Saturday, May 16, 2020

Free StayHome Exercises by Paul Edmund-Davies

Dear Flutists,

Here is a wonderful and free set of videos and sheetmusic comprised of expertly-devised flute exercises for your stay-at-home flute practicing by Paul Edmund-Davies. Enjoy!

Watch and download pdfs for Paul's Flute Exercises (free) here.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jen's philosophy about flute practice (mp3 audio)



Jen's philosophy about high skill flute practice

These past few weeks I've listened to my excellent adult flute students "practice time and how they spend it", when they recorded their flute warm-up and run-throughs of various flute pieces/etudes/excerpts and emailed them to me as mp3s.

And because of the extra time we have right now, I just sat down and audio-recorded my entire philosophy about practicing flute at the higher intermediate level (Grade 9 to 10 Royal Conservatory level) and how it differs from the old days, when the student was a novice playing in the earlier grades on flute.

These three audio clips of me speaking (un-edited, as usual, ha ha) are my flute philosophy, how and where it derives, and how to benefit from it, after 25 years of teaching and working with all kinds of intermediate to advanced flute players of all ages.

Enjoy listening to my non-editing self (hope it's okay) and do join in the conversation! I'm philosophizing from a cabin in the woods, and I'd love to hear from experienced players and teachers. Corroborate, for sure!! :>)

Here are the audio recordings of.......
Jen's philosophy (mp3s):
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Part one: An introduction to the topic of high-skill flute practice
5.8 mb mp3; 5 min audio:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/01philosophyflute.mp3

Part two: The Philosophy of practicing at the high levels (a Zen-like state)
21.2 mb mp3; 16 min audio:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/02philosophyflute.mp3

Part three: Breakthroughs!! Summary giving all tips and tricks.
19.8 mb; 15 min audio:
http://www.jennifercluff.com/03philosophyflute.mp3

Note:
The B to Shining B octave leap exercise is shown in my Longtone pdfs here.
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There is a comment button below (I read your comments before posting them here, so it takes an hour or so for them to appear.)

Enjoy, best, Jen

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Flutetalk Magazine Articles May (free)

Dear Flutists,
Flutetalk magazine has once again made this month's May 2020 issue free, and there are some interesting articles to read!
Best, Jen
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This month's Flutetalk online

All articles

such as:

How to get your flute playing back in shape after years off with no playing

Practicing; The all important first half hour

Kincaid lesson notes

Julius Baker Tone & Technique

Giving Conducting Cues in chamber music ensembles

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Thankyou to Flutetalk for generously sharing these articles!



How to convert wav to mp3 in Audacity

Dear Flutists,
A few quick articles today! Firstly, I have students sending their lessons to me attached to emails as mp3s. Today a student had trouble converting her recorded wav files into mp3s to make them small enough to work well as email attachments. For those of us who are technology challenged due to being in our 50s and 60s, here is the basic information on changing wav files to mp3s using Audacity.

How to change WAV to mp3 sound files in Audacity software.

Open Audacity program from your computer.

Open the wav file you wish to convert, from inside of Audacity: FILE -- OPEN

Once the file of sound is on your screen, simply convert to mp3 by using the menus on top left of Audacity screen:

File - Export - Export as mp3

Then name and save the new mp3 where you can find it again.

Here are the steps in pictures:



Hope this helps. More to follow on interesting flutey stuff.
Jen

Saturday, May 02, 2020

deep contemplation of a life spent fluting


Dear Flute-Lovers,
 With permission given by the authors, a reprint of a question and answer from yesterday's flutey conversations on the internet. Enjoy, Best, Jen
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Question:
Head joints, embouchure cuts, metal alloys, metal resistance, weighed crowns, hard vs. gentle blowers, etc. - and it all comes down to one, most important aspect of flute playing - S O U N D.
I’ve being playing the flute - for nearly 33 years now and still have plenty of questions like: “what’s a great flute embouchure?” or “is there a way to consistently (!) have a good sound?”
One never really stops learning. Ever.
But seriously; what is the definition of a great flute sound?
Can you learn it, or can you only push your natural abilities so far?
Does the right choice (a thesis topic in its own) of a head joint metal and embouchure cut really make a difference? Or is it all a gimmick?
Why is it seemingly impossible to completely eradicate “bad flute sound” days?
At age 40 I can never yet say that I have come close to being a master flute player.  I guess some of us will never get there...

Thank you for your input. A
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Howie (a flute teacher in his 6th-to-7th decade) answers:

Well, this is a great question, even though it's premise is wrong, I feel. Wrong, because it leads one to be unhappy and to developing unattainable desires. Ashkenazy (the pianist) said that to strive for anything in music other than
how a piece of music goes is a wrong direction.

In answer to your question more directly: let's concentrate on loving the music more deeply, loving our neighbors more fully, our partners, friends, family, world and Beauty, and you'll experience your sound becoming more expressive.

 Take part in health-supporting activities: Eating, sleeping, hugging and listening (to name a few) and your sound will become noticeably more beautiful.
Be devoutly generous and genuinely caring - care! - and your sound will reflect this, too.

Don't compromise this love
and your tone will become uncompromisingly loving.
Master flutist? Just be a loving, giving, caring, generous, healthy flutist.
This should be enough.
Love, Howie
______________end delightfully deep and light conversation

Jen adds; To wit: Here is a superb performance of the Schubert Octet (video)
These musicians are speaking from the heart of what they love about music:


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Rampal's embouchure micromovements

Jean Pierre Rampal
Dear Flutists,

This week there was a question from an intermediate flutist:
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Dear Jen,
Loved the free reprint of the Rampal interview from 1972, but am confused by his "don't move the embouchure at all" advice.
Can you help figure out what he means by that? My teacher has always told me that I have to move my lips (although very tiny movements) for large interval leaps.
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Re: Quote from the interview:

Q: "What about the difference between the lower and upper registers on the flute? Do you make any changes in the mouth?

Rampal:
 No, not in the mouth, only in the direction of the blowing, and this is not the same thing. If you change the mouth position, you lose the homogeneity of the tone. To produce a beautiful, homogeneous tone, so there is not a stop or a jump between notes, you must think always of the passage from note to note, even in rapid music.
     And you must retain the same mouth position. Otherwise you have a flutist for the low register, a flutist for the middle register, and a flutist for the high register. You have three flute players, and you must be only one — always the same."
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Above quote is from Flute Talk Magazine interview with Jean Pierre Rampal from November 1972: link to read article.
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Dear Student,
So often the professional flutist has played flute so long their motions have become unconscious, and they are only aware of it when their students are over-doing the motions. It is great advice to make the motions very very microscopic.

To wit: Here are some pretty visible micromovements of lip corners in Rampal's Faure Fantaisie: (video that is set to start at the Faure.) Watch the whole piece to see extreme leaps from low to high, and observe his lip corners.



When there are extreme register changes, high E slurred down to low C or low D for example, Rampal pulls the lip corners back to narrow the lips and retract them for low C and then, later, moves them forward again for middle and high register.

When playing scale-style passages you cannot see any lip movement for long periods of time. He indeed makes very few changes for the middle and high register at mezzo forte.

But again, when he makes an extreme register change, or extreme intensity change in dynamics, he moves his lip corners forward and back.
He has perhaps simply not observed these movements; he has done them so well for so long.

I think overall though, he's the master of not moving the embouchure unnecessarily. :>)

Take note that in the opening B-natural of the Fantaisie, he's playing mezzo-forte to mezzo-piano with a hairpin, and not attempting to begin that first note softly! He achieves the pure first B natural by air speed alone! That eliminates one embouchure change right there: trying to play softly when you start the whole piece! ah HA!!

But I hope the video, with front and side camera work, helps to see what he truly does with his embouchure when he plays. Naturally, it's challenging to put into words and be flute-embouchure-exhaustively-specific in general interviews.
Undoubtedly moving one's embouchure too much is a problem in students, and it does make it sound like there is no homogeneousness of tone between the three octaves if there are radical embouchure changes.

Jen

PS:
 Another great reprint article from Flutetalk magazine this weekL Walfrid Kujala on "shifting the beat for great technique".
 This is a truly good one! Thanks to Flutetalk for all the sharing!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Film to watch: Composed


Dear Flute-lovers,

Here is great documentary film entitled "Composed" that delves into classical musician's stage fright from all angles. Very informative and up to date. Check it out! Love the pace; relaxing soundtrack and understanding professionals.
 I have some articles about living gracefully with normal stagefright too. Enjoy!
 Best, Jen

Link: 2 hr. film

https://vimeo.com/255446788/214a9cbf60

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PS.
Talk about confidence on stage! (see violinist's video).
Watch this clip to witness what happens when a confident soloist needs to switch instruments when theirs breaks during a huge concert solo:



Now THAT is confidence and preparedness. :>)

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Teaching Flute Online in Three Ways


Dear Flute Teachers/Students,

As most music teachers are now teaching online, here are three helpful and quick resources with all details and links provided below:

1.  A fabulous Nathan Cole vimeo interview on successful online teaching of "master courses" for instrumentalists

2. Using simple mp3s attached to emails for lessons by Jen

and
3. Using Zoom Conferencing for live music teachers, and how to set the Audio controls for the flute specifically.

Here you go; everything I've learned this week:

1. Nathan Cole on Teaching Online using his Master Course in Violin (vimeo)

Behind the Scenes of the Virtuoso Master Course with Nathan Cole (Concert Master L.A. Philharmonic) April 4th, 2020 with host: Jennifer Rosenfeld (Redesigning Classical Music Careers)

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And if all you have is a recording device and email:

2. Jen's Simple Online Teaching using email and mp3s:

My own online teaching uses a recording device, and a desk top computer, where I make mp3s in Audacity to send to the student in reply to their mp3s.

I've taught seven hours to intermediate flutists this past week in this manner, and am waiting to hear my students send feedback. So far HUGE positivity all around! And I'm enjoying it because I have the time to be truly expansive and specific, because of the all the free time during Covid.

Here's what I've been doing for the past few years and what's still working really well now:

1. The student sends me 1-4 short at-home recorded mp3s with a specific passages of music or etudes/scales/longtones or a specific technical passages, attaching it to an email. They can use any home recording method that gives a basic good quality sound.

2. I listen to their mp3 and make written short-hand notes.  I plan out my response in a quick, short-hand lesson-plan so that I can introduce and follow my own pointers, and stay cohesive as I record my reply to that particular student.

   My notes then stand as a reminder for what was covered in that lesson (otherwise I'd have to re-listen to the mp3s the following week, which is time-consuming.)

3. Next, later in the day, typically,  I set up and use a recording device with good quality sound, press record to record live,check my levels (I use 64/100) and then either play short segments of the student's mp3 live in my living room over the computer speakers, using the pause button to pause it, and then talk and demonstrate on the flute, with suggestions and corrections,
or, if I know the student well, I simply record my response. If they wish to re-hear their own performance they of course have their own copy of their original performance mp3 still on their own computers or phones, to re-hear what I heard in their playing.

4. All is recorded in step 3, both with and without the student's audio coming through speakers and my new audio in the live room, so it is now a "mini-lesson".
I use a Zoom H4N digital recorder to record my response on. The H4n also has a multi-track function for four tracks for recording quartets/duets/trios/orchestral works, which is super useful where there is no pianist in house. :>)

I then transfer this audio recording to the computer via "line in" or USB and send it as an mp3 attachment back to the student. If it's a huge number of mb I use a file-share service so they can download a zipped folder at their leisure.

5. When recording, when I reach one hr. of my time (and I am SUPER fast and efficient and take very little time!), I bill for it through my Conservatory (which is still operating through E-commerce).

In a one-hr. lesson for, example, if the student sends about two to four short mp3s, and I use one hour in total to listen and respond to each one with recorded teacher's mp3s, then I bill for one hour. Any additional material will be held for the next lesson, so they can build gradually upon each other.

6. The student may also wish to work a corrected performance and send an additional mp3 as a follow up to the same hour lesson.
    I can then listen and comment on their success with my recommended improvements.

This has worked great for me. It's super easy sending Sibelius Notation scores and worksheets, saved into easily emailed pdfs too that display what I'm talking about and how to practice it.

I can send handouts as pdfs and add these to the mp3s that I send by return email, in a zipped folder with the lesson's date on it for easy storage on the student's computer. The student can move these mp3/pdf files to their practice room or tablets on a thumbdrive.

===============
3. Zoom Conferencing for Live Online Lessons:
See:  https://www.zoom.us/

Update Apr.4/20 - Zoom bomb preventative password for all users updated.

Our Conservatory Music Teachers also tried Zoom Conferencing (cloud based multi-person video conferencing platform) this week:
Here's all my new found knowledge on that experience:

How to Use Zoom Conferencing for Teaching Music: 
Jen's collection of info. See below for flute Audio specifics.

Download a FREE "Zoom" interactive group meeting platform for free (no obligation) at:

  https://www.zoom.us/

Zoom platform is cloud-based, the download is 9mb only, and it works for PC, Windows, Apple, android, iphone, cell-phone, desktop, laptop.
Quick 5 minute set-up. Very easy to use for novice computer users.
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ZOOM Quick learning guides:

All topics shown in short, friendly, easy-to-comprehend videos

Tutorials:
https://zoom.us/resources

Basics of how to start with Zoom:
https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362033-Getting-Started-on-Windows-and-Mac

Quick view document: all the basics for a teacher, all on one page
https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Education%20Guide%20-%20Getting%20Started%20on%20Zoom.pdf?zcid=1231

How to start a meeting:
https://oit.colorado.edu/tutorial/zoom-host-meeting-and-invite-participants

Host's (teacher of a class) use of controls in a meeting:
https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362603-Host-and-Co-Host-Controls-in-a-Meeting

Time limit: 40 minute time limit restriction for 3 or more people for Zoom free version, but you can just re-start a new meeting if you reach the limit, by sending a new URL to your student.
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Flute Sound Quality on Zoom: 

In general, make sure you pre-test your microphone volume levels, so that you can stand the right distance from the mic when you play, so you don't blow it out on the high register, extra-loud playing.

Improving the High Notes

Tweaking your sound on Zoom for flute high register:

The "tweak" to the audio that makes the flute's high register best on Zoom conferencing is found on the main home page startup of Zoom, where the SETTINGS gear wheel is.
You click on Settings (gear wheel in upper right corner) and then choose:
AUDIO settings from the left column.

Then choose Advanced Settings in lower right corner of Audio settings window.

Then change the settings on Background Noise Suppression from Auto, to DISABLE.

Save and continue on to your Zoom lesson or meeting. Click on this jpg to see the steps as they appear when you're inside Zoom conferencing app:

Click on jpg to enlarge and use back button to return here.

The above sound suppression disable instructions worked on PC/Windows here at home with me. If you're successful with Mac/Apple, please comment on the audio setting tweaks you used in comments below.

No Dynamics? If your dynamics all sound the same, you need to change the Automatic Volume Adjuster, under settings, under Audio as shown above. Un-check this box as shown:
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Also for safe, un-hacked meetings, see
"How to Avoid Zoom Bombing" here from a University.

Hope this helps,

Best, Jen teaching online now