Friday, June 28, 2013

From My Undergrad Archives: Expressive Note Shape Chart


While recently cleaning out my files, I came across this page in a practice notebook from my college days.

Scrawled freehand in pencil on erasable bond typing paper, it has become smeared and blurry over the years. I have referred to this piece of paper frequently during my many years of teaching as the beginning of my personal journey to musical expression on the flute. Those of you who have studied with me probably recall conversations about this page, and I thought you might enjoy seeing an image of the document.

While an undergrad student at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, I obediently practiced the excellent and plentiful tone and technical exercises assigned by my teacher Robert Cavally, but I desired to practice tone on a more microscopic level--how the shape of each individual note could serve a phrase.

This required considering that every note has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. One day in the practice room I drew out this chart of possible shapes for note beginnings and note endings. I dutifully practiced the shapes on the chart on every pitch over a period of months and noticed increased control over phrase direction and expression in my music making.

Here is a cleaned-up/legible version of the chart-- I invite you to try it out--or I encourage you to create your own chart!

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