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The Sensible Flutist

The Sensible Flutist: April 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flute Warm Ups

My favorite part of practicing is warming up. I love the routine and security of staying in shape, and having an entire hour to feel like I am "ready." But nowadays, I don't have that hour and more often than not, I have to jump in whether I feel good or not.

With my recent practice project, I realized I needed more time in my warm up to correct tonal deficiencies I was hearing in my sound. So I returned to my old Moyse De la Sonorite routine. I love using the low and high register long tone exercises, in addition to his interval exercises. The end result? A more open, resonant high register and more timbral control.

Fast forward to my current situation which seems to change daily, sometimes hourly. All of us experience times like these, where we may only have 30 minutes or an hour to practice and feel like we're moving ahead on our goals. While it's incredibly difficult to maintain within this time, I believe that with an efficient structure, you can still make progress.

1) Have a plan This is my goal. I'm in the process of devising various warm up plans that I can go to when I'm pressed for time, have a little bit more time, or for those rare days where time is not an issue.

2) Be flexible
Some days, you are going to sound like crap. Fix it. You may spend all your time on long tones, but that's OK. Our obligations don't stop just because we're having a bad day with our instrument.

3) Have fun
One of my favorite practice strategies is included in Burton Kaplan's book, Practicing for Artistic Success. Always plan out what you're going to practice, for how long, and for what purpose. THEN give yourself 10 percent less. You will surprise yourself with how you structure your practice to fit your time constraints. Interestingly enough, it frees your playing and allows you to relax into your session. Below are some great resources for tone and technique work.

Marcel Moyse De la Sonorite

Marcel Moyse Exercices Journaliers pour la flute (Daily Exercises for the flute)

Taffanel and Gaubert 17 Big Daily Finger Exercises for the Flute

Walfrid Kujala Vade Mecum

Trevor Wye's Practice Books for the Flute (Books 1-5 come in a nice omnibus edition and cover tone, technique, articulation, intonation and vibrato, and breathing and scales)

Peter Lukas-Graf Checkup (the whistle tones exercise in this book is to die for!!)

Robert Dick Tone Development through Extended Techniques (an excellent resource to pair with De la Sonorite or Wye's tone book)

Paula Robison Flute Warmups Book

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Musician's Motivation

I'm in the process of reading "Beyond Talent" by Angela Myles Beeching. This is an excellent guide for musicians looking to build a career, and is especially helpful if you never learned how to write a resume or marketing basics while in music school. In the midpoint of the book, Dr. Beeching asks a series of questions to guide your goal setting process.

The first question deals with your motivations as a musician, or why you're a musician. I asked this question on twitter and Facebook, and got a host of responses that were as unique as the responders yet unifying. Answers ranged from musicians feeling they are doing what they were meant to be doing, a feeling of purpose, music's communicative powers and its effect on the self and your audience to a natural progression of interests and freedom.

I identify with all these answers; however, after reflecting on my motivations, I am in music for a primary reason that is crucial to all of us - serving the local community. We live in a global community that is becoming increasingly smaller. As a society, we are losing our sense of what it means to connect with people in our local community.

My job as a musician allows me to connect with a diverse segment of people that I would not have come across otherwise. Teaching and performing allow me to build audiences and build value. Please take a moment to watch my video below summarizing my thoughts on this question. And PLEASE comment with your motivations! I love what you've shared so far.