Flutist or Flautist?

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?

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Practicing Piccolo

Argh! I have to play piccolo on the next concert and it has been so long since I’ve put any time in on the lovely little petite member of the flute family. When I was very young, I thought playing picc was the greatest thing on earth! When I first was asked what instrument I wanted to play, I said piccolo, because it played the highest notes in the band. Of course, no one was crazy enough to let me do that, so I had to start with flute, then work my way up to piccolo. Now I consider it to be a nearly impossible task, largely because I don’t own a good instrument. (Yes, it does make a difference with piccolos)

Luckily I was able to borrow a decent instrument, and I only have to play picc on one piece, the Tannhauser Overture, so it’s no so bad. I’m looking at the whole situation as an opportunity to brush up on some skills and to try to make a good impression. Auditions for fall are coming up and I want to do well, it can’t hurt to show off a little! I started practicing by doing some tone work so I could learn the instrument’s tendencies and even out the intonation. Once I had a feel for this, I jumped into the music. I quickly noticed that I was trying to radically follow the direction of the notes with the air stream, a super big no-no on piccolo, where the strike zone is much smaller than on the flute. Minimizing this has been my biggest challenge. Practice is going pretty well except for a high G# that just won’t cooperate. I may have to just cross my toes and blow for that one.

Want to listen to Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture? I’ve posted a recording conducted by the great Herbert von Karajan. Enjoy!

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Getting paid to play!

Wow! Got my first check from performing with the Sun Shore Symphony Orchestra. It’s not a big check, but it is nice to get paid to play for a change. There are lots of volunteer groups around here, which makes it harder for the people who want and need to get paid for playing. I came in as a summer sub and will have to audition for the regular season, (errrr . . . audition!) I think I have a good chance, though and if I play well on the last summer concert (errrr . . . piccolo!) that will help, too. I guess doing the audition is how I will “pay to play!”

It has been a long while since my last post, but my second job has finally gone away and maybe I can return to writing more regularly. I also need the time to practice for the audition and to practice conducting. Coaching an ensemble is nothing compared to conducting one and flute choir season is fast approaching! I’m also thinking about writing a practice book about how to use a tuner and how to improve intonation, first a general guide, then one specifically for flutists. Comments are welcome!

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Welcome to Practicing Flutist!

Hello!  If you have visited the previous incarnation of this site, you may notice that I am changing the format.  This will take a little time, but I hope that once it is done, I will be able to offer regularly updated current issues content as well as useful information about practicing the flute in a format that is hopefully both fun and easy to use.

In the works are weekly tips for practicing, articles on specific flute practice issues like intonation and technique,  announcements and discussions of fun, new flute stuff like recordings, videos, books, etc., all things flute!  Much like it was before, but in a more user-friendly (and author-friendly!) format.

So here are links to the latest “Flute Treat”, the release of flutist extraordinaire Greg Patillo and Project Trio’s newest EP, available for download.  This group really tears it up!

www.projecttrio.com

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/project-trio-live-cuts-2/id424894046

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