Wild confessions of a professional flutist.

Archive for August, 2013

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“I love it so much. . .

“I love it so much, I can’t even take it!!!” – flute student, Cassandra Soffron

This quote was Cassandra’s response when I asked her how she liked the piece she was getting ready to perform, Ernest Bloch’s Suite Modale.  She had just had her first rehearsal with the accompanist and was pretty excited about the piece.  (I knew it was the right piece for her – and her performance was lovely!)

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My Top Students

My Top Students

My top students performed major flute repertoire in my annual Honors Recital last week. I was very proud of all of them. (And, no, I did not choose this group based on their gorgeousness!)

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“It’s really fun…

“It’s really fun to play when you know you are getting so much better!” – flute student, Kiersten Flodman

She just blurted this one out in the middle of a flute lesson. . .

We Just Want to Have Fun

Parents often seek me out to teach their child how to play the flute, but then give me some version of this caveat:

We want him to study with you because you come highly recommended and your students do really well. However, we don’t want serious lessons. We just want our child to have fun.

I used to try to be diplomatic, but now I give them a speech similar to this. . .

First of all, it is not fun to play badly. And, there is no need to take lessons, if playing badly is your goal. That can be done on your own.

I think it is fun to work hard and then be really good at something.

I think it’s fun to strive for excellence and reach it.

I think it’s fun to be among the best and to be known for doing great things.

I think it’s fun to win stuff.

I think it’s fun to walk on stage and know that I can nail a piece of music I thought I would never be able to play.

I think it’s fun to get a standing ovation – or any applause, for that matter.

I think it’s fun to have self-confidence and to know that I have the skills to overcome any obstacle.

I think it’s fun to play with high-level musicians and to be thrilled with the results.

I think it’s fun to know how to set goals and reach them.

If you would like your child to have my kind of fun, I will be happy to get started. If you are asking me to compromise my principles and not provide the very best for your child, then I am not the teacher for you.

They always sign up. Would you?

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“Smile and nod….

“Smile and nod. Maybe she’ll go away.” – flute student, Madison Butler

This was Madison’s response to my very earnest, upbeat, and somewhat lengthy pep talk during a flute lesson.  She even smiled and nodded while she said it. . .

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I have such an …

“I have such an eclectic mix of music on my iphone, it just went from Mozart to The Who.”  – flute student, Drew Hinckley

Practice My Way

“Practicing YOUR way takes too long.”

Most of my students know better than to make this statement during a flute lesson, but it has been blurted out with some regularity over recent weeks.

I find it interesting to note that the students who make this assertion are typically those who can’t play their assignment.  The one-week assignment turns into two, then four, then five or six.  “It’s HARD,” is the most common explanation.  Or, “I just can’t get it!”

Well, allow me to prove you wrong.

So, we isolate one “impossible” measure, put the metronome on super-slo-mo (perhaps even – gasp! – a subdivision speed), then figure out the notes and rhythms.  Once SLOW works, we go one notch faster, then another notch faster, then maybe two notches faster, and faster, and faster.  We usually get the speed up pretty darned fast before the passage starts to feel tricky.

“Aha!”  I say.  “Three minutes ago you couldn’t play it at quarter note equals 50.  Now you’ve gotten that measure up to 126!”

“But, your way takes SO LONG.”  (Said with just the right amount of pathetic whine.)

That’s when I point out that THEIR way has taken five weeks thus far, and they are not yet able to play the assignment.  After three minutes of doing it MY way, one tricky measure is now amazing and fast.

Which is longer – five (ineffective) weeks, or three minutes?  The eye-rolling is all the response I need. . .

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