Have you learned any other assembling and holding tips from your teacher? Leave them in the comments below!
Are you new to the flute?? Such an exciting time!! In this video I'll guide you through all of the steps you need to know from opening your flute case for the first time to putting it together and finally to holding it correctly.
Have you learned any other assembling and holding tips from your teacher? Leave them in the comments below!
Practicing is hard... Can I get an amen??
It's especially hard when you have no idea where to start or what to do. It took me a LOOONG time to settle on a routine that a) wasn't boring and b)was productive.
In today's video, I'm going to share that routine with you--so grab your flute and let's practice together!
Have you been looking for a good way to track your practice routine and stay motivated? I have tried many different practice journal methods over the years, and this seems to be the way that works the best for me:
Write down everything I need to practice--including daily exercises like tone, scales, and etudes.
Check off each day of the week that I practice it.
Make notes at the bottom with anything that I want to explore further, or random thoughts that pop up while I'm practicing.
It's super simple, and it keeps me focused when my distracted brain wants to do everything but practice. Like Insta stories. Or watching a YouTube video. Or answering a text. Or eating. You know... the usual.
Here's your very own Weekly Practice Tracker -- I hope it works for you!!
Leave a comment below with any practice tracking hacks that you love--the rest of us would love to hear them!
Today, I’d like to introduce myself to you and give you a little peek into my background! I hope it gives you some insight and encourages you on your journey.
I grew up in a smallish town—Salem, Missouri. And, let me tell you… we lived in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Like, a “house-surrounded-by-eighty-acres-of-woods” nowhere. Not ideal for a teenager wanting to hang out with her friends (and this was WAY before texting—even before widespread internet, if you can even imagine!)
I started playing flute when I was eleven and took to it quickly. I had a musical family (dad was my band director), and honestly, I didn’t have to work that hard to get first chair in my band most of the time.
You might be thinking--- oh geez. That must have been so hard. Poor you.
But don’t let my circumstances fool you. Sure, it wasn’t too hard to swing first chair out of the two others in my middle school band… but once I got to high school and started auditioning for things like All-District Band and especially All-State Band, I had a rude awakening.
My natural ability wasn’t cutting it anymore. And I had no clue how to practice—or even how to make myself practice.
So, you can only imagine what happened when I stepped into my first All State Band audition.
Had I prepared? A little. Did I know what I was getting myself into? NO.
I wasn’t prepared for the hundreds of other flute players who would be there—sounding AMAZing. This freaked me out so much that I actually blacked out during my audition. I have no idea what came out of my flute—or if anything came out at all! All I know is that I didn’t make call-backs, and I was so down on myself about it.
It didn’t have to be.
If I knew then what I know now---and if I had access to experienced flute teachers close by, my audition experiences would have been much smoother. I just needed someone to help me believe I could achieve my goal—and someone to show me how.
It took me about fifteen more years to learn how to prepare well for auditions and combat audition anxiety—and I have to say that I am in a MUCH better place then I was then. However, I want to do everything I can to share my experience with flute players just like you so that you don’t have to walk out of your auditions and performances feeling like you didn’t do as well as you wanted to.
Thank you so much for reading my story! If any of it resonated with you, I hope you will join me and the other flutists in my tribe as we crush those amazing goals you have. Be sure to follow me on YouTube for weekly videos and on Instagram for all of my studio and home life shenanigans. I can’t wait to hang out with you there!
Have an amazing day… and Happy Practicing!
It's the moment you've been waiting for!
Get started on your All-State Band Flute audition today with these FREE starter videos, tip sheets and ASB Scales eBook!
Here's to a fabulous audition season!
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:
I'm embarrassed to say that I was around thirty years old before I really knew how important it was to practice for a rehearsal.
This is a bold and humbling statement coming from a woman who has spent the past fourteen years of her life studying the flute and teaching students, but when I think about why it took this long it really does make perfect sense.
When I was younger, music came as naturally to me as drinking water. I can't remember a time when I couldn't harmonize or pick up the rhythm of a song in a snap. I have my musical parents to thank and it made music study through most of high school a breeze. Rarely did I have a need to practice my flute or choir music--just going through it in rehearsal was enough for me--and even then I was often VERY bored.
Thankfully, I was blessed with parents who saw this and decided to take chunks out of their own time and budget to make sure I had a flute teacher (the nearest one was over two hours away...). I LOVED flute lessons. My teacher, Ms. Cowens, challenged me musically and encouraged me to move outside of my comfort zone. The one thing I never really got the hang of, however, was practicing.
Though I was able to slip through my high school years without practicing a whole lot, I was always disappointed when I didn't make the All-State Band or when I didn't receive a high enough rating on my solos and ensembles at contest. I always went in with the ability to play the music--but since I had only learned my own part (and even that was a bit shaky)--I never had a full awareness of the grand musical scheme of my piece. Thus, when it came time to perform before judges or an audience, my delivery was anything but convincing as I sheepishly waded through the notes on the page. I don't know WHAT I thought I was playing, but it was definitely not music.
In addition to performing way under my potential, looking back, I know I frustrated many people in my unprepared path. Stumbling through solos while patient pianists waited graciously on their bench, playing my supporting musical line as loudly as I could while another ensemble member actually had the melody line, coming in at the wrong time during band rehearsals because I didn't know how my part fit into the rest of the piece...I could go on and on.
It wasn't until I was in the middle of preparing orchestral auditions that it finally clicked. My professor, Alice Dade, asked me one day what the bassoon was doing while I was playing the flute solo from Beethoven's Leonore Overture.
I was baffled.
Why in the world would I know? I play the FLUTE.
It was then that she asked me to play the excerpt again while she sang the entire bassoon part along with me. All of a sudden I could feel the flow the music was supposed to have--I didn't come in late--and I knew exactly how to tune--all because I had part of the bigger musical picture right there in front of me.
I am a slooooow learner...
Since this fateful day in Professor Dade's studio, I have worked on learning ALL of the piece I am working on. If it's an orchestral excerpt, I learn the whole symphony to the point I can sing along with other parts while I'm listening--and at the very least I learn what is going on during the section I am preparing. If it's a solo with piano accompaniment, I learn what the pianist has in their score. If it's a small chamber ensemble, I learn everyone else's part. I listen to recordings. I look at scores. I record myself. I play with as many quality recordings I can find. I do as much as I can so that when I show up to rehearse with other musical professionals, I am as prepared as I can possibly be. Only then can we use the rehearsal to actually bring the MUSIC out--and not spend all of our time on rhythms, transitions, etc...
If you can relate as someone who struggles with preparedness before a rehearsal, here are some pointers. Even if you don't have time or the equipment to do everything listed, just doing one or two things will improve things drastically.
Collaborative Rehearsals: How To Prepare
1. Learn as Much of the Music as You Can
2. Use Recordings
3. Take Notes as You Prepare
4. Go Forth and Rehearse!
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