Archive for the ‘Flute’ Category

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way!

May 16, 2012

By Greg Warren, Saxophone, Flute, and Clarinet Instructor at The Lesson Studio

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As we all know, it takes a lot of consistent effort to get to where playing an instrument is stress free. For beginners especially, they realize that music is challenging and takes practice. One of the ways I engage my students is by giving them a choice—or a guided choice—of a song they might want to play, regardless of the instrument. For example, I have Flute players performing Katy Perry and Lady Gaga and Saxophone players performing The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Let’s face it—every musician deep down wants to be a Rockstar! The reason these songs are successful for beginners is because they already know them, and have a connection to them through some avenue of pop culture.

This does not mean that the rudiments are not important. They are the basis for a solid foundation and success. The pop style music is just a great way to get young musicians to play their instruments. It is amazing how much more a young musician will practice a song if they have a connection. With any luck, in the future, they will gain respect for the rudiments and an understanding of why they are important.

On another note, summer is upon us, and young musicians are being asked if they are going to continue playing in Middle School. Many of them will say yes, and many will drop out. There is one thing I’ve learned—if parents encourage young musicians to play over the summer, they will be more prepared for the rigors of a new musical ensemble. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way!

Summer Music Fun!

April 2, 2012

By Denise McCoy, Voice, Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Summer is right around the corner! Keeping kids entertained with social events will make any parent happy. Why? …Because happy kids equals happy parents. There are plenty of Memorial Day events in and around Denver and Boulder. As most Boulderites know, Memorial Day brings the Creek Fest. It’s a three-day festival with vendors, music, food, dancing, and even a little ducky race down the creek! There is a little bit of something for everyone. On the performance end, there will be five stages with various shows. The five stages are broken up according to interest and age, which are: bandshell, festival stage, community dance stage, kids’ stage, as well as teens’ stage. Information can be found on their website at:

http://www.bceproductions.com/boulder-creek-festival/performers/

If Boulder isn’t an option, or you want a variety of weekend plans, Denver has baseball games, concerts, an arts festival, and a parade! More detailed information can be found on their website at:

http://www.denver.org/what-to-do/museum-art/memorial-day-denver-weekend

Once Memorial Day weekend is over, summer music lessons are a great way to keep kids engaged in something fun and educational. Music lessons can help students prepare for the following year (get ahead!) or to catch up from the previous year. For any students who have auditions coming up for various musicals, shows, or choirs, the summer is the perfect time to hone in on the skills needed to succeed in your audition.

There are plenty of ways to keep your kids busy with music this summer! Look around at various websites and festivals for opportunities! Your kids will thank you, and you might enjoy the family time too!

 

Oops! It’s Broken

January 11, 2012

by Greg Warren, Woodwind Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Greg Warren, Woodwind Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Greg Warren

As a player of woodwind instruments I have learned many lessons about how easily they can bend and break.  The saxophone, flute, and clarinet are fragile instruments.  When you have played as long as I have you learn that the tiniest of bumps to the delicate buttons, levers and, rods can severely impact the instruments playability or sound.  It is never fun to struggle on an instrument especially during a performance. Your mind needs to be free of concern for the instrument so you can play without any inhibitions.  With the first round of school concerts and recitals having just passed or coming up you want your instrument to be in peak working condition.

The reason I am addressing this particular problem is because I have been seeing lots of bumps and bends happening to quite a few instruments in the last month or so.  I believe this is a result of students becoming more comfortable with their instruments.  This causes you to lose focus and concentration concerning the expensive instrument in your hands.  One time it happened to me right before a gig I was playing in Vail.  I was back stage talking to some friends when my sax fell off of my lap hitting the floor pretty hard.  The damage was severe, it could not be fixed.  We were going on stage in 15 minutes and at this point in my career I did not have a back up horn.  I ended up having to play the flute on a bunch of songs I didn’t know on the flute.  I love the flute but that was hard.  It was not the best gig I have ever played but at least I had a flute.

Here are some tips for all the woodwind families to help avoid damaging your instrument.  These care tips are common to all of the woodwind instruments.

  • Make sure that all corks are thoroughly greased.  The cork can easily dry up in this dry Colorado climate of ours.  It is not a major repair but can be avoided easily.
  • When concerning metal to metal connections on the flutes and saxophones, they only need to be wiped with a dry rag to prevent sticking.  Never put any kind of grease on these joints; they become very slippery.
  • When assembling woodwind instruments take care to be firm but gentle.  Holding these instruments while assembling can cause a lot of damage; if you are not holding the instrument in the correct places you risk bending the long rods that make the keys move up and down.
  • Always clean your instrument after playing.  Saliva and condensation will collect on the walls of all woodwind instruments while being played.  If it is not dried out regularly things can start to grow, I know from experience.  Sometimes a smell will develop and a professional has to help get rid of the gunk on the inside of the instrument.  This is more common on the saxophone with all its curves.
  • Most importantly, just be aware of your surroundings.  Over time the instrument will become part of you and bumping into things or accidentally dropping it will stop, or become less frequent anyways.

As I said before, it will happen to every single one of us sometime in our musical career.  All we can do is be vigilant about how we treat our instruments and hope for the best.  Most musicians I know have a back up instrument or a really good friend to borrow a replacement from when things go bad.  When you become a professional, having a back up is a must.  Now go practice, but be careful not to drop or bump into anything with your instrument.

Become Versatile, Stay in Demand

April 28, 2011

By Cobus du Toit, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Cobus du Toit, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Cobus du Toit

Jack of all trades, Master of none. This proverb is taught to us from a very young age. We are brought up to believe that it is better focusing all of your attention on one skill rather than spreading your attention on various things. Every occupation has a specialty field. If you are a lawyer you can specialize in divorce, property or criminal law. Doctors have the opportunity to specialize in different types of surgery. Naturally, it would make sense for a musician to specialize in one particular instrument and become a master of their trade. Unless, you are one of the lucky few in the entertainment industry; I have found this to be the complete opposite.

When you are a saxophone major in college, you are required to take clarinet and flute lessons. Why if you are a violinist do they not require you take viola lessons? Or a cellist double bass lessons? I have heard numerous times that a string quartet is in desperate need of a violist for a background music function or that a musical at the local community center needs a player who can play saxophone, clarinet and flute. Why not expand on your current skill set and become the musician that is in popular demand?  Piano players are also in high demand in most areas. There is always a pianist somewhere who got sick on a Sunday morning before a church service. Needless to say, good sight reading plays a big part in this so it is important to keep up on this skill too.

I did both my undergraduate and Master’s Degree in flute performance, but I have always kept up my piano skills. I also saw that my friends who were Saxophone majors got much more freelance work than I did, so I took up the Saxophone and Clarinet. If you think about it, why would someone pay three people if one person can do the job?

We all dream about playing a concerto with the New York Philharmonic someday but, until that happens, we as musicians need to make money somehow. My advice to you is to start as many instruments as early as possible. Do a little bit of research in your area and find out which instruments are in high demand.

At the end of the day, we choose music as a career because we love music first, and then the instrument.

The Little Things

April 22, 2010

By Mike Gersten, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Mike Gersten, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Mike Gersten

You may be familiar with the expression “it’s the little things that count”.  In track winners can be decided by a tenth of a second; in baseball an inch can decide whether a pitch is a ball or a strike; and being just a little out of tune can turn an amazing performance into a catastrophe.  When it comes to practicing and taking care of a woodwind instrument it is the little things that make all the difference.  This Sunday I’ll be doing a woodwinds workshop at the lesson studio and I’ll be talking about little things we all can do as woodwind players to help make us better players.  Here is a little preview:

We all know that we need to practice in order to get better, but no one has a lot of time.  By using certain practice techniques you can maximize the efficiency of your practice sessions.  Now, I won’t tell you that you’ll be able to learn a very difficult piece in five minutes.  This isn’t a late-night infomercial.  However, I will say that these techniques will help you learn to play the music well in the quickest way possible.

What good is knowing how to play your instrument if you’re instrument doesn’t work?  You’re instrument should run like a well-oiled machine.  After all, your instrument is a machine with you as the motor.  We will discuss how to take care of your reeds, keys, and pads so your instrument will sound its best and you can avoid hefty repair costs.

In addition to these topics we will talk about listening to music and anything you else you want!  Feel free to bring your instrument and any music you are currently working on or have questions about.  Please call The Lesson Studio to reserve your spot as space is limited.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s FREE!  See you there!

Colorado Flute Association’s 2010 Flute Day with Jill Felber

April 18, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

This year’s flute fair with the Colorado Flute Association was a Saturday full of fun flute activities and amazing performances by local flutists in the area. The day began with a warm-up class run by Ysmael Reyes, a local private flute instructor, performer and recent DMA graduate of the University of Colorado. He taught his warm up fundamentals and really exposed the importance of cementing good playing habits from the moment a flutist brings their flute to their face at the very beginning of the day. Dividing routine into three basic areas (breath control, tone, and technique) he went through each showing different ways of developing each with examples from standard exercises books for the flute including Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Daily Exercises, Marcel Moyse’s Daily Exercises for the Flute and De La Sonorité, Robert Dick’s Tone Development Through Extended Techniques, and M.A. Reichert’s Seven Daily Exercises for the Flute.

After the warm-up class, there were several great performances beginning with those in the master class led by Jill Felber, professor of flute at University of California at Santa Barbara. It began with Syrinx by Claude Debussy played by Erin Miller, a senior at Douglas County High School and student of Jayne Copland. Then continued on to the fourth movement of the Undine Sonata, Op. 167 by Carl Reinecke played by Sasha Haft, undergraduate student of Christina Jennings at the University of Colorado. Followed by Three Preludes by Robert Muczynski played by Andrew Steward, student of Pam Endsley, and finally, Voice for solo flute by Toru Takemitsu played by Cobus DuToit, graduate student of Christina Jennings at the University of Colorado. Ms. Felber’s charismatic teaching helped each performer learn even more about their and refine their musical ideas. Following the master class was a wonderful Flute Choir concert featuring Boulder Suzuki Flutes, Colorado State University’s Flute Choir, and Longs Peak Flute Ensemble.

After these performances Ms. Felber led a workshop: Extreme Makeover – Flute Edition. this workshop covered topics that she covers in a six week course at her university in only an hour. Speeding through each exercise, Ms. Felber covered their importance and long term and short term benefits from practicing each. After the workshop, a flute choir reading session was run by Carolyn Keyes, graduate student of Christina Jennings and then to finish the day, a recital performed by Ms. Felber and pianist, Robert Koenig including pieces by Charles-Marie Widor, Albert Franz Doppler, and Shirish Korde.

Another Flute Day is coming up on April 24, 2010 at Mesa State College in Grand Junction with Rhonda Larson!

Can You See What You’re Playing? And I’m not talking about the notes on the page.

March 9, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

You know you’re a true music nerd when you start finding all the similarities between everything you do or see and how it could relate to music. And you know you’re especially bad when you just see something and bam! Now that you watched that special on the Discovery channel about outer space, you know how you can explain vibrato to the twelve year old. But really, finding those parallels between, let’s just call it this for fun, the “real world” and the “music world” can help you understand exactly what you’re doing even more than before.

Imagery is such a staple part in music, at least for me. Hearing a piece of music that really attaches itself to me makes me feel in colors, imagine stories and truly understand the emotion that the composer or performer was trying to convey. Part of me thinks that as a musician that is your true purpose in life is to tell the story, show the audience what is happening, even if you don’t know, you need to show that you do. Sometimes doing crazy things like pulling out your box of 64 Crayola crayons that you haven’t used since the fourth grade and literally coloring your music the color that you thinks conveys each part of your piece can do wonders. Even making up words to go along with what you’re playing or seeing a story that can play out in your head can get the emotional and expressive side to connect with the technical of your playing.

One of my favorite topics to bring up to students is the Olympics. I’ve probably been driving my students crazy trying to convince them to watch everything from figure skating to the super-g to curling. The parallels between musicians and athletes are really interesting to me. How much work each party puts into perfecting their own craft is mind blowing: hours in practice versus hours on the ice or snow. You can find so many similarities. Figure skating spins and trills is one of my own teacher’s favorite analogies. You can also think of the idea of balancing between technique and musicality as the way a speed skater like Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski balance around their turns with speed skating. So go out and try to find those parallels and start imagining them will you play. It might just help even more than you’d think!

Meet other flute players!

February 23, 2010

By: Hollie Bennett, CU Intern at The Lesson Studio

Music is a social activity.  Meeting new people by playing in small or large ensembles such as duets, chamber groups, bands, etc., is one of the most basic parts of playing music that many people overlook as being as important.  Not only do you meet new people but you also can celebrate your love for music and personal growth with people you care about. In my opinion, this is the best part of music. It brings people together.

Although this is such a great aspect of music, it can also be the scariest. The way we criticize ourselves as musicians automatically seems to carry over into what we assume others think of us. Anyone has been nervous about performing in front of others, even if the people you are performing for aren’t going to judge you musically in any way, the nerves kick in causing us to not be the best we can be. Once you overcome those nerves of playing for someone else, it can show such beneficial results. As a stepping stone of getting there, playing with someone else can really help you get to where you want to be whether that’s playing your favorite etude in a round with the person who sits next to you in band class at school or just sight reading duets with your roommate or brother/sister. Doing something new with your musical routine can help you grow as a musician in different ways.

With some instruments, finding a group of people of people to play with can be more accessible than with some. As a flute player, it can be easier than you think. Joining a group like the Colorado Flute Association (or the CFA as most flutists call it) can link you in with other flutists in your area. Even if you don’t really want to pay the membership fee to become a part of this organization, you can always just visit their website. There you can find directories ranging from links for maintenance shops specializing in repairing flutes ranging from piccolo to bass flute, music groups to participate in such as flute choirs, orchestras, bands, and festivals, and even reputable flute teachers in your area. They even have information about local flute fairs coming up where you can meet other flute players your own age, sit in or participate in master classes, and learn all kinds of new things about your flute and your playing. So stretch out of your box and find a flute choir in your area or maybe even attend the next Flute Fair! (March 6th with Jill Felber on CU-Boulder’s campus)

Rock That Flute!

January 20, 2010
Flute instructor Michael Gersten, The Lesson Studio

Michael Gersten, Flute Teacher

Unfortunately in today’s society the flute is many times thought of as a one-dimensional instrument. Unlike the saxophone, which is frequently seen in classical, jazz, and rock settings, the flute is usually only seen as being at home in a concert band or marching band. My advice for flute players (and any other musician) is to try playing different styles of music. This experimentation can benefit you in numerous ways, both musical and non-musical.
It’s not unheard of to have a flute player playing in a rock setting; the most famous example would be the band Jethro Tull. However, at various times groups from The Beatles to Ray Charles have used certain “classical only” instruments or even full orchestras in their music. Of course, the flute has always been a staple of latin jazz music. Anyone who has seen the movie “Anchorman” certainly remembers Will Ferrell’s character busting out some jazz flute.
My suggestion is to try incorporating your flute into whatever kind of music you enjoy. You can get together with a friend who plays guitar or piano and play your favorite song (you play the vocal line). There are tons of books out there with music of popular songs that you can use. Go explore your local music store or ask the people at The Lesson Studio for advice. If you’re into jazz or jam music, don’t let someone tell you the flute doesn’t belong; go for it!
Practicing can sometimes seem like a chore, but when you incorporate music you enjoy into your flute playing, you’ll find that you will start practicing and playing your flute more often without even realizing it. Also, when you get other people in on the fun, playing your flute can help cultivate friendships that go beyond playing music together. There’s a lot of great classical music out there for flute, and it should be studied, but don’t be afraid to get out there and rock that flute!

For more information about Michael Gersten or Boulder flute lessons, please call 303-543-3777 or visit The Lesson Studio online!

Winter/Spring Semester Registration Begins

November 12, 2009

On Monday, November 16, 2009, The Lesson Studio (TLS) will begin its Winter/Spring Semester registration!

The dates for our Winter/Spring Semester 2010 are: January 9 – May 21, 2010

TLS has instructors for guitar, piano, voice, drums, bass, violin, viola, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, tuba, euphonium, ukelele, oboe, cello, flute, mandolin and banjo! We also offer music therapy, a free workshop series, and summer music camp. We have an in-store drop-off/pickup for instrument repair. Included with your semester tuition are weekly instruction with the teacher of your choice; supplies including weekly goal sheets, staff paper, CDs, and music charts; assistance from three administrative staff people; free Wi-Fi in the reception area; 10% off coupon for a local music store; and best of all, an end-of-semester recital! Our Fall recital is held at the Old Main Chapel at CU and our Spring recital is held ON STAGE at the Boulder Creek Festival!

If you are a current student, be sure to let our staff know if you prefer the same day/time or a new time slot for your music lesson. If you are new to The Lesson Studio, please call 303-543-3777 for your FREE CONSULTATION today!

As always, please visit http://www.thelessonstudio.com for more information.The Lesson Studio logo