 measures before Rehearsal C is a great example). This will take an incredible amount of embrochure flexibility to maintain the quality of sound throughout each register. A great way to practice embrochure flexibility is to add Flexibility Exercise #1 from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone to your daily warm-ups. Work on maintaining the dynamic level and tonal resonance as you move into the low register and back.
  • Another good way to maintain volume of sound in the fast-moving lines is to move your right shoulder slightly closer to your flute as you descend into the lower register and back again when ascending into the middle register. This will open your sound up in the depths of the range.
  • Those triplet sixteenths can be maddening after Rehearsal B. Try to use the standard fingerings here, but if needed you may sneak in a trill fingering here and there.
  • A word on the grace notes – These are not your super elegant, Bach-style grace notes but also not your Stravinsky-style super quick grace notes. You must find the grey area between these two extremes. They must still be graceful, ornamental, and forward moving. Do not let the grace notes take attention away from the primary melody. They are like fireflies that briefly make the streetlight flicker but do not disturb the beam falling to the street.
  • There are a number of dynamic changes in this opening excerpt. Make sure to circle each dynamic change with a different colored pencil to draw your attention to where the sound and tonal character will change. There is a different character in the beginning to that at Rehearsal A. Make sure your audience can hear changes in your performance.
  • Most of this excerpt is slurred, however 5 measures after Rehearsal B includes repeated staccato notes, outside the character of the opening. Keep these staccatos light and leading forward to the next slurred line. It is very easy to drag this measure with the addition of articulated notes. A great way to practice this section is with a “tut” or a “tut-kut” articulation. Make sure not to hold that quarter note B too long – you will still need to keep these notes even.
  • Dare to be a diva in 7 measures before letter C. The piano is holding a chord in this measure, waiting for you, the virtuoso, to lead the line majestically back to the melody. You may use a slight bit of rubato here to hold the first B in the middle register and the lowest C# a bit longer than the surrounding notes. How would Beyonce sing this line? Do that!
  • The last reiteration of the melody, 6 measures before Rehearsal C, is in the higher register and will naturally be sharp (particularly with a fortissimo dynamic). Keep a tuner on your music stand while you play this excerpt and drop your jaw slightly to lower the pitch. Remember to keep air in your cheek during this passage, which will both increase resonance and bring the pitch out of the stratosphere.

Chaminade Concertino – 1 bar after G to 1 bar after J

  • This excerpt is all about technical fireworks. Keep your finger movements “snappy,” moving your fingers swiftly between each note. I sometimes refer to this technique as “robot” fingers with my students (but don’t actually play like a robot!). You want your technique to be as solid as a rock in the passage.
  • Use trill fingerings on the triplet sixteenth notes. These notes move so quickly that using standard fingerings will be an impediment.
  • There are several different articulations on various sixteenth notes in this passage. For example, there are accents at the beginning of slurred triplet passages, staccatos on standard sixteenth notes in addition to staccatos with tenuto marks over them. Each one of these types of articulations will need to be performed differently. Circle these with a red colored pencil to draw your attention to these passages. Make sure you clearly show the difference between staccato sixteenths (ex. one measure before H) and staccato/tenuto sixteenths (6 measures after H).
  • Simplify chromatic passages. The slurred passages 4 measures before Rehearsal H are primarily chromatic with a few interrupting arpeggios. To simplify these passages, bracket any arpeggios and write “chromatic” above the notes that fall in the chromatic scale. If your chromatic scale is solid, these passages will be very easy to play, shifting your attention to making a huge crescendo and descrescendo to the piano (p) trill.
  • You may be asking yourself, “Why is the C on the first beat of the measure before rehearsal letter H written as disconnected from the subsequent 3 sixteenths?” Because this is a great place to take a breath! Often in French music, breath marks are placed after the first note in the next phrase. Make sure to cut this note a bit short to take a quick breath before the articulated passage.
  • Speaking of articulation, the remainder of this passage will require gymnastics in double-tonguing. A great way to practice evening out your double-tonguing in these passages is to practice using a “coo” articulation on each note. This will help strengthen the back of your tongue. When you return to double-tonguing these passages, your articulation will be more even and lighter.
  • Always keep your articulation light (no matter how it changes). It is easy to get bogged down in these passages with heavy articulation or too sharp staccatos. Try experimenting with a “tut-kut” articulation here to keep things light. These syllables give each note a clear front and end the note with the tongue set in place for the next note.
  • Remember that there are dynamic changes hiding under the technical somersaults in the staff. A great way to plan out these sound and character changes to keep a sound spectrum above each line. Assign a color to each dynamic and/or character change and write a spectrum above the notes in colored pencils. This will give you a tone plan.
  • The last two measures of this excerpt must be dramatic! Remember to keep using those breath kicks to keep your beat clear and prevent your notes from rushing. Also, make your crescendo gradual yet super dramatic. Use a very intense vibrato on the final 4 notes. This is one of the most dramatic moments in the piece. Show your tonal range, your dynamic range, and your interpretive range in this final phrase.

Piccolo Audition; Eight Pieces, Op. 59 by Lowell Liebermann (8. March)

  • This short movement will require tonal courage, finger agility, and a clear, powerful lower register. Let’s begin with the tonal courage part first. There are melodic passages in the third register written in a mezzo-forte dynamic (measure 4 is a great example). You will need to be confident enough to play out on these notes but not overblow them into a louder dynamic. Control will be key and to have control you will need to make sure you have plenty of air support. Remember also to vibrate on these passages – remind your committee how beautiful the piccolo can sound in the high register!
  • Practice your key clicks. These will naturally be softer on the piccolo than on the flute or the alto flute. Make sure you can hear the changing notes on these key clicks. You may also want to circle all notes marked as key clicks with a green colored pencil in your score as a visual reminder (it is easy to forget!).
  • There are a few instances of the quarter, dotted eighth-sixteenth repeated motive in this short movement. Make sure these notes are all connected but slightly increase vibrato on each note to create forward momentum to the next figure.
  • Try not to panic on the 32nd note arpeggios beginning in line 7. To simplify these lines, write the chord names above each grouping. For example, line 4 begins with a Db minor arpeggio, followed by an Eb ascending arpeggio, then a D major descending, and C major ascending arpeggio. If you know your arpeggios, this will make these figures super easy to play. If you do not know your arpeggios very well, this would be a good excuse to add arpeggio studies (such as Taffanel and Gaubert’s Exercise #12 from the 17 Daily Studies) to your daily routine.
  • There is a Bolero-esque dotted eighth note-triplet 32nd note figure beginning in line 5 in the low register. This is quite a “tubby” register on the piccolo. Make sure to play out as much as possible on these notes and keep the articulations a bit on the short side so your audience can hear the separation of each note.
  • Accents do not make an appearance until the last three lines. Bring these out! Circle all accents with a red colored pencil to bring them to your attention. These indicate the climax of this short piece. Like with the Bolero figure, keep accepts shorter and separated in the low register to avoid the natural tubbiness. Play out!
  • The last line is a gradual diminuendo to the final 2 key clicks. Make sure not to slow the tempo as you get softer and the character changes. Keep vibrato slower and a bit dolce as you close out the excerpt.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability.
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the final recording, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.

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Are you auditioning for the California All-State Band program? What are your best preparation strategies? What do you find the most challenging about the audition repertoire? What questions do you have about the audition or the All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your California flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #5: Oregon)

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday. We will again be continuing our Practice Blueprints-All State Auditions series this week with Oregon. Oregon has a special place in my heart as my husband and I were married in Yachats, Oregon 10 years ago and still visit at least once a year. We also briefly owned a beach house along the Oregon Coast where I taught young flute students and participated in the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA). Oregon has a very unique All-State Symphonic Band and All-State Wind Ensemble format that enables smaller schools to audition for the All-State Symphonic Band program separately using different audition materials than students from larger schools who are required to audition for the All-State Wind Ensemble. Any student from a larger school who does not make it into the Wind Ensemble is eligible for placement in the Symphonic Band after the smaller school participants have been ranked and placed. This model provides more opportunities for students from smaller schools to gain priceless experience at the state level. Auditions for both the All-State Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band opened on September 1st and will continue through October 4th. For those of you still considering submitting an application, or for teachers with students interested in submitting audition recordings, today’s blog will help make the audition and application process a bit less intimidating. Participating in All-State programs was a very valuable part of my own experience. I also came from a smaller school and know first-hand that the very best talent is often found within the quieter, simpler parts of the world, hidden until it is given the sunlight it needs to thrive. If you are one of these young musicians, I say throw caution to the wind and apply! Seize all of the enriching experiences possible as you grow into fantastic young musicians.

General Information (What You Need to Know)

  • Students must work with their music teacher/band director to complete recordings (separate files for each required excerpt).
  • The cost to submit an audition for high school students is $20.
  • Teachers must be current members of NAfME/OMEA to submit nominations and auditions through OpusEvent.com.
  • Teachers and families are notified of audition results by mid-October via the email address entered into OpusEvent.com.
  • Students must complete audition forms and give these to their music teacher/band director. These can be found here: https://www.oregonmusic.org/files/All%20State/2022%20AllState%20and%20Conference/AllStateInfo&AppPacket2022.pdf
  • The student must perform each exercise with the correct pitch, rhythms, quality tone, articulations, and steady tempo (see tempo markings on each exercise).
  • Each audition track should be a separate audio file (mp3, wav, etc.).
  • Teachers and students may not electronically or otherwise enhance any recordings.
  • The OMEA All-State Festival will be held over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Eugene, Oregon. Parents/Guardians must supply or arrange transportation to and from Eugene. Some schools might provide transportation to the event. Please see your band director for further information.
  • The audition period opens on September 1st on OpusEvent.com and runs through October 4th.
  • Registration and participation fees for accepted high school students is $334.00.
  • High School Symphonic Band Info
    • Conductor = Marcellus Brown
    • Rehearsals will take place from Friday, January 14 – Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the Lane Events Center.
    • The performance will take place at the First Baptist Church.
    • Students will be staying at The Graduate Hotel Eugene.
    • Auditions are open to students in schools with an OSAA classification of 1A-4A (please see your band director to determine if your school falls in this category).
    • Students from 5A and 6A high schools may not use Symphonic Band audition materials.
  • High School Wind Ensemble Info
    • Conductor = Dr. Rebecca Phillips
    • Rehearsals will take place from Friday, January 14 – Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the University of Oregon School of Music.
    • The performance will take place at the First Baptist Church.
    • Students will be staying at The Graduate Hotel Eugene.
    • Students from 5A and 6A schools MUST submit using the Wind Ensemble/Orchestra audition material. If smaller school students wish to submit using the Wind Ensemble/Orchestra material, they are welcome to do so; however, students can only submit one band audition.
    • All students that submit using the Wind Ensemble/Orchestra material that are not selected for the Orchestra or Wind Ensemble, will be considered for positions in the Symphonic Band.
  • 5A-6A students will be selected to fill out the band after all of the small school students who met the minimum audition scores are accepted into the Symphonic Band.
  • The approximate size of the Wind Ensemble is 90 players and the Symphonic Band is 150, depending on the pool of applicants and the needs of the literature.
  • Audition screening is “blind” – Judges do not know the students’ name or school information.
  • Screeners will listen to each track and assign a score from 1-100. After all auditions are scored, each student will end up with an overall score and then will be ranked.
  • Screeners are instructed that any student who is unable to perform a track successfully are to be marked “unacceptable.” That means that any wrong notes/pitches, wrong rhythms, poor tone quality and inaccurate or poorly executed articulations will disqualify a student.

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Practice Tips

Oregon All-State Wind Ensemble Audition Repertoire

Excerpt #1 – Chromatic Scale

  • Start practicing your scale slowly to make sure your fingerings are correct and your 16th notes are even. Start with a tempo of quarter note = 60 (or below) and work your way up slowly to quarter note = 72. Try not to exceed this tempo in the practice room. You will likely be a bit nervous on recording day, making it very easy to rush the tempo. Your brain may decide that day that it prefers the faster tempo! Sorry brain, you are wrong today.
  • The high register turnaround point to the high C requires fingering gymnastics. Keep your finger transitions from note to note “snappy.” I sometimes refer to this as “robot fingers” with my students. Of course, do not actually play like a robot! Just keep your finger movements quick and deliberate from one note to the next.
  • Don’t forget about that gizmo key on the high C! The gizmo is your friend.
  • The goal, if you can swing it, is to play the excerpt in one breath. I know – scary, but it can be done. Memorize your scale and practice! Use it as part of your warm-up routine in band rehearsals or at the beginning of each practice session. Alter your dynamics so that you are using less air but still retaining a center to your sound. A mp-mf should work nicely, staying on the mp-side if at all possible. If playing this in one breath is just not an option, take a quick breath after the third C (C3) on your way back down the scale.
  • If I haven’t driven this home yet, keeping the tempo steady is very important. Another great way to accomplish this is by placing small breath kicks on the first 16th note of each beat. A breath kick may take the form of a very small accent or a small bit of vibrato on the downbeat.
  • To keep your tempo consistent on recording day, program your metronome to quarter note = 72 and keep it on silent while you play. This works best if you have memorized your chromatic scale. And finally..
  • Memorize your scale! Memorizing your chromatic scale will help you well beyond All-State auditions.

Excerpt #1 – Joachim Anderson, 24 Etudes for Flute, Op. 15, No. 24

  • This excerpt opens with a huge register jump from a low D to and third octave F in a fortissimo dynamic with the words “con impeto” (“with force”) below the staff. Whoa! Two notes in and the musical drama is already lit, setting the stage for the entire excerpt! A good way to prepare for this crazy jump is to add harmonics to your daily practice routine. This will train your embrochure to reach for the high F rather than overusing your air. A good place to find harmonic exercises in on page 6 of the Trever Wye Practice Book on Tone. This is a staple in my own practice routine and works wonders to improve the resonance of my lower register as well as the ease of my octave jumps. Try it out!
  • Let’s talk more about that opening low D. It is not easy to start on this note with a fortissimo dynamic. Add a gentle finger slap on your low G key to help this note speak. Also, begin the excerpt with your right shoulder angled closer to your flute. This will help open up your sound in the lower register. Make sure to move your shoulder back for the high F for the best resonance in the high register.
  • Now, let’s talk about that high F. This is an excellent note to practice putting air in your cheek and using your best, most beautifully intense vibrato. You are essentially introducing your listener to your sound with the first two notes. Give them all you’ve got!
  • This excerpt is an exercise in arpeggio somersaults. A great complement to add to your daily scale routine is Taffanel and Gaubert’s Exercise #12 from the 17 Daily Exercises, which covers any and all types of arpeggios throughout the range of the flute. You may also find it helpful to mark the chord name that the arpeggios are highlighting above the staff. For example, in measure 3, we find a D minor arpeggio that moves into a (strange) G# diminished seventh chord, followed in the next measure by an A major chord. If you know your arpeggios well enough, this will save you a lot of time looking at the notes and simply playing the broken chords.
  • There are a number of juxtapositions against opposites in this excerpt. Articulation is a great example. Measure 2 requires very short staccatos followed in measure 3 by sweeping slurred lines that make their way back to short staccatos in measure 4. Understanding this concept is half the battle! Make sure to keep your staccatos short yet “bouncy.” Using a “tut” syllable here will help you have a clean, clear attack on each note while preparing the tongue for the next note. On the slurs, keep your notes smooth and connected while using “snappy” fingers to move from each fingering to the next.
  • The rests in this excerpt are here to help you! Take nice, long, deliberate breaths on the rests to help you get through the longer lines. You may also take short “catch” breaths in measures 13-14 to help you power through until the end of the excerpt (Rampal was infamous for using small “catch” breaths in his Mozart concerti).
  • Another juxtaposition of opposites can be found in the dynamics. Although the excerpt begins in fortissimo (with another fortissimo reiterated in measure 5), a piano (p) dynamic makes its way into the texture in measure 9. Make sure you clearly show the difference in both sound and character here. Remember to transition back to a forte in measure 13, which should not be as boisterous as the opening dynamic but still fairly loud. Make a clear diminuendo in the final two measures to an easy, breezy, clear and calm mezzo-forte.
  • Measures 10 and 12 may be a bit tricky as an F# in the previous measure morphs back into an F natural. Make sure to mark this in your part so you do not forget.

Excerpt #3 – Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonata in Eb BWV 1031 (Siciliano)

  • The good thing about this excerpt is that it has been recorded and performed by flutists young and old on both modern and period instruments. The very best thing you can do before even practicing this piece is to listen to a bunch of different versions of the work by a range of artists. Many of these recordings can be found on YouTube. Find a few samples featuring performances on both modern flutes and baroque flutes. One of my favorite videos is by Jasmine Choi https://youtu.be/kM39vMjIULM, who finds a unique beauty and sound for each note.
  • To better understand the character of this excerpt, it is important to know exactly what a Siciliano is (no, it is not just a fancy tempo word that the Italians made up or a type of pizza). A Siciliano, according to Merriam-Webster, is a “graceful Sicilian rustic dance in which the partners are joined with handkerchiefs.” There is a graceful connectivity to this piece. Nothing jumps to high or too low (not possible if you and connected to your dance partner via handkerchief). Keep this idea as you are performing this excerpt: graceful connectivity.
  • Remember to aim your air toward the higher note on the limited jumps that appear in this excerpt (measures 3 and 5 are good examples). Think of your air as a type of gas pedal when making your way from a lower to a higher note. A great exercise to add to your practice routine to work on this concept is from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone, “The Middle Register – II” on page 17. These lines feature a jump that will require the same “gas pedal” of air to reach the higher note. Try it out!
  • You may notice that there is something very strange missing from this passage: dynamics. That doesn’t necessarily mean you may play one dynamic. Mr. Bach left a lot of performance elements open to interpretation by performers, including articulations, ornamentation, and dynamics. A rule of thumb when it comes to baroque dynamics is to use contrasting dynamics whenever possible on repeating lines. A good time to experiment with this appears in measures 17-18 and again in 19-20. Play the first repetition of the repeating motive with a forte dynamic and the second with a piano dynamic and again for the next set of repetitions. This keeps the melody a bit more mysterious and multidimensional.
  • Although the tempo is marked in 8th notes, perform this excerpt with a larger dotted quarter note emphasis. It is a dance, after all. The steps will occur not on the eighth notes but on the dotted quarter. I like to watch period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility from the BBC to really capture the idea of this dance as there are often dance sequences that feature baroque tunes.

Piccolo Excerpt – Percy Grainger, Molly on the Shore

  • Do not be deceived by the easy-seeming tempo marking at the beginning – This excerpt flies by pretty quickly! Start working on this slowly to make sure your technique is consistently rockin’ and rollin’ before speeding up.
  • This excerpt takes courage! The high register playing is not for the faint of heart. My best piece of advice is to belt.it.out. Give your band director a set of earplugs while you are recording and pretend that you are the Slash of the flute. Slash plays his guitar as if he doesn’t care who hears him – Play your piccolo as if you don’t care who hears you. Rock it!
  • The triplet figures in this excerpt are more akin to ornaments in the melody than true triplets. You will still want to make sure these are supported by your air and the sound rings out but keep these as ornamental to the primary melody.
  • The style in the first two lines is very much contrasting to the rest of the excerpt. Be sure to bring out this character difference by starting the excerpt in a calm mezzo-forte with sweetly sounding vibrato. Turn up the intensity in measure 6 with short, yet lightly articulated notes.
  • You may get tired from all of the articulation. Remember to use a light “tut” syllable to keep attacks clean and your tongue poised for the next note. A great way to practice this excerpt is in chirps (or tiny puffs of air). This will help train your air to do some of the heavy lifting, giving your “tut” a much-needed break.
  • There are accents! Make sure to circle these with a red-colored pencil in your part so you do not forget to bring them out of the texture. These accents are important as they correspond to what is happening in the rest of the ensemble.
  • The last 3 lines feature a series of crescendos and decrescendos. Makes sure you are bringing these out of the texture. Start these passages off slightly softer than they are marked to make more of a difference in the line. Most of these follow the natural dynamic tendencies of the line.

Symphonic Band Audition Repertoire

If you are in a smaller school, you may be eligible to audition for the All-State Symphonic Band. This will be less competitive and guarantees more opportunities for musicians from smaller school to participate in All-State programs. As a young flutist from a smaller school, I would have loved having more opportunities like this! You will perform with fellow musicians from around the state in programs similar to your own, make new friends, and create priceless new memorizes. The repertoire for this group is a bit easier than that of the Wind Ensemble, but you may instead audition with the Wind Ensemble repertoire if you so choose. Up to you!

Exercise #1 – Chromatic Scale

  • Many of the tips below are similar to those for the Wind Ensemble audition. My two best pieces of advice are to stick to the written tempo of quarter note = 60 and to try to play this excerpt in one breath with good sound.
  • Keep your finger transitions from note to note “snappy.” I sometimes refer to this as “robot fingers” with my students. Of course, do not actually play like a robot! Just keep your finger movements quick and deliberate from one note to the next.
  • Alter your dynamics so that you are using less air but still retaining a center to your sound. A mp-mf should work nicely, staying on the mp-side if at all possible.
  • To keep your tempo consistent on recording day, program your metronome to quarter note = 60 and keep it on silent while you play. This works best if you have memorized your chromatic scale. And finally..
  • Memorize your scale! Memorizing your chromatic scale will help you well beyond All-State auditions.

Exercise #2 – Etude Espressivo

  • This is a great excerpt to practice varying the speed of your vibrato to match the character of the melody and dynamics. The excerpt begins quietly, requiring a sweet, almost dolce tone. Build up to a mezzo-forte at the end of the first line and speed up your vibrato ever so slightly. At the climax in line 2, play out on the forte and speed up your vibrato again so that the line is boisterous and intense. Play out here!
  • The unique thing about this excerpt is that it features a number of different types of articulations. For example, just looking at the 2nd and 3rd measures, there are slurs, staccatos, accents, and tenuto markings within the span of 2 measures. Make sure to bring out the difference in all of these types of articulations.
  • The name of the game is to be as expressive as possible in this short selection. Something that really helps me, as well as my students, is to create a story behind the music. Listen to yourself playing the entire excerpt. What comes to mind? Does the music make you think of different types of colors? Does it make you think of people? Animals? Is there a story behind the notes or a dialogue being sung between the voices? Write it down! Imagine your story every time you play this excerpt.

Exercise #3 – Etude Technical

  • Practice with your metronome set to quarter note = 120 and then practice with your metronome again, and again until the tempo is ingrained in your head. If this tempo is too fast, go ahead and dial it back while you are learning the notes, speeding up gradually every day until you can play at quarter note = 120. Record yourself playing without the metronome. How close is your internal tempo to the written tempo? Remember not to rush on the day of the recording. It is a good idea to bring your metronome with you and remind yourself of the tempo before your band director hits the “record” button.
  • This entire excerpt is articulated and most of it is staccato. A great way to practice your staccatos is by using a “tut” syllable on the single-tongued notes, and a tut-kut combination on your double-tongued passages. Another good idea is to practice in chirps (or small puffs of un-articulated air). This will help train your air to do the heavy lifting, freeing up your tongue to lighten your articulation.
  • Remember to place some vibrato on the quarter notes marked with tenuto lines. You’ll want to remind your committee of your awesome sound!
  • There are a number of dynamic changes in this excerpt starting in the second line and continuing until the end of the excerpt. Remember to clearly show the difference between all of these dynamic changes. Sometimes it helps to think of dynamics as different colors. If this works for you, you might add a spectrum with these colors above your music as a visual reminder to change your sound in these sections.
  • There is only one accent in the entire excerpt! This falls on the 3rd beat of the second to last measure. Circle this with a red colored pencil so you do not forget to make this note different from all of the notes that comes before it. This is the false ending. Your listener may think the excerpt is over, but lo and behold, there are still a few notes! Gotcha.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability.
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the final recording, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.

***

Are you auditioning for the Oregon All-State Wind Ensemble or Symphonic Band? What are your best preparation strategies? What do you find the most challenging about the audition repertoire? What questions do you have about the audition or the All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your Oregon flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Happy Fluting! (and auditioning)

Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #4: Florida)

Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday!

We will continue the Practice Blueprints – All-State Audition Series this week with Florida. Auditions across the state will start today (September 11th) and continue through September 25th. Although most of the prep work may already be done for students auditioning into these groups, the below will serve as a few last-minute ideas for those still in preparation mode. Florida has a wonderful model that breaks down All-State groups into Concert Band (9th and 10th graders) and Symphonic Band (11th and 12th graders). The younger musicians can build experience in Concert Band before excelling into Symphonic Band while performing with musicians closer to their age groups (freshmen do not compete with seniors under this model). This makes competition for All-State groups a bit less intimidating, even in a state as populous as Florida. Although the preliminary auditions are recorded, they are done so in one take by the student’s band director, making these essentially live auditions for the student (one take, one chance to shine). Remember, as I said in last week’s blog: No matter what happens, approach these auditions from a learning perspective. It’s okay to not be perfect in a live audition – Your goal is to put your very best playing out there no matter how nervous you are, or how unpredictable the environment may be on the day of your audition. Just play and let the Universe work out the rest.

General Information (What You Need to Know):

Any questions about All-State auditions should be asked to your Band Director. 

  • Any student participating in an FMEA/FBA All-State band must be enrolled/registered at a public school, private school, public charter school, home education music cooperative, or virtual school. In addition, the student must be a regularly participating member in the appropriate middle school or high school band from that school and sponsored by the Active FMEA/FBA member teacher from that school.  Home education students must meet the requirements and complete the additional paperwork on the FMEA All-State Eligibility Page.
  • Audition Results: Directors will be able to see the audition results for their own students in MPA Online sometime during the first week of November.  The full lists will be released during the second or third week of November.
  • Directors of accepted all-state students are required to register for and attend the FMEA Conference on January 12-15, 2022. See the FMEA Conference Policies for details. 
  • The decision of the selection committee is final.
  • Only instruments listed on the All-State Application or in the 2022 All-State Symphonic Band Requirements printed in the handbook may audition.
  • The student must be a member of the band program at their school and have their name submitted on the proper All-State Application form. The Application form must be typed and signed by the band director and principal. The Application form must be submitted by the proper deadline date as set by the District.
  • The band director must be a member of FBA/FMEA by September 1, 2021.
  • Students selected for any of the All-State groups must bring their own music stand, instrument, band uniform, etc.

Required Repertoire:

  • Concert Band (Grades 9 and 10)https://fba.flmusiced.org/media/2013/all-state-requirements-2022-concert-band-woodwind.pdf
    • a) The specific prepared exercises for their instrument(s) as listed in the All-State Concert Band Audition Requirements. Note the suggested tempi.
      • Flute Excerpt #1 – Lyrical Exercise: Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 55, #17; dotted quarter note = 60
      • Flute Excerpt #2 – Technical Exercise: Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 54, #12; quarter note = 120
      • Piccolo – Piccolo Excerpt – Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 51, #6; m. 1-32, quarter note = 116
        • All Piccolo students MUST also audition on Flute. Their Flute audition will determine membership in the band and the Piccolo double will be determined by the Piccolo audition. The Piccolo audition will contain the chromatic scale and the above exercise – no other scales and no sight-reading.
    • b) A chromatic scale covering the range for their instrument (as given in the All-State Concert Band Audition Requirements.) The scale will be performed in even sixteenth notes at a minimum tempo of MM ♩= 100. The scale will be tongued ascending and slurred descending where applicable. Scale is to be memorized.
    • c) Twelve major scales, (in 2:30 minutes or less) from memory, complete with arpeggios, at a minimum tempo of MM ♩= 120. Scales are to be performed a minimum of 2 octaves where possible. Students who wish to play a 3rd octave may do so. All scales must be performed within the allotted time frame. Scales must be performed in complete octaves. (Please see audition guidelines for scale and arpeggio rhythms.) The scales will be tongued ascending and slurred descending where applicable. Scales will be performed in the “circle of fourths”, starting with the concert key of: C, F, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, B, E, A, D, G.
    • d) A short sight-reading exercise(s) to demonstrate the student’s reading ability. The student will have thirty seconds to study the piece before playing it.
  • Symphonic Band (Grades 11 and 12)https://fba.flmusiced.org/media/2016/all-state-requirements-2022-symphonic-band-woodwind.pdf
    • a) The specific prepared exercises for their instrument(s) as listed in the All-State Symphonic Band Audition Requirements. Students will determine tempi.
      • Flute Excerpt #1 – Lyrical Exercise: Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984) – pg. 42, #10; m. 1-16
      • Flute Excerpt #2 – Technical Exercise: Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984) – pg. 7, #7; m. 1-40 + 1 note
      • Piccolo – Piccolo Excerpt – Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984), pg. 23, #5; beginning – m. 38 + 1 note
        • All Piccolo students MUST also audition on Flute. Their Flute audition will determine membership in the band and the Piccolo double will be determined by the Piccolo audition. The Piccolo audition will contain the chromatic scale and the above exercise – no other scales and no sight-reading.
    • b) A chromatic scale covering the range for their instrument (as given in the All-State Concert Band Audition Requirements.) The scale will be performed in even sixteenth notes at a minimum tempo of MM ♩= 120. The scale will be tongued ascending and slurred descending where applicable. Scale is to be memorized.
    • c) Twelve major scales, (in 2:30 minutes or less) from memory, complete with arpeggios, at a minimum tempo of MM ♩= 120. Scales are to be performed a minimum of 2 octaves where possible. Students who wish to play a 3rd octave may do so. All scales must be performed within the allotted time frame. Scales must be performed in complete octaves. (Please see audition guidelines for scale and arpeggio rhythms). The scales will be tongued ascending and slurred descending where applicable. Scales will be performed in the “circle of fourths”, starting with the concert key of: C, F, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, B, E, A, D, G.
    • d) A short sight-reading exercise(s) to demonstrate the student’s reading ability. The student will have thirty seconds to study the piece before playing it.

Where can I find the Required Repertoire?

  • Chromatic Scale Example:

Practice Guidelines

Chromatic Scale

  • Start practicing your scale slowly to make sure your fingerings are correct and your 16th notes are even. Start with a tempo of quarter note = 60 (or below) and work your way up to the tempos marked on the audition guidelines. Try not to exceed this tempo in the practice room. You will likely be a bit nervous on recording day, making it very easy to rush the tempo. Your brain may decide that day that it prefers the faster tempo! Sorry brain, you are wrong today.
  • The high register turnaround point to the high C requires fingering gymnastics. Keep your finger transitions from note to note “snappy.” I sometimes refer to this as “robot fingers” with my students. Of course, do not actually play like a robot! Just keep your finger movements quick and deliberate from one note to the next.
  • Don’t forget about that gizmo key on the high C! The gizmo is your friend.
  • If I haven’t driven this home yet, keeping the tempo steady is very important. Another great way to accomplish this is by placing small breath kicks on the first 16th note of each beat. A breath kick may take the form of a very small accent or a small bit of vibrato on the downbeat.

Scales (Circle of 4ths)

  • Make sure you play the rhythms as indicated on the audition guidelines and do not forget about the arpeggios at the end of each scale.
  • A great way to work on memorizing these scales is to turn it into a game. Write the note names of each scale on small bits of paper and draw each one out of a hat (or bag, or sock, whatever works!). Although you will be playing them in the circle of fourths sequence on the day of the audition, this will help avoid learning simply by muscle memory (which may fail you in a high stress audition setting).
  • Set the metronome to the tempos indicated on the audition sheet. When you feel comfortable with this tempo, turn the metronome off and your phone camera on. Record yourself playing your scales and check the time stamp. Make sure you are fitting your scales in the 2:30 indicated. If not, speed up the tempo slightly until you can fit all scales in the required 2:30 while retaining an even tempo.
  • Review your recording. What can you improve on your scales? Are they even? Are the accidentals all correct? How is your sound? Could you project a bit more? Take notes and try again until you are super confident with your scales!

Sight Reading

  • I wrote a separate blog on sight-reading a few years ago: https://racheltaylorgeier.org/2016/08/22/love-at-first-sight/ Check this out! Here I address a number of very valuable sight-reading tips such as paying close attention to tempos and time signatures, remembering the rests, searching for repetitive phrases or common patterns, and keeping your eyes moving forward.
  • It is not easy to prepare for sight reading! One of my best pieces of advice is to practice becoming comfortable with the unknown. Ask your band director or flute teacher to give you random excerpts to play once or twice a week. Sight reading is scary because you never know what to expect. Desensitize yourself and go with the flow.
  • Another good idea is to end each practice session by selecting another etude from the Cavally book and playing through 20 measures while you record yourself on your phone. The recording device serves as a cue to keep going (no matter what)! If you are brave, share your daily sight-reading adventures on your Instagram Live, Tic Tok, or YouTube pages.

Concert Band Auditions (9th and 10th Grade All-State Band)

Flute Excerpt #1 – Lyrical Exercise: Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 55, #17; dotted quarter note = 60

  • Since this a lyrical excerpt, keep your notes legato and connected.
  • The guidelines for this excerpt are very specific regarding tempo. Make sure to practice with a metronome set to this tempo. Avoid becoming too reliant on the metronome by recording yourself and comparing your playing without a metronome to the marked tempo.
  • Take the breath marks as indicated in the score. The committee will be looking at how efficiently you are using air. Try not to lose the beat when taking a breath. The breath should still fit within marked rhythm.
  • Circle all accidentals with a red colored pencil as a visual cue to yourself to bring these out of the texture. Since this is a lyrical etude, make sure accents are gracefully rounded (like the sound of a bell rather than a car horn).
  • Make the most out of the crescendo from piano (p) to forte (f) in the 2nd line. Start softly and gradually get louder. Is it possible to make a distinct tone color change here?
  • The last measure of the 2nd line and the 2nd measure of the 3rd line may throw you off with the presence of a dotted rhythm. Try not to linger too long on the dotted eighth. The show must go on!
  • Remember to diminuendo gradually in the 2nd-3rd measure of line 3. This is the transition between the two character voices in this excerpt. We are essentially making a return to the opening melody.
  • The final diminuendo may be a bit challenging with the octave jump at the end. Try not to get so soft on this line that you lose tonal support for the last two notes. This jump should still be graceful (like the triangle at the end of an orchestral work)..

Flute Excerpt #2 – Technical Exercise: Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 54, #12; quarter note = 120

  • This excerpt is all about articulation! Keep your articulated notes short and light. A good way to practice this excerpt is to use the syllable “tut.” This keeps the notes short and the tongue poised for the next note. Another great way to practice lightening your articulation in this excerpt is to practice in “chirps” (or unarticulated puffs of air). This helps alleviate the work of your tongue to produce the sound of each articulated note.
  • There are a few sneaky F# in the score. Make sure to mark these clearly in your music. If seeing “E#” freaks you out (understandable!), simply write “F” above these notes.
  • Keep a strict quarter note = 120 tempo and practice with a metronome. The guidelines are very specific regarding tempo for this excerpt.
  • The good news is that the dynamic remains in forte (f) for the entire excerpt. Keep the sound resonant and project in all registers. The volume and quality of sound must be the same at the bottom of the register as it is at the top.

Piccolo Excerpt – Rubank Advanced Method Volume II – pg. 51, #6; m. 1-32, quarter note = 116

  • There is a strict quarter note = 116 tempo indicated in the audition guidelines. Make sure to practice this excerpt with a metronome. Record yourself to make sure that your internal tempo is consistent with your metronome.
  • The first measure is a bit tricky as you are required to move quite quicky from a forte (f) on a high G to a piano (p) in the next measure. Playing softly in the high register is challenging on the piccolo! This type of writing occurs in several place in this excerpt. Try tightening your embrochure rather than using more air to control the sound. A good way to prepare for playing softly in this register is to practice 3rd octave scales softly as a warm-up (use your circle of fourths exercise for this!).
  • There are accents in the low register. Circle these in a red colored pencil to bring them to your attention. Make sure to bring these notes out of the texture.
  • This excerpt turns the natural dynamic tendencies of the line (and the instrument) around, bringing out the opposite of “normal.” Understand this concept and half the battle is already won!
  • Practice your Eb major and C# minor scales as a warm-up to become comfortable playing in these keys for this excerpt.
  • Bring out the crescendo/decrescendo pairs at the end of the excerpt. The notes and dynamics move faster than the previous lines in the final 2 measures.
  • Keep dotted articulations short and light. Try practicing with a “tut” syllable in these passages to keep the notes short while preparing the tongue properly for each subsequent note.

***

Symphonic Band Auditions (11th and 12th grade All-State Band)

Flute Excerpt #1 – Lyrical Exercise: Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984) – pg. 42, #10; m. 1-16

  • Although this excerpt is written in 9, be sure to select a tempo that is not too slow but still Adagio. Keep the melody flowing.
  • Think of this excerpt like a dance (it is a waltz after all). Retain a graceful and elegant tone even in the high register. The accents are almost like changes of steps, with slurs representing longer turns or spins on the dance floor.
  • On that note, do what you can to bring out the accents. These should be rounded and graceful, like the sound of a bell. Circle these in with a red colored pencil as a visual reminder to bring them out of the texture.
  • Although this excerpt begins with a piano (p) dolce dynamic, it contains a number of dynamic changes (including several crescendo/decrescendo pairs) that ultimately build to the forte in the final 2 measures. This is a great opportunity to experiment with tone color changes! I wrote an article last year for The Flute View entitled “Rainbow Score” that describes a system of assigning certain colors to certain sounds and coloring your music in to represent your tone plan (check out this article here: https://thefluteview.com/2020/09/9681/). The sound may change from color to color based on volume, resonance, and vibrato speed depending on how you, as an individual performer, interpret it. Try inventing your own color plan and adding a simple spectrum above each line.
  • Think of your accidentals as leading to the next note, particularly in the ascending lines (ex. 3rd line, first 2 measures).
  • Take the breath marks as indicated. If you are having trouble fitting in all of the notes between breaths, speed the tempo up ever so slightly.

Flute Excerpt #2 – Technical Exercise: Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984) – pg. 7, #7; m. 1-40 + 1 note

  • Keep your beat steady throughout the spinning 16th notes by adding a few breath kicks (or very small accents or small bits of vibrato) on notes falling on the downbeats.
  • Keep your finger transitions from note to note “snappy.” I sometimes refer to this as “robot fingers” with my students. Of course, do not actually play like a robot! Just keep your finger movements quick and deliberate from one note to the next.
  • Keep the tempo swift but still manageable (at least quarter note = 120). You want to impress your committee with your virtuosity but also show them that you understand where the beat is.
  • Make a clear distinction between the marked piano (p) and mezzo-forte (mf) dynamics. This is another great opportunity to experiment with tone color changes between the 2 character’s voices.
  • Many of the mezzo-forte passages fall within the lower register, which is not the easiest register to play loudly. Try bringing your right shoulder closer to your flute. This will help open your sound up in the lower register.
  • The 6th line switches characters completely. The marked “grandioso” says it all! Longer, more boisterous lines are introduced by articulated ascending lines. Change tone colors in this section and use a bit more vibrato to sing out the melody.
  • Keep the staccatos in the 6th and 7th lines short, but not too short. Make sure there is still a center to your sound and keep attacks light.

Piccolo Excerpt – Melodious & Progressive Studies for Flute, Book 1 Revised by Robert Cavally, Pub: Southern Music Co. (CR 1984), pg. 23, #5; beginning – m. 38 + 1 note

  • This is essentially a march (piccolos playing marches – groundbreaking..). A great way to practice keeping a clear march tempo is to literally march in place while playing this excerpt.
  • There is a character change at the beginning of the 3rd line, introduced by a “dolce” beneath the staff. Experiment with tone colors here. How can you change your tone, dynamics, or sound to create a new, sweeter voice?
  • The accents in the 3rd line are unusual as they fall on the 2nd note of a syncopated 2-note grouping. Bring these out of the texture without slowing down the beat.
  • Speaking of accents, make sure you circle these in your music with a red colored pencil as a reminder to bring these out of the texture.
  • Remember that there are crescendi and decrescendi starting at the end of line 3. Circle these and bring them out as they follow the natural direction of the line.
  • There are a number of octave jumps in this excerpt (particularly at the end of lines 4 through line 6). A good way to train your embrochure for these leaps is to add the Flexibility Exercise #1 from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone to your daily warm-up routine. Focus on keeping the tone stable while training your lips to gracefully move between each register.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations

(These are going to be very similar to my last blog and can apply to most audition scenarios.)

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability.
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the audition, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.

***

Are you auditioning for the Florida All-State Band program? Which one of the above tips works best for you? What are your own practice tips? What are you struggling with? What questions do you have about the audition or All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your Florida flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Happy Fluting! (and auditioning)

Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #3: Illinois)

Greetings and welcome a new Flute Friday!

Today we will be continuing the Practice Blueprints – All-State Audition series with Illinois. I have really enjoyed the Fluting with the Stars Masterclass series offered by the Chicago Flute Club this year and was therefore inspired to select Illinois as the next state on the Practice Blueprints list. The Chicago Flute Club continues to offer so many great resources to both members and non-members alike. I encourage everyone to check out some of their future offerings (including their next Fluting with the Star’s masterclass with Paula Robison): https://www.chicagofluteclub.org

Illinois may not be a large state like Texas, but the Chicago metro area attracts many talented high school musicians who have access to exceptional private teachers and music programs. Competition is fierce for positions in the All-State program and live auditions make the audition process even more strenuous than other states that require a pre-recorded preliminary audition. Live auditions are no joke! You have one shot to impress. One shot to play all the notes. One shot to show why you deserve a place in an All-State ensemble. This, of course, is how college auditions work as well as orchestral auditions in the professional world. Learn what you can about how you perform under pressure now. No matter what happens, approach these auditions from a learning perspective. It’s okay to not be perfect in a live audition – Your goal is to put your very best playing out there no matter how nervous you are, or how unpredictable the environment may be on the day of your audition. Just play and let the Universe work out the rest.

General Information (What You Need to Know)

  • Senior level auditions will be blind auditions; click here for a sample script of what to expect.
  • Students are asked to prepare everything listed for their instrument on this year’s Cycle Set for this audition. Students will not be asked to perform everything listed at the audition. A smaller section of the measures listed will be picked for performance on the day of the audition. The portion of the etude listened to at the auditions WILL NOT be published in advance.
  • Wind instrument auditions are designed to evaluate a student’s technical and musical abilities in all registers with both prepared material and sight reading.  
  • The purpose of Junior and Senior level auditions is to rank students in order to determine District Festival eligibility and seating. Additionally, for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students, the audition is used to determine All-State eligibility and seating.
  • WIND INSTRUMENT EVALUATION WILL BE BASED ON THE FOLLOWING:
    • Tone Quality:  10 Points
    • Intonation:  10 Points
    • Technical Facility:  10 Points
    • Rhythmic Accuracy:  10 Points
    • General Musicianship:  10 Points
    • Scale Studies:  10 Points
    • Sight Reading:  10 Points
    • Total Possible:  70 points
  • The student’s use of all electronic and/or mechanical devices to include, but not limited to, metronomes, tuners, cell phones, and audio/video recording devices is prohibited in all ILMEA audition rooms.
  • Students may perform the scales and the etudes from music that contains prepared markings without any deduction in point score.
  • Audition scores, including final rankings, are not to be posted, distributed to and/or discussed with individual students, directors, private teachers, or parents. Notification of acceptance to an ILMEA festival, as well as specific chair and part assignments, is the responsibility of the District President and the ILMEA State Office. Judges are strongly discouraged from attempting any written or verbal critique of a student’s performance beyond a thank you. In addition, judges will refrain from discussing private lesson teachers, past performance experiences, or future college/university plans with any student at any time during the audition process.
  • If call-backs are to be utilized in determining the final ranking of students, information concerning the specific time and place for call-backs must be clearly posted and/or distributed to all students at the start of auditions. Call-backs will not begin until all students have had the opportunity to complete the initial audition within the pre-announced audition time.
  • Normally, a total of 40 flutes and 72 Bb clarinets are selected for the All-State Bands. Consequently, the District Band Representative would be able to nominate the top 5 flutists and the top 9 clarinetists from District X for All-State. 
  • The ranking of students for All-State selection is determined solely by the District level audition score. Part/chair assignment for the District festival does not affect a student’s ranking for All-State nomination. All-State wind and percussion students are not pre-assigned to the Honors or All-State groups. Students re-audition for ensemble and chair placement upon arrival at the All-State Conference. District audition scores are not considered in the final All-State placement.
  • Audition times and dates will vary by region. Check with your band director for the dates for your specific region.

Required Repertoire:

1.  ILMEA Scale Sheet – 3-minute time limit *All notes tongued*

2.  Sight Reading

Melodious and Progressive Studies: Book II, rev. Robert Cavally; Hal Leonard ©2012 1. 

3.  Vivace by Kummer: play from m.1 to Fine (p. 52)

4.  Andante cantabile by Andersen: play mm. 1 – 50 (p. 59)

Where can I find the Required Repertoire?

ILMEA Scale Sheet – https://racheltaylorgeier.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/1dc56-seniorlevelscalesheet.pdf

Cavally Etudes – The entire etude book can be purchased here:  https://www.flute4u.com/methods-and-etudes/Various-Melodious-and-Progressive-Studies-Book-2.html  The Set 3 excerpts can also be found on the following link: https://0140be18-7d74-4556-a387-fa1a1e84c92e.filesusr.com/ugd/6d83f5_08ff0d053be94e068e0c0b1d163ae923.pdf

Practice Tips:

1.         ILMEA Scale Sheet

  • The guidelines indicate a 3-minute time limit on these scales, meaning that you will likely not have to perform all of them at the audition. Practice as if you will be performing all of them – even the super difficult ones with many sharps and flats. You never know which scales will be on the set list at the audition.
  • There is a note on the guidelines stating “all notes tongued” but does not specify whether they are to single or double-tongued. Choosing to double-tongue will help you achieve a decent speed. I suggest practicing all of these scales single-tongued (with a too, or doo syllable), double-tongued (with a too-coo or, for an extra challenge, duck-ky syllable combo), and, most importantly, with a coo syllable (which will strengthen the back of your tongue for any double-tongued passages). Since these will be live auditions, prepare to be flexible. Expect the best (double-tonguing) but be prepared to give the committee a range of articulations in case they ask for it.
  • Aim to achieve a balanced tone between all registers. It is easy to resonate in the high register but not so much in the lower register. A great exercise to work on concurrently is Flexibility Exercise #1 from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone. Focus on keeping the tone stable while training your lips to gracefully move between each register.
  • Keep the tempo even yet manageable (quarter note = 100-120).
  • If you can, memorize these scales. This will help you be more confident at the audition. You will also need to know all of these scales inside and out for college auditions and beyond.

2.         Sight Reading

  • I wrote a separate blog on sight-reading a few years ago: https://racheltaylorgeier.org/2016/08/22/love-at-first-sight/ Check this out! Here I address a number of very valuable sight-reading tips such as paying close attention to tempos and time signatures, remembering the rests, searching for repetitive phrases or common patterns, and keeping your eyes moving forward. 
  • It is not easy to prepare for sight reading! One of my best pieces of advice is to practice becoming comfortable with the unknown. Ask your band director or flute teacher to give you random excerpts to play once or twice a week. Sight reading is scary because you never know what to expect. Desensitize yourself and go with the flow.
  • Another good idea is to end each practice session by selecting another etude from the Cavally book and playing through 20 measures while you record yourself on your phone. The recording device serves as a cue to keep going (no matter what)! If you are brave, share your daily sight-reading adventures on your Instagram Live, Tic Tok, or YouTube pages.

3.         Vivace by Kummer: play from m.1 to Fine (p. 52)

  • Hello triple tonging! Remember to use a TKT TKT syllable combo. Like we saw in the scale studies, a great way to practice the articulated triplet sections is to use a “coo” syllable to strengthen the back of the tongue. This will help make your articulation very balanced.
  • Try to keep your articulation light and resonant (even in the softer dynamics). Too short and the line sounds mechanical. Keep the beauty of the line intact.
  • Sforzandi are everywhere! Circle these in your music with a red colored pencil to draw your attention to them so you can bring them out of the texture.
  • The tempo is marked “Vivace” which leaves a bit of room for interpretation. Try to select a reasonably quick tempo that is still under control. Vivace does not mean rush. If you lose the tone color and character of your playing due to speed, the tempo ends up controlling you (rather than the other way around).
  • Know.your.chromatic.scale! There are several chromatic passages in this excerpt. Carefully select fingerings that will work best on ascending lines (for example – which Bb works best in these passages? Mark it in your score).
  • There are three (3) types of character changes in this etude (lightly articulated passages (ex. first two lines), long slurred spinning lines (lines 3-6), and longer melodic lines (lines 7-8). Play around with tone colors in these passages to differentiate the voices of each character. How can you alter your sound and vibrato in each of these sections to fit a different type of character? I wrote an article last year for The Flute View entitled Rainbow Score that describes a system of assigning certain colors to certain sounds and coloring your music in to represent your tone plan (check out this article here: https://thefluteview.com/2020/09/9681/). The sound may change from color to color based on volume, resonance, and vibrato speed depending on how you, as an individual performer, interpret it. Try inventing your own color plan and adding a simple spectrum above each line.
  • Let’s chat about the trills in lines 7-8. Keep these quick yet controlled. Try placing slightly more pressure on the finger holding down the key of the upper note to free up the muscles in the finger trilling the lower note (for example, if you are trilling a mid-range G-A, place slightly more pressure on the middle finger holding down the A to free up the muscles in your ring finger to trill the G.
  • Make a clear difference between the shorter 16th note pick-ups to the triplet passages. These 16th notes are shorter than you think. An example of this is found can be found in the 2nd and 3rd measures of line 2. Remember to subdivide!
  • There are several crescendi in this excerpt. Practice gradually getting louder (not to early and not too late). Record yourself playing these passages – Are your dynamic changes clear?
  • Be cautious of hairpin crescendos < > in this excerpt. Start these a bit softer than you think to leave room to make clear changes in your volume.
  • The great thing about this excerpt is that the breath marks are already clearly laid out for you. Take them where they are indicated and avoid breathing between beath marks.
  • Try to find the thin grey line between sf’s (or fz’s) and accent marks. Try circling these with colored pencils in different colors to draw your attention to these notes, which require unique attacks. 

4.         Andante cantabile by Andersen: play mm. 1 – 50 (p. 59)

  • This excerpt requires an air of calm amidst a storm of ornamentation and chromatic fingerings! Take a long, meditative breath before you begin playing. Try breathing in for a count of 4, holding your breath for 4 counts, and breathing out for another 4 counts.
  • Practice this excerpt very slow at first, with the goal of a reasonable tempo at quarter note = 66.
  • This is a Romance. Try to play the entire passage as sweetly as possible (as indicated by the “dolce” in the opening measure).
  • This excerpt harkens a bit to the Menuet from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 by Georges Bizet. Add this simple piece to your daily warm-ups to capture a similar character.
  • Avoid getting lost in the ornamentation. Practice first without the added grace notes and turns to understand the underlying melody. Add these back in once you are confident playing without them. Remember that adding ornamentation is just like adding a beautiful piece of jewelry to an already stunning gown. It is icing on the cake – not the cake itself.
  • Don’t be afraid to mark in the accidentals. If seeing an F double-sharp is a bit freaky, try simply marking a “G” above the note. The accidentals in this excerpt make it appear more difficult than it actually is.
  • The dynamics change a lot in this excerpt! There are several crescendi/decrescendi/crescendi combinations within each phrase. Make sure you are starting quite softly in these passages to leave room to gradually increase and decrease the volume.
  • Remember – The character of the phrase does not change as the dynamic increases. Keep your vibrato sweet even through the crescendi.
  • C# minor is not a very friendly key. A good exercise to add to your daily studies is Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Daily Studies, Exercise #4 in E major and C# minor. Start to become comfortable with the unusual!
  • Subdivide, subdivide, then subdivide some more! You will be switching from 16th notes to triplets and back again (line 8 is a good example). Make sure you do not rush the 16th and/or drag the triplets.
  • Show off your vibrato on longer notes and play out slightly. Your panel will likely be looking at the quality and flexibility of your sound.
  • Practice using the lever Bb where appropriate in the 16th note passages. This fingering requires less movement from the fingers.
  • Keep your fingers fluid throughout the faster moving passages. Practice graceful transitions from one note to the next. Envision the notes as water being poured from a pitcher into a glass.
  • Place breath kicks (or very small accents or small bits of vibrato) on the notes that fall on the downbeats to keep your beat grounded during longer passages of 16th notes. This will help show your committee exactly where your beat falls.
  • Think graceful and fluid throughout the entire excerpt. It is easy to get caught up in the complexity of the notes at the expense of the calm, cool, and collected atmosphere.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations

(These are going to be very similar to my last blog and can apply to most audition scenarios.)

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability.
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the audition, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.

***

Are you auditioning for the Illinois All-State Band/Orchestra program? Which one of the above tips works best for you? What are your own practice tips? What are you struggling with? What questions do you have about the audition or All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your Illinois flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Happy Fluting! (and auditioning)

Practice Blueprints: All-State Auditions (Blog #2: Texas)

Greetings and welcome to a belated Flute Friday/Saturday. Apologies for the late post – Eye strain is no joke (aggravated by smokey air due to California wildfires), so I gave my eyes the day off yesterday. A late post will have to suffice this week. The length of this post hopefully makes up for its tardiness.

Today we will be continuing our Practice Blueprints – All State Audition series with good, old Texas. All-State auditions in Texas are intense (Don’t mess with Texas!)! The repertoire is quite difficult and the state is very large, making competition for spots in All-State groups fierce. I had the opportunity to coach students at Kerr High School in Houston a few years ago on Texas All-State repertoire and the one piece of advice I gave to everyone at that time was to keep trying. If you do not make it into an All-State group on your first try, try again next year, and the year after that. Learn from your audition recording. Before practicing for this year’s auditions, listen carefully to your audition recording from last year. What can you do to make this year’s recording even better? Ask your band director or flute teacher for some honest feedback and helpful suggestions for ways to improve this year. Above all, approach All-State auditions from a growth mindset rather than a perfectionist mindset. The audition process should be a fun, challenging, yet exceptionally rewarding experience. 

General Information (What You Need to Know)

  • When are recordings due? This will be dependent on your region. Please see your band director for more information and to determine when recordings, forms, and dues will be due. They will likely be the ones uploading your materials to the TMEA site.

1. You must be a full-time student in grades 9-12 in a Texas school during the semester in which the TMEA All-State activities take place.

2.  A student must be certified by his TMEA Active Member director as a *participating member of the school’s parent musical organization during the semester in which the TMEA activity is held. A student may only participate with organizations affiliated with their full-time campus.

3.  A student shall compete in the Region in which he is currently receiving the majority of his educational instruction to meet graduation requirements.

4.  All TMEA activities are extracurricular. In order to participate in TMEA activities, a student must be passing the number of courses required by state law and by rules of the State Board of Education.

5.  In order to participate in TMEA activities, a student must have been in attendance and have passed the number of courses required by the University Interscholastic League for extracurricular participation.

6. A student may not participate after the end of the eighth semester following his first enrollment in the ninth grade.

7.  Changing schools within the state after acceptance at any level of the All-State selection process will not affect eligibility for further competition.

8.  A student representing a home school must enter the audition process in the same TMEA Region as the public school ISD in which the home school is located.

9. Each student’s TMEA Active member director or member sponsor must be in attendance at all TMEA auditions and any related activity, such as clinic/concert, in which their students are involved.

10.  A student may be removed only by:  (1) the audition process itself, (2) the TMEA Appeals Process, or (3) the student’s TMEA Active member director or member sponsor.

11. TMEA Policies and Procedures specify an appeals process that shall be used in connection with protests arising from any TMEA selection procedure or failure to fulfill any rehearsal/performance obligation.

12. During any event sanctioned by TMEA, violation of any of the rules in Section I above shall jeopardize the student’s ability to further participate in the tryout process. Said violation may result in forfeiture of a place in any TMEA organization.

13.  A student who does not complete the rehearsal/performance obligations (Region, All-State, etc.) will not be eligible for an official participation patch or other award and risk being removed through the Appeals Process from further participation in the All-State process.

14.  A student advancing beyond the Region-level must be certified by the Region Divisional Chair. In a Region that sponsors a full orchestra as part of the Region audition process, the Region Orchestra Chair shall certify the Area orchestra candidates representing that Region.

15.  Students may initially audition for multiple groups: band, jazz, choir, orchestra, and mariachi. If a student qualifies to Area in multiple groups that include jazz, orchestra, and mariachi, they must select only one of those groups for that Area audition (occurring in the fall). If a student is named to an All-State Jazz, Orchestra, or Mariachi Ensemble, they cannot audition for any other All-State groups. If they did not get named to any of those All-State groups. they can continue to either a Band or Choir Area audition (occurring in January). The director must ensure that a student submits a completed Area Declaration Form by December 15.

Practice Tips:

This blog has essentially already been written! The guidelines for the Texas All-State repertoire include a wonderful Performance Guide for each excerpt: https://www.tmea.org/band/audition-material/etudes/ Before trying out any of the practice tips below, I encourage you to find a pencil and add all of the errata notes and performance tips directly into your music. These are the items that adjudicators will be focusing on when reviewing audition recordings. Half of the battle is won if you already know what they are expecting to hear!

Excerpt #1 – Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Op. 107 / 10, Complete (Play from beginning to end).

  • Articulation will be key in this excerpt. To keep your staccatos nice and light, try practicing using a “tut” articulation on these notes. The “tut” syllable gives each note a sharp attack while cutting the note short and preparing the tongue for the next attack. 
  • This excerpt essentially has two personalities – long melodic lines verses light, articulated passages. Make a distinction between these two voices by altering your tone color and/or vibrato speed for each.
  • There are a number of octave leaps in this excerpt. A good way to train your embrochure for these leaps is to add the Flexibility Exercise #1 from Trevor Wye’s Practice Book on Tone to your daily warm-up routine. Focus on keeping the tone stable while training your lips to gracefully move between each register. Another great warm up to help you work on flexibility is to add harmonic exercises to the mix. There is a wonderful harmonic exercise on Page 6 of Trevor Wye’s Tone book that is simple enough to practice daily. Give it try!
  • Beginning in measure 17, the slurs start to shift the emphasis to the off-beats and become a bit less predictable. Try adding breath kicks (or very small accents or small bits of vibrato) to the notes that fall on the downbeats to keep your beat grounded. Another great exercise to add to your daily routine is from the Trevor Wye Practice Book on Articulation (Page 14). Add some slurs to this that follow the slurred patterns in the excerpt to become more comfortable with the changing articulation.
  • The Practice Guidelines encourage performers to breathe on the rests, which is easier said than done. To get a quick, but large, breath during these rests, try breathing through the sides of your mouth (I sometimes refer to this a “frog” breathing with my students). Julius Baker was the ultimate master of this technique, as you can see in the following video: https://youtu.be/ijLx7k-y6fs Watch carefully every time he takes a breath. What do you notice? (P.S. This is one of my favorite flute videos of all time!)
  • The other element that is key in this excerpt is dynamics. Really bring out all crescendi and descrescendi. For example, in measure 27 try to show the entire range of your sound from the marked pp up through the in the next measure. Avoid using more air when crescendoing into the louder dynamics. Instead, try to make your aperture a bit smaller to create more pressure using the air you already have at your disposal. Watch out – there is a pesky descrescendo at the end. Try to retain resonance even while getting softer (don’t let your sound become thin and unstable). Finally, keep an eye on intonation between changes in dynamics – spend some quality time with your tuner.

Excerpt #2 – Theobold Boehm, Ab Minor, Op. 26/16, Andante (Beginning to first note in mm. 36)

  • Intonation will be tricky in this excerpt! Like in the previous excerpt, be sure to practice with a tuner, but also learn a bit more about the general pitch tendencies of the flute (I wrote a blog post several years ago with some great resources to help you with intonation: https://racheltaylorgeier.org/2018/02/18/flute-pitch-tendencies/ ).
  • There will be a tendency to drag the tempo when the rhythmic emphasis changes (especially when moving from 16th notes (mm. 17) to triplets (mm. 23)). Try practicing marching in place to the beat while playing these lines to keep your tempo steady, or, if marching makes you a bit self-conscious or if you are like me and totally uncoordinated, try conducting the line with the end of your flute while playing.
  • This is a great excerpt to experiment with tone colors. I wrote an article last year for The Flute View entitled Rainbow Score that describes a system of assigning certain colors to certain sounds and coloring your music in to represent your tone plan (check out this article here: https://thefluteview.com/2020/09/9681/). The sound may change from color to color based on volume, resonance, and vibrato speed depending on how you, as an individual performer, interpret it. Try inventing your own color plan and adding a simple spectrum above each line.
  • The key signatures in these excerpts are very tricky (hello, 7 flats!!! What??!). A good exercise to add to your daily studies is Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Daily Studies, Exercise #4 in these same keys. Start to become comfortable with the unusual! Write in any seldom-used accidentals. Also remember that Ab minor is the same as G# minor (enharmonic tricks – you almost had us!). Consider re-writing the opening in G# minor, which will make transitioning into the next key change a lot easier. The 7 flats at the beginning could suggest that the composer wished for a darker sound and/or character in this section. Use color changes to differentiate between the key changes.
  • Sing out when the dynamic goes into the forte range and measure 9. It’s okay to be a diva here! 
  • Like in the last excerpt, bring out the dynamics in this etude, particularly during the many instances of crescendi/decrescendi (ex. mm 1-2, 9-10).
  • Do not slow down too quickly in measure 27. You have a long way to go! Slow down very gradually and focus on increasing your dynamic while changing your tone colors.

Excerpt #3 – Joachim Andersen, Op. 15/16, Andante (17-end)

  • Are you ready for a workout!?! This etude will definitely test your endurance! To avoid burning out, try to keep the dynamic on the mp-mf side. Playing louder will require more air and cause more fatigue (this is like a 5K for the flute).
  • Write in accidentals!! There is a double wammy of notation chaos with a key of 6 flats and crazy, changing mordents everywhere (like a carnival funhouse of accidentals!). Don’t be afraid to write a few note names above the staff here and there.
  • Practice this excerpt slowly at first without the mordants to understand the basic line without all of the fancy ornamentation.
  • Use trill fingerings on the mordants as much as possible. Remember, a mordant is an ornament (sort of like adding a piece of jewelry to an already stunning red carpet ball gown).
  • There is literally nowhere to breathe. This is will become an issue. The Practice Guide suggests breathing where indicated after accented beats. If you need additional breaths, try adding in a few “catch” breaths between notes (Rampal was famous for this, particularly in Mozart concerti).
  • Bring out the accented notes as much as possible. These are the notes that are framing the melody. Use a red colored pencil to circle these accented notes in the score. This will draw your eye to them so you don’t forget.
  • Practice keeping your articulation light by practicing this excerpt very very VERY slowly using a “coo” syllable. This will help strengthen the back of the tongue, improving your articulation later when you switch back to double tonguing.
  • Practice this excerpt in chunks. Play each 6-note figure, pause/collect yourself, then play the next 6-note figure. Continue this for a small section at a time. This helps train your brain and fingers to process the music one step at a time (like putting together a puzzle).
  • As the Practice Guide suggests, you will have an opportunity to use all three of the different Bb fingerings. While you are practicing this excerpt slowly (for all of the reasons outlined above), carefully decided which Bb fingering works best and where it changes. Write these decisions into the score so you do not forget.
  • Remember that there are a few dynamic changes in the score (it’s not just about performing technique Olympics!). For example, measure 39 has a number of, you guessed it, crescendi/decrescendi patterns. Try to bring these out of the texture as much as possible (this will definitely separate you from the other performers).
  • The passage in the lower register from measure 42 until the end can get a bit, what we flute nerds like to refer to as, “tubby.” Bring your right shoulder a bit closer to the flute during this passage to make your sound resonate while you are gradually reducing the dynamic.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations

(These are going to be very similar to my last blog and can apply to most audition scenarios.)

  • Record yourself playing all of the excerpts. Review your recordings and mark down anything that could be improved. Avoid being a perfectionist! Mark it down, work on it, and trust in your ability.
  • Hydrate! This is one of the first things we forget when we are nervous. On the day of the final recording, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
  • Avoid comparing your playing to other flutists. I know – easier said than done, especially when you are stressed. Do not become intimidated by a senior with more experience. Instead, ask them for advice. Collaborate more than compete and you will create allies.
  • Have fun! Auditioning should be a fun, challenging experiment. You never know what exactly the judges are looking for or if they will find it in your playing. Play your best, put it out there, and wait patiently for the next steps.

***

Are you auditioning for the Texas All-State Band/Orchestra program? Which one of the above tips works best for you? What are your own practice tips? What are you struggling with? What questions do you have about the audition or All-State performance experience? Please comment below and share these tips with your Texas flute friends (and band/orchestra directors)!

Happy Fluting! (and auditioning)