Flute Tip of the Week – Stand Lights

There are lots of stand lights on the market meant to serve a variety of uses, but if you don’t use one very often, investing in a pricey accessory may not be what you want to do. Or maybe you need something RIGHT NOW and don’t have time to shop for or order a fancy, uni-tasker like a stand light. In that case, you might want to try using a clip-on book light. They can be found in most bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) and in many variety stores, often for very little money. Because they are battery-operated, they are also very portable, as opposed to many stand lights that have to be plugged in. If nothing else, they will do in a pinch and get you through that dim light gig.

Flute Practice and Technology

There has been a little controversy raging on Flute List lately regarding approaches to flute technique, specifically tone production and intonation. Some contributors are very scientific in their approach and others are not, and I think the science-oriented people got a little offended by some comments that may have made it sound like they were going about things the wrong way.

Personally, I think it’s great that some people can think about precisely aiming their air stream at very specific angles while blowing the air at a controlled and measured air velocity of x/per second, etc. That someone knows these angles and measurements impresses me to no end, but how do they know they are accomplishing this when they pick up a flute? If it were essentially that simple, then why can’t all flutist be taught to do this from the very beginning? And, when we can program a machine to do this, why do we find the results unsatisfying?

I agree that the air must be aimed at appropriate angles at sufficient velocities to produce good results. But, how each individual accomplishes that feat is less a matter of meeting specific criteria, than it is a constant exercise in trial error. Each person’s physiognomy is unique, the physical properties of flutes varies hugely, environmental conditions add to the list of variables, on and on and on. It’s a wonder that anyone learns to play well!!

But some do learn to play excellently, and many learn to play well, and I like to believe that most can achieve decent tone quality and better than passable intonation. Technology can be very useful; I use it in my practicing and I teach others how I think it should be used. But when we perform, or when we play with others, we have to be able to play without the benefit of meters measuring our pitch or our tempo or our air speed, etc. We have to learn how it feels to produce a good sound, how it sounds and feels to be in tune. Our bodies and our brains are what measure and evaluate what we are doing when we play, so we have to train them to be able to do that reliably and confidently, and then to make the necessary and constant adjustments that will get us the result we want. It’s not enough to say, “Blow at this angle and at this speed.” That is only the beginning!

Back to Work

Well the freelance editing job is done, so I can get back to work on the flute stuff. I am one out of shape flutist! My plan to get up early to practice for a bit and maybe practice a wee bit more after getting home from work lasted about a week. The one thing that working the extra job proved to me is that I CAN make more time to work on playing and writing. It’s just so much easier to make that choice when you have a deadline and a concrete reward at the end! Guess I have to be as ruthless with myself by setting carved-in- stone deadlines and finding or creating rewards that motivate me to put in the extra effort. It’s easier when you are in school or in an active performing group; it’s much harder when you are on your own as so many trained musicians end up being. So, time to put the pity away and pick up the flute.

Check out the little treat that I found! It’s not really flute-related, but I am sure that flutists can relate. After all who says you can’t have fun with the classics? Maybe someone can come up with a flute arrangement!

Pachelbel, etc.