Saturday, December 17, 2011

Subscribe to my monthly In1Breath Newsletter


I invite you to subscribe to my free In1Breath monthly newsletter. Each issue is sent mid-month and contains links to videos and articles about my latest discoveries, ideas, and inspirations for being a better player and teacher, together with special offers, events, news, and more! The more information you enter on the sign-up form, the easier it will be to provide the content you want--and you are important! Please remember to click the link in the confirmation email to activate your subscription. Thank you! Click here to sign up!

All the best,

Practice Guide for Bizet’s Minuet

This is the North Carolina Honor Band 2011-2012 Grade 9-10 flute audition piece.

Before attempting the piece, I suggest you practice:
E-flat scale, arpeggio, and thirds.
B-flat arpeggio
Descending chromatic scale (to help with m 38 and m 700.
A-flat Major scale, arpeggio, and thirds (to help with m 43-54).

I also suggest you become familiar with the score, which has a steady accompanying rhythm. It will help you get a feel for the piece as a whole before you begin your work. Listen to these two performances by two of the most famous flutists of all time:

This piece is from Bizet’s orchestral ballet music, “L’Arlesienne.” Harp is the predominant accompaniment in the opening measures. This is a performance of the piece in the orchestra version: http://youtu.be/k7YfUCAaFEE?t=5m15s

Though this piece is quite long, there is a limited amount of material to learn. Practicing it in sections is efficient. This is how the piece is constructed:
Section A: m 3-10
Section A1: 11-18
Section B: m 19-30
Section B1: m 31-42
Section C: m 43-46
Section C1: m 47-54
(m 55-74 is a return of m 11-42)
Coda: M 75 to end. This is a repeat of A1. The last 3 measures is an augmented (rhythmically slowed down) version of m 6, but in the key of the piece--E-flat.
Tips to improve your performance:
• Play with a connected legato style and good phrase direction.
• Play in a dolce (sweet) style.
• Release the last notes of the ascending arpeggi in m 4, 6, 12, 14, 56, 58, 76 and 78 gently with a sweet tone—not what these notes want to do!
• Avoid thinking in 8th notes. It will create choppy sounding phrases. Instead think of each beat as four 16th notes that create direction in the phrase.
• Fit your breaths within the rhythm of the note or rest in front of the breath. (Moyse’s version does this so well…)
• Be sure your quarter note pulse matches as the rhythms change in m 17-27.
• Careful that grace notes do not affect the rhythm of the notes after the grace notes.
Observe the dynamics:
• Play ff in m 43-54. In the original version, this section is played by full orchestra. Try to sound like the whole orchestra with a full and rich tone!
• Observe the pp dynamics in m 9 and m 75.
• Enhance your phrases with good crescendi in m 25, m 35-36, m 39-41, m 65, m 68-69,
• m 71-72.
• Make a big crescendo in m 33 and m 65 to prepare for the big ascending interval at the beginning of m 34 and m 66.

All the best,

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bizet Minuet: Rampal!

Bizet Minuet: Marcel Moyse


Practice Guide for Keith Snell's Rondo Capriccio

This piece is the 2011-2012 North Carolina Middle School Honor Band flute audition piece.

Let's get started!

First, it is helpful to know what the title Rondo Capriccio means…

A capriccio is an instrumental piece in a lively tempo and brilliant style. Oh no—it’s going to be fast!;-)

In rondo form, a main theme (I’ll call it “A”) alternates with one or more contrasting themes. The number of themes can vary in a rondo and the recurring sections are often changed or shortened.

Rondo form of Keith Snell Rondo Capriccio:
A becomes Coda

So now you can relax a little-- the “A” music repeats a lot, so there is less music to learn!

Before trying to play the piece all the way through, I suggest practicing all the “A” materials, carefully comparing them for differences. Then practice “B/B1,” “C,” “D,” and the Coda.

The “A”, or returning section:
• Pickup to m 9- m 14
• Pickups to 33-m 40 --ends with a variation of the first statement, so we’ll call it “A1”
• Pickup to m 57- m 72
• Pickups to 105-112
“B” section : m 25-32
“B1” section: m 113-128 slight variation of the music in section “B”
“C” section m 49-56
“D” m 88-104
Coda: Pickup to m 129 begins as “A”, but then extends using the pattern from the “B” section.

Tips to improve your performance:

In the tempo of the piece, count out several measures in the piece in your mind and begin on the “+ of2” so your entrance makes rhythmic sense.

Make clear staccato notes, but be sure to phrase the notes in four or two measure units.

Breathe before the pickups to each occurrence of the “A’ or “A1” sections. This will help the listener to hear the structure of the piece.

Perfect the f3-e and e-f3 fingerings to eliminate any “blips’ between the notes. Also be careful to observe the g#’s in m 94. 95, 102. (G# is fingered the same way as A-flat)

Play beautiful high E’s. Use the wet inside parts of your lips together with your tongue to create fast air to keep from pinching or shrieking the high E’s.

Work for lovely vibrato and connected notes in the “D” section.

Double check that your quarter note pulse matches between each section.

Be sure to practice the coda a lot. Don’t just keep practicing the “A” section that seems so familiar by now! Make a big crescendo to the end and finish with a full tone and vibrato.

Other dynamics to be especially observant of:
Crescendo to F in m 32, 57, and 128
Subito p in m 126

Good luck on your audition!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Honegger's Danse de la Chèvre: Errata (from John Wion)


This list of corrections is reprinted from John Wion's website.
Food for thought...


Honegger: Danse de la Chevre. There are two publications of this work, both "Editions Maurice Senart 1932" published by Salabert. However, with no indication whatsoever, the one is a corrected version of the other. A quick look at bar 7 will tell you which version you have. The corrected version is here marked T(emp)o Vif while the original has no such marking. JW
NEW - Jill Maurer Davis has a corrected copy from the time of her studies with René Le Roy to whom this piece is dedicated. Additional correctins in red below are from this source.
Major corrections:
M4: slur through tied E2
M5: slur through E2
M6: beat 3 is printed A# (from beat 2) in both editions. I have never heard anyone play A# . A natural sounds more correct to me. Geoffrey Gilbert claimed that A natural was correct. A natural is correct.
M7: Tempo Vif Marking is"plus rapide et lointain"
M8: Lent
M10: lines not dots
M12: accelerando
M14-16: There are discrepancies throughout the dance as to whether the downbeats have a line or a dot. Dots on downbeats.
M17- lines on beat 1 & 2.
M19- dot on downbeat
M27 & M29- dot on last F of slurred passage

M28: beat 2 F3 is natural (same as M29)
M35: Plus Lent
M36- lines on all notes on beat 3
M38: accel. to
M40: Vif
M46- rubato played on beat 3, first note slow, then fast & faster
leading to M47- Tempo vif

M48: Gilbert said E1 on beat 2 is Eb. E flat on beat 2 is correct.
M49: f
M53: en rallentissant
M54: Un peu plus lent - mf
M56: mp
M58- a tempo (vif)
M58: beat 1 p, beat 3 pp
M59: beat 2 p
M60: pp, beat 3 rit.
M62: p
M64: pp
M66: C2 is indicated as a harmonic (ie finger C1).

Flutorials™: Victor Herbert's Serenade


The Victor Herbert Serenade for Flute and Piano was first published in 1911, and is no longer in copyright. You can see the original edition online and print it, too, made available by the New York Public Library.

I hope my "Flutorials™: Victor Herbert's Serenade" is helpful for the middle school flute students in North Carolina Bandmasters Central District. This is their District Band audition piece for 2011-2012 school year.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Honegger's Danse de la Chèvre: Practice Guide


All the best to my North Carolina High School student readers during their preparations for District auditions.

Good warm-ups for this piece:

Tongue the rhythm of m 4-26 on one note, keeping the air speed constant.
Chromatic scale exercises
"Fingers ahead" and varied rhythm patterns to create security on all the tricky passagework.

Opening section ( m 1-13)

In the passages with slow moving rhythms (m 1-5, 8-10, 62-66) change fingers in a smooth, gentle way to avoid bumps or accents and be sure to vibrate on all notes, avoiding lining up the vibrato with the note starts.

Differentiate between duplets and triplets, keeping the triplets flowing and unaccented.

Account for ties (m 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, and 12). You might practice tonguing the ties, then removing them, avoiding an accent on the tie.

A general technical consideration in this piece is the use of B-flat fingerings. Carefully consider which B-flat fingering you wish to use in each place (thumb B-flat, lever key, or 1 and 1) and mark indications in your music (it helps to have these written in for an audition--in case you lose your concentration. Experiment with using the lever key m 11-13. I actually decided to use the thumb B-flat in this passage until the last B-flat in m 13.


The obvious issues in m 14-34 and m 49-53 are the rhythm and articulation. This also applies to m 7 and m 60.

Double check your rhythm by inserting a note in the sixteenth rests and subdividing the quarter note into 2 eighth notes. Keep the rhythm steady in m 20-24. Add eighth notes in the eighth rests to double check yourself, and even subdivide all the rhythms into constant tongued sixteenths. The trill in m 23 and the first note of m 26 are often rushed.

Keep your tongue wide and air speed steady at the end of each staccato note, and listen carefully to your tone at the end of each note.

Plus lent
In the plus lent sections (m 35-38 and m 54-57) keep your vibrato going through the repeated tonguings. Crescendo to the grace notes. Listen to be sure pitch is the same on all the repeated notes.

Vif (m 40-48)
Carefully plan your breaths to not interrupt the rhythm and momentum of this section. Fingers ahead and varied rhythm patterns are especially helpful in m 47. Work for full, clear tone on each note of this measure. Demonstrating good tone through the register changes is important here. Wide tongue and relaxed upper lip help accomplish this. During your practice of this section, stop frequently and buzz a note to keep the upper lip loose. Also check to see that your head is balanced and mentalis muscle is activated (this helps focus the low notes when you arrive there.

The last note of the piece-- m 66 --is an overtone of the fingered low "C"

Rather than specifically focusing on the audition and winning, see how much progress you can make while practicing. Any contest we enter is really only worth the benefits of the work we do while preparing for it. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don't, but feeling good about our own efforts and progress, and playing beautifully--at least part of the time--is what is important!

All the best,

Flutorials™: Honegger's Danse de la Chèvre


Here are Flutorials™ with tips for practicing Honegger's Danse de la Chèvre for solo flute. This is the 2011-12 District Band audition piece for the North Carolina Bandmasters Central District.


Part 1


Friday, October 21, 2011

Flute Care and Assembly


Woodwind specialist, J.L. Smith, demonstrates the basics of flute care and assembly.
This is an excellent and detailed video. Thanks, Jeff!


A Day in the Life of an Orchestral Flutist


This video, from a series published by the London Symphony Orchestra, might give you an idea of what it is like to be an orchestral flutist. Many orchestras are based in large metropolitan areas, so musicians often commute from far away and/or ride public transportation to get to work. Follow Principal Flutist, Gareth Davies, throughout a workday in January, 2011.

All the best,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Constructive Rest


On Sunday I participated in an Alexander Technique Workshop sponsored by the Raleigh Area Flute Association in North Carolina. The event was capably led by certified Alexander Technique teacher, Rachel Niketopoulos, and Alexander Technique trainee, flutist Pam Nelson.

I came away with a renewed commitment to "constructive rest," a dependable way to widen my shoulders, lengthen my spine, and deepen my breathing.

I now have a dedicated space for students to practice Constructive Rest before their lessons. I am looking forward to the heightened awareness and learning of my more relaxed and better balanced flute students! Thanks Rachel and Pam!

Here is a great blog article about Constructive Rest by musician and Alexander Technique teacher, Bill Plake.

Bill writes a blog for musicians, Bill Plake Music: Helping Musicians Improve and Stay Healthy. Check it out!

There is a video demonstrating Constructive Rest made by Michael Hanko, another certified Alexander Technique teacher.

To learn more about the Alexander Technique, please visit:

Time to rest now!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lea Pearson: Navigating Embodied Practicing


Be sure to read this great article: Navigating Embodied Practicing by Lea Pearson at Flute Focus.

"Whether you are dealing with injury or discomfort, limited time in the practice room, lack of sleep that makes you too tired to physically practice, or just want to be more efficient in learning a piece - embodied practicing can be very helpful."


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Galway's Scale Challenge


James Galway: “I would like to share with you why I am so successful at playing the flute.”

Got your attention? This quote got my attention! Sir James Galway has invited us to join him in reworking technique by devoting four 15 minute practice sessions daily to Marcel Moyse’s Exercices Journaliers pour la flute (Daily Exercises for the flute).

Count me in!

I encourage you to sign up for James Galway’s Scale Challenge and watch his introductory video.

If you don’t own Moyse’s Exercices Journaliers pour la flute, you can download an abridged version in 3 parts from Jennifer Cluff’s website:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thanks Jen! If you are an advanced player, add additional octaves to each exercise.

And thank you, Sir James, for the incentive!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Coanda Effect and Flute Playing


In his NYC masterclass today, Keith Underwood spoke of the Coanda Effect and Flute Playing--how the position and angle of the tongue in the mouth directly effects the speed and direction of air as it leaves the mouth and enters the flute.

This video clearly demonstrates this law of physics.

Notice, also, that when the flow of water is very strong, the water direction becomes less distinct (more diffuse).


Thursday, February 24, 2011

"How It's Made: Flute"


A well spent 5 minutes, especially for all flutists, flute students, friends and family of flutists, and potential flute purchasers. So much goes into making a quality flute! Please take good care of your instruments.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Endoscopic video of beatboxer Kenny Muhammad's throat


Documentary from History Channel's Stan Lee Superhumans series.

Great endoscope video of beatboxer, Kenny Muhammad, using his epiglottis and vocal chords the produce his multiple sounds.

Talk about body mapping! Beat boxer wannabe's check it out! Or anyone who wants to see the epiglottis or other throat parts at work. Wow! Great images.