Posts Tagged ‘flute instruction in boulder’

How will YOU speak through music?

March 12, 2016

By Eric Siegel

Practice, for some, can be harder than playing the instrument itself. Practice is easy when we start simple. Just about everything in music can be broken down into fundamental but little bits that need to be committed to memory. When you confidently know the note names, note values, each fingering, etc., you find that you won’t just be playing the music – you’ll be reading it, too! When you can read music, your vocabulary and ability will increase to intermediate concepts like phrasing, dynamics, and tempo/rhythm change. With enough retention, you might even forget that you’re reading the music at that point. You’ll be back to playing it, but with emotion and a more mature sound. Music really becomes a language.

Is it how much you practice that will make you better? No!!! Practice isn’t always how long you play your instrument. Practice is taking what is learned in lessons and applying that knowledge to your time playing your instrument before meeting again. In a world attached to busy and ever-changing schedules and so many people and things to take responsibility of, take 15-30 minutes of your day to get better at even just one aspect of your playing. Then, commit that to memory. Another day, another dollar.

Air is free, so breathe it all in – and lots of it! Flute, clarinet and saxophone aren’t woodwind instruments for no reason. Woodwind instruments are inoperable without a pair of lungs and lots of air, after all. They possess the clearest sound and tone with air backed up with abdominal (tummy) strength and control. Without an instrument in hand, try putting both your hands on your lower back and take a deep stomach-breath. That’s both of your lungs expanding. We need to use – one more time! – LOTS of air because the air has a bit of a ways to travel!

Have you ever blown air across an empty glass bottle and you’d hear it make a tone? The direction and speed of the air you’re blowing causes the bottle to vibrate fast enough to create a sound. The same principle stands with playing the flute, but optimal sound comes from knowing where to “point” the direction of the airstream, as well as air speed. Unlike the clarinet and saxophone, creating a flute sound doesn’t come from blowing into the instrument with a wooden reed. The speed of the air is what causes the flute to vibrate and, thus, sound. This makes flute tone all the more unique from clarinet and saxophone!

A clarinetist could hold the prestigious role of concertmaster for a world-renowned wind ensemble, but have just as much fun improvising with a big band if he or she wanted to! The clarinet has a recognizable sound that is versatile and uniquely colorful. Part of that is due to its dark wooden body, unlike the brass-bodied flute & saxophone. Whether an instrument is conical or cylindrical also affects what it will sound like; in this case, clarinet and flute possess cylindrical bodies.

Saxophone is arguably the instrument closest-sounding to the human voice. It has the ability to string out the emotions, energy and other characteristics of any genre. It can sound as beautiful to you as it sounds harsh to me, or vice versa! Just as every human being has a voice, every saxophonist has a sound.

How will YOU speak through music?

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Staying (Musically) Fit

May 7, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

There are many benefits to staying in shape. It keeps you in a better mood by setting off various endorphins that keep you happier and more relaxed. It helps you deal with or prevent chronic diseases, manage your weight, boost your energy level, and promotes better sleep. It improves your skin, keeps your bones strong, strengthens your muscles, plus you’ll be able to fit into your old pair of jeans that you cast away into the farthest corner of your bottom drawer.  It lowers your heart rate, boosts your immune system, and enhances the blood flow to your brain. Whether it’s lifting weights, running on a treadmill, walking around the park with the dog, swimming laps, or riding your bike, anything that gets your heart moving and gets you a little out of breath works. So many benefits and one of the most rewarding, for myself, is the way exercising regularly affects the way I play my instrument.

Making music requires a lot of control and regular exercise helps you to develop your muscles so they can work in more intricate ways. One of the most important parts of your body to playing any instrument, wind, string, percussion, etc. or even singing can be your core. Your abdominal and back muscles control your posture and air intake and support. These are very important components to maintaining good control while practicing or performing. Also keeping muscles like your arms and legs helps when standing or playing an instrument for long periods of time. Also, I feel like exercising regularly can help you deal with performance nerves. When you run, bike or swim, it helps to build up the strength of your lungs which can be the first to suffer when you become nervous. Not taking deep enough breaths or not being able to maintain steady airflow are very common occurrences when a performer becomes nervous. The stronger your lungs are, the more likely they are to not go into “survival mode” and cause you to lose focus on what really matters: the music.

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!