Book Review by Barbara Siesel
Stephen Clark has written a method book!! It’s called “The Flute Gym”, 10 chapters covering all aspects of flute playing from warming up, to power, projection, support, articulation, and more. In the introduction, Stephen talks about how busy flutists have less time available to practice, and wonders how can we condense practice time and still cover all that we need to do to be in great fluting shape. He developed his own exercises that would allow him, in short exercises to practice with maximum results. Now he’s sharing his practice discoveries with you.
Clark has a philosophy – he asks himself at the end of every practice session “HAS PROGRESS BEEN MADE?” And, how can one do that in a short amount of time? I think the book helps to answer these questions through excellent exercises, explanations, video demo’s and even some short excerpts to check your progress after each exercise.
There are 10 chapters, each chapter has 2 or 3 parts: What’s it all about? This is What You Do with an explanation including 2 QR codes, one with Video Demo and the other with a Video Guide. And a final section called "Real Life Examples" with orchestral excerpts or lines from the standard repertoire. Very clear and easy to use!!
Here are the chapter headings:
- Warming up
- Power and Projection (using harmonics and singing)
- Focus – helping to eliminate fizzy air escapes
- Support ( interesting exercise to activate muscles)
- Articulation (good exercise to really get the air going)
- Intonation & OUTonation
In addition, Clark includes a quick guide to Harmonics and Singing & Playing
And some final thoughts on Etudes and Studies, Performance Anxiety, Playing from Memory, and Choosing the Right Flute.
A totally complete approach to flute!!
I’ve been using a few of these exercises with my students and they have been very useful, as I think it’s so important to refresh how I practice and how I teach my students and myself. There is always something that I’m not noticing, hearing, seeing.
The Flute Gym is a great addition to all players and educators' library of learning.