Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On grading musical magnificence

Dear Fluters,
It certainly was interesting to read the new syllabus
from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. This is the new 2006 edition. The marking scheme discussed below comes from Pg. 55.
The RCM actually print their scheme for marking ARCT Performance exams and I find their performance expectations really fascinating.

From pg. 55 quote of the RCM 2006 syllabus, stating its philosophy about marking
Performers at the ARCT level (diploma in Performance):
Honours: 70% - 79%
Candidates exhibit thorough and careful preparation and demonstrate some interpretive skills. Repertoire is presented with overall command and accuracy. There is awareness and general security in technical elements.

First Class Honours: 80% - 84%
Candidates are technically solid and demonstrate sensitivity, intelligence, and talent. They are well prepared and able to execute the examination requirements thoughtfully and confidently.

First Class Honours: 85% - 89%
Candidates present a truly engaging and intelligent perfomance, displaying technical polish and finesse, definite and apt characterization, and a sense of spontaneity.

First Class Honours with Distinction: 90% - 100%
Only truly exceptional candidates achieve this category. Candidates must demonstrate complete technical command and perform with a confident, masterful style. These candidates clearly demonstrate
an authentic personal performance spark.
As teachers, we know that one can mold the education, but will only likely rarely see that "Confident masterful style with an authentic performance spark and spontenaeity" with which only a few selected students perform.

So it's not ONLY a question of training, practice, persistance and talent, it's become a question of going beyond those gifts in order to be an individual with vision, and the confidence to immerse yourself in that artistic, musical vision when you perform for an exam.

Of course the only way to do that is to completely and thouroughly prepare to perform, and then when performing to let go of all self-doubt and share your artistic vision with others.

A great performer touches the audience in a way that makes the audience forget distance and time.
We can't really teach that if the spark is not already there; we can only wait for those gifted young students to come along and then help them foster it.

Interesting trains of thought; love to hear other's comments.

Best, Jen Cluff :>)
Comments (6)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jen. Not quite on musical magnificence, however, I just had to write and say...
I have just this moment read your article about the head joint alignment (far right aligning with the middle of the keys), and I could have wept with joy. I am taking my grade 7 in May, and in last few weeks I felt like giving up entirely, as I have never managed to reach the lovely tonal quality associated with the flute. I came home from work today in tears, and decided as a last resort to check the net to see if others had similar problems, when I found your article. After doing just 30 mins tonal excersizes with the head joint in this position, I tried my exam programme again, and wow, what a difference!! I can't tell you how uttely grateful I am that you shared your experience of this problem with the world. I really can't thank you enough, and owe the rest of my flute playing life to your wonderful article.

I will still fluff the difficult passages in my exam, but at least I will fluff them with a pretty sound!!

Thanks again, from one very releived and very happy uk student!! Janet x

Friday, March 23, 2007 11:49:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Janet,
What great news! Thanks for writing and letting me know.
You're the fourth person in two weeks to write and say what a difference and improvement they had from moving the headjoint in and the body outward.
You bet! Changed MY life too.
Thanks so much for corroborating.
Best of luck with your grade 7!
Jen :>D Yay!!

Friday, March 23, 2007 11:57:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jen, your personal students are so lucky to have someone who explains things so beautifully!! I bet everything I own that my teacher will say I sound as flat as anything now, but I will just have to work on that. I would rather a flat tone for a while than a tone that sounds like my flute has just smoked 50 ciggies!! Take care, and I will be keeping an eye out for more top tips!! x

Friday, March 23, 2007 12:13:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Janet,
Thanks for thinking that my explanations make sense. Here are two tips:
1. When deciding on rolling in or out (once the flute set-up and alignment is stable) you will find that you'll sound better if you stay rolled out 1-2 mm "more than you think". This makes the sound more open and airy, and is the difference of the thickness of one or two human hairs!
2. If you sound flat in pitch, use more air velocity, and experiment with opening the hole in your lips vertically to make the lip opening 1-2 mm. taller. (if you're in the U.S. and don't know what a milimeter is, check a ruler; they're very small.)
Having a slightly rounded arch in the lip opening, by minutely lifting the upper lip in the very center, gives you your nice tone back again, often.
See my videos on embouchure flexibility for more help.


Friday, March 23, 2007 12:25:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jen, you are a star; again explained as if I could see it for myself. I am in the UK, and grew up with millimetres, so that's no problem!! I will be purchasing your videos this weekend. Janet x

Friday, March 23, 2007 12:37:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Janet!
Wow. I'm from Canada, and we USE millimeters, and I still can't darn-tiny-tootin' SPELL it properly! :>)
Nevermind, hahahhahaa!! :>)

The videos are highlighted in pink ink at this link.

With flute teaching videos you'll really "see it with your own eyes"
All the best,
Jen :>D

Friday, March 23, 2007 2:22:00 PM


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