Posts Tagged ‘Michael Gersten’

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!

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!

Woodwind Equipment Care

November 5, 2009

An athlete needs his or her body to function at the highest level in order to be successful. To make this happen they take great care to eat well, get plenty of sleep, etc. An athlete knows that if they don’t take care of their body then they won’t be able to perform at their true potential. As musicians this is something we should take to heart. If we do not take care of our instrument, whether it be a saxophone, clarinet, flute or oboe, it can cause all sorts of problems that will keep us from playing at our true potential. What is even worse is that sometimes we don’t realize these problems are due to the instrument and think we are just incapable of playing well.

Here are a few tips on how to maintain and care for your woodwind instrument:

1) Never eat food or drink pop before you play. (Pretty easy.) This can cause food or sugar to get stuck to the pads and make them sticky. Getting pads replaced can be quite expensive. If you have to play after you eat (as I have to do many times) make sure you wash out your mouth at minimum, although brushing your teeth is most ideal.

2) Always swab out your instrument. This is another really simple thing to do. When you are done playing your instrument run a swab through it. This keeps the condensation and spit that gets in your instrument while playing from eating away at the pads while it rests in your case. For wooden instruments (clarinets, oboes) it also helps protect the wood from cracking (a very pricey repair). The best swab to get is a silk one. While slightly more expensive than its cloth counterpart, it does a much better job and is much more durable (I’ve had mine for about ten years now). Every now and then you just need to rinse it off in the sink and hang it up to dry.

3) Keep your reeds in a bag. Have you ever wondered why the tip of your reed is all wavy when taken out? It happens because the reed dries out too quickly. This can happen very easily in the dry air of Boulder. By keeping your reeds in a plastic sandwich bag you can slow down how quickly they dry out. This will help reeds last longer and be more consistent. Some people will put a small piece of a damp sponge in the bag with the reeds to increase the humidity, but you have to be careful. Too much humidity, or if you leave them in the bag too long with out taking them out (shame on you for not practicing!LOL!), can cause the reeds to mold.

4) Rotate through your reeds. It means spending more now, but if you have five to ten reeds instead of one or two, and you keep switching off which one you play on, they will last a lot longer.

There are many other things you can do to help your instrument play to the best of its ability. These are just the simplest ones. For slightly more complicated care (oiling keys, etc) I suggest you have an expert, like one of the instructors at The Lesson Studio, show you how to do it properly in person. It is ideal if you are taking lessons, because the instructor can give you a hands-on lesson on proper instrument care. They would also be likely to catch any problems with your instrument. Good luck with your musical endeavors.

To contact Mike G. about woodwind maintenance or to inquire about a private lesson with Mike, please call 303-543-3777, or send an e-mail to: tls@qwestoffice.net.saxophone