Flute – Fluting Stars Book 1 and Fluting Stars Book 2 by Ana Kavcic and Blaž Pucihar

Flute

Flute – Fluting Stars Book 1 and Fluting Stars Book 2 by Ana Kavcic and Blaž Pucihar


Flute – Fluting Stars Book 1 and Fluting Stars Book 2 by Ana Kavcic and Blaž Pucihar

by Ana Kavcic and Blaž Pucihar

Flute – This is the top end of the market price wise, so what do you get for your money? A first rate composer in Blaz Puciher for a start and most of the material is original. You are also paying for very high quality books that are beautifully produced in full colour. The illustrations are sumptuous and any young player will surely love looking at them! The scope in terms of notes covered is wider although progress is made via musical complexity in Book 2,  the third octave being left for another day. Piano accompaniments to all the tunes are available as a download.

Clear and Attractive Diagrams

This book is also aimed at the younger pupil so curved head flutes take their place alongside the straight head ones. The drawings and photos are really clear, making assembling and blowing very easy to follow. Breathing and embouchure set-up are covered in detail and here the colourful illustrations really help lift this information off the page. The extensive headjoint section in this book includes the use of the Pnuemo Pro blowing device which is interesting if you haven’t seen it in action before – again there are some lovely photos. Tone quality is right at the heart of the first section of Book 1. A radical departure from the norm is the introduction of singing and playing, single, double and triple tonging, and vibrato before the use of the whole flute. Now that really is interesting! Another unique feature is the initial lack of notation. The first note learned is middle register D followed by low and middle G, A and B. This is done together with a box for naming objects starting with those letters. It is only then that ‘How do we write music?’ is broached.

Kep Leaps

The rest of the books are laid out in Key Leap sections:

Key Leap score sample

 

Each of these introduces new notes, and contains a variety of other items such as theory, finger fitness exercises, dance forms and chamber music. These sections are also supplemented by:

  • The Fluting Star Magazine for more music theory
  • Treasure Chest of Sparkly Tones for tone development
  • Ear Detective for aural awareness,
  • Notes in a Minute and Finger Fitness for technique
  • Cherry on Top which sets a new challeng
  • Stellar Student which uses puzzles to master the theory

This is really quite comprehensive! The format of the second book is the same except that there are more notes and fewer illustrations.

These are impressive books written by committed educationalists who have a great deal of experience of the flute and a wealth of knowledge of teaching. It’s an investment purchase  but they really are quite beautiful!

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Flute – Get Set! Flute by Hattie Jolly and Ali Steynor

Flute

Flute – Get Set! Flute by Hattie Jolly and Ali Steynor


Flute – Get Set! Flute by Hattie Jolly and Ali Steynor

by Hattie Jolly and Ali Steynor

Flute – This is the most modest of the three books but the only one to include a backing tracks CD with printable piano accompaniments. It’s marketed as suitable preparation for the Prep Test and pre-Grade 1 so it’s great to see a curved head flute included in the opening photos. There are some lovely illustrations throughout and the book is quite colourful generally.  Picture signs signal Listen up! games, Rhythm Time activities and Find, Say and Play games which are designed to help accomplish various tricky tasks such as the difference between B natural and B flat, or memorising a simple piece.

Starts Simply

The first things the beginner meets in this book are pulse and breathing, before it moves on to some quite extensive work for headjoint only. There is nothing ground-breaking here but everything is explained clearly with an emphasis on rhythm skills, listening skills and tonguing. Basic theory is covered also using the headjoint, so that blowing and reading are already in place before the topics of putting the flute together, holding and cleaning the flute, and posture and balance are introduced. There are more clear instructions here and even parents will be able to see whether or not these elements are being put into practice!

Colour-Coded

Notes are introduced using diagrams, with different colours used for each hand – blue for the left and red for the right.  The material used is almost all original and extremely well written, and each skill or musical point covered is logically laid out.  There are plenty of written activities too and these will deliver theory by the back door. Inevitably the pages appear busier as the music becomes more complex but as the range reached at the end is only one octave from low to middle D this is not too much of a problem.

Supporting Book

Supplementary repertoire is available in Get Set! Flute Pieces Book 1 which has a printed piano accompaniment and another backing track CD. Although not directly linked to the tutor, running both together will provide a really thorough work-out!

Overall these are lovely books for enthusiastic little ones and it won’t break the bank!

 

Get Set Flute! Sample Page

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Flute – FLUTE TUTOR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS 2017

Flute

Flute – FLUTE TUTOR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS 2017


Flute – FLUTE TUTOR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS 2017

Flute – The Flute Tutor market is crowded and often bewildering. There is almost too much choice, with different approaches, starting notes, rates of progress, type of repertoire and even the basic quality of the publication all jostling for our attention. Here are three lovely books which are aimed at the younger end of the market, and all are written by flute players. They may just help!

This is brand new to the market.  It is written by two experts who are passionate about the whole flute teaching process and it really shows.  At its heart is a clear desire to encourage and nurture young players, keeping the development of a good musician to the fore throughout. They are astute enough to price it well too, so it’s excellent value for money.

This book has several major advantages. Firstly the layout is relatively simple and uncluttered with no gimmicks. The black and white illustrations are usually pertinent, and if they are decorative they add to the page rather than detract from it. There are no photos to illustrate  posture – that is left to the discretion of the teacher.

Secondly, progress is steady. Each chapter introduces a single note and each tune or exercise has a clear purpose. Some pieces use practice bars to help with the learning, and encouraging downward scales at such an early stage is extremely useful. Playing from memory, experimenting with articulation with evaluation of the results, improvisation and  basic writing skills will all stretch the imagination of a young player and make the learning process much more varied. The anticipated grade at the end of the book is Grade 1.

Thirdly, and most importantly, rhythm,  making a good sound and aural awareness are given a very high priority throughout, ensuring that the core aim of musical development never gets lost. This makes total sense but is quite often missing in the dash for learning ever more notes faster.

A further plus is that this book is designed for both individual and group tuition. This is supported by the excellent Flute Perfect Teacher’s Book which is  a great resource for all of us but is especially useful for new teachers and those for whom the flute is not their main instrument. It’s multi-tasking with comprehensive teaching notes, ensemble parts and piano accompaniments all included. There are tips and suggestions to help with each  chapter including group activities such as warm-ups and improvisation. These are clearly outlined and can give a welcome structure to a lesson as well as providing material that can be used elsewhere. As the main focus here is on learning through ensemble playing  it’s really helpful that the arrangements are flexible and that all the parts can all be photocopied. Piano accompaniments are included too and can also be purchased separately.

At the very least you will find these books a useful addition to your teaching bag and they may end up as the only tutors in it!

Flute Perfect by Doris da Costa and Anastasia Arnold

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Flute – Flute Lesson: Four Keys to Effective Long Tones

Flute – Flute Lesson: Four Keys to Effective Long Tones


Flute – Flute Lesson: Four Keys to Effective Long Tones

Long tones are a vital part of not only learning how to play the flute, but playing at a high level. The tone you produce is the essence of everything you do as a flute player. Because of this, long tones should be the primary activity for your daily flute practice.

Flute

Even Juilliard Instructor and Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Flute, Jeffrey Khaner starts each practice day with long tones. “I may have had a wonderful concert last night. Played great. Really enjoyed myself,” says Khaner. “But the next morning, it’s a whole new day. After having slept the night, I am simply not where I was the night before and I have to work back up to it.”

So how long should a long tone exercise be? As long as you can make it! In reality a long tone exercise should be long enough to be challenging for your breath capacity (which will expand over time). As for breathing, you want to breath as low as possible and fill in as much air as you can.

In addition to breathing, you should focus on controlling the air so the tone is the same from the beginning to the end of the exercise. No diminuendos, accents or swells.

The third aspect of a long tone exercise is support for your breathing to produce the different octaves of the same note. The goal is that every octave should be equally obtainable. There should be no octave that is “harder” to hit than another.

Finally, your best friend in this long tone exercise is the metronome. The metronome is an objective post against which we can measure yourself and determine whether you are improving. This is the whole point! You need to feel good that you are progressing, otherwise your long tone exercises won’t be fulfilling and you won’t be motivated to continue to use them as the bedrock of your practice.

So do those long tone exercises regularly just like Jeffrey Khaner. Focus on breath capacity, control and support, and above all, use your metronome to measure your progress.

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Flute – Essential daily flute lessons: Whistle tones and long tones

Flute – Essential daily flute lessons: Whistle tones and long tones


Flute – Essential daily flute lessons: Whistle tones and long tones

Flute – Every player wants to have complete control over their sound and master the ability to make small adjustments and get a big effect. A well-trained flute embouchure is at the core of this mastery, but breath control also plays a vital role. All lessons should begin with exercises that strengthen these foundational skills on which to build.

Although “whistle tones” seem like a bit of a parlor trick, students of any skill level can use these to good effect when they learn to play the instrument. When I was sitting in the hallway outside the door of my flute teacher at Penn State, I would practice my whistle tones to warm up my embouchure.  

The sound is very hard to control and by practicing them before my flute lessons, I was able to make fine adjustments and gain new muscle memory with these subtle changes.

A whistle tone is made by fingering a note, but not sounding that note fully. You blow a very small, delicately focused stream of air on the outer edge of the sound hole so that a slight whistle sound is made. 

First, simply try to sustain that note without waiver or running out of air. Once you’re able to do that easily and with many different fingerings, move on to harmonics. Now try to adjust your flute embouchure to smoothly move from the first root note up to the next harmonic that will sound. Try to sustain that note, then adjust to the next highest note, back down to the second note, then down to the root note.

Jeffrey Khaner teaches “long tones” as part daily exercises for the flute. These four note chromatic scale phrases are repeated and played double forte at 80 bpm with a full rich sound and cover the entire range of the instrument. Each note is to sound the same as the prior and subsequent note in all octaves and all eight notes should be played in one breath with full measured vibrato. 

The goal is to achieve a consistent full and rich tone by making embouchure adjustments with each note and completing the exercise in one breath. Each practice session and lesson should include a run through long tones.

Lessons for all skill levels can begin with an assessment of the flutist’s ability to properly play whistle tones and long tones. Consistent improvement with both exercises will help students have more control and mastery over their sound. 

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Flute – Flute Solo Advice from Jeffrey Khaner

Flute – Flute Solo Advice from Jeffrey Khaner


Flute – Flute Solo Advice from Jeffrey Khaner

Flute – The big flute solo from Beethoven’s 3rd Leonore Overture is almost always on orchestra auditions. The opening may not be, but when played, it requires good intonation on the high notes. It is very important to display perfect rhythmic discipline and metronomic control of tempo. Be sure to practice it very carefully with your metronome at every tempo, from much too slow to much too fast.

While doing this, try to memorize how it feels different at each new tempo – what you have to do ever so slightly differently in order to be perfect when the metronome has been moved only 1 notch. When you have done this, you will be able to play comfortably at any speed and accommodate any request for a tempo change at a flute audition.

Flute

Notice the dynamic of this flute solo. It should all be piano. The character of the solo is excited, even agitated – whispering! There is a heroic tone to the overture, but it is the trumpet that portrays it, not the flute! Playing it this way makes the notorious ‘sneaked’ breath right before the last group of eighth notes unnecessary.

In fact, you’ll find that getting a good breath way back before the high A, and then just a little breath before the G octave will take you easily to the end of the pianissimo D. Practice holding the D as long as you can (with your metronome) and see how many bars extra you can add. 12 or 16 bars of the D will soon seem easy.

Remember, the pp under the long D indicates just that you are no longer the solo and must “disappear”. It is not a subito dynamic change from forte to pianissimo.

Always consider carefully the character of the orchestral excerpts you play. The dynamic markings will give you clues to this and trying to really bring out the correct character will reinforce the correct dynamics.

For further guidance on flute audition solo pieces, orchestral excerpts and more information about online flute lessons with Jeffrey Khaner through Video Exchange™ go to www.jeffreykhanerflute.com.

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Flute – Mastery Through Flute Scales

Flute – Mastery Through Flute Scales


Flute – Mastery Through Flute Scales

Flute – How can you find out for yourself where  the imperfections are in your playing – the details that keep you from being the best player?  If you’re repeatedly playing the same mistakes, more practice time won’t help much.  Using scales to your advantage however will help you tremendously. 

Scales are the first thing beginning students are taught when learning flute because they serve as a tool for learning all the notes on the instrument.  But when used instructively, scales can also reveal the nuances and subtleties of playing that distinguish an outstanding player from a mediocre one.  

Advanced students labor over their sound when playing scales.  Scales are not seen as merely a warm-up exercise, they are a time to fine tune and carefully listen to your sound.  As speed is increased when playing scales, slight mistakes in intonation or dexterity can get blurred or overlooked.  By using scales as a tool, players can break down the very foundation of their playing and expose subtle imperfections that they may not have noticed before.  Achieving a high degree of technical skill requires a discerning ear and disciplined self-awareness, and practicing scales are an excellent way to achieve this. 

Any serious practice regimen should include rigorous work on scales for building strong technique. Students should practice all major and minor scales at the same dynamic and the same articulation.  Sharp keys can be played on even numbered days, flatted keys on odd days. Scales should be played both staccato and legato with the goal of 104 BPM for advanced players. 

Beginner and intermediate students should start their flute scale work at a pace where each note is played in tune and with the proper dynamic and articulation.  Only after each element is perfected should speed be increased. 

Listen carefully to the tonal homogeneity throughout the entire flute scale.  For instance, the sound of a low G should have the same timbre and sound quality as middle D.  The distance between each note should be seamless. The same dynamic should be played throughout the flute scales without any diminuendo at the end or when running out of breath.  Even when playing scales, flutists should play musically and with attention to phrasing.  For those more inspired students, flute scales can be approached with different styles in mind: vivace, animato, brillante.  Lastly, five-tone flute scale patterns like “quitachords” can be played the full range of the instrument to improve breath control and to build a full rich tone.

Highly accomplished musicians inherently understand the need for mastering the basic fundamental skills of playing an instrument.  Flute scales are no exception – they are fundamental and the building blocks for mastery. No matter the level of player you are, playing scales will reveal the imperfections and bad habits that prevent us from progressing. 

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Flute – Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden – Part 2

Flute

Flute – Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden – Part 2


Flute – Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden – Part 2

BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN

Flute – Making his own way Galway had the second-best job in his world 40 years ago: principal flutist at the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan. He quit to take the best job, striking out on his own.

I wanted progress,” he says. “Doing the same thing over and over is no progression. Swimming in uncharted waters breeds progression. I knew I could match my Berlin Philharmonic salary by freelancing, so I didn’t second-guess it at all. I told Karajan a year before I left that I was going.”

Reports say the maestro was irritated at a defection from the world’s most famous orchestra. Galway refutes that: “He said, ‘If you don’t try, you’ll never know if you could do it or not.’”

He was married at the time to Annie Renggli, and he moved to her native Switzerland. (He also recorded a hit instrumental version of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” for her.) After they divorced, he moved near Lucerne with Jeanne, whom he married in 1984. They often play joint concerts now.

I think I’ve changed her playing,” he says. “I think my wife sounds like me, and very few flute players sound like me. You get that by listening every day.

My teacher at the Royal College of Music gave me a recording of (French flutist) Marcel Moyse playing a Hungarian Fantasy by Doppler. I used to listen several times a day, and I would try to play the piece the way he did. People said, ‘Jimmy, you sound like Moyse!’ I thought, ‘That’s better than sounding like a no-goer.’

Then one day, I studied with Moyse. He told me he tried every day of his life to sound like HIS teacher.”

A life of instruction

Galway now teaches one-on-one, in master classes or through his online First Flute course. He gives people rules so those can be mastered, then set aside.

A copy of me is better than no copy at all,” he says, laughing. “A copy of me will one day bloom like a flower into something that’s not a copy of me. …

But there’s nothing worse than playing music following rules. Baroque (traditionalists) have a lot of rules by which they must abide, and it suits a lot of instrumentalists down to the ground. They don’t have any freedom in their playing anyway, so they’d like to be put in a structure.”

Galway doesn’t. At 75, after a lifetime of playing, musicology, the creation of international flute festivals (including one in Athens, Ga., this May) and even a bit of conducting – which he says doesn’t entice him – he looks ahead.

There are quite a few things I’d like to do. I would like to record Handel’s flute sonatas, but I don’t know of a record company that would sell them. Just making a record for yourself is like having a visiting card printed and handing it out.

There’s another thing: the works of Carolan, the blind Irish harp player. That would require a tremendous amount of digging and arranging. So maybe I’d just rather sit around, play chess and smoke Havana cigars.”

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Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden

Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden


Sir James Galway: He’s now silvery, but the flute’s golden

BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN

Flute – Jimmy Galway’s father played the instrument. So did his grandfather. His uncle Julius made money playing one at Belfast’s Grand Opera House. Protestant bands marched past his home in Northern Ireland after World War II, projecting their bold anthems.

So he took up the fiddle.

A lady on our street gave me a violin that was suffering from a great infestation of woodworm,” he recalls. “Gradually, the woodworm won the race, and I gave up the violin. My uncle gave me my first lessons on the flute, and I never stopped.”

Nearly 70 years later, he’s the best-known – many people would still say the best – flutist on the planet. (He also plays penny-whistle, which he first tootled at 2.)

Sir James (who was knighted in 2001) once worked on a repertoire as wide and deep as the Irish bay that shares his name: classics written or adapted for flute, Celtic music, adaptations of pop songs, international tunes, film scores. (He did the solos on the Oscar-winning soundtrack to “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”)

Nowadays, he focuses on pieces such as Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2, which he once called his favorite concerto for that instrument. That’s his solo spot in Tuesday’s gala concert with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra; afterward, he and Lady Jeanne Galway, his wife and a virtuoso herself, will play Domenico Cimarosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major.

When Mozart went to England (in the late 18th century), one person in 10 played the flute,” Galway says. “It was so popular that Mozart’s publisher prevailed on him to arrange six violin sonatas for flute, and he made arrangements for amateurs. He always said he hated the instrument, though the last three symphonies have great flute parts in them.

The flute Mozart knew was a baroque flute that came in three pieces: head joint, middle joint and foot joint. That construction played havoc with the natural scale. If he’d lived until 1840, he could have heard the instrument I play. Maybe he’d have liked it better.”

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James Galway made me hate flute, but Emmanuel Pahud made me love it

Flute

James Galway made me hate flute, but Emmanuel Pahud made me love it


James Galway made me hate flute, but Emmanuel Pahud made me love it

Flute – So it’s been less than two weeks since I started playing again. One thing I forgot to mention is that James Galway made me hate flute for decades.

The bottom line is that I never liked Galway’s distinctive vibrato and sound. Unfortunately, for some reason, I kept on seeing him on TV and hearing him on the radio, and so he sort of represented to me “flute”.

(Update of 2013-08-23)

I have periodically received comments from people very unhappy with my dislike of the playing of James Galway. I mean no disrespect: everyone has different taste. I should add that I actually love and respect James Galway as a musician and as an educator. I will write a detailed blog post about that at some point.

Revival through jazz

Interestingly, I started to enjoy hearing the flute again mainly from getting into jazz. I loved hearing Herbie Mann on flute, for example, and others as well. In fact, my original intention when buying a flute several years ago was to get into jazz flute: I had sort of lost interest in playing classical music by then.

Discovery of Emmanuel Pahud

Syrinx

Just a couple of years ago, I was driving and listening to the local classical radio station, WQED, when I was put totally under a spell by a performance of a work for solo flute. Being completely unfamiliar with the classical flute repertoire, I didn’t know what the piece was, but the announcer said it was “Syrinx” by Claude Debussy, and performed by one Emmanuel Pahud.

I went and found CDs by Pahud at the library. Great stuff! He is definitely my hero.


Read another related story here: The one thing Abby Gieseke wanted most from her fifth grade year at First Baptist Denton in Texas was to join the band and play the flute.

“My mom had played the flute and my friend is playing the instrument too,” said Abby.

Fifth grade was finally her first chance to take up the instrument as well, but for Abby it would be a bit more of a challenge. Abby does not have a left hand. “She was born without her left hand which is called Symbrachydactyly,” said her mom Julie Gieseke.

According to the American Journal of Medical Genetics it’s a rare disorder only affecting about 1 in every 30,000 to 40,000 births. It causes a child to be born small or completely missing bones or fingers in one hand, or, in Abby’s case, a completely missing hand.

It’s something Abby says is just a part of life for her and her mom says it’s never held her back.

“I find my own ways to do things other people can do,” said Abby.


Read more of the original story above.