Monday, June 18, 2018

Free Rabboni Sonata by Paul Edmund-Davies

Dear Flute Lovers,

Paul Edmund-Davies is kindly offering us a glass of bubbley!
Help yourself to free sheetmusic, backing track and videos of Rabboni's Sonata no. 16 at:

In his newsletter, Paul writes:

This bubbling allegro is perfect for this time of year. It is full of colour, sweeping melodic lines and just to keep you on your toes, plenty of flowing semi-quaver (16th note) passages, where nimble fingers and concentration are most definitely required.

In an opera, perhaps by Donizetti, I can imagine this being sung by a soprano, who has just heard some very good news and has decided to let everyone know her good fortune, whilst at the same time, very enthusiastically opening a bottle of pink champagne and handing out sparkling glasses, full to the brim of joyous effervescence, to those assembled!

If you get no kick from champagne, then you might imagine on a hot summer day, the soothing chill experienced on slowly imbibing a well iced elderflower cordial!

This Sonata most definitely smiles and even ends with a gentle chuckle!

As I have mentioned before, these Sonatas are really a combination of slow and fast sonority exercises, coming from the golden era of opera in Italy. All 42 (25 to 36 are currently in the pipeline) are hugely demanding, the slower ones focusing on the ability to sustain a melodic line and the more up tempo melodies giving us a serious finger/technical workout. However, throughout, the melodic line is king and it is up to us to ‘sculpt’ something out of the framework provided.

They are challenging, hugely enjoyable and even on occasions irritatingly awkward!

I hope this one brings you great happiness too!

Best wishes, Paul

PS For those of you who might prefer to own the publication of Rabboni Sonatas No. 13 – 24 (flute part and piano score), it is available to purchase at the following address:

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunny weather!
Comments welcome,

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Nine Minutes that Changed the World - Debussy

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Dear Flute-lovers,

Nine Minutes that Changed the World a podcast on CBC online radio (may be only avail. in Canada, but give the link a try) well worth hearing:

Lots of discussion of "Where did Debussy's ideas come from?", "Is he quoting Tchaikovsky?" plus birth of Expressionism, the use of colour in the new language of Debussy's chords, and all sorts of interesting tidbits about Debussy's ideas, life and thinking.

Fabulous listening. Hope you all can hear it in other countries besides Canada!
Best, Jen

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Flutist Parents - Podcast

Two flutists raise a violinist - Podcast
A good Sunday listen: podcast episode with childhood/parent strories about raising musicians.
Two flutists raise a violinist. Family stories. Fun to hear.
Listen at Nathan Cole's Violin podcast.

Additional interesting-to-flutists episodes here.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Spring in your step?

Emmanuel Pahud plays Khachaturian Concerto (video)
Watch his passionate dancin' feet. :>)

Flute questions and comments welcome. :>)
It's very green and raining here today!
Happy spring everybody!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Ibert Concerto Tremelo Fingerings by Herszbaum

Dear Flute Lovers,

Nestor Herszbaum has generously offered a free pdf with the fingerings for the Ibert Concerto Tremelos! What a lovely gift to everyone in the flute world all at once! I wish everyone were this kind and generous! Help yourself at his download page:

Ibert Fingerings for Tremelos pdf.

Best, Jen

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Flutist Paul Dunkel interview

Dear Flute lovers,
A no-holds-barred interview with flutist Paul Dunkel (who passed away in Jan 2018). I watched the whole thing, fascinated! Many people talk about studying with Kincaid, Julius Baker, and Sam Baron, but hearing intricate details from someone who studied with all three, is super interesting. (video)

Note: Dunkel mentions the Maquarre Daily Exercises as a personal favourite. They are melodious!

Listen to Paul Dunkel play Debussy: (video)

Can anyone guess which flute was used for the Debussy? I hear Powell. Best guess; as I once played a Powell headjoint for two years. Use the comment button if you want to chime in on this, or any of these recordings. Some of the below are fairly rough, and some astoundingly not what you expect. I guess that's the randomness of youtube's flute fans and their LP collections; thank heavens they share them, though!

Listen to historic flute teachers mentioned in the interview:

William Kincaid (audio from youtube)

Samuel Baron (audio from youtube)

Julius Baker (audio from youtube)

Tom Nyfenger (audio from youtube)

Joseph Mariano (audio from youtube)

Paul's favourite 21st century symphony player:
 Elizabeth Rowe of Boston Symphony - listen to her play Mozart Flute & Harp (excerpt)
Boston Symphony Facebook Video

Finger Exercises; my take on "Finger Twisters":

 I personally don't play "finger twisters" because I have an injured left arm. If any of my students want to see what they look like, I have pages of them, collected from over the years. But I'd like to share my caution that if you tend to be tense in the arms at this point in your playing, then these types of "twisters" may not be great for you. It all depends on what stage of playing you are at.

  If you can already play the Maquarre Daily Exercises smoothly with low, curved fingers, and no key noise, and gentle relaxed arms,  and you do not have the habit of  adding arm and hand/shoulder tension when you play difficult sequences, then sure; check out some "finger twisters" but with care.

In general, the secret of accurate and fast flute fingers is to release excess tension, with every gentle repetition, and to become more and more released in every muscle group, as you discover the best ergonomics of motion. This can often mean actually putting the flute on your shoulder and boldly looking at your fingers to find out which finger is doing what. Which are moving in tandem together? Which are moving in opposite directions? (teeter totter).
When you look at them are they low and curved? Are you building a new sense of ease as you co-ordinate the up-down combinations?

For novices and intermediates, I prefer "birdcalls" of two and three notes taken from the etude or piece, with varying rhythms and freedom to change the rhythm, to finger "drills". With only two notes, I am much more likely to discover which finger is "holding" too hard and learn to let go easily when I am releasing all expectations and improvising throughout the birdcalls or through short-long and long-short and triplet rhythms. So do start there if you're interested.

Meanwhile the above Dunkel interview is about the New York Symphony scene and the super-humanly HIGH LEVEL of flute playing, where you can expect to be asked to sight-read Ballet, Opera or New Music finger twisters for two to four hours without making a mistake, (if, for example you receive a last minute gig substituting in a concert you have never rehearsed, or for which there is only one rehearsal and the music is hugely complex). For that level of super human flute playing, you need to pre-train by pouring through books of all kinds of finger twisters so that no combination of notes ever sounds more difficult than any other combination of notes. Some of those books are by Moyse and have names like: 480 Scales and Arpeggios.
Just thought I'd clarify all this. Comments welcome. :>)

Jen :>)

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Slowing the tempo of accompaniment tracks

Dear Flute-Lovers,
 Recently I've been slowing down accompaniment CD tracks for my flute students, so that they don't have to take such blistering prestos and allegros until they're comfortable doing so.
I promised them that I'd write a blog post showing them how I change the tempo using a free program called Audacity, and in the way that a dinosaur born in the 1960s does it (that would be me! ) :>)

Click on the comment button at the end of this post if you can help bring us all into the 21st century, for example, if you know of apps/free programs that will also slow down tempo on an mp3. Thanks. (BURP!*** ooops, sorry....Ate a pterodactyl egg and it didn't go down right.)

Note to the wise:
Plucked Accompaniment works best:
The sound quality of the new slower tempo backing track will be pretty excellent providing the recording is originally a plucked instrument: a guitar, a harp or a harpsichord (sometimes piano) only.
Any other instruments, full orchestra, string quartet, flutes, or any other wind/brass/string with vibrato simply sounds too weird when slowed down. Stick with the plucked instruments. Trust me.

Here's my method:

1. Download Audacity (free recording manipulating program for Mac or Windows)

2. Download the "Lame Encoder plug in" (only separate because of copyright) that you will need in order to make mp3s which take up less file space than .wav files, and are sendable as attachments.

Here is the information from Audacity on the Lame Encoder along with the download if you need to read about it.

Important note: This whole Lame thing only takes a minute, and you only have to do it once and it is a safe thing to download, like Audacity. You will find it useful if remember which folder you saved the Lame Encoder plug-in into, so that later, when you're inside Audacity, about to save a file as an mp3, you know where to look when Audacity asks you: "Where did you put the Lame Encoder?". You will remember, you will point to it with your mouse, and you will never have to deal with it ever again; c'est fini!

Otherwise if you're thinking "who knows where the Lame goes?" find it here once you've downloaded it:
Default location for Lame  in Windows is c:\program files\LAME For Audacity\
For MAC OS the plugin is found in /usr/local/lib/audacity/

More Lame encoder info; You use it to change a sound file from wav to mp3

And finally to change tempo of any sound file, here's how: Video

3. How to change the tempo using Audacity. (super easy)

I used the above method for several Music-Minus-One and Paul Edmund-Davies playalong Bach Sonatas (books 1-2-3) and Audacity is a fantastic tool.

You can burn a whole new CD of your backing tracks saved as mp3s, with all your own tempos for the fast movements to perform with for "at home" concerts with CD.
There are Tango Flute and Guitar MMO books/cds, as well as piano accomp CDs that work this way.

And, once you're using Audacity, if you ever need to change the pitch of any kind of a recording (to make it A-440 so you can play right over top of the recording) see my previous post: Altering the pitch of a flute playalong.

Enjoy your newly fashioned backing tracks and please do comment with other free/easy MODERN methods of slowing tempo that work for more tech-savvy dudes, among whom I do not often number. :>)

Best, Jen

NEW  Classical behind-the-scenes audio podcast:

I've been listening to a great new classical music podcast:
Stand Partners for Life.

These two violinists are members of the LA Phil.
I particularly enjoyed these two episodes:

Audition Advice for my younger self (listen to audio)

What we love and loathe about young conductors (listen to audio)