Sunday, March 29, 2020

Musical Togetherness (Through Electrons)

Flute-lovers! :>)

Soothing music from around the world....... Wow! We can do this!
Amazed at the editing, at the togetherness, at the caring and at the soul of the musicians!

Toronto Symphony Appalachian Spring (video)

Viviana Guzman's Virtual PYO Flute Choir (video)

Take a Load Off Annie - Robbie Robertson & Friends Around the World
on the song's 50th Anniversary: (video)

Let's get through this together with more love and caring than ever before!
Enjoy the soulfulness.
 Best, Jen

Monday, March 16, 2020

Peace, Calm, & Hope

Every community needs its flute player
Dear Flute-lovers,
 In these uncertain times, it's good to know why we're here as fluteplayers.
We bring the songs of the heavens down to earth, and dance within the breath of life. It is a joyous thing to bring these sounds to our communities.

Update here in Canada:
Music buildings have been closed as have restaurants and libraries.
I'm at home, realizing the important things in life,  and thinking of phoning half the people I know.
We're still a bit stunned here in Canada, as everything closes down around the world. But we remain ever grateful for our medical teams and their devotions toward ending the pandemic.
If you want distracting:

Personally, I'm not so much as fluting but knitting! 
For flute news, scroll down.

I'm creating an entire small wardrobe in forest colours for a much loved niece (a former flutist, and now graduating in health care), and am enjoying the uninterrupted knitting, counting and planning time.

It's so lovely to work with yarns and colours and plan by making little sketches of the layers of the clothing. Sleeveless vests have matching cardigans that float over them, and cabled sweaters have matching or contrasting cowls and shawls.

I'm doing this because wool really works in so many good ways to make your clothing work functionally and well.
When I started out in the working world more than 30 years ago, I was basically wearing raggy bits, as I recall; mostly second hand clothing, and many borrowed or donated coats and sweaters. We had a saying: "Can you tell from my costume that I am from SLOBovia?
I sewed my own clothing when I moved to the westcoast and joined a Symphony and the faculty of the local University.

But then I took up knitting in my '50s, and now have a woolen wardrobe (and so do some of my flute students and family members) that looks less like Slobovian national dress, and more like this:

The wool makes a huge difference in warmth in such a damp place as the "wet coast".

My niece's choices will be for a young person who loves westcoast forest camping, and so will be in entirely new yarns for me; everything from silk to alpaca, to rough hand-spun feeling yarns that are 100% organic. Some are local, some are from distant lands, but everyone of them makes you think of hobbits. :>)

With the leftover forest-colour/silk/ yarns I'm planning on making brilliantly coloured fairisle "leftover" hats, cowls, and thick and complex socks for winter. I have months and months to do this, and enjoy finishing each piece, blocking and photographing it, and then mailing the pieces to my niece. It's all slow fashion and very exciting.
One day I'll put some photos here of the complete young-forest-wardrobe, but, it's, of course, completely un-flute-related. ha ha.
So this blogpost is only to distract us and remind us all to keep creativity effervescent!

Every now and then I get up and practice (or eat, or cook, or go for a sunny walk.)

We're "home alone", so I'm currently bopping up and playing everything from JS. Bach (the "Well Tempered Flutist" by Robert Stallman is a treasure trove) to Stravinsky. I love two music stands and and endless supply of different quality items to play.
For company, I even played along with Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony when the Vancouver Symphony did their live broadcast this past weekend (still avail. on their website.). I just set up the music stand with a copy of Flute 1 on the stand, and had a blast (you can fast forward the video to the good parts) playing the Sixth Symphony with them all. So fun! Try it; choose an A-440 recording from youtube (not one where you have to push your headjoint all the way in; that way lies sharp futures.)

But then back to planning the young person's "forest coloured" wardrobe and putting on another dozen rounds (circular knitting, what else?)
Most engaging.

I dearly hope everyone out there is well and staying calm and engaged in their projects. Comments welcome.
(Knitting is ALOT like music making; but this is likely the only knitting post I'll ever post here, actually. Good to take your mind off things, though.....)

Peace, calm and hope to all of us,

P.S. Sister Mary Anna in the comments wished to know what exactly is hanging over the flute player's shoulder. I've found the painting, and lightened it and done an enhancement. It looks like a hunting horn with a complicated set of tassels slung over his shoulder. Take a look here. :>)

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Do you really need a conductor?

Dear Flutists,

Just a quick note to tell you how smart and interesting this podcast episode is:

Do You Really Need a Conductor? Episode of the Stand Partners for Life audio podcast.

High quality honesty about playing in an orchestra.
Excellent! Love this show!

Best, Jen

Video of my orchestral experiences shown below: (video)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tchaikovsky opus 45 fast fingerings

Talented composer who did not play high register flute fingerings himself.

Dear Jen,
Are you able to give me an idea for alternative fingering for this really fast section in Capriccio Italien, Flute 1, Opus 45 by Tchaikovsky?
I'm not going to be able to do it with normal fingering at the speed required...or should I persist practicing?

Answer: I would definitely try out these fingerings here before you give up practicing. You must keep your RH pinky on the Eb key to make the high A sound, so make sure you're doing that. And the fingering you'll want to perfect will be the real fingering from high A to high B. But most others can be overblown from the lower fingering as shown here:

click to enlarge jpg

I have a question. If you give up due to fast tempo, how many other flutists will be covering the part? It sounds pretty prominent in the video:

(this video is set to start at the fast fingering section at the end of opus 45.)

Let me know what you discover. You definitely want to keep fingers low, curved and close to the keys. There is no true substitute fingering for high A and B except those used in Prokofiev Classical (Baxtresser fingerings given here.)

Best, Jen

Monday, January 20, 2020

Jolene Harju Madewell's videos on practicing

Flutist Jolene Harju Madewell's Blog/Youtube Videos

This young teacher  Jolene Harju Madewell is very interesting. She's upbeat, positive, inspiring, insightful and organized, and she's provided a page full of practice videos for free.

Specifically, her videos on focused practicing (not spending ALL your time on tone, and sacrificing all other areas, ha ha; I've done that!), and practicing in 25 minute segments that have GOALS for each one, and then are followed by resting, were super interesting to me (and my adult students will love this I'm hoping too)!
And her explanation of keeping a practice journal that uses shorthand is great too.  All her ideas are "kitchen tested" and super cool.

I really thought it was amazingly perspicacious that Jolene filmed her own practice session(s), and then analysed what she'd done, and narrated a "director's cut" observing herself and sharing what she observed. (first video below). Genius.
Full Fundamentals Routine (video)


We should ALL record films of our practicing! Absolutely.

Imagine the HOURS we'd save if we stopped all our time-wastey,
 air-dreamy, gargoyle exhausty, leany-overy and useless noodley pound-headedness of our practice, (you know.... the way we practice now), and instead observe from a camera's distance just what it is we are really doing for ten-thousand-hours, and change it to make it work for us instead.
Wowza. Think posture-observation. Just that alone!

The mind startles at the perspiciousity-factor. :>)

Enjoy these videos. GREAT teaching.

Getting Back Into Shape (video)

Practice Journal & Perfectionism: (video)

Jolene mentions: Blackburn's whole Zen Yoga Warmup pages which I've mentioned before for the "Magic Carpet" overblowing harmonics exercise on one of the later pages.
And show notes such as this one for warmups, for each video, are at her blog

Comments welcome.

 There's a comment button below that is set for me to read it first before it appears here, so slight delay to see it. :>)

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Demarre McGill - The Energy!

Demarre McGill, Principal Flute, Seattle Symphony
Dear Flute Lovers,

I've just been listening to some great interviews, masterclass teaching and performances by Flutist Demarre McGill. What incredible energy! This wonderful musician teaches 21 students in two days after a red-eye flight and five full days at the Seattle Symphony in a week! What a dedicated musician! (I never could have done this even at 35!)  Enjoy these interviews and classes. Comments welcome.
Best, Jen

"Mind Over Finger" - an interview with Demarre McGill (audio podcast)
The second half of this podcast features Demarre's flute practicing advice. This is totally worth listening to!


Griffes Poem performed by McGill (video)

McGill teaching Brahms solo: (video)

Teaching Nielsen Concerto: (video)


 Flute Unscripted Audio Interview with McGill (video/sound only)


Monday, December 30, 2019

How to sound like_____ (famous composer)

Dear Flute-lovers,

For those who wished they could go back and get a Phd in classical music, but you just don't have the time, here's the best possible thing: the teaching videos of Nahre Sol  . This artist is a brilliant composer and pianist and has made a series of ongoing videos that explain everything she's learned from Bach to Flamenco. What a gifted teacher and wonderful communicator!
Love these films!
And they all are applicable to flute (even the arpeggio "how to practice" videos!)

Full playlist of classical composers (how to sound like....) by Nahre Sol.

Specific composer sampling: I enjoyed these ones:

Beethoven How to Sound Like (video)

Chopin  How to Sound Like (video)

Debussy  How to Sound Like (video)

Styles & Rhythms: 

Flamenco (video)

This is WAY more fun and goes into much more detail than any course I took at University!
How about you? Comments welcome.
Best, Jen