Tag: flute articulation

Articulation Inspiration

February 4, 2015 at 9:28 pmCategory:Uncategorized

Every year at the Florida Flute Association Convention I see or hear something that inspires me, something that I try to integrate into my own playing or musical philosophy. This year I was so busy with presenting a teaching session, conducting a flute choir performance, and giving a performance presentation, that I feel like I didn’t see all that much. But, I still got my moment of inspiration!

This year’s featured performer was Aaron Goldman, principal flutist of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. After reading about him and his experience auditioning for the NSO, I looked forward to hearing him perform and learning about him. My events were all finished by Saturday evening’s gala performance, so I was free to attend and listen without the distractions of having my own things to worry about.

 

I will admit that I was not captivated by his performance in the gala concert. Yes, his technique was flawless and fluid, almost effortless, and his fast articulations miraculously clean, consistent, and consisting of more tone than tongue. However in my state of fatigue I was not moved and did not stay through the whole performance. Isn’t it odd that when a performance seems too effortless, it also feels as if the performer is not really engaged? I like a little of the performer’s personality to come through, a sense that he or she is excited by the music, and that was not coming through for me.

I was sufficiently impressed, though, so that I attended the next morning’s warmup session led by Mr. Goldman where he introduced people to exercises he uses to improve and maintain his sound production. The exercises were not new to me, ala Moyse, but I was impressed that Goldman actually explained why he used certain exercises, and how he used them to continually challenge himself to make better sounds and increase his skills. Teachers and presenters often don’t give you the why of a thing, resulting in students blindly trying to  recreate something that was never defined for them in the first place.

My revelation came in the masterclass Goldman taught. With one of the performers, he was given the opportunity to address articulation and how he approaches it. This was of particular interest to me, because my own double and triple tonguing are not what I would like them to be, so I was anxious to hear what he might suggest. Simply, he put the emphasis on the tone of the notes, rather than the tonguing.

This makes so much sense! Listeners don’t care so much about the mechanics of your articulation, they are interested in hearing the notes so they have something to follow. Think of the articulation like this: each articulation has a little t or k (or whatever syllable you are using) and uppercase AH:  tAH, kAH, dAH, gAH. This fits right in with the idea that the articulation only begins the note, and that once the articulation has been made, you have to get out of the way of the note.

Personally, I have been starting out OK on lengthy articulated passages, but after a few measures I start to really bear down on the articulation and the tone disappears. This is exactly what I needed to hear about right now. It is a reminder of what I already know to be true and at the same time, a new insight. I have new goals to work on now and a method of achieving them.

Mission accomplished, my yearly inspiration has been provided!

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Practice Diary 7/29

July 31, 2013 at 6:46 pmCategory:Practice Diary | Uncategorized

EJ4 from GbM to am
-clipped articulation exercise is easier if I remember to pause and expel excess air
-don’t practicing straining, you already know how to do that!
-overall focus is good, air doesn’t wander as much, especially when I think of playing out to an audience
-remember to push for better, it is easy to go with OK, to forget there can be much more, push for better!

CPE Bach am solo sonata
-the big leaps downward in the 3rd movement, the air attacks seem OK, but when articulation is added, notes are still not as clear as a pianist might be
-tried slurring through the figures, maybe the problem is the disturbance of the air on repeated notes, jaw and embouchure are opening on the 2nd note in the group, having to get back into position to play
-this is a case of expression getting in the way of technique
-opening in embouchure is too wide, how to address that; haven’t found a way that is effective for me yet
-feel like I’m just getting going when the timer goes off. tomorrow – 45 minutes!

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Wouter Kellerman, wow!

December 24, 2012 at 11:46 amCategory:Flute Treats | Uncategorized

Sorry to be just posting links to what other flutists are doing rather than writing pithy, insightful posts all the time, but this guy just blows me away. He is a wonderful example of a complete musician, he has amazing technique, terrific creativity, and wonderfully engaging musicianship. Since I first heard about him earlier this year he has become one of my favorite flutists to listen to. And this video gives you a close up view of effortless technique, especially when he is performing so many different articulations. It is inspirational and instructive at the same time.

Happy Fluting!

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