It is that time of year again when flute students and their teachers start thinking about the end of the year recital. Many times over the course of my flute teaching career I have had colleagues ask for me for recommendations for “recital pieces” for their students.
Frankly this request has always puzzled me. Why would you need to choose a “recital piece” for your students? You as a flute teacher should ALREADY have that done BEFORE you even start teaching!!! You as a teacher should in my opinion have a curriculum set up for all for your students….. if you have a progressive set of repertoire pieces that all of your students must learn there is no need to have to choose a “recital” piece for them…. it will be obvious!
Most college and conservatory flute departments have such a thing! It sometimes is even published in their catalogues or online. Many years ago when I taught at the Boston Conservatory’s Division of Special Programs( their Prep Division) I made a curriculum for all of my students which I followed with everybody! Why not do that for your students too??? It certainly solves this problem for you….
Of course I let students choose what they want for their recital pieces…. but it has to come from what they have studied during their regular lessons or has to be a piece that is included in my curriculum ( or sometimes in the case of an advanced students another but similar piece). Below you can find some suggestions for an sketchy curriculum for students….. which perhaps many of you can use a a guideline for making your own.
Method Book(such as Suzuki Book 1 or Rubank Beginner Book)
tone studies appropriate for their level write them out or teach by rote
scale studies appropriate for their levelwrite them out or teach them by rote
Repertoire such as the Suzuki Book 1 or Forty Little Pieces for Beginner Flutists
Method Book ( such as Suzuki Book 2/3 or Rubank Intermediate/Advanced Book)
Etudes such as from ”Melodious and Progressive Studies for Flutists ” edited by Robert Cavally
Scales studies such as the “Pares Scales”
Repertoire if not in Suzuki Book 2/3/4 from “24 Short Concert Pieces for Flute and Piano” edited by Robert Cavally or sometimes the easier Handel or Blavet Sonatas ( easier sonatas from Telemann or other Baroque composers can be included here as well)
Etudes from Berbquier, Andersen op.33, 41, 63 or 15 , or Altes
tone studies from Marcel Moyse “Tone Development through Interpretation” or the “De La Sonorite” or Trevor Wye Practice Book 1″ Tone”
scale studies from Taffanel-Gaubert”17 Big Daily Excercises”, Reichert studies, or Marcel Moyse Daily Excersises
Orchestra studies from Jeanne Baxtresser Books
Duets from Kuhlau etc
Repertoire such as Handel Sonatas, Bach Sonatas and the Partita, Sonatas by Hindemith, Poulenc, Concerti such as Mozart, Quantz, Ibert, French repetoire from the Compliation by Louis Moyse of Faure, Enesco, etc.. solo flute repertoire such as Debussy Syrinx, Honegger “Dance de la Chevre” etc Boehm “Nel Cor Piu”, Schubert “Arpegggione Sonata or Variations, Dutilleux “Sonatine” Jolivet’ Chant de Linos” etc
The idea here is not to copy my Curriculum (which is not my complete one by any means!) but to give you all some suggestions to make up your own. If you want to include things such as Ian Clarke’s compositions or Robert Dick’s by all means do! But Have a curriculum for your students!!! This way the choice is not for your or them to have to scramble at this time of year to find a “recital” piece as if it existed in the air for you to catch….. it will be evident to you and them what their choices are….. especially if you publish this for your studio in advance…. which I suggest you do.
Have fun… Spring is almost here! No stress should comes form this process! Just enjoy it and so will your students! If you plan this ahead of time with a curriculum already set up…. it should be easy!
I recently was asked the question when to teach young flute students how to play with dynamics. I actually don’t work with my students on dynamics until they are quite advanced. And I thought it might be useful to explain why. So here it is is. Julius Baker who was one of my private flute teachers used to feel very strongly that the development of a good strong tone on every note was the most important aspect that students needed to develop. This takes time for young students to achieve. Practicing notes with equality of sound from each note to the next means that young students need to have developed their control of the entire range of the instrument. Even Suzuki Book 2 does not use the highest notes of the flute in any of the songs in that level and , although students do have to add notes in the third register to their fingering of songs in that book…. the highest notes are not introduced there at all. It takes at least several years for most students to be able to really control that third octave. Tthe development of vibrato should be also be included in the development of equality of tone on every note. And although many students do develop a natural vibrato without me having to teach it to them… they still have to learn to control it before I can say that they can play with equality of tone on every note throughout the entire range of the instrument. Most young flute students take quite a bit of time to conquer these aspects of flute playing. When students can play throughout the entire range of the flute with good control equality of tone and with a suitable vibrato on every note, I believe they are ready to add dynamic control into their lexicon of playing. By this point students will usually have developed the muscles of thier mouth enough so that they can control every note on the flute through out the range of the instrument. Muscles take time to grow strong. And Many beginning students need several years for all this to take place. If you try to add dynamics into their playing before they have mastered all of the above aspects of good flute playing many times if not all times the muscles and the control of the sound will not be suitably developed so that students can reliably play in tune with good tone and good intonation. In fact they will be able to play loud and soft… but most of the time it will be by blowing less or blowing more instead of using their facial muscles to perform the dynamical control. In my opinion, this is not a good thing because intonation most often will not be good without muscle control performing the dynamic changes. Blowing less or blowing more only will make a student sharp or flat…. which is not the outcome we want for our students. Of course we could have them roll in or out… lift their heads…. etc etc… to control the resulting pitch problems which will inevitable occur when they try to play loud by blowing harder or soft by blowing less…. but real control comes with using the muscles of the embouchure to do this. For all these reasons, I do not advocate teaching young students to play with dynamics at all. Instead I encourage the development of a good, large sound with vibrato through out the range of the flute before heading off into the dynamic territory. Of course there are also exceptionally talented students who can control their tone early… then I will teach them dynamics… but that situation in my experience is a rare commodity and I usually do not get into dynamics until most of my students are in Suzuki Book 3 where exercises to control dynamics are actually introduced. If anyone has any comments to the contrary….please don’t hesitate to add some comments to this discussion….. I look forward to some lively exchanges! Judy
IV. Wiegenlied (1)TwoI. Preludio (3) movements from the world premiere of Jeffrey Brody’s “Suite in Olden Style fro Flute and Orchestra” by me and the Salem Philharmonic Orchestra on January 13. 2013 are now up! The “Preludio” and the “Wiegenleid” are both online! To listen go the Media page on my website and scroll down to the “audio”….. Enjoy! It was a fun performance!
I have been taking a vacation from all things flute for about a month now. After the stress of running my summer flute camp… I needed it! of course… I have still been busy practicing…. but other than setting up a new facebook page(visit www.facebook.com/judybraude) to sell my cd on-line in yet another place…. I have been enjoying a wonderful summer of relaxing!
Well… now it is time to get back to work! Teaching starts up this week again… have an orchestra gig next weekend…. starting to work on a November recital and a January Concerto performance(another World Premiere of a Brody piece for Flute and Orchestra) …… well you know ……that is life as a flute player and flute teacher. So…… bottom line… here goes my first Blog Post of the new academic year.
It has to do with putting yourself out there….and on the line..
For many years I didn’t. I was truly scared of what other flutists miught say in public about me and my playing. OMG I thought….. what if someone cricized me or my playing in writing in a review or something else…… how could I stand that????….. well… believe it or not… that has actually come to pass. And you know what? It has gotten me thinking about this subject. Here are some of my thoughts.
First of all.
We musicians have to have a pretty thick skin if we want to survive in this field. It actually strikes me as being similiar to having as thick a skin as President Obama or Mitt Romney have to have. Yes, it has occurred to me that being a muscian has allot of similarities to running for a political office. You have to develop a very strong sense of self and self belief. It has to come from the core of your being. You have to heed that inner voice that says “I am worthy” “I can do this” ” I truly believe that I have something to offer the world”. And you have to trust that feeling….. but not in a narcissitic way. It cannot develop into some kind of narcissistic grandeur where you portray the idea or impression that you are simply the Best Flutist in the world or that everything you do is “perfect”. And you need to be ok with people saying unpleasant things about you or your playing but you also have to keep your cool. (That is one thing I really admire about President Obama…. he really gets this aspect of public life… Even if I don’t always agree with what he says, I LOVE how he takes the time to consider his words carefully BEFORE he opens his mouth)
Another important point: The fear of being criticised shouldn’t affect your decisions to….. as I say in my title” put yourself out there”.
Well….. it took me (and maybe some of you out there too?) a very long time to listen to that inner voice of confidence and to overide that other voice that told me repeatedly that I simply “wasn’t good enoough to audition for an orchestral job,” or “to play a recital in that Hall” or more to the point……..to ”run a flute camp” …. to “record a commercial CD” and to “put someof my performance videos up on youtube”. And until last night…. I was feeling ok with my late comer decision to do all that. And then at 11PM last night I received an email from my Youtube Channel that someone had posted a comment on my Handel G Major Sonata Video.
Looking at it was painful. Although whoever posted it did end with some positive comments…. the first part was pretty awful. And I was mortified! This would be read by people all over the world I thought!!! OMG!!! What should I do NOW!!!!
Having spent quite a bit of time on Youtube myself ( not commenting btw unless I made positive comments) I knew that all kinds of famous flutists had negative comments on their postings. Someone perhaps would not like a certain player’s vibrato, or his tempi or whatever…..and simply put it out there to all that that was how they felt…… but NO ONE HAD EVER DONE THAT TO ME BEFORE!!!!!
Well…. I took a big breath and thought before Iopened my mouth ( see…I learned from the president!) and so I decided to go to bed and not post a response to it right away until I had a chance to think about it before shooting from the hip. But at 3AM I woke up with a start and simply could not get it out of my mind. All kinds of rebuttals were floating in my brain. As I said before I felt that I HAD to RESPOND and that I COULDN”T just LEAVE it ALONE… but at the same time I didn’t want to appear too defensive. WHAT TO DO???
WEll… around 6AM after tossing and turning for three hours… I sat down to write a response. Aterwards…..I finally fell asleep but woke again with a start feeling a little later feeling that my response was incomplete and therefore added something else to it.(BTW… you can check all this out on my Youtube Channel…. the Video is the second one posted there the Handel Sonata in G Major)
And after I posted a response I got to thinking about doing this Blog entry. Because you know we ALL face this in our professional careers as flutists.
Yes! Even students!!
We are all now back into our Fall schedules of performing and teaching ( if we are adults) or taking lessons if you are a Kid or college student etc. And if you are taking lessons EACH week you put yourselves “out there” and on the line… for me or for your teachers ….. or in concerts ….if you are a professional and are performing for the public. It really is the same as running for High Office. President Obama has to “put himself out there and on the line” every time he says anything in public and so does Mitt Ronmey while he is challenging Mr. Obama. (Then we get to decide essentially who does it better.)
Well…. it is really the same for musicians. If we don’t take the risks and allow ourselves the possibility of being criticised … we can’t get applauded either …. and we lose the possibility of learning nothing at all about ourselves or our playing. But More importantly, we never grow.
For students it is the same. If you don’t audition for Districts or All-State or that Youth Orchestra or that Flute Choir opening…. you will never learn what you need to do to get better …….we all need to have that feedback. Even if it is negative. Even Famous Performing Artists need it too.
(Perhaps Mr. Pahud or Sir James Galway don’t ever look at the comments posted on the Videos on Youtube on which they are playing …. but perhaps even someome as fantastic as these justly famous players are can still could benefit from a stray negative comment or two? It would be interesting to me to find out how these two players feel about this……oh well ….THAT will NEVER happen….)
So my Blog thought for this entry is simple:
Take those risks! Put yourself out there! For in doing so…. you can get many rewards. EVEN if someone is citical of you. It can only help you grow. So…. if you like ……you can check the relevant Youtube Video out and see if you agree with the criticism or not. I know that I am taking it seriously because I want to grow as a flutist as long as I can still play the flute. And more importantly because I am no longer afraid that someone might say something negative about me. I have finally come to heed my inner voice that says I have something to offer the world as flute player and that I am still ok even if someone criticizes me.
I think we all can come to that place too.
Many students are in the dark about how to practice effectively and especially how much time to spend on each aspect of their daily practice routine. I often also b find that many students spend too much time daily on their pieces and not enough time daily on what I call the basics of playing the flute…. at least that is what I have observed in many students who have come to me as “transfer” students. Many times I am actually astonished to find that the only music they have worked on are pieces( or as students nowadays call repertoire…. “songs”)!
In my opinion daily practice of only pieces is simply not an efficient way to improve or to get better on the flute. I firmly believe that repertoire should be the “dessert of our practice” and should be approached daily only after one has spent quite a considerable amount of time working seperately first on what I call the basics of practice: that is tone exercises . technique excercises and etudes. Pieces simply should be practiced only after all the rest of these basics have been done! I also believe practice should divided up into sections because I feel repertoire needs to be approached musically and not as fodder for perfecting the technical elements of flute playing. Practincg a piece for overcoming technical elements cannot be helpful in developing musicality because if we have to focus on technique perfection when we pactice a piece….. we cannot also focus on playing musically and epressively. And I firnly believe that the technique of playing the piece should not get in our way of practicing to playi musically !
So, with this in mind below are some suggestions for how to effectively schedule your daily practice sessions in a way that I believe will help you end up improving faster and also end up helping to use your limited practice time more efficiently so that when you do get to your pieces ( at the end!!) you not only will enjoy them more ,but you also will end up playing them much better.
In general, assuming you are planning to practice two hours a day, the regime described below is how I suggest my students divide up their practice time The first half hour should be spent on tone:Here are some suggestions for tone excercises:
a. start with the Moyse De La Sonorite exercise number 1 first in the low register
b.Then add Trevor Wye’s slow melodic tunes in the low register.
c. After that do some harmonic exercises to get ready to move into the midlle register.
d. when your lips and embourchure are ready move into the middle register with some of the Suzuki/Takahashi exercises from the Flute Book #1.
e. Then do the entire Moyse tone exercise in threes: loud and then repeated soft from B 2 down chromatically.
f. finaly move up into the High register with the Moyse excercise #1 going up and finsih up with the Baker tone study for virbrato ( the “high tone study”)
Your second half hour of practice should move you into technical studies such as the Taffanel Gaubert Daily Excercises. (or the Reichert Studies or whatever else your teacher has you working such as the Pares etc studies) Here are some suggestions for those of you working in the Taffanel – Gaubert Studies.
a. First do T-G Number 1 all slurred then double tongued.
b. Then move to number 4 and play through the entire section with as many of the varied articulations listed in the beginning of the excercise. as possible.
c. Finally finish up with the sevenths Arpeggio study from the T-G all slurred and then double tongued.
By now your lips, tone and fingers should be ready for the third half hour segment of your daily practice routine: Etudes: If you are working in Andersen studies, do them now or Altes or Berbiguier etc. I recomend spending at least 30 minutes on this portion of your daily pracice.
And only now lastly should you move onto the final segment of your daily practice routine: your pieces.When practicing your pieces a very effective way to learn how to play more musically is to focus on the so-called “skeleton” of each phrase.
Practicing with this method involves breaksing sections down into melodies based on the most important notes in each phrase. By practicing this way you can then add notes back …. little by little…. onto each phrase so that you end up playing the entire phrase as written but intelligently and don’t end up playing the written phrase randomly or worse…. not expressively. By the time you get all of the notes put back after only playing the most important ones in each phrase first , the manner in which you want to perform that phrase will be totally clear to you! You will know how it should go. By practicing the skeleton first we can therfore learn to play more musically! (BTW, If you have an orchestra concert coming up ( or band) I suggest that you can substitue your band or orchestra parts to this “skeleton” section of your daily practice.) Notice that in order to do this, you cannot and definitely should not have to focus on any technicaly aspect of the piece. That should have been taken care of from your previous practice of tone excerciese, technical excerecises and etudes.. At this point you want to focus completely on how to play your piece expressively and musically. Nothing should interfer with that objective!
Also notice how much time I reccommend you spend on what I call these fundamentals… tone,technique and etudes…. and how little comparatively speaking time, I reccommend you spend on your repertoire… whether it may be pieces, of orchestra/band parts. I firmly believe that we get better by practicing and perfecting our playing in these three technical aspects of the flute daily rather than by playing peices only( or excerpts or orchestra/band parts.)
I also firmly believe that when we practice in the manner desctibed above spending three quarters of our time on those tcchnical aspects of playing , the rest tends to fall into place. This is so because we are perfecting our control of the intrument seperately from our practice of the musical aspects of our playing……and therefore we can focus on the musical aspect of phrasing in the manner descibed above( the ‘skeleton” method ) without worrying about the technical aspects of our pieces….since we have already practiced that in our previous three segments of our daily pracice. So by this point we are therefore ready to work on the music and it’s interpretation…
I know that many teachers and students do not approach practicing in this manner. However, I personally have found that this is the most effective way to get better and I urge all of my students to approach their daily practice in this manner. I also teach all my lessons this way too; Starting each lesson with first with tone studies , then technique , then etudes and only lastly do I hear students playing pieces.
I believe that this is not only the most effective way to divide our practice up daily, it is also the best way to end up playing musically and more imprtantly …….expressively….. Which is surely the point of why we do what we do…..that it to play expressively and communicate our love of music to our listeners!
I am also …. and I am sure you …. are also ….. all for …..as Trevor Wye says repeatedly in his books…. wanting to “spend more time at the beach”……..AND at the same time are all for getting better at playing the flute ……. therefore we all need to be as efficient and as effective in our daily practice as possbile .. and we cannot not waste any time ….which none of us have in abundance for practicing….. so…..I hope these suggestions will help everyone to be as efficient as possible wiht our limied resources for practice time daily ( and will also enable all of us to spend more time at the beach this summer and at the same time also get better at flute playing!!)