Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jean-Pierre Rampal performs Mozart Flute Concerto in G Major, K 313


I hope you enjoy this performance of Mozart Concerto in G Major, K 313 performed by Jean-Pierre Rampal and The McGill Chamber Orchestra, Alexander Brott, conductor.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free 2012 TX All-State Etude Practice Hints


I just posted free last minute 2012 TX All-State Etude practice hints for all three etudes!

I hope you find them useful!


Introducing MyFlutorials!


MyFlutorials is now live!

MyFlutorials is a growing library of flute teaching videos based on my 30 years of experience teaching flutists of all ages and levels.  Whether you are a beginner seeking guidance, a student seeking help for an audition or a contest, a teacher seeking inspiration and solutions, or you just don’t have time to take private lessons, MyFlutorials provides affordable, immediately available video lessons for you!

New Flutorials are created frequently and can be based on your requests.  Please make your requests by email or on the MyFlutorials Facebook page.  These are YOUR Flutorials!

Flutorials can be purchased separately for only $1.99 each or in themed bundles for $4.99.  For example, the “From the Start” Video series priced at $4.99 has been used with great success in Woodwinds Methods Courses and by aspiring beginning flutists around the world.

For those of you who want more, memberships are available at Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels.
All membership levels include access to all videos plus the bonus members-only blog, with hundreds of posts on flute related topics.

Check out the Free Sample Menu. See you soon!

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Horsing Around" with Trills


This week a young student was playing an etude in her lesson which had lots of trills and nachschläge. She was having the usual difficulty with placing the nachschlag in graceful relationship to the resolution.

This student is a visual learner, and an image popped into my mind! I went to the computer and found a video to show her what I had thought of—a video of the famous Lipizzaner Stallions performing.

The ease of predicting when the hoof will reach the ground while the horse is in motion provided the perfect model for this student to understand the graceful placement of the nachschlag while her breath sustained the ending of the trill. Check out the clip at 3:00-3:07 and 4:52-4:54. Simply beautiful.
The results: natural, elegant musical gesture, delighted student, and joyful teacher. Smiles all around.

Hope you find this analogy helpful!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

How Quantz Articulated!


In his 8.11.2012 Masterclass on Articulation, master teacher Keith Underwood mentioned Quantz's Solfeggi for Flute, a flute primer filled with musical excerpts annotated by Quantz himself!

This public domain document is available free online.

I am very inspried seeing Quantz's own hand and trying out his suggested articulations! Hope it inspires you, too!

It is fabulous this is available online. Share this info with everyone!


Monday, July 30, 2012

ALIVE INSIDE: A Story of Music & Memory


I am so so excited about this film!

In the 1990's I was involved in grant work to bring live music to Alzheimer's patients in TX. I saw first hand the power music can have on the mind. We heard from the daughter of one patient who attended one of our concerts with her mother that after the concert she had the first meaningful conversation with her mother in over 3 years.

I was shocked and delighted when I discovered the film is being made by Michael Rossato-Bennett, an old friend from the 80's!

Be on the lookout for this film's release.

Meanwhile, if you know someone with Alzheimers or some form of dementia, I encourage you to load an iPod with music meaningful to that person and to deliver the iPod and some headphones to them. I'm going to do this!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Innate vs. developed musicality


In this fascinating CBS 60 Minutes report Lesley Stahl reported on Derek Paravicini, musical savant with an amazing musical memory plus the ability to play any piece in any key and any style on demand!  Derek was born extremely prematurely, at 25 weeks, suggesting that innate musicality is developed quite early or is even, perhaps, genetic.

All very interesting to consider, but what about most people--those not born as musical geniuses? How can we foster musicality and musical development in our students and in our children?

Check out this great blog post by Maya Liberman, Six Ways to Develop Musical Awareness in Your Child. In the post, she encourages parents to surround their children with quality music: car stereo, Internet radio channels, YouTube, and live performances. She also suggests engaging your children by discussing with the music with them:
What instruments do you hear?
How does the music makes you feel?
More suggestions by Maya to develop deeper connections to the music:
Listening to pieces with narration
Singing the familiar tunes
Looking up composers on the Internet
Listening to multiple performances of the same piece
When my students are learning new pieces, I first have them learn the pieces without listening to any recordings. Once they have mastered the notes and rhythms, I have them listen to multiple recordings of the works, comparing the performances to develop their aesthetic senses. I often suggest specific recordings for students to listen to for phrasing ideas--often performances by great singers of the past. Students are also encouraged to improvise, connecting their imaginations and emotions to their instruments.

How do you encourage the development of musicality?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Beginner's Mind"


I always look forward to summer as a time to “reinvent” my flute playing. After taking some time away from regular practice,  I approach playing with “beginner’s mind,” discovering new routes to improved flute playing and joyous music making.

Those of you know me personally know that I have many ways to work on things--that difficult passage or life’s problems--and, also, that I find great joy in new insights and discoveries.

Exploration is the precursor to discovery. "Play" is the creative path. New ideas and inspirations come when we refresh our perspectives on life and work.

When I learn something new, try a new way of doing something, or immerse myself in a new context or challenge--whether it be cultural (travel to a new place), work-related (new repertoire, inspiring reading or research), or domestic (new recipes, or even rearranging the furniture)--I learn new things about myself: what motivates me, what fulfills me, and how I might best inspire others to discover their best selves, both as individuals and as artists.

I encourage you to try something new this summer, in your music-making and in your life. I invite you to check out the Library page at my website or my blogs, for some inspiring resources, or visit the Playground at my website for fun, creative play to open up new paths of thought.

Happy exploration! I look forward to hearing about your adventures and discoveries.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Flutorial: Blow it Out! Exhaling fully to create bigger breaths.


This video demonstrates exercises to help you take bigger, more efficient breaths using excerpts from Faure's Sicilienne.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Wisdom from flutist Moshe Aron Epstein

Moshe Aron Epstein

I just read an impressive interview with Miyazawa artist Moshe Aron Epstein: soloist, chamber musician, and Professor of Flute at the Hochschule (Academy) of Music and Theater in Hamburg.
My favorite quotes from the article:

The most valuable lesson I learned from the flute is listening. Listening not just with the ears – listening with all senses – sight, smell, taste and touch, listening with the soul, listening through feeling myself and others, listening to the world, listening. Listening made me observe tone quality, intonation, dynamics, rhythm, style. It brought me to understand how others are playing and being able to imitate at least parts of their qualities. But moreover: listening in its widest meaning makes it all meaningful, worthwhile…
Excellence requires an inner need to always find more about yourself, the composer and his piece, a need for a continuous development and to purify the means of performance. It often demands to forget yourself and let the playing just stream through you. Excellence is achieved in the rare moments, when the triangle: player-composer-piece makes a new entity summing all three parts up. The result is very personal, even intimate, often mysterious.

Playing a musical instrument, the flute included, is a rare discipline that combines technique, spirit, body and soul. I have been teaching flute for almost 42 years (a frightening figure, isn’t it?!), from beginners through professionals. I spend endless time and effort on the physical side of playing: from posture to breathing, from intonation to finger technique, dynamics to sound quality and of course to shape, style, and musical phrasing etc. But above all I look for the special encounter between the player and the composer and the message to be delivered through musical means. I put an emphasis on the fact that we should serve the music - be like a vessel through which the great music is flowing. The better the technique, the more subtle it should become.

Keep a good, healthy and true balance between the outer demands of the modern world and your own inner voice, soul and spirit. In a humorous way, with some Yiddish flavor it would be: In spite of the fact that you are, or want to become a flutist, be a MENSCH!

Read the entire interview here. Thanks to Miyazawa for this enlightening post!

You can find Professor Moshe Aron Epstein on Facebook:


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Duke Voice Care Center "Care of the Singing Voice Workshop: How to Make Your Voice Last a Lifetime"


This post is intended to supplement the linked PDF of the Powerpoint presentation used at the “Care of the Singing Voice” Workshop presented by Duke Voice Care Center at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on 4.14.12.

The pdf of the presentation was provided to me to share with you by Leda Scearce, MM, MS, CCC-SLP, at the Duke Voice Care Center. It is full of great information on this topic!

I bolded pages to major topics to serve as an index and included highlights, referenced videos which won’t appear on the PDF, and some additional notes and comments [in brackets].

Thanks, Leda! It was a great workshop! Thanks, also,  to Yuri Yamamoto for organizing the event.

I hope you find this useful! Please let me know!

Best always,

Highlights, Additional Notes, Comments and Referenced videos
“Care of the Singing Voice” Workshop presented by Duke Voice Care Center at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on 4.14.12

Page 9-17: Normal Voice Production
In human voice production, lungs are the actuators of the power supply.

Page 12
Excess, prolonged pressure on the vocal folds causes damage to the vocal folds.

Page 15
The consistency of healthy vocal folds is like Jello.
Video of healthy vocal folds:

Page 17
Stroboscopy: video of female vocal cords at high and low pitch:

Page 18-30: What Happens When Things Goes Wrong?

Page 21
Caffeine, alcohol, smoking and second hand smoke are all harmful to the singing voice. Drink LOTS of water all day! At least eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day!

Page 31-55:  Management (Behavioral, Medical, Surgical)
Page 33
Vocal Hygiene: The things we do to keep the voice healthy
·      Taking care of the body
·      Using the voice well

Page 56- 68: Vocal Pacing
Page 57
Vocal Pacing Golden Rule!
Warm up your voice before singing, cool down your voice after singing.

Page 67
Special Considerations for Music Directors/Choral Conductors

•Warm up your voice before rehearsal

•Use amplification for your voice during rehearsal

•Use printed signs or hand signals to communicate messages that you say over and over

•Minimize using your voice to teach the music

Recommended use of:
Spokeman Personal Voice Amplifier

Page 69: How will I know if I Have a Voice Injury?

Page 72-81: Singing Styles and Techniques
·      Mechanics of Singing  (General, Classical, and Belting)

Page 82-89: Acoustics of Singing/ Physics of Sound

Page 91:  Speaking and Singing Voice Exercise
Emphasis of proper skeletal alignment and good body use. [I recommend study of the Alexander Technique and/or Feldenkrais to improve ease and quality of singing and playing!]

Page 86
Referenced video: Joseph Callejo: Nessun Dorma

[I prefer this perfermance: Jussi Bjorling "Nessun dorma" Live 1958]

Page 87
Referenced video: Adele: Rolling in the Deep 

Page 90-111: Vocal Exercise for Singing
[Lots of great suggestions. We spent 30 minutes in the workshop practicing these.]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Early flute recordings on Robert Bigio's website


I am grateful to Robert Bigio for posting on his website early recordings from Christopher Steward's collection.

These recordings are truly inspiring-- a reminder of a time when tone and technique were synonymous--a time when and elegance and beauty reigned. I've bookmarked this page and enjoy listening to at least one recording before I practice each day.

While typing this post, I listened to a recent addition to the webpage: Simonetti: Madrigal. Heinz Breiden, flute; Siegfried Borries, violin; and Max Saal, harp. So lovely! The recording was made in 1937 0r 1938. Breiden was a flutist in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 1921 until his death.

Recent additions to this page include recordings by Frances Blaisdell and Gaston Crunelle. There is also a recording of Georges Barrère playing Alfredo d'Ambrosio's Canzonetta, Op. 6.  Such artistry...

Robert Bigio's website is a also great resource for historical information on flutes, flutists and flute-playing. Thanks, Robert!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

More on "Constructive Rest"


I posted this article a few months ago after attending an Alexander Technique Workshop presented by Rachel Niketopoulos and Pam Nelson for the Raleigh Area Flute Association.

Since then, I have held several workshops with my students at Rachel's Raleigh studio. I have seen great improvements in each student who participated in at least one of these workshops.

We begin each workshop with 20 minutes of Constructive Rest to allow adequate time for our vertebrae to realign and our discs (which act as shock absorbers) to rehydrate.

I am a longtime Alexander Technique student myself, but only recently I have come to acknowledge that "Constructive Rest" is possibly the most helpful practice technique for wind players to improve their tone and breathing. I learned this from watching my students improve!

 Check out this Guide to Constructive Rest on http://alexandertechnique.com.

Soprano Andrea Matthews has prepared a teaching handout on Constructive Rest.

I recently discovered another great Alexander Technique resource: Sarah Chatwin's Alexander Technique website and blog. Sarah offers a free e-course if you sign up for her email newsletter. I now look forward to my email reminders about all things "Alexander!"


Friday, April 13, 2012

Frederick Fennell: A Life of Joyful Discovery


Inspiring four minute trailer for A Life of Joyful Discovery, a documentary about the icon of wind ensemble music, Frederick Fennell.

Here are my favorite quotes from Fennell in the trailer:

• “Your business is to make music with the people in front of you. It doesn’t matter who they are.”
• “…feel their contact with each other…their reaching out beyond themselves to other people.”
• “They were not just players, they were listeners, and that’s were they were the kind of players they were., because they were the kind of listeners they were.”


Friday, March 16, 2012

"Bare Necessities" of Breathing


This week I have been rereading Lea Pearson's excellent book Body Mapping for Flutists.

On p. 87, Lea suggests learning to release the gluteal muscles for better breathing by thinking of Baloo from Disney's The Jungle Book animated movie.

I hope you enjoy this infectiously happy clip from The Jungle Book. While you watch, be aware of the back side of your body and, as Lea says, "shake your booty!"


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Pez Dispenser vs. The Nutcracker


The images represent 2 distinct "mappings" of the jaw.

"Pez" throws his head back using his neck muscles to open his mouth. This puts extreme stress on his vocal cords, throat, and upper back. "Nutcracker" drops his jaw open from it's natural hinge.

So...breathe more like Mr. Nutcracker, avoiding the "flip-top head" syndrome demonstrated by Mr. Pez. Even better is to breathe most of the time from the sides of your mouth, leaving your jaw in a neutral,natural position.

Happy Breathing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One-of-a-Kind, One-Handed Saxophone


My former student Daniel Stover suffered a stroke in 2008, losing movement in his left arm together with the ability to play his clarinet and saxophone.

Thanks to University of Nebraska at Kearneys's One-Handed Woodwinds Program, Daniel can now return to playing and teaching music. Daniel recently traveled to Kearney, Nebraska to pick up his one-of-a-kind, one-handed saxophone.

Pictured is Daniel Stover with his Selmer Mark VI saxophone recently converted to a right handed toggle mechanism by Jeff Stelling of Kearney, Nebraska. Photo by April Dawn Refior. Engraving by Jason Dumars.

David Nabb, founder of the One-Handed Woodwinds Program, is Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Since surviving a stroke in 2000, Nabb has worked with woodwind craftsman Jeff Stelling to develop a saxophone that can be played with the right hand only. Their combined efforts garnered a Kennedy Center VSA (Very Special Arts) award last year.

Stelling comments on his efforts: " …although I can't know exactly what these people have gone through with disabilities, I can just imagine getting my life back, being able to do what was my passion in life again. And so it's really great to give them an opportunity to have that back."

The following video is a television interview after Daniel received his converted saxophone.

For close-ups of the one-handed mechanism in action, check out this performance video: David Nabb (saxophone) and Nathan Buckner (piano) play Diversion by Bernhard Heiden with this one-handed Yamaha Custom saxophone adapted by Stelling Brass & Winds.

Kudos to all involved for their ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance. I am looking forward to hearing Daniel on his prized new instrument when I am in Texas in March!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Introducing Fluteachniques™: Harmonics+2 Note Slur Tone Study


I recently started having students combine two favorite tone studies for a great warm up. The results have been improved evenness throughout the range of the flute and richer tone in the high register.

I will be sharing more teaching tips in the future. Look for Fluteachniques™in the LeGrand Virtual Studio in coming months!


Friday, January 20, 2012

"Classic" Breath Builder

This video and article from the early days of my website (2006) has tried and true information. The Breath Builder still rules!

The Breath Builder is a self-teaching device. Its primary lesson is the effortless, complete exchange of air at either end of the breath, without any holding or physical tension. It is a visual aid for learning the concept of breath support and also aids improvement of breathing efficiency and of lung capacity.

Developed by the late bassoonist Harold Hansen of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Breath Builder is a translucent plastic cylinder closed on the bottom with 3 holes on top and a ping pong ball inside. The 3 holes and the 2 accompanying plastic tubes with different diameters can be used to control resistance to your air movement. The object is to keep the ping pong ball at the top of the cylinder while blowing into the Breath Builder and also while sucking the breath back through the device. The air is always moving in or out, never stopping. Very simply, if the blowing is steady and the breath exchanges well, the ping pong ball stays at the top of the plastic cylinder.

Tips for Use of the Breath Builder:

I suggest using the larger tube. The smaller one tends to increase physical tension. Begin by blowing into the tube to raise the ping pong ball to the top of the plastic cylinder. Once you have mastered this, while the ping pong ball is at the top, try sucking the air back through the tube without letting the ball drop.

Blow from the front of your mouth. Try to release the air from your lips. Careful not to overdo. Begin with one or two exchanges of air.

Try sucking the air back from the tube and then performing a task; play or sing a phrase or execute some other physical action while you release the breath you just sucked throughout the tube.

Be sure the sternum does not compress as you blow into the machine. This causes unnecessary tension and inefficient release of the breath. Allow your spine to lengthen as you release each breath.
Buy Now!

Caution: Avoid repeating this process until becoming dizzy! Stop immediately if you feel dizzy and rest until the feeling passes. While learning to use the breath builder, please sit down.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

René Le Roy playing Danse de la Chevre

This piece was dedicated to René Le Roy by the composer. This recording was made in 1929. Excellent fidelity! So many colors!

The Importance of Play

This short documentary expresses the importance of play for better, more creative work and happier lives. Highly recommended!

Trailer - SERIOUSLY! The Future depends on play from Gwen Gordon on Vimeo.