Wild confessions of a professional flutist.

Posts tagged ‘Music’


Music Is Math

Music Is Math

My flute student, Kelly Makechnie, gave herself a math manicure before a recent math team competition. The next day, she had a flute lesson. Does music make you smart, or do smart people play music?


The Bad Performance

Have you ever had a bad performance?  One in which you aren’t sure whether to keep hacking through or to stop and start over?  I find that performers often feel crushed by such an experience and then wonder if they can ever move past it.

If you know me well, you know that I have a strange and intense obsession with Cat Stevens (and not just because I was born on his 17th birthday!).  I grew up with his music and was too young to understand why he walked away from his musical career (my mom told me that he had joined a cult).  I have been enjoying his new music as Yusuf Islam and have been thrilled to learn the truth behind his career change and the beautiful life he has been living.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Cat Stevens will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.  To celebrate, I wanted to recommend a video for students and families at my music school to enjoy.  One of my favorite songs of his is Bitterblue, so I looked for a video to recommend.  Although I have seen them all a million times (seriously), I had somehow forgotten about the amazing lesson contained in one of the videos.

Follow this link to see the video – I strongly recommend that you do so with the volume cranked up.  And, while you’re at it, give yourself plenty of room for dancing (even if you pretty much just flail about like I do. . .).

This performance is perfect for all of us (performers, students, teachers, music fans, ALL OF US) to watch in its entirety.  It is a live performance, but Cat had to restart the piece because he “messed up” – twice!  We performers and students of the art form often feel like failures after a less-than-perfect performance, and as audience members we are often quick to pass judgement on a musician who has a bad day (or bad moment!).  While watching this Cat Stevens video, keep two things in mind – he never gives up (and the final try is fabulous), and he went on to be chosen for induction into THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.

Remember: a bad performance or lousy audition is not your defining moment.  Put it behind you and move on.


Super-Cool Christmas Gift!

Super-Cool Christmas Gift!

One of my students took a pottery class this fall and hand-made this bowl for me as a Christmas gift. Not only is it lovely, but she knows that I collect pottery and handmade items, so she knew I would love it. Even better is the feeling of knowing that she was thinking of me while she created this piece.

Thanks, Sara Ghika, you are awesome.


Baroque Flute Class

Baroque Flute Class

My former student, Andrea LeBlanc, did a fabulous Baroque Flute Masterclass for my current students. Now, everyone wants a Baroque flute!

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?


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. . .

Music Builds Lives

College counseling for high-end music students.

Purely Social Media

Social Media Management the Easy Way!

Hollis Easter

Wild confessions of a professional flutist.

ANTAYA FOUNDATION for Science & Technology

STEM: Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.

food on fifth

recipes from a food stylists kitchen

Indie Ashley

Musings from the mind of an independent author, druid, and mother.

Rose B. Fischer

Author. Artist. Evil Genius.

Avoiding Neverland

A teacher's reflections on preparing teens for life

The Holborn

A Well Made Life

Official Two Moors Festival Blog

Find out about the latest news from the Two Moors Festival here!

Dog Breath Photography Blog

Life is Better With a Little Dog Breath

The Neighborhood

The Story within the Story


My Experience of Music


by rita summers


Smart and surprising

Leadership Freak

Empowering Leaders 300 Words at a Time

Jason Lyon on Music

Articles, Lessons, Transcriptions, Thoughts and Rants...

%d bloggers like this: