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.

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!!

Flute Pet Peeves

As soon as I saw this picture I knew that I needed to write something about it. This represents perfectly one of my pet peeves.

When younger students take a break and need a place to put their flute, they often have a tendency to set it on the music stand. I’d recommend NOT doing this because you never know if the stand is loose and the weight of the flute will cause the top part of the stand to move down or tip forward and possibly cause the flute to fall off. In addition, with other fellow band students walking around during a break, your flute could very easily get bumped and fall off. I know these scenarios happen because I’ve seen them. When either of these things happen, then you have created a bigger problem of bent keys or a dented flute.  A better suggestion is to ask a trusted friend to hold it for you or invest in a reliable flute stand such as a Hercules stand or take it with you while you get a drink from the drinking fountain.

Continue reading “Flute Pet Peeves”

Mr. Love

I started playing the flute in the 4th grade band program in Arizona. I have memories of staying after school occasionally for lessons with the band teacher, Mr. Love. I remember him as a tall, lanky man and very patient and kind. (I admire anyone who teaches elementary band.) A few years later when I reached 7th grade, I had progressed and was ready to learn the piccolo part to Baby Elephant Walk. You know you had arrived when you got to play the piccolo part on that song. Thanks for your encouragement, Mr. Love.

To this day, I still love to hear the Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini. If you haven’t heard it before or lately, it’s a great piece to lighten any mood. Then the song will stick in your head for the rest of the day and make you smile.

Mistakes Happen

Years ago during a lesson, one of my former teachers, Michel Debost, said in his French accent, “If you make a mistake, you make a mistake.  The heavens are full of mistakes up there.” 

What does that mean to you? I take that to mean a couple of things. First, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes I’ve had students stop playing in the middle of a phrase. When asked why they stopped, they said, “Because I was afraid I was going to mess up the next part.” How many people have not done something because they were afraid of making a mistake?

Second, give everything your best shot and full effort. Don’t back off if something doesn’t go quite right. If you are going to make a mistake, make it with a good sound, and keep on going.  It’s not the end of the world.  We all make mistakes and you can keep trying, keep playing, keep improving, keep learning and keep sharing your talents. 

In fact, Debost had a good musician friend who, as he got older, wouldn’t have flawless performances like he did at the height of his professional music career, yet he continued to play and perform because he still loved it. Mistakes and all.