Articles

Keeping Up With Kaori: What’s Next for Music Beyond

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Articles, Entrepreneurship, Essays, Featured, Interviews, Issues, July 2017 | 0 comments

Keeping Up With Kaori: What’s Next for Music Beyond

We wrote about Music Beyond a few years back.  How has Music Beyond grown since then?   In August, Music Beyond will mark 3 years since the inception. Our student base has grown about 6x and we have manage to provide over 400 hours of training (by the time I come back from the trip I'm about to head out, it'll most likely be over 500 hours!).   What has changed for MB, and what new components have you added?   Our first initiative was a music teacher training program for existing woodwind musicians in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This program is still continuing, but we also started Congo's very first All-female chamber ensemble last year.   Your gala was incredible!  Tell us some of the key steps in organizing and arranging a charity event.   Oh dear... I don't even know where to begin! Come up with an overall budget, find a venue suitable for the expected number of guests, find caterer, decide on the overall theme / character of the event, secure keynote speakers and/or special guests that fits to the theme/character of the event... Then all the tedious work begins- go over the details about million times, sending out invitations (over and over and over!!), finding sponsors, secure silent auction items, making/updating tons of spread sheets, making / printing programs.... etc etc etc. Got the idea? ;)   You'll be in the Congo when this comes out.  What will you be doing on this trip, specifically?   I will be working with the musicians for almost 4 weeks this time. Monday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm outside! I will continue to work with the woodwind players but my focus this time will be all-female ensemble. LOTS of fundamental exercises, both private and group lessons, ensemble coaching... And a concert at the Japanese Ambassador's Residence!   What is the role of music in empowering citizens of DRC?  and especially the women of DRC?   DR Congo is one of the most difficult counties on earth. Capital city Kinshasa has 12 million people, yet there are many neighborhoods that don't have electricity or running water. Majority of Congolese families can't afford education for kids and especially if you are a girl, the chance for education diminishes even further. (It's normal for a family to send only boys to school but not girls) Multiple conflicts and wars have been taking place for over 2 decades straight and the government is completely corrupt. On top of all that, DRC is known as the "rape capital of the world" and is labeled as "the worst place to be a woman". So, obviously many people had completely lost hope and faith - both men and women. As a woman, it's even harder surviving, let alone thriving in DRC. Having said that, there ARE groups of people who are doing everything in their power to moving forward, building their community from the ground up and stay hopeful. What kind of people can do that? - People who manage to find fulfillment in life. Music can be a great source for fulfillment and when we are fulfilled, it gives us a tremendous amount of dignity, confidence and happiness, which result in being able to be empathetic to others and help each other. Speaking...

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Dr. Cate’s Corner: Blowing is the Foundation of Playing by Dr. Cate Hummel

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Issues, July 2017 | 1 comment

Dr. Cate’s Corner: Blowing is the Foundation of Playing by Dr. Cate Hummel

Blowing and….. We know we need to blow to play the flute. This seems patently obvious, but do we really know how to blow in a way that informs our tone, technique, articulation and phrasing? I would say maybe not always, based on my own experience as a student, a teacher, a performer and as an observer in masterclasses. More than anything else, top players and teachers know how to use their air to give life to the music, shape the phrases, define the articulation, create color in their tone and show the intention of the composer. How they use the air defines absolutely everything else about their playing. Let’s break this down and examine the role that blowing occupies in flute playing. To start with, our breath is life itself, not merely the force that creates the sound on the flute. That we breathe separates us from inanimate objects and defines our existence. Marcel Moyse said, “Don’t simply blow into the flute--give it your warm breath.” In other words, put your very life essence into the flute. When I was a kid, I loved the plastic overlays that you would find in encyclopedias. I thought they were really cool. It didn’t matter what the topic; it could be anatomy, geography, dinosaurs, pretty much anything that you could illustrate by progressively adding layers of complexity. I would go looking in the encyclopedia just to find these overlay illustrations, not because I wanted any specific information, but because I wanted to see how the different layers transformed the original illustration at the bottom of all the layers. This type of overlay illustration is a perfect analogy for playing the flute (or any wind instrument). The basis, the foundation of everything we do on the instrument starts with our air. Absolutely everything else we do, be it tone color, phrasing, technique or articulation is dependent on having consistent control over our air. In other words, the other things are overlays on top of how we are using our air: blowing and embouchure, blowing and technique, blowing and articulation…. If how we use our air is the essential thing, what about all the other elements of playing the flute? Embouchure - goes hand in hand with air. Embouchure is what shapes and directs the air. Embouchure can create colors, adjust pitch and shape phrases. Technique - is supported by how we use the air. Without steady blowing and breath energy between the notes, all the technical studies in the world won’t make your playing sparkle. You can work on smooth, clean combinations, but it is the sensation of the air moving through and between the notes that gives your technique energy and pizzazz. Articulation - breath based rather than tonguing based. As Nyfenger liked to say, “Tonguing is the anti-tone.” Learn to vary your blowing to show the character and style of what you are playing. Trilling - the energy and intensity of your trills is based on your blowing rather than your wiggling finger(s). One of my earliest experiences as a teacher fresh out of a master’s degree was with a girl who came to me for lessons in order to work on her technique. She couldn’t move her fingers fast enough, or so she thought. The first thing she played...

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Commissioning New Music: A Guide to Getting Started by Nicole Riner

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Issues, July 2017 | 0 comments

Commissioning New Music: A Guide to Getting Started by Nicole Riner

Praised for her "luscious, full sound" (American Record Guide) and "effortless precision" (Flutist Quarterly), Nicole Riner maintains an active national presence as a recitalist and pedagogue. She has presented master classes at universities and conservatories across the country and has performed with orchestras and at summer festivals, chamber music series, and flute fairs in the United States, South American, and Europe. A champion of new contemporary music, Nicole has also commissioned and premiered over twenty works both as a soloist and with her chamber group, Verismo Trio. In 2016, she joined the board of Flute New Music Consortium, a commissioning organization for flutists. Nicole currently teaches at University of Wyoming, where she is Visiting Assistant Professor or Flute.   Commissioning New Music: A Guide to Getting Started   This is a preview (and hopefully helpful resource for later!) of the presentation I am leading on behalf of Flute New Music Consortium at the Music by Women Festival March 3-4 in Columbus, MS.  If you're in the area, I hope you can come!  Some amazing music by Nicole Chamberlain, Amber Beams, and Kay HE will also be performed. And some of this information will be presented again, in round table form with composers and commissioners, at NFA in Minneapolis this summer! Funding Ideas for Commissioning Projects:   GRANTS   Aggregate Sites: American Composers Forum: composers forum.org/programs/commissions-awards-grants-fellowships BMI Foundation: www.bmi.com/foundation/ Musical Online: www.musicalonline.com/foundation_grants.htm Barlow Endowment for Music Composition: barlow.byu.edu/Pages/index.html Things to know: There is one commission prize every year for an LDS composer, and another one every year for the general public; since requirements are so open-ended, this is a very competitive application. Carnegie Corporation Aggregate Site: carnegie.org/grants/grants-database Things to know: Grants here often require a special focus and/or educational content, so read about the grants first, then tailor your project to the required language. Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program: www.chamber-music.org/programs/classical/grants#1408 Things to know: must be a member of CMA to apply; the director of the program is very hands-on, so make contact with her as you develop your proposal to see if she has any suggestions for making it better. Creative Capital: www.creative-capital.org/ourprogram Things to know: There is no strictly classical music category, just a general “performing arts” group, and integration with other artworks is an important element to the projects they fund. National Endowment for the Arts: www.nea.gov/grants/apply Things to know: highly competitive; if you are writing for a grant through your school, only one application per school per year, is accepted, so coordinate with your school director to ensure you are qualified.   ARTS ORGANIZATIONS   Local and stat arts organizations often have either specific grant applications for artists or discretionary money for intriguing proposals.  Must be a member of the organization to apply.  To look up your state and region, go to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies: www.nasaa-arts.org   CROWD FUNDING   Go Fund Me: crowdfunding.com (No limit required, no penalty for not reaching goal) Indiegogo: indiegogo.com Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com (Financial goal must be reached in order to collect) Rocket Hub: www.rockethub.com How to Find Composers:   POST ANNOUNCEMENTS ON FORUMS   American Composers Forum: composersforum.org Composer’s Forum: composersforum.ning.com Cornell University Composers Forum: music.cornell.edu/calendar/composers-forum European Composers Forum: composersforum.eu UNT Composers Forum: music.unt.edu/students/composers-forum Washington Composers Forum: www.washingtoncomposersforum.org Young Composers Forum: www.youngcomposers.com   …AND ON FACEBOOK   Composers...

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Tips for Smarter Social Media Commenting. By Rachel Hacker

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Articles, Blog, Essays, Featured, Issues, July 2017 | 1 comment

Tips for Smarter Social Media Commenting.  By Rachel Hacker

The Flute View has written about social media use on many occasions. Each of us who write for the magazine have benefited from interacting with a daily network of flutists and musicians from all over the world.  Blunders with people from the digital world are likely, if not inevitable. After a recent negative experience with a stranger on social media, I’ve decided to write a guide for commenting on the posts of others. It’s one thing to post an inappropriate status or photo to your own page, but it’s a different situation to say something inappropriate to another person, in a setting that is equally virtual and public. There is at least one occasion a day where I figuratively roll my eyes at an Instagram photo, a Facebook video, or a Twitter thread from someone else. We all know a person who wears their heart on the sleeve, posts a slew of selfies (that all look the same), or complains about every situation they encounter. It is convenient to judge their post, fire off a hurtful comment. The past few months, I’ve cut down on social media use, and it has made me happier. I have learned that there are too many people on social media who hide behind their computers, and say things without thinking.   The Situation  A few weeks ago, there was a Facebook page that shared one of my old Flute View articles. I was at a baby shower at the time it was posted, so I didn’t pay attention to the post for a while. I viewed the post later that day, and saw a couple of unexpected, negative, comments under it. One of the comments got resolved, but the other one really ground my gears.  A woman that I did not know called my makeup “horrid.”  The remark did not actually offend me, but I found it completely inappropriate, given that it was on a page about flute playing. I called the woman out, without being lewd, violent, or inappropriate. Multiple other people began to take up for me, and persecute the woman. She meekly apologized, but the administrator still blocked the woman from the page. This interaction could have been entirely avoided, if only she had used better social judgement.   What you can do:   Recognize your audience:  People seem to conveniently forget that social networks are, in fact, a network. Anything said on social media can be seen by anyone else. Before getting hired at my full time job, my bosses found a way to go through my Facebook, and they aren’t even friends with me. With that said, a rude or negative comment is likely to be seen by anyone else that is also friends with, or follows, the posts of that person. If the original poster has very lax security settings, or the comment was on a forum, that comment is pretty much public content. In this instance, several thousand musicians were able to access that comment. It left a terrible first impression for many people who might have otherwise considered networking with her.     Read the comment again in your head:  Sometimes, we say something without thinking, and it is later perceived by others to be crass, rude, or pretentious.  We later look at the comment again, and...

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Music Is The Ointment That Heals by Dyan Parker

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Health & Wellness, Issues, July 2017, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Music Is The Ointment That Heals by Dyan Parker

  After years of research on healing, it became apparent to me that our bodies and minds act in unison. It is therefore important to have an antidote to our emotional wounds so that they do not affect our physical health. Music is capable of healing those wounds. How does that happen? How do we come to be wounded in the first place? And then how does music heal such wounds? We are wounded in very various aspects of our lives on a regular basis. We are wounded when we are lied to; we are wounded when we are betrayed; we are wounded when we do not reach our goals and we are wounded when we disappoint others — or when they disappoint us. We are wounded when we disappoint ourselves. We are wounded when we look around and see a world in chaos. We are wounded when we are afraid. And we are wounded when everything seems to be collapsing around us. We are wounded for so many different reasons, many of them rooted deep down in our emotions. If left unattended, however, these emotional injuries can become physical wounds and eventually turn to disease. Over time, they can become chronic and can even be fatal. The fallout from the emotional wounds runs the gamut. It is up to each of us to be alert to what is going on in our lives and all that is happening around us. When we are on autopilot we inadvertently ignore what our instincts tell us. To paraphrase a famous quote…The greatest wisdom comes from a life that has been examined sufficiently so that you can trust those small voices that you hear all day long. You might think you are better off brushing things aside, such as those negative thoughts and experiences, but they remain in your subconscious mind. Every conversation, every interaction, every little thing you hear and see remains with you, stored in your mind and in your body, down to your cellular structure. That storage can create dis-ease if it is not cleared out, in the same way you periodically clean out the refrigerator. At the same time, whatever is put into your cellular structure also becomes part of your response mechanism. You are unlikely to respond appropriately unless you take your time to examine the experiences you store before allowing them to be packed away and become part of your thinking process. You need to first understand that what you are storing in your brain and emotional memory is fact, and not a misinterpretation of the actual facts. This process is no different from placing items into long-term storage. You need to be alert and aware so that you only carry along what serves you on this voyage through life. When you retrieve information and respond spontaneously you want to be able to trust those responses. That process allows you to develop coping skills (see definition below) that will help you in the long run. What are coping skills ? The skills that we use when faced with stress are known as coping skills. People develop a pattern upon which they rely during the emotionally difficult times. To help you cope in a healthy manner you can meditate--visit a beautiful, calm place, without even leaving your...

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A Summer Practice Plan. By Dr. Tammy Evans Yonce

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Articles, Education, Essays, Featured, Issues, June 2017 | 0 comments

A Summer Practice Plan.  By Dr. Tammy Evans Yonce

As the school year ends, many students are joyously looking forward to some relaxation and perhaps a break from the flute. Some students spend the summer working in order to have enough saved to pay for living expenses for the upcoming school year. While it’s a good, healthy idea to rest and recharge, and it’s often necessary to commit to earning a sum of money, it is also important to not lose the momentum and skills that are the result of many hours of diligent practice over the quickly ending school year. How do we balance the need for respite and work with the desire to keep growing as a musician? There are a couple of challenges that need to be addressed that often stand in the way of our musical progress during the summer. When school is over and we’re off on summer adventures, we often don’t have the benefit of regularly scheduled lessons with our teacher. The frequent encouragement and support received during those lessons is absent, and that can have an effect on our motivation. There is also much less accountability; if we know we won’t have the opportunity to check in with someone, the temptation to delay practicing is there. How can we stay motivated if our schedule has suddenly been turned upside down with travel, work, down time, pursuing other interests, and little to no contact with a teacher? Here are a few suggestions: Find a practice buddy to help keep accountability. Maybe there is a friend in your flute studio who also wants to keep their skills sharp over the summer. Check in with that person once a week to discuss what you’ve been working on and what your plan for the upcoming week is. They will do the same, and you will keep each other encouraged and motivated.   Come up with a project for yourself. Summer can be a fantastic time to explore flute technique and literature. Often we are working for very specific goals during the school year such as juries, recitals, lessons, and so forth. During the summer we can be a bit more exploratory with our practice. Maybe there are several pieces you’ve really wanted to work on but haven’t gotten to yet. Now is the perfect time! Perhaps you’d like to move beyond the major and minor scales; work on blues scales, whole tone scales, or another variety entirely. How is your double- and triple-tonguing? This would be a fantastic opportunity to work hard on that.   Explore the flute repertoire of a particular era. Maybe you’ve worked on a lot of music from the Classical period. Why not take this time to explore the Baroque (or Romantic, or 20th Century, or contemporary) repertoire? If you’re close to your school library, check out as many pieces from the era as you can find. Find high-quality recordings of these works, and follow along with the scores as you listen. In the absence of physical scores, check out those pieces that happen to exist in the public domain on IMSLP.org. Learn how they fit into the historical context; why were they written? What was their function? Are there any particular aspects of performance practice that need to be observed?   Record yourself. Sometimes this can be very uncomfortable for people...

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New Friends at the New Music Gathering. By Rachel Hacker

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Issues, June 2017 | 1 comment

New Friends at the New Music Gathering.  By Rachel Hacker

I adore flute events as much as the next person, but attending a non-flute focused conference was a welcomed breath of fresh air. Having been to a lot of flute fairs named the “Northeastern/central/whatever college organization-Flute Workshop,” I expected the New Music Gathering to be the same as a flute fair. I anticipated a bento-box style sampling of lectures, performances, and open master classes. Two or more events will feature a guest artist, and another will discuss “entrepreneurship” in the broadest of contexts. Meanwhile, a clinician will try to teach the entirety of a specialty topic in 50 minutes. The congested exhibit hall contains a jungle of flutes that stick straight up like trees underneath a florescent light “sun.” Colleagues of distant years, and alumni of the host university, will congregate in recital hall lobbies, and speak in altissimo ranges, as to express genuine, or sometimes fake, excitement. I may sound jaded on flute conventions, but I’ll still be found at as many of them as possible, simply because I think the flute is the coolest instrument ever. I’ll also continue to shell out money for airfare and hotels, until some schmuck with a big brain invents “virtual reality flute fairs” that can be attended from the comfort of our living rooms. Unless a virtual reality world consumes our lives, I’ll continue to be found in person, roaming the hallways of collegiate music buildings, or oversized convention centers, for a few days at a time. Perhaps my own apprehension towards flute fairs is simply because I was ready to attend something new. I needed something that focused less on competitions and the retail aspects, and focused more on the people in attendance. Flute fair structures can be too formal for my tastes, and rarely offer enough opportunities for networking. Flute fairs are put in the awkward position of attempting to appeal a huge disparity of ages and interest levels. My dream for the future of flute fairs has been inspired by something that was not a flute fair, but instead, the 2017 New Music Gathering. The host university for 2017 was Bowling Green State University- with a large and well-equipped assortment of classrooms and performance spaces. Five New York-based composers founded the conference in 2015: Daniel Felsenfeld, Lainie Fefferman, Matt Marks, Jascha Narveson, and Mary Kouyoumdjian.   Each of the founders is immensely an intelligent, personable, funny, and humble individual, with a list of impressive accolades. As a current resident of the Cincinnati area, my drive to Bowling Green was a monotonous 2.5-hour drive straight up Interstate 75. Although the facilities of Bowling Green were a great place for the conference, I found the city itself to be somewhat isolated. The next major city was Toledo- about 30 minutes north of us, and Dayton was south of BG by about 1.5 hours. Nevertheless, the city of Bowling Green greeted me with a level of predictability that embodied my upbringing. Ohio towns are earnest, self sufficient, and comfortable, and Bowling Green was no different. I opted to stay at a Days Inn room by myself. The room had no windows, and was located just a few hundred feet from the noisy interstate. My hotel selection was less than perfect, but hey, they gave me a conference rate of $45 dollars a...

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9 Checklists for Practicing Technical Passages. By Kristyn Son

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Issues, June 2017 | 0 comments

9 Checklists for Practicing Technical Passages.  By Kristyn Son

  As flutists, we are often challenged by the composers to push our limits with technical demands. With the nature of the instrument, it is important that we embrace and feel confident playing fast rather than being fearful about it. I have provided 9 checklists for flutists at any level to help practicing in most efficient manner for successful performances. Are you playing all the notes that are given by the composer? I often times find the students skipping notes because they feel the pressure to play fast and/or due to uneven fingers, ultimately resulting moving ahead of the tempo. Every note by a composer serves a purpose, regardless of the speed which leads us to the next checklist. Are you practicing from the slow tempo? I am sure that almost every young flutist has heard “work from a slow tempo” from their teachers. In order to attain complete control over your fingers, it is absolutely true that you have to work from a slow and comfortable tempo and work your way up to a faster tempo. Here is one more aspect to think about though. Have you practiced your technical passages at faster tempi? The beauty of live performances is that we never know what is going to happen. With the excitement when performing, we might start a piece at a faster tempo or your pianist might speed up with excitement. It is always good to be prepared. Are you doing everything written on the page, i.e. articulation, dynamics, breaths and etcetera? A performer is job is to serve as a bridge between the composer and audience. In order to accomplish our job, we have to understand the intentions of the composer. Markings given by the composer serves as great hints. It is very important that we value every marking and try to interpret in order to understand the composer’s intentions. Are you taking deep breaths? Playing fast passages require faster pacing and often times, we are busy concentrating on our fingers. However, are you remembering to take deep breaths? The movement of the air is what creates the sound on the flute. Delivering the fast passages well to the audience can only be done with deep breaths. Also, accidents are likely to occur when the air is running out with lack of oxygen to our brain. Are you playing in tempo? Surprisingly, the students often go faster on their fast scale passages. It is important to check with the metronome and stretch the fast notes within the beat as much as possible for a better delivery. Are you listening to your sound? Obviously, you will be focused on your fingers and the moving notes, but are you focusing on the quality of the sound as well? When a passage requires fast tonguing, playing into your flute will help with the core of the sound. Are you building tension before the fast passages? I often observe students’ eyes enlarging as they get closer to the music just before the fast passages. We perform our best when our body is relaxed and as easy as it sounds, on the contrary, we have to practice playing relaxed. It is essential to check if you are building tension before the fast passages and if it is reflected physically i.e. tense fingers,...

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The Flute’s Mainstream Moment. By Mara Miller and Justine Stephens

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Articles, Blog, Essays, Featured, Issues, May 2017 | 0 comments

The Flute’s Mainstream Moment. By Mara Miller and Justine Stephens

As one of the oldest wind instruments, the flute is a staple in Eastern music, classical music, and jazz due in no small part to its versatility in tone and character. Even the presence of flute in modern popular music has become prevalent and widespread across genres. Typically hidden within orchestral or MIDI sounds, the "come up" of individual flute lines, riffs, and motifs is not something new, but highly used in today's world. Did the flute's mainstream culture visibility start with Will Farrell's jazz flute appearance as Ron Burgandy in the 2004 motion picture Anchorman? How about rock band Jethro Tull's 1972 tune Living in the Past? Ian Anderson's extended technique flute solo in the song caught listeners' attention. Did the use of a MIDI flute on Britney Spears' Criminal serve as ignition for 2017's flute-filled comeback? The saxophone similarly had a "mainstream" moment in 2013 with Jason Derulo's hit Talk Dirty. These appearances of the flute could have easily influenced songwriters to shift their focus to the flute years later. Nevertheless, all of these songs—amongst many others—bring us to the present. Drake, one of the most buzzed-about artists, opens his collab Portland alongside rappers Quavo and Travis Scott with what sounds like a pan flute riff. Most recently and most notably, rapper Future featured a simple four-bar flute solo (sampled from the 1976 musical Selma) in combination with a MIDI drum over the flow of his rap in Mask Off.   Mask Off became an instant hit, but of course it had its doubters. GQ's Miles Raymer asks "Why is Flute Rap having a moment right now?" He critiques the flute as "an incredibly wack instrument. Possibly the wackest", yet following up with its success via the #MaskOffChallenge, touting the flute as "one of the stickiest trends in hip-hop production." NPR's Brendan Frederick describes Mask Off as a "soulful 70's song being sampled, which is sort of a sound that you're not used to hearing in modern trap music. And then it really contrasts nicely with this sort of harder...more traditional trap drums that you're used to hearing. And that gives it sort of a throwback sound, but something that's still connected to modern hip-hop." Mask Off launched an online fandom of young flutists—and later, other instrumentalists—covering the solo. In accordance with any online viral video, this was then paired with a hashtag and became aptly known as the #MaskOffChallenge. At the time that we decided to pursue our 15 seconds of fame with the #MaskOffChallenge, there were already quite a few of the videos circulating the Internet. The best thing about this challenge, in our opinion, was the intersection between pop culture and using a classically rooted instrument to then blend the two mediums. We decided to create our challenge by means of the Acapella app, a collaborative and multi-frame video recorder and editor. Incorporating beatbox, flutebox, rap, and the infamous tune, we opted for a nine-frame video and shifted the key up a half step (on the actual song, the key is a semi-tone between D and Eb). Tagging and hashtagging away on our social media channels, six hours had barely passed before the artist Future himself featured our cover on his Facebook page. The video racked in over 3,500 likes, 155,000 views, over 300...

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Optimal Musical Communication. by Catherine Ramirez

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Articles, Essays, Featured, Issues, May 2017 | 0 comments

Optimal Musical Communication.  by Catherine Ramirez

  This article first appeared in the winter 2014 issue of The Flutist Quarterly, the member magazine of the National Flute Association, and is reprinted with permission. nfaonline.org. THE VALUE OF OPTIMAL COMMUNICATION A master musician can captivate an audience before ever playing a note. A subtle change of tone can entice distracted listeners into the music, and keep them there. Musicians have been known to enrapture a crowd in such a way that these listeners still remember a particular performance decades later. While the ability of great soloists to capture and sustain the attention of an audience has intrigued me for many years, the motivation to research the topic of optimal communication resulted from negative experiences at concerts which left me feeling dull and tired, rather than alive and fulfilled. Musicians have an outstanding responsibility. With their power to harness and direct audience emotions, to heal and soothe the psyche, and even to alter states of being through music, great performers have ample opportunity to draw audiences in, simply through an improved experience of the music itself. This article focuses on the soloist’s path to direct musical communication and aims to supply useful information for the aspiring soloist and advanced or professional level flutist. Studying successful soloists and, from their perspective, their own abilities to engage with audiences, reveals what artists’ define as optimal communication and clarifies what it is that effective performers go through, work on, and do in preparation and in performance in order to make meaningful connections with an audience. Giving world-class performing musicians a voice – using their actual words to describe what they think and how they feel, especially during optimal performances – may provide greater insight into the most profound benefits of music and its significant power and importance in all human cultures. OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE The idea of “optimal performance” can be linked to that of “optimal experience” as generalized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as follows: Optimal experiences are situations in which attention can be freely invested  to achieve a person’s goals, because there is no disorder to straighten out,  no threat for the self to defend against….[They are often referred to as] flow experiences.1 Other authors have simplified the definition of “flow” to refer to experiences in which one’s “skills are fully preoccupied with a task.”2 In other words, rather than making a casual effort, a performer experiencing flow uses high degrees of intention, commitment, and intensity at every level of study, rehearsal, and delivery. Such powerful processes help musicians eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) the psychological and physical barriers between themselves and the audience. It’s this direct connection that allows performers to musically communicate with other musicians and the audience so that everyone is not only engaged, but also taken by the performance into a musical realm of existence often accompanied by a sense of timelessness, and an acute awareness of the personally significant meaning of the moment. CONNECTION When touched by a meaningful moment, what does that ‘connection’ feel like? This research formally recognizes 38 nationally and internationally known flute soloists who participated in this study by making available their personal descriptions about the most meaningful musical connections they have experienced with audiences. Describing that connection, they used the following words: an invisible relationship, strong tie, connection of energy, reaching out, drawing...

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