Are you sweating your audition for All District Band? If you're anything like my flute students, marching band has taken over your life, and you're struggling to find practice time. Sound familiar? Well it's time to wipe off that sweat and head over to my YouTube channel, because I'm posting vlogs on all the excerpts. You'll be able to hear each piece, get practicing tips, and play along with me at different tempos. Are you ready? Let's go nail that audition!! Click the image below to get started.
Come out next weekend on Saturday, June 3rd for an afternoon filled with flute music right here in Jefferson City! Performers include Smyth Flute Studio students accompanied by wonderful area pianists! Works by Telemann, Mozart, Gaubert, Bloch, and more! Hope to see you there!!
All the early mornings, late evenings, smelly band bus excitement is over and you probably have a sudden influx of free time on your hands. Though it may be tempting to play the "i deserve it" card and spend the extra hours vegging on the couch snapchatting with your friends, it might be a good idea to start thinking ahead.
What a novel idea!
In about two months, Christmas break will be over and your band directors will start talking about this crazy little thing called Solo and Ensemble Contest. Now, if you are like most band students, you will hear that talk about twenty times before it finally registers that... "Oh crap. I wanted to do that. But I am NOT prepared. Oh crap. Oh crap..."
Well, let me save you the anxiety.
Give me a shout today and we can start up some flute lessons and pick out your contest music NOW so that you have PLENTY of time to get ready. You'll fly through those Springtime performances with raving scores and crowded rooms filled with ear splitting applause. All because you thought ahead... planned your course... and practiced your fanny off.
What are you waiting for? Let's get it started!!
Yes...I'm talking to you.
You know...the one who "forgot" to practice all summer.
It's ok...you can come out from where you've been hiding, because I am JUST as guilty as you are.
In fact, when I was in Jr. High and High School (do they even call it Jr. High anymore??) I don't think I EVER took my flute out of the case during the summer months unless it was a Fourth of July parade...
Add that to one year in the color guard (don't judge...) and two years as a drum major...sometimes it would be November before I really played my flute! Eek!
The only thing that saved me, I have to say, was taking private lessons. Even if I did lose a lot over the summer, seeing my flute teacher every week really boosted my motivation to, well, not suck anymore. :)
Don't be that guy! Contact me today to get those beginning of the year lessons started!
Here's a throwback to my high school years---My dad and me posing before a concert. Did I mention that he was my band director?? :) Fun times. Looking back (literally), I really should have heeded the advice on that motivational poster behind me...
It's that time of the year again, and that means school is starting! What better time of the year to set up flute lessons right here in Jefferson City, Missouri? Whether you are just starting out learning to play or looking at an overwhelming audition packet for district band or orchestra, we can tackle it together at Smyth Flute Studio! I've been in your shoes and have lots of experience breaking down the difficult concepts into bite sized chunks you can handle. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish and how great you can sound with personalized guidance and consistent practice! Contact me today to schedule your first lesson--I'm looking forward to working together!!
Well, the title speaks for itself, but Smyth Flute Studio has new digs in Jeff City Missouri! If you are a flute player in the Capitol City or surrounding areas (Wardsville, Holts Summit, Ashland, Tebbets, Hartsburg, St. Martins, etc...), contact me today to schedule lessons! I'm so excited to gain a whole new group of flute students and grow musically together!
Read more about flute lessons HERE.
Listen/Watch me in action HERE.
Read about my experiences HERE.
I am SO looking forward to meeting you and playing awesome music!!
Mastering the notes and rhythms of a piece is only one small part of learning music. Much more artistry lies in the ability to convey the style and message the composer intended. Do you know who composed your piece? Do you know when in history that composer lived and penned the music you are playing? Do you know the ins and outs of that particular period of music history?
When I was a young high-school and college music student, I rarely spent time thinking about these things. It was my goal to "get-by" with just learning most of the notes and rhythms and trying to pass my juries and perform my recitals without making too many mistakes. I felt like a trained monkey with little to offer in terms of emotion or style. I just wanted to survive without the dreaded violent shaking and blackouts that often plagued my performances..
Well, I'm here to tell you that this is a very sad existence. Music is so much more than playing everything "perfectly" and I guarantee you will glean much more excitement and satisfaction from your musical pursuits if you can enter into the lives and purposes of those who composed the pieces you are learning. Becoming familiar with the social norms and events that were occurring in these time periods adds a whole new layer of understanding and connection your audience (or jury panel) is sure to appreciate.
To explore the historical context of the piece you are learning, here's a handy guide:
1. Research the composer and the musical period in which the piece was written. These times are approximate--there is much debate over the actual dates of each period.
2. Find out the purpose of the music.
3. How does the historical context relate to the performance practice of the piece?
4. If possible, look for recordings from the time period the piece was written, or a modern recording that uses period instruments and styles. As you are listening, make notes about the performer's interpretation.
As you explore the historical context of your piece, here are some handy online resources:
Oxford Music Encyclopedia
Famous Composers by Musical Period
Learn Listening Online
If you are really interested in learning more, go to your local university's music library and start exploring! Most music librarians are very eager to point you in the direction of your research--make good use of their expertise!
I hope this guide is helpful for you in your study--leave me a note in the comments to let me know how your music preparation is going!
Learning New Music: The "Chunking" Method
I can't think of many things more daunting than staring at a new piece of music. Can you relate? Often times, when I'm in such a situation I want to start at the beginning and play through the entire thing without stopping. This leads to extreme frustration when I can't play all of the passages correctly or anywhere near the indicated tempo.
I give up. Defeated, I file the piece of music away in the drawer from which it came and try to never think about it again. Then, every time I hear someone else performing that really cool piece that I really wanted to learn I feel sorry for myself.
Who has time for this kind of apathy? I know one thing for sure: If I don't have a plan before I sit down to tackle a new and challenging piece of music, I will never learn to play the things I really love.
The following is just one of the many ways to break down the goal of learning a new piece into bite-sized manageable chunks. If you find yourself in a similar situation as mine, just follow this easy guide and you'll be on your way to beautiful flute music in no time.
What are you waiting for? Try it now and then leave me a comment to tell me how you did. I'd love to hear your success story!
The "Chunking" Method
1. Gather a pencil, a practice journal/calendar, and your music.
2. Quickly study the form of the piece:
3. Make an simple outline of the large scheme by marking it in the music or drawing it in your practice journal.
4. Set a goal date to have the entire piece learned:
5. Set goal dates for each larger section:
6. Divide each larger section into logical smaller sections
7. Assign goal dates for each smaller section
8. Start learning your first smaller goal section:
9. Once the first section goal is met--move on to the next one and the next until the piece is learned.
Things to Remember
If this list seems overwhelming to you, you are probably over-thinking it. Don't be too detailed in your diagrams and notes in your journal--make it as quick and easy as you can so you can spend your time playing the music.
As you get started on your chunking adventure, keep me updated on your progress! I'd love to know what pieces you are working on and how you are feeling as you meet your goals.
What are Long Tones?
Long Tones are exactly what it sounds like they are. They are a series of long notes usually in a successive descending or ascending pattern.
Why do I need to practice them?
Long tones are used for warm up or any other time when you feel like focusing on your sound. Long tones help get the air moving correctly and allow you to think about the quality/intonation of sound related to the physical placement of your body. Since the long-tone pattern is simple and easily memorized, you will have the brain power to make sure everything else is executed correctly--air intake/production, inner mouth shape, posture, stance, finger placement, etc.
How do I do it?
If you are new to long tones, start small by picking one range of your flute scale to work on at a time, and avoid extremes at first. I've provided a PDF document of what I give to my flutists who are in their first two years of playing. My best advice is to begin in the staff on a b-natural, as indicated in Trevor Wye's Tone Book, moving to a b-flat/a-sharp by slurring with a gentle crescendo--hold out the b-flat/a-sharp until your air is gone. Letting yourself completely run out of air will feel awkward and a little scary at first, but I promise it will get better! Repeat this pair, and then begin on b-flat and move to a in the same manner. Continue these two note groupings down the scale until you reach the bottom of your range--low f or a low c if you're more advanced. The goal of the long tone process is to seamlessly change from one sustained note to another with a steady air stream (i.e. no bumps or waves).
Frequently Asked Questions:
*This is the third part of a three part series on the history of the modern flute. To view Part 2, click here.
The Nineteenth Century
The dawn of the 1800s revealed still more flute transformations. Parisian Claude Laurent designed a glass flute in 1806 that had a purer tone than its wooden counterparts. His new creation weathered humid conditions more easily, reducing the number of leaks that normally occurred. A modified technique of mounting keys used to accommodate the glass medium became the norm among flutes made of wood after the discovery revealed less lateral play in the keys and increased durability.
Two years later, Reverent Frederick Nolan achieved a more even intonation of the flute scale by fashioning open-standing keys and rings to close open keys and regular holes with the same finger. This invention had the added benefit of enabling the flutist to depress only the ring without covering the hole, and thereby closing the connected open key. Many other flute innovators created varying renditions of the flute mechanism adding anywhere up to seventeen keys. Many of these models were played only by the flutist who commissioned the creation never prospering in the general flute-playing public.
Though the push for more accurately pitched chromatic key work and desire for a larger range was intensifying in early to mid-nineteenth century symphonic compositions, many problems still existed in the makeup of the flute. One issue in particular was the lack of projection the wooden flute provided in the growing orchestra of the Romantic period. This was a problem due to the fact that composers began to use the flute as a soloistic voice in the orchestra rather than merely reinforcement for the string sections. Charles Nicholson (1795-1837), an English virtuoso flutist, attempted to use a flute with larger tone holes to remedy this concern, catching the attention of a young flute maker by the name of Theobald Boehm (1794-1881).
The Boehm Flute
Boehm was a 19th century German flute maker, inventor, composer, and flutist. Beginning flute lessons at the age of 16, he quickly outgrew his instructor and went on to become one of the most accomplished flutists of his time, often performing works he had composed. Boehm initially only manufactured and performed on the traditional “German” flutes. These systems were conical bored wooden flutes with anywhere between one and eight keys. While performing several concerts in Europe, the flute maker became quite dissatisfied with his sound and power of projection compared to another flutist who had an instrument with larger tone holes. Consequently, Boehm swiftly returned to his workshop to begin a twenty-year process of redesigning the flute.
Changes to the Boehm System included adding key pillar mounts and rod-axels that transformed the fingering system, a re-spacing and re-sizing of tone holes to more effectively accommodate acoustics, open venting keys to allow for more resonance, adjusting the conical shape of the flute bore to improve the otherwise flattened pitch, and constructing the instrument of silver rather than wood. The new system was not initially accepted in the mainstream flute community though he began performing with it in Munich in the early 1830s due to the reluctance to adopt a new fingering system. Popularity slowly grew, however, and Boehm’s new flute became the standard in England, France, and the United States by the 1850s. By the end of the century, the remainder of Western Europe had come around.
In the years leading up to 1848, Boehm re-worked many of his initial modifications and sold the patent to Godfroy l’aine in France and Rudall & Rose in England. According to researchers Bates and Bohm, “Boehm’s silver flutes were awarded gold and silver medals at the exhibitions in Leipzig (1850), London (1851) and Paris (1855). Though there have been minor tweaks in the key mechanism since then, the overall make-up of the flute remains unchanged even today, over one hundred fifty years later.
For sources, click here.
My name is Katie Smyth, and I'm a freelance flutist, private flute teacher, and digital content marketer in Jefferson City, Missouri. I'd love to connect with you--leave a comment or contact me here or on Facebook!
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