Posts Tagged ‘Flute’

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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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!

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)