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Together Again

After more than 14 months, the Utah Valley Symphony finally came together again last week for a rehearsal. Even though this picture isn’t a rehearsal, we can look forward to performing together soon. It sure has been a long empty year of no symphony. I can’t express how wonderful it was to play music again as a large ensemble.

We are preparing for two outdoor summer concerts. The concerts will consist of movie themed and patriotic music including Over the Rainbow, Moon River, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter, American Salute, and others. It will be fun!

Mark June 28th and July 18th on your calendars and come hear the Utah Valley Symphony again or come hear us for the first time. Details are on the sidebar under Upcoming Events.

Summer Practicing

Hooray for Summer! Who doesn’t love a change of pace, the warm summer sun, lemonade, swimming pools, ice cream and vacations?

With all the fun and extra events that summer brings, how do you stay motivated to practice during the summer? Commit to keep playing, especially if you are not taking lessons during the summer.

Sight read anything. Pull out old books you’ve previously gone through, flip randomly to a page and see what you can still play.

Go to flutetunes.com and try the Tune of the Day. They have an audio recording along with it.

Summer can be a great time to strengthen your scales and put them to memory.

Play popular music or folk tunes. All local music stores always have popular music or Broadway or Disney music favorites or Irish tunes or folk songs for flute. Try a new one each day as you continue to work on proper breaths, accurate tonguing, solid tone and vibrato.

If you find it hard to motivate yourself to practice, at the very least, listen to exceptional flute players. Maybe that will motivate you to practice.

In any case, enjoy summer and keep music a part of it in some way.

Memorization Tips

Some festivals or competitions require memorization. Naturally, there are pros and cons to being required to perform from memory. While some people memorize naturally after playing a piece enough times, others have to actively memorize. Here are some tips to improve your music memorization skills.

MAP out a plan. When do you have to have it memorized by? Then aim for 2-3 weeks prior to that date. Divide your music into sections and assign how ever many measures or lines by weeks you have. Then you have those 2-3 weeks to build your confidence by playing from memory.

SET daily memorization goals. Take your weekly goal and divide that into daily goals. It can be overwhelming to memorize a long piece, but if you take it in small steps, it will be much easier. Most of the time you only need to memorize a small portion each day. I’m a strong believer in setting goals.

KNOW your scales, thirds, and arpeggios. (Go watch the 1970 Disney movie called The Aristocats. There is a cute scene where the cats are practicing their scales and arpeggios.) One reason I emphasize a strong technique is because it makes everything easier, especially memorizing. If you know your fundamentals, you can find those in your music. Once you have discovered them, you don’t have to “read” every single note, you can see it as one idea, so to speak. Compare it to reading. At first you sound out each letter as in C-A-T. Then you see it as one word instead of 3 letters.

IDENTIFY patterns or notes that are almost patterns. I like to label scales or technical passages that are not readily recognizable It’s been handy when I pull my music out years later and I have those already marked in my music. Look for sequences or identify the musical form.

Labeling Scales
Continue reading “Memorization Tips”

Get Started

I’m sure you have heard of “writer’s block”. It’s when a writer can’t think of what to write, how to start the story, what character development should take place or where to take the story next. Well, I’ve come up with a new term – “human block”. I’ve decided this means that as human’s we get stuck and have a hard time getting started, don’t know how to proceed, or where things should lead.

My advice to that is GET STARTED!! The popular sports slogan for Nike is “Just Do It.” That can apply to so many things. Sometimes half the battle is simply getting started.

The legendary, masterful Irish flutist, James Galway, is credited to say,

“THE QUICKEST WAY TO UNLOCK YOUR TALENT IS TO TAKE THE FLUTE OUT OF THE BOX.”

Getting your flute out of its case. Sitting down at the piano bench. Opening your textbook or your laptop to do homework. Walking down the stairs to get to the treadmill. Pressing the Reply button on a computer. These are all first steps to progress.

Don’t be lazy. Don’t be sidetracked. Don’t procrastinate.

Or in other words –
Be productive. Be focused. Be enthusiastic.
GET STARTED!!

Constructive Criticism

How well do you accept constructive criticism? If your goal in life is to improve in whatever way that is, or whatever field that is, you must be willing to accept constructive criticism.

If something is “constructive”, it is productive, beneficial, or useful. Even the word “construct” implies building or creating. The word “criticism” itself is sometimes thought of with a negative connotation. But, if you replace the word criticism with evaluation or analysis, or even opinion, it takes on a whole new meaning. Thus, instead of constructive criticism, consider thinking of it as a helpful building process.

When someone is offering constructive criticism, what are they really saying? You are horrible and worthless? Of course not! They offer advice because they care for you and they sincerely want you to improve. As a musician, taking lessons puts you in a vulnerable position. As a teacher, I strive to help my students feel comfortable by creating a positive, friendly atmosphere. I strive to point out what they are doing well then offer suggestions of what to improve.

When someone offers their opinion, whether that’s as a flutist or a coworker or a family member or friend, strive to take their input and recommendations and remember that the only reason they are sharing those ideas with you is because they want to help you develop and progress.

So, don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t beat yourself up. No one is attacking you. Don’t throw in the towel and give up. Accept their advice. Try to implement it. Take counsel and allow yourself to benefit from it and discover how you can blossom and grow.