Articles

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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On Playing Mother Goose. By Allison Fletcher

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

On Playing Mother Goose.  By Allison Fletcher

An Historical and Stylistic Analysis of the Piccolo Solos in Ravel’s Ma mère l’oye (1911), III. “Laideronnette, Impératrice des pagodes Adapted from Fletcher, Allison Marie Flores. “Ten Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo: An Historical and Stylistic Analysis.” DMA Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2008.   Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) composed the nursery tale suite Ma mère l’oye in 1908 to entertain the children of his friends Ida and Cipa Godebski. The family spent their summers at a house called La Grangette, or the Little Barn, which was where Ravel wrote the piano pieces while on a visit. Ravel was devoted to the Godebski children, Jean and Mimie, and used to bring them toys and romp about with them. When the publisher Jacques Durand came to visit Ravel and the Godebskis, the composer had the girls play for Durand a little duet piece he had written for them. The publisher was intrigued by the performance and asked Ravel to further expand the idea. Ravel completed the set of four pieces for piano four-hands and dedicated them to Jean and Mimie, although Mimie was too terrified to perform in public. Two different little girls, Jeanne Leleu (age 6) and Geneviève Durony (age 10), performed the premiere on 20 April 1910 at the Salle Gaveau. Ravel orchestrated and expanded the work into a ballet score in 1911, and Gabriel Grovlez conducted the premiere of the ballet version in January 1912 at the Paris Théâtre des Arts. The ballet version was published in the same month as the premiere in an edition of one hundred sets of the full score. The concert version, or suite, from the ballet contains the original five piano pieces. Ravel arranged the five pieces, or tableaux, which make up the piano and orchestral suite versions of Ma mère l’oye to form a large arch with slow first and last movements, moderate second and fourth movements, and a fast middle movement. The source for “Laideronnette, Impératrice des pagodes” is the story Serpentin Vert (Green Dragon) by Marie-Catherine Baronne d’Aulnoy (c. 1650-1705). D’Aulnoy’s nursery tale Serpentin Vert chronicles the adventures and misfortunes of Laideronnette, or Little Ugly, a princess who was made quite unattractive by a wicked fairy. Laideronnette sailed accidentally to a far-away enchanted palace where she fell in love with the king, who had been transformed into a green dragon by the same evil fairy. In the scene Ravel chose to set to music, Laideronnette is entertained by tiny enchanted toy figurines. The text from Serpentin Vert printed in the score may be translated to English as follows: She undressed and got into the bath. Immediately the toy mandarins and mandarinesses began to sing and to play instruments. Some had theorbos made from walnut shells; some had viols made from almond shells; for the instruments had to be of a size appropriate to their own. It is well-documented that Ravel was fascinated with fairy tales, mechanical trinkets, and toys, and could be described as having retained child-like wonder for the world. He was known for collecting small ornaments and ships in glass bottles, and had a room in his home decorated as a salon chinoise, as artificial exoticism was the fashion in fin de siècle France. Though many in the West had been intrigued by Asian culture throughout...

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How I Played Flute and Organ at the Same Time. By Fluterscooter

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

How I Played Flute and Organ at the Same Time.  By Fluterscooter

At this year’s Iowa Flute Festival, I took on a challenge given to me by flute professor and festival chair Nicole Esposito, to play flute and organ simultaneously! This is something I had tried many years ago at Flutes by the Sea, but I never had the chance to perform it. Since the University of Iowa had just gotten an amazing new organ in their new recital hall, this was the perfect opportunity for me to present this unique feat (pun intended). We even commissioned composer Joseph Hallman to write a piece specifically for this combination of flute and organ pedals, premiering at the concert. I also performed J.S. Bach’s e minor Sonata with the continuo part played on my feet. I am not an organist nor would I ever call myself one. I am a classically trained pianist, but I taught myself organ after playing church gigs where I was required to play organ. I was always quite intimidated by the pedals, but I faked it quite well at the various church gigs I had. Most of the time, I never actually played the pedals, because if one note is wrong, it can sound pretty bad. I haven’t had an organ gig for quite a few years, so I knew putting this together would take some work. Little did I know that the most difficult part would be finding a church that would let me practice. I spent at least a week walking into random churches asking to speak to their music director, explaining that I needed to practice flute and organ somewhere, only to be given odd looks by the church staff. Emails and phone calls to churches that never got returned, I was getting a little nervous as the concert was one month away. Luckily, a friend of a friend taught flute to a church music director’s daughter, and they agreed to let me practice a few times, 4 times to be exact. I have been asked, how did I even start practicing something like this? The answer is, just like the flute! I practiced both instruments individually, with scales and intervals that I made up for the organ pedals, similar to our Taffanel and Gaubert, just to get familiar with the pedals and get the feet moving. Then I played the scales and intervals with flute and organ together, so I could get a feel for the coordination. Then, just lots of very slow practice with a metronome. Sounds easy, right? Not quite. I realized I needed to memorize the foot positions, otherwise, I was prone to playing the pedal parts on my flute because I had to think so fast.  Many organists have been commenting on my bare feet.  I am well aware that it is improper technique, but it gave me feet better traction on the pedals, so that is why I decided to play bare feet!  Plus, I just like playing barefoot in general these days.  This is definitely a novelty act, and I am already planning the next repertoire and performance. To be continued......

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What’s Next? 5 Tips for Life After Graduation. By Katherine Isbill Emeneth

Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in April 2017, Articles, Entrepreneurship, Essays, Featured, Issues | 0 comments

What’s Next? 5 Tips for Life After Graduation.  By Katherine Isbill Emeneth

  “Going into the classical music profession is difficult. There aren’t enough jobs. Audiences are dwindling. It’s hard to make money. It’s not like it used to be.” Sound familiar? As classical musicians, we encounter these statements frequently and yet we continue to study, love, appreciate, and live our music. Why? Because we are hardworking, driven, passionate, and willing to do whatever it takes to have a sustainable career making music. These are all of the personal qualities it takes to “make it” after graduation. As students in music school, we face a lot anxieties about “what’s next;” what lies in front of us after getting the degree is intimidating and downright scary. Throughout our early lives, a plan is perfectly laid out for us. Go to kindergarten and learn colors, numbers, and letters. Go to the next grade and next school. Get braces. Take dance lessons. Get good grades. Excel. Make All-State band. Play in the youth symphony. Go to college. Practice a lot. Learn how to be an artist, a scholar, an educator, and a well-rounded person. But what happens after graduation? There is no real plan laid out for us, and that is what makes life after graduation scary…the unknown. Traditionally, music graduates have gravitated towards three career paths: playing in an orchestra, teaching at a college or university, or teaching in public schools. These are all excellent options that provide stability, a mostly regular work schedule, benefits, and a retirement plan. The stability of these jobs is why we like them. They are reliable and are ready-made just like our path through education. Despite many folks’ opinions that these paths are no longer attainable or too difficult to achieve, it is essential to follow your dreams no matter what and be armed with the know-how and skills required to make a living in music in the time between graduation and reaching your dream. We are experiencing an exciting time in classical music. All of the negatives at the beginning of this article are only one way to view what is occurring in our field. Another way to look at the current climate is to see it as one of opportunity. As we learned in music history classes, great change is not brought about by things staying the same. Great change is brought about by evolving ideas, new directions, new inspirations, and necessity. We find ourselves living in a time where classical music is experiencing rapid evolution and the definition of “making it” is changing. How will all of this help you after graduation? Most recent music school graduates will not land their dream job the month or year after obtaining the diploma. In fact, it could be two years, three years, ten years, or more. So, what do you do in the meantime? Since it is the prime time for innovation in classical music, take advantage of it! We hear a lot about musicians becoming entrepreneurs. There is a reason why: it works! Musicians have all the necessary skills required of entrepreneurs. Is becoming an entrepreneur a lot more difficult that going down the traditional career path? Maybe. But it is possible! Now, finally, here are the five tips that can help you develop a sustainable career between graduation and landing the dream job: Before...

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The College Audition Process: Conquering Fear with Confidence. by Nancy Stagnitta

Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in April 2017, Articles, Education, Featured, Issues | 0 comments

The College Audition Process: Conquering Fear with Confidence.  by Nancy Stagnitta

For a young flutist preparing to audition for college and conservatory admission (not to mention what lies beyond!), the enormity of the process can seem to loom larger than life.  From choosing the schools and teachers with the strongest potential to be the best fit, to choosing repertoire and honing the skills and artistic voice necessary to perform convincingly, to creating successful pre-screening audition recordings and preparing live audition repertoire, to traveling for auditions and waiting for admission and financial aid decisions to arrive, and finally, to making that final leap of faith and committing to a school, the journey is both rich and arduous.  It requires stamina and fortitude, focus and dedication, and most importantly, a positive outlook, a sense of humor, firm trust in one’s preparation and abilities, and unwavering confidence.  Even the most thoroughly prepared student can become distracted by doubt and by thoughts such as, “my future will be determined by this five-minute audition” - thus easily erasing the hard-won progress and enthusiasm achieved in the practice room.   With thoughtful care in cultivating a positive mindset and effective practice habits, these feelings of doubt and fear can be replaced by genuine excitement and healthy confidence. Setting Your Golden Standard Having an accurate, steeped-in-reality view of your current level of ability at the time of an audition is crucial to bringing a confident approach.  As one Interlochen student wisely reported upon returning from a college audition tour, “When you walk into an audition, you can’t be better than you are.”  Indeed, setting your standard out of the reach of your current ability, especially just as you step foot into in audition, has wickedly strong potential to set you up to feel that you have failed to deliver your very best, because you were focused instead on the alternative, out-of-reach “very best” you suddenly strived for in the moment.  Performing well under the pressure of an expectation that can’t be met is debilitating for almost any player.  Certainly, though, the excitement and magic of a live performance can serve to elevate your “gold standard” if you let it, and if your level of preparation allows for it.  And of course, setting a standard that is too low will keep you from achieving your best in demonstrating all you have accomplished in your preparation.  The adage “there is no substitute for practice” is glaringly true and apparent in an audition!  Know your strengths, fortify any weaknesses through mindful practice, and trust your work. Taking Control of the Room An audition does not begin with the first note, but rather, it starts with the presence and attitude you bring when you first step into the room.  This includes your body posture, your stride and sense of purpose, your facial expression, eye contact, and your overall sense of comfort, enthusiasm, and confidence.  Strive to be yourself - your best self - and to remember that through your hard work and dedication, you have earned the right to feel positive and strong. Your Inner Voices are Talking….  (what are they telling you?) Fostering an effective mindset for successful auditions takes time, thoughtful reflection, and practice.  Confidence is so frequently derailed by those unwelcome voices that can suddenly come to mind: “I’m not prepared. I’m not “good enough.”  So-and-so sounds better.  So-and-so...

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Thinking About Moyse: Inflection. By Cate Hummel

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

Thinking About Moyse: Inflection.  By Cate Hummel

Inflection is one of the most important tools we have in our expressive toolbox. It is also frequently largely discounted and overlooked. We spend the bulk of our practice time working on tone and technique, blowing and articulation, extended techniques, etudes, mastering the standard repertoire and orchestral excerpts. And we forget the primary artistic reason for all these skills, which is to have something to say musically and the means with which to say it. Let me pose the question in a slightly different way--What qualities do top performing artists demonstrate in their playing that draws you into their performances? Is it their sound? Their technique? The repertoire they play? The sheer force of their personality? Or could it have to do with their ability to show the pulse within a measure, the arc of a phrase, the larger structure of a movement or entire piece?   Probably the most consequential and even cataclysmic thing a teacher ever said to me was when Thomas Nyfenger said to me, “It is obvious to me that you have a very active inner musical life. The problem is, I can’t hear it.” For me it was absolutely the right thing to say at the right time. By the time he said this to me, I had had seven or eight years of post-secondary education and studied with some amazing teachers including Samuel Baron, Judith Mendenhall, Tom Nyfenger, Harold Bennett and Raphael Dannatt (I know, who? More on Raphael another time). I had been introduced to the teaching of Moyse through his students and studied Tone Development Through Interpretation and the 24 Little Melodic Studies. For me, what Nyfenger said to me meant that it is one thing to understand the rules of musical inflection and even feel them internally. It’s quite another to demonstrate them overtly, so everyone listening can hear and feel the inflection as well. Nyfenger’s words literally drove me into a practice room for more than five years. I knew what I had to work on and I was determined to show my audience what I had come to understand working with the inspiring teachers I had had. I even formulated a rule for myself that has informed my playing and teaching ever since: “If you can’t hear it, it doesn’t count.” If you really reflect on this idea, you will see there are an infinite number corollaries or ways you can ask yourself about how effectively you are communicating the intent of the composer.   Is understanding inflection an innate skill, something you are born with, or can you learn to play with more inflection, color and expression? I absolutely think there general principles that anyone can learn to put into practice. Here are a few basic ideas to stimulate your creative juices.   Strong beats and weak beats - I know, well duh! But it’s one thing to understand it and another thing entirely to do it. Record yourself. Be courageous enough to ask yourself whether you can actually hear yourself play with inflection. The general rule Moyse talked about all the time was that weak goes to strong (4-1, 2-3, 4-1, 2-3, 4-1). Say this to yourself leading into the strong beat from the weak beat. How many times can you think of that a phrase...

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Art for Social Change by Barbara Siesel

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Articles, Entrepreneurship, Essays, Featured, Issues, March 2017 | 0 comments

Art for Social Change by Barbara Siesel

“In the face of Trump, many artists report feelings of paralysis. Should they carry on as before, nobly defying the ruination of public discourse? Or seize on a new mission, abandoning the illusion of aesthetic autonomy?” Alex Ross Above is a quote by Alex Ross in his article in the New Yorker entitled “Making Art in a Time of Rage.” He reminds us that classical musicians respond to adversity in a variety of ways, choosing to either go deeper into creating beauty as Leonard Bernstein so famously said shortly after the assassination of JFK. Here is an excerpt from the statement that Bernstein made at a fundraising event at Madison Square Garden: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Or perhaps you are in a state of mind that you can’t create art until you’ve won the fight or cleared the space. Ross quotes Gwendolyn Brooks’s 1949 poem “First Fight Then Fiddle”: “. . . Carry hate In front of you and harmony behind. Be deaf to music and to beauty blind. Win war. Rise bloody, maybe not too late For having first to civilize a space Wherein to play your violin with grace.” But perhaps we want to consider these thoughts deeply and then choose to pursue a third approach. We can continue to create music more deeply and beautifully than before, do our very best, and then attach a social change addition to how the work is presented, funded or performed. We can keep growing our voices as artists and contribute to winning the fight as well! Here’s an example of a project that I think does just that. Fluterscooter has just released a new CD, and I asked her a few questions about the social impact of the new album: Barbara: Congratulations on your new CD- can you tell us about it?  What inspired you to make this recording? Fluter: I had always wanted to do a meditation album, but after the election, I was inspired to actually get into the studio and create it!  It is designed for meditation and healing, as we all need it in these trying times.  It was also inspired by working with the sacred teacher plants for the past year and a half, and it is currently played in healing ceremonies.  I composed, produced, and played most of the instruments on the whole album!  I finished it in a week and a half, too (lol). Barbara: Why did you choose the ACLU? https://www.aclu.org Fluter: I feel like that's a no-brainer.  People's rights are being threatened daily, whether it be their religion, gender, sexual orientation, or color of their skin.  Since the election, I've donated to them on a monthly basis, but I want to be able to help more, so I'm donating 25% of profits from this album to ACLU.  Also, I'm donating 100% of profits from my track "Standing Rock" to the WaterKeeper's Alliance (www.waterkeeper.org) Barbara: What advice would you give to other flutists who want to pursue an art for social change project? Fluter: Do it.  And do it NOW.  Music is a great way to help the organizations that need it so much right now! If you have an “Art for Social Change” project that you...

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