Congratulations to my graduating senior flute student this year who was accepted into the Brigham Young University music program! That is a tremendous accomplishment!!
Congratulations also goes out to two of my students for earning gold cups from the National Federation of Music Clubs. One student earned a 15 point gold cup in the flute solo event and the other student earned a 30 point gold cup for the combined flute/concerto event. That represents years of hard work and memorizing music. Way to go!
Spring is in the air. Well, it’s supposed to be. We’ve had a long winter, keep breaking snow records and have 6 inches of fresh snow today. But it is nice to know that the plants are thinking about starting to bud and gives me hope that we’ll soon see some colors returning to brighten this part of our world.
This week is Spring Break. Time for vacations, time to be outdoors (if it would stop snowing), and time for spring cleaning. I’m not going to post anything about cleaning your house or your garage because there are a million things on the internet to help with that. But how about cleaning your flute?
Again, there are lots of resources out there and I don’t agree with all of them, but I want to add my two cents worth, not that you can buy anthing for two cents anymore, but you get to have my free advice. How’s that?
A picture -or a slideshow- is worth a thousand words.
Supplies: You need a cleaning rod, a cloth for the inside, and a different cloth for the outside.
Cleaning rods: I prefer wood or plastic. I used to have a metal one when I was young, but it can scratch your flute, so I recommend a wooden or plastic one. Make sure it’s good and sturdy. Sometimes you can buy cheap ones online, but beware, they can be flimsy. Make sure it’s good and solid and won’t easily bend.
Cloth for the inside: I like the Hodge silk flute swabs.
These silk flute swabs are triangular shaped. If you buy one online, make sure you look at the size. Sometimes they are smaller for a piccolo and not a flute. I also have a soft, absorbing cotton handkerchief that works well. (That’s the blue and white one with the paisley design in the first photo.) I have two cleaning cloths for the inside because sometimes I clean my flute multiple times a day. That way I always have a dry cloth for the inside. They also make bamboo cloths. Some people really like those. I tried one, but prefer my silk and cotton cloths instead.
Cloth for the outside: Do not use a “silver polishing” cloth. Sometimes they have chemicals on them which are great for polishing dishes made of real silver, but can be harmful to the flute pads. If you can feel a strange residue on your hands after holding it, then that’s probably a cloth you don’t want to be using on your flute. Make sure it’s a cloth made specifically for cleaning flutes. These are often made of cotton or microfiber. This is the light blue cloth you see on the right side in the first picture at the top.
Let’s start: Take your inside cleaning cloth. Loop the smallest end (or corner of the handkerchief if you are using that) through the end of the cleaning rod where it looks like a giant eye of a needle. Wrap your cloth around so the end has a little cushion on top. Twist the rod a few times so the cloth is wrapped around the rod and can swab as much of the flute as possible with one swipe.
Cleaning the inside: Start pushing it through the end of the footjoint first. The purpose of cleaning the inside is to get the moisture out and there is less moisture at the bottom of the flute, so I always start there and work my way up to the headjoint. Pull your footjoint off and set it in the case. Second, continue to push the cleaning rod up through the body of the flute and out the other end. Third, gently glide it into the headjoint until it hits the silver plate where the cork is. Spin the cleaning rod a couple of times to absorb as much moisture as possible before you pull it out of the headjoint.
Cleaning the outside: Grab that lovely cloth for the outside. Take each piece of the flute and gently wipe fingerprints and dust off the flute, avoiding the pads as much as possible. Especially make sure the lip plate is nice and clean. Also, clean the joints (tenons) between the pieces of the flute to keep them sliding on and off smoothly. Put each piece back in the case.
Scroll through the slideshow above for a demonstration of how to clean your flute.
Storing the cleaning cloths: You don’t want the wet cloths stored inside with the flute. The moisture is not good for the pads. That’s why we swab the flute in the first place, to remove the moisture. Here you can see how I store them in the zippered part of my case, away from direct contact with my flute. A friend of mine ties her cloth around her outside handle so it can dry quicker.
Then, make sure you throw those cloths in the wash frequently. What is frequently? That’s for you to decide. Depends on how often you play, how long you play, how much condensation you get in your flute, etc. Just wash them frequently. It certainly doesn’t need to be every day. If they start smelling or having lots of black marks on them, it’s probably time for a washing. (Looks like it’s time for my light blue cloth to take a bath again.) Do not tumble dry. Hang dry after washing.
That’s it. Sounds complicated, but with practice you can learn to do it quickly and get in an easy routine. Check back again about other aspects of cleaning your flute.
And, good luck with any spring cleaning projects you may have.
Music can express an expansive range of emotions. One of these emotions is JOY.
You can do an internet search for joyful classical music and you’ll find many lists and opinions of cheerful music. I’m certain that everyone’s opinion will differ but composers of joyful music will certainly include Mozart, Rossini, Vivaldi and Copland, and of course, this list must include the iconic ‘Ode to Joy’ (which every kid plays on every instrument) from the Beethoven Symphony No.9.
Even something as simple as the Happy Birthday song can bring joy. I mean, really, who can’t feel joy when singing that to someone? Even if it’s a stranger’s birthday in a restaurant, have you ever felt compelled to join in singing good wishes through that song?
Especially during this holiday season, we have a whole set of music reserved just for this time of year. How great is that? There are band, orchestra, and choir concerts, Nutcracker performances which always include glorious music by Tchaikovsky, Handel’s Messiah performances, church performances, Christmas caroling, music playing in restaurants and retail stores, on the radio, or your headphones, and more. Holiday music is one thing I thrive on during this season.
When I was in high school, way back in the day, my Christian friends and I would sing Hanukkah songs and my Jewish friends would sing Christmas songs. We weren’t offended by doing that because we were friends; we all loved music and it all brought us joy. We could live together (at school) and sing together (at choir) in love and understanding.
Every time I perform a concert, whether it’s for five people or a concert hall full of five hundred people or more, I feel joy. It’s a natural side benefit of performing. Even if you don’t like performing, you have to admit that at least you feel joy once your performance is over, right? Or maybe for some of you it’s just a feeling of relief. But that’s a form of joy, isn’t it?
My challenge to you is to look around you this week and observe where music is being played and how it makes you feel.
Best wishes for a happy and joyful holiday season, what’s left of it for 2022!! May you feel peace on earth and goodwill to men.
Here we are again, another Halloween. We are surrounded by ghosts, skeletons, creepy pumpkins, headstones and scary movies. A strange holiday, but I like the happy side of Halloween: happy pumpkins, happy ghosts, happy costumes and happy decorations.
I’m sure everyone has been afraid of something at some point in your life. How do you define fear?
What are common types of fear? Fear of failure. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of spiders or all types of phobias. Fear of being late. Fear of judgement. Fear of the unknown. Fear of unmet expectations. This list could go on and on. As a flute teacher, I frequently see the fear of performing or the fear of making a mistake in students. But what exactly are they afraid of?
Psychologists and therapists use something called The Feelings Wheel to help identify the root causes of emotions.
This is my copy that has been on my fridge for a while. Here is also a link to another Feelings Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox of The Gottman Institute.
According to this chart, fearful is a word that can include scared (helpless or frightened), anxious (overwhelmed or worried), insecure (inadequate or inferior), weak (worthless or insignificant) rejected (excluded or persecuted), and threatened (nervous or exposed). Dr. Willcox’s wheel also includes bewildered, confused, discouraged, submissive, foolish and embarrassed. Other wheels also use the words vulnerable, suspicious, apprehensive, concern, worried, susceptible, and terrified.
When I think about conquering fear, the words I just listed above are much more descriptive than just the word fear itself. Once you’ve identified the root of your fear, then it makes it easier to address the thinking process. I am not a trained therapist nor do I claim to be by any means. I just know that thinking through things and adjusting thought processes contributes immensely to emotional health.
Many of these feelings listed on the chart are normal. But when these emotions paralyze you, it’s time to address them and turn them around for your benefit. I encourage you to seek professional help, if necessary.
I love this quote from the movie Princess Diaries:
Recognize that fear exists. What you decide to do about it is the important part. Acknowledge it. Face it. Conquer it everyday.
Also, visit my post from October 29, 2020 called Don’t Be Scared, for specific details on how to address performance anxiety as a flute player or musician.
Last Night we (the Utah Valley Symphony) had our concert with Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys at the Scera Outdoor Theatre. Talk about FUN!!! It was great.
First, I have a story to share, even though it’s not about one of my flute students. Earlier yesterday afternoon I was teaching one of my younger piano students about how any finger could play middle C; it isn’t always played with your thumb. I told him that you could even play it with your toe or your nose. It didn’t matter; that key would still be C. So he immediately tried to play the piano with his toe and his nose, of course. Then while he played the 8 measure Middle C March from Faber’s Primer Level of Piano Adventures, he tried to use his toe to play the last measure.
I often do silly things like this with with my younger students. But last night I realized that I also need to have more fun with my older students. How does this relate to Jon Schmidt and our concert? Read on.