Coming soon, the PracticingFlutist Podcast! I love finding new and better ways to practice and I love talking about that, so producing a podcast about practicing seems like a natural fit!
I plan to publish every Monday and Thursday, with each episode focusing on a very specific practice issue. I’m aiming for each episode to be between 10 and 15 minutes long. The relatively short time is meant to make the individual episodes easy to get through and keep me from getting too longwinded! I’ve also got some fun music facts and trivia to add variety and keep things from getting too serious. Practicing should be enjoyable, after all!
I’m slowly getting the technical issues worked out which were daunting at first, but not that bad overall. Now I’m practicing my delivery and making myself listen to the painful results. Just reinforces that if you want to know how you are coming across, as a musician or a speaker, you have to make recordings and listen to them. Thank goodness for mute buttons and editing programs!
So, if you’ve got questions you want to hear suggestions for or topics you want to hear about, please do send them to me! Of course I’m doing this for my own self, but my goal is to help as many musicians as I can to play better, easier and more enjoyably, so it really helps when people let me know what they want. Hope to see you on the podcast airwaves soon!
Flutist or Flautist? This has to be the question I am asked most when I meet someone and they find out I play flute. It’s funny how much of a controversy this simple issue of what someone who plays flute should be called.
One of my teachers insisted on flutist. She reasoning was, “I speak English and I live in the 20th century.” (Guess I’m dating myself here!) But she made perfect sense. I like Nancy Toff’s discussion in her book, “The Flute,” of this all-important issue. It turns out that the term “flutist” predates “flautist” in the English language by over 200 years! Flautist is the word for flute player in Italian and Spanish.
Granted, flautist sounds more sophisticated, and maybe that’s what people are going for when they say it. I’ve noticed that the people who say “flautist” are usually non-musicians, have some knowledge and enjoyment of classical music, and maybe even go to a concert once in awhile.
When I was in high school, I thought being called a flautist was cool. At a summer camp I went to, the flute section had Tshirts made up that said “If you’ve got it, flaut it.” We were also trying to be cool. Now, I prefer “flutist”. It just seems logical to me. How about you?
In case you didn’t know, I have a sidehustle that includes designing Tshirts. And surprise, surprise, many of them have musical themes. Might be a little weird, but it’s fun. It’s even more fun with people like them and buy them, makes me feel like I’m making a connection with them. Below are links to my newest efforts, available on Amazon’s newest POD Tshirt service. You can also search for Practicing Flutist to find them. If you like them, share them! Or send me ideas for what you want to see on a Tshirt.
Imagine if the invention of the flute was the first step to the invention of computers? Musicians already know that musical activities can inspire great ideas in other fields. Steven Johnson, writer and researcher on the history of innovation, presents an entertaining and informative video describing how the invention of the flute 40,000 years ago can be connected to the invention of computers. Another prime example of how important music is to the human race (and should be in homes and schools, hint, hint!)
Click on the link to see Johnson’s TedTalk video, it’s surprisingly fun as well as informative!
How Play Leads to Great Inventions
I believe that much inspiration can be gained by listening to and watching the performances of excellent musicians, whether they perform Classical or pop, are instrumentalists or singers. One of my favorites to listen to and watch is the acapella group Pentatonix.
Especially at this time of year, I find listening to Pentatonix, and watching their videos to be very inspiring. Their arrangements of Christmas classics combine the familiar beauty of old-fashioned carols with fresh, modern interpretations. Performance-wise they display such perfection of intonation and attention to detail that I think of them as excellent inspiration for what can be achieved by conscientious musicians playing in an ensemble.
From watching them in the videos it is evident that they listen to each other closely, ALL THE TIME, EVERY SINGLE SECOND, so they can interact and adjust accordingly. I feel like I can almost see how intensely they are listening to each other, blending their individual voices into the overal sound and texture.
They also put the maximum amount of effort and attention into every syllable. It doesn’t matter whether they are singing lead or backup, each singer performs each and every note as if it were the most important note in the song. And their use of different syllables and mouth shapes to create specific sounds (also applicable to wind players, especially flutists!) demonstrates how much thought and pre-planning they put into making each piece of music special. They are fully invested in making every moment great, because they know that every note counts.
For emphasis on intonation in a simple carol, check out Pentonix singing First Noel.
To hear how they approach tunes without lyrics, this link takes you to Pentatonix singing Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Suite, a fun listen and entertaining video!
And if you want just a little more, this arrangement of Carol of the Bells is fantastic! I hope that as you listen and you sill be inspired to continue developing your musical skills!