Who Has Influenced You For Good?

I’m thankful for each of my flute teachers who were so influential in my progress.  Our lives are like a quilt or tapestry.  Each person, or in this case – teacher, adds something to make the quilt or tapestry of our musicality and our lives more colorful and interesting and beautiful.  I’ve learned something from each teacher I’ve had, whether it’s one lesson in a masterclass setting or years of study with that person.  Here is a highlight of my prominent teachers that I studied with for months and years.  

Dee Ann McAllister

Aside from my elementary school band teacher, I considered Mrs. McAllister my first flute teacher.  I studied with her in Junior High and High School.   She was very punctual with lessons and had an extremely kind personality.  Her husband, now the late Bob McAllister, was a trombone teacher.  There would often be flute lessons on one side of the house and trombone lessons on the other side. 

Mrs. McAllister took me from playing intermediate level music to college level repertoire.  She taught me vibrato, helped build my confidence, encouraged me to attend summer music camps, and provided performance opportunities which led me to soloing with ensembles and earning flute scholarships for college. 

Jilene Burger

My first two years of college I studied with Jilene Burger at Ricks College, which is now called BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho. Jilene was so supportive while I learned how to adjust to college life.  While studying with her, I learned how to practice more and studied a lot of solo repertoire such as the Handel and Bach Sonatas, Mozart Concerti, French and Contemporary flute music and other repertoire which would later help me as a teacher. She lined me up with a local junior high where I started teaching the flute students after school. 

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Don’t Be Scared

Why do you get scared to perform in front of people?  Why do you get nervous? Why does your mouth get dry or your lip shake or your palms get sweaty? Why do you feel sick to your stomach? These are called performance jitters or performance anxiety. These feelings are very real and there are numerous books and lengthy articles written on the subject.

What is it that are you afraid of?  A missed note, muddled tonguing, fumbled fingers, not making the long breath, not playing as well as you know you can?  Scared of what others will think of you, like your peers or your teacher or the judges? Are you afraid of possibly not getting the scholarship or not getting the job or not getting accepted into a program? Have you ever felt like this before?

Here are a few basic things that have helped me in my over 40 years of flute playing (and piano playing and organ playing and singing). A lot of it comes down to three things: PREPARATION, POSITIVE THINKING, and EXPERIENCE.

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Never a Failure, Always a Lesson.

What have you learned from this?

Has anyone ever asked you that question? Especially these days with a worldwide pandemic, I’ve often heard people ask, “What have you learned from this?” I recently asked someone this same question, to which this person replied, “Why do we always have to learn something? Why can’t we just let it happen and go on with our life?” How would you answer that question?

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Pneumo Pro

Meet the Pneumo Pro. The What?

That’s right, the Pneumo Pro. Collinsdictionary.com defines pneumo- as “related to the lungs” or another definition is relating to the presence of air. Developed by Kathy Blocki, the Pneumo Pro is a wonderful device to help flute players produce a beautiful flute tone through improving their awareness of their breath and lip placement. Sometimes with younger students I just call it the “yellow spinner thing”. It helps flutists actually see where their air stream is going, how fast they are blowing, and how to pinpoint their air stream.

The four different colored wheels provide a visual of what happens when they change the embouchure and the air.

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Musical Memories with My Sister

Rehearsing for our Aunt and Uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary

I grew up in a musical family where my mother was a piano, organ, and voice teacher and also the church choir director for over 50 years.  Each Christmas, while growing up, the choir would prepare a special musical program to perform the Sunday before Christmas.  This usually also consisted of a small chamber orchestra comprised of musicians from our local congregation.  My mother would have me write out orchestral parts to enhance the special choir worship service commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was the beginning of my efforts to arrange hymns for small groups of random musicians.  

My younger sister wanted to play a different instrument from her siblings and at age eight, began playing the cello. Just as soon as she could play a whole note, she was, naturally, added to the Christmas orchestra.  Aside from our family singing time, this was the beginning of making music together.

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