Our Newsletters

Check out articles from our previous newsletters! If you haven't already,


sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter in your inbox.




 January 2017


Music, Healing and Our Communities:

An Empowering Partnership


Michelle S. Lynch, PsyD, LP

Detroit Medical Orchestra

DMO Group Picture


Since its beginning in 2010, the Detroit Medical Orchestra’s mission of “Bringing Healing Through Music” has been realized by presenting high-level symphonic performances in the heart of downtown Detroit performed by Detroit-area medical students, nurses, resident and attending physicians, allied-health professionals, professors/academics, and well as any other musicians who are passionate about the healing power of music. 

The orchestra members are all volunteers, giving generously of their time and musical talent. While the musicians come from a variety of different disciplines and backgrounds, they join together to exchange their instruments of their demanding professional and academic lives for those of musical instruments; to create the healing and soothing sounds of music to promote relaxation and rejuvenation not only for the listeners of their music, but also for the musicians themselves.  Performances featuring the full 70+ member orchestra that are part of the Detroit Medical Orchestra’s official concert season are always free and open to all in the community; giving the gift of music to thousands of appreciative concert-goers over the past several years.  

The healing power of music is both historic and scientific.  In ancient times, the Greeks worshiped Apollo, a god for both music and medicine. Hippocrates, commonly called the “Father of Western Medicine,” is said to have played music for his patients (Haley, 2015).  Research has long supported that listening to classical music can increase relaxation, provide respite and relief from negative emotions and experiences, and relieve symptoms of both physical and mental health conditions. Classical music in particular has been found to have a variety of positive health effects such as reducing pain and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, relieving insomnia, reducing healing times, increasing memory retrieval and improving communication (Adams 2102; Haley, 2015; Ifill, 2012; Mount 2004).  

Neuroscientists are working to further understand how music impacts brain functioning and have reported a number of advantages for musically-trained individuals.  Advantages that range from better verbal and mathematical skills to higher scores on tests of working memory, cognitive flexibility, and IQ (Dewar, 2014; Fujioka et al 2006; Schellenberg 2006; Patel and Iverson 2007; Hanna-Pladdy and Mackay 2011).   The positive and profound effects that music can have on the brain are not just limited to those creating the music, but extend to all who listen and enjoy it.

Exploring the connections between music and science has revealed fascinating insights on how brain functioning can be powerfully affected by music. Research in this area has led to investigations of the “Mozart effect” and experiments that have supported individuals having brief improvement in visual-spatial skills immediately after listening to a Mozart sonata (Dewar, 2014; Rauscher et al, 1993; Hetland, 2000). Neuroscientist - Daniel Levitin, author of This is your Brain on Music, emphasizes the connections between music and the brain and the powerful effects music has on the areas of the brain that store memory, influence emotion and produce a sense of satisfaction or pleasure (Levitin, 2007). Dr. Oliver Sacks, Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, explored the power of music on the brain and how memory, mood, and emotion are powerfully impacted by music.  His work with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other severe neurological and physical problems illustrates the profound emotional impact and healing effect that the return of memories triggered by music can have on people’s lives (Sacks, 2008).   In his book, Awakenings, Dr. Sacks states, “The power of music to integrate and cure is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication” (Sacks, 1999).

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) cites Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT), a form of speech-language and music-based therapy, as a helpful intervention in the recovery of expressive language skills with brain-injury patients (Haley, 2015).  This technique which utilizes melody and rhythm to help improve expressive language by tapping into non-damaged and preserved functional brain areas, such as those engaged in the areas of singing, helps stimulate and engage language-capable regions (Zumbansen et al, 2014).  This type of treatment aided Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in her recovery, and by using Melodic Intonation Therapy she was able to sing what she was not able to say, and this has facilitated her speech recovery (Haley, 2015).  A number of regions in the brain are activated by listening to music.  Researchers believe that as we listen to music, the brain responds by creating new pathways and connections, and this can often have a significant positive impact around damaged or disconnected areas (Ifill, 2012). Music therapy is now being used as an intervention with a number of different difficulties, such as people suffering from early-onset dementia, kids with autism, as well as veterans who are coming back from war and trying to learn to walk without a limb.  A growing number of studies also suggest that music-based therapies can promote healing in several ways such as helping stroke patients regain speech, improve heart and respiratory rates and blood pressure, as well as reduce anxiety and pain in cancer and leukemia patients. (Ifill, 2012). 

As the brain processes music, it stimulates communication between left and right hemispheres. It is not surprising that many deep thinkers and scientists have enjoyed and benefited from the positive effects of this stimulation.  Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.  I often think in music.  I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music.” Einstein started playing the violin when he was five and music was not only an outlet for his emotions, but the core of his creative life.  He was nourished by music and found particular inspiration in playing music written by Mozart (Miller, 2006). 

It is clear that music has the powerful potential to heal from within, our bodies and minds; however, this healing can extend outward by fostering positive connections with those around us and building a spirit of collaboration between members of our communities.  Jean Vanier writes in his book, Community and Growth, “One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing” (Vanier, 1989). At every concert, the Detroit Medical Orchestra promotes a Detroit-based health or community initiative/organization, increasing awareness to these groups and their missions through pre-concert talks to the audience and also collecting donations at the concert which go directly to these charities. In past concerts, we have supported free health clinics and community children’s programs, among others.  

The Detroit Medical Orchestra wishes to extend the healing power of music to the greater Detroit community by creating an experience through our free performances that not only brings people together; to revitalize rejuvenate, and inspire;  but also to support and build partnerships with community art, cultural, social and health initiatives.  Please visit the Detroit Medical Orchestra’s website, www.DetroitMedicalOrchestra.org for more information about the orchestra as well as a full listing of upcoming concert dates.


Michelle Lynch with Flute


Michelle S. Lynch, Psy.D. is a graduate of Hope College, where she received a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Psychology and Japanese Language.   Dr. Lynch completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and completed her Internship through the Wayne State University Child/Adolescent Clinical Psychology Training Program. She is an alumnus of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, during which time she received the Distinguished Pediatric Psychology Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Award in 2006.  She has held positions in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Child Research Division at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, prior to starting full-time private practice in 2006.  Dr. Lynch specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents and families experiencing emotional and behavior difficulties related to trauma, loss, violence, disaster or other psychologically overwhelming experiences.    

Dr. Lynch is thankful to have grown up in a family that strongly supported and encouraged music education.  It was at a community symphony concert as a young elementary school student where she experienced the excitement of first hearing a live classical music performance and felt the inspiration of wanting to start playing an instrument.  Shortly thereafter, she starting playing the flute and continued to do so through college.  After a hiatus from playing due to graduate school studies and post-graduate career activities, she had the good fortune of learning about the Detroit Medical Orchestra while attending a Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert.  Since joining the Detroit Medical Orchestra, she has rediscovered the joy, artistic energy and creative challenge that comes with playing and studying music. She is grateful to study under the flute instructorship of Carol Perkins. 

Dr. Lynch is passionate about being a musician with the Detroit Medical Orchestra as well as the orchestra’s current President of the Board of Directors, providing her the opportunity to contribute to the orchestra’s mission of bringing the healing power of music to the greater Detroit community through the Detroit Medical Orchestra’s free classical music performances. In addition to volunteering as the Detroit Medical Orchestra's President of the Board of Directors, Dr. Lynch is also an active member of the Detroit Public Television's Community Advisory Panel and serves on the Arts and Culture Subcommittee of the Detroit Public Television's Community Advisory Panel. 



Adams, S. (2012, March 28). Classical Music improves Surgery.  Retrieved from:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9169589/Classical-music-improves-surgery.html

Dewar, G.D. (2014). Music and Intelligence:  A Parent’s evidence-based guide.  Retrieved from:  http://www.parentingscience.com/music-and-intelligence.html#sthash.GIdUpWps.dpuf

Fujioka T., Ross B., Kakigi R., Pantev C., and Trainor L.J. (2006). One year of musical training affects development of auditory cortical-evoked fields in young children. Brain. 129 (Pt 10):2593-608 

Haley, A. (2015, January 19). Music Has Charms: The healing power of music therapy.  Retrieved from: http://www.whatsupmag.com/2015/01/19/59755/music-has-charms-the-healing-power-of-music-therapy

Hanna-Pladdy, B., Mackay, A. (2011). The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging. Neuropsychology. 2011, Apr 4.

Hetland, L. (2000). Listening to music enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Evidence for the "Mozart effect." The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3/4), 105--148. 

Ifill, G. (Interviewer) & Michels, S. (Interviewee). (2012). The Healing Power for Music [Interview transcript].  Retrieved from PBS NEWSHOUR:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health-jan-june12-musictherapy_02-27/

Levitin, D.  (2007). This is Your Brain on Music:  The Science of a Human Obsession.  New York: Penguin Publishing. 

Miller, A.I. (2006, January 31). A Genius Finds Inspiration in the Music of Another.  Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/31/science/31essa.html?_r=1&

Mount, B.M. (2004, September 9). The Healing Power of Music.  Retrieved from: http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm10-1/guerisseur-musique-en.htm

Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L. and Ky, K.N.. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365: 611.

Sacks, O. (1999). Awakenings. New York, Vintage Books.

Sacks, O. (2008).  Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition. New York, Vintage Books.

Schellenberg, E.G. (2006). Long-term positive associations between music lessons and IQ. Journal of Educational Psychology 98(2): 457-468. 

Schellenberg, E.G., Nakata, T., Hunter, P.G., and Tamota, S. (2007). Exposure to music and cognitive performance: tests of children and adults. Psychology of music, 35(1): 5-19.

Patel, A.D. and Iversen, J.R. (2007). The linguistic benefits of musical abilities. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11:369-372. 

Vanier, J. (1989).  Community and Growth, 2nd Revised Edition. Mahwah, NJ, Paulist Press.

Zumbansen, A., Peretz, I., Hebert, S. (2014). Melodic Intonation Therapy: Back to Basics for Future Research.  Frontiers in Neurology, 5: 7


December 2016

6 Weeks to Finals

by Sharon Sparrow


“Wow, that was the best I’ve ever played!”

Those are the best 8 words strung together I can think of to define what success really means! So, after you’ve repeated them at least twice, let’s get to work and learn how to turn those words into your next audition or performance reality!

Preparation! No one, not even Yo-Yo Ma, could say those words with real belief without having put in the preparation time and steps necessary. Preparation begins with organization. When is your event? Does it involve a pianist? What music is required? Is memorization required? Once you have organized yourself, you can formulate a “success timeline”. Realistically give yourself enough time to feel completely secure and confident about a week before the actual event! Do NOT wait until the night before to feel completely ready. Preparing for a performance is like cooking a stew, after all the ingredients are in place, it needs a good deal of simmer time to taste it’s absolute best. 

I believe that total preparation is like a triangle with 3 equal sides to it. The side we are all most familiar with is the “Practice” side. We must put ample time into practicing for our event, which means concentrated time in our practice room, solidifying technique (by practicing slowly!), tone, intonation (using the tuner!), rhythm (using the metronome!) and putting our piece together musically. But don’t be fooled by thinking this is the ONLY side… you still have 2 sides of your triangle left to perform your best.

The second side is Mental Training, or getting your head in the right frame of mind to perform your best. There are several books available to help you with this, many found in the sports sections, as top athletes equally train their minds along with their bodies! Also, for this side, Positive talk is HUGE!  Every word you say, every thought, every post on Facebook must reflect your positive attitude about your audition. Discard saying things such as “Oh, I’m so nervous about this”. “This is going to be terrible”. “I always screw up that passage”. Replace those words and thoughts with “I’m so excited to share my piece with everyone.”  “I’ve worked really hard and know I’m going to play my best.”  “I really love playing this piece”. Believe it or not, your brain is like a recording device, and will remember, store, and spit back out at you all it has heard when it comes to crunch time. Which of those statements above do you want your brain telling you at your performance?!

The third side of the triangle involves Training for the Actual Event. We call this “mock auditioning”. Create several situations that mimic or are as similar as the event you are going to perform in. Gather up people to listen to you (friends, parents, peers, teddy bears, etc.) so that you have an “audience”. Set up your recording device, and then proceed as if it’s the actual event, from standing backstage or outside the room, to walking in, to tuning, to performing without stopping, to bowing (if applicable), to leaving the room. Keep a journal and jot down notes after each of your mocks, including your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts that ran through your head, etc. Each and every time you do this, you will improve significantly! By the time your actual event comes around, you will be a pro at this!! 

So, let’s talk about the word “success” for a moment. For me, playing my best certainly defines success. This is a “Performance Goal” rather than an “Outcome Goal”. Try to define the difference, and each time you play and even practice, devise a list of Performance Goals for yourself that are attainable. For example, “I’m going to enjoy this performance” is a Performance Goal. “I’m going to win this competition” is an “Outcome goal”.  “I’m going to give this performance 100 percent of my energy”. “I’m going to get a rating of 1 on this”. See the difference? Make your OWN list, and start repeating these to yourself before you play!

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for putting in the time and effort to completely prepare. IT TAKES TIME! It is worth the effort. Use your completed Triangle and you will be very happy with the results. It’s going to feel great to be able to say “Wow, that was the best I’ve ever played!” 


Sharon Sparrow’s book “6 Weeks to Finals!” is a delightful and essential book on preparation and organization for any musical performance! Her tried and true methods have helped several musicians achieve goals they have spent years striving for. It is available at Flute Specialists, through Theodore Presser co., and also on Amazon. 


   Sharon Sparrow is the Assistant Principal Flute of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at The Juilliard School and a Master’s degree at Mannes College of Music. She has given master classes all over the world and locally is the Instructor of Flute at Oakland University and Wayne State University.

Sharon is a sought-after trainer for orchestral auditions on all instruments, and she has coached players who have won major jobs in orchestras throughout the US. Her specialty is helping musicians with their mindset, confidence and certainty through preparation so they can master the audition experience. 

Sharon Sparrow is a hands-on advocate for music education at all ages, and has hosted and written children’s shows for both the Detroit Symphony and the CutTime Players, based in Michigan. Sharon has been a concerto soloist and has held Principal positions with the Memphis Symphony, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 






November 2016




The student stands at the front of the room, playing a Bach sonata. 


The teacher stands several yards away, eyes closed, listening intently. 


“You’re holding your ribs,” the teacher says. “Try allowing your ribs to release before 
you start the note.”


The student thinks for a moment and tries again. The sound she makes is 
instantly bigger, freer, rounder. 


The setting is the serene Holy Cross Monastery on the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie,
New York. The student is one of many who come to the master class to learn 
from this incredibly perceptive flutist and master teacher. And the teacher 
is none other than Gary Schocker.


Known by many as the world’s most-published living composer of flute music, with more than 200 titles in print, and as a gifted flutist, having won many honors and performed  when he was fifteen with both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra,  Mr. Schocker is also an exceptional teacher who is able to transform the playing of those lucky enough to study with him.


When asked how he can diagnose a problem just by listening, he replies, “When you have played your instrument for a long time, you can hear certain patterns. You know, for example, that if someone’s knees are tight, their back is going to be tight, and it’s going to affect their sound in a certain way.” When asked how he decides what to work on first with a new student, he says, “Well, I look at their hands. One of the major problems of flute playing is balancing the instrument without gripping it too tightly. The hands and arms have to be easy. If they aren’t, they will negatively affect the ribs and the breath. Everything has to work together. When a student first comes to me I listen. I listen for a spark there; is there a real musical personality? I usually start a lesson by playing a duet because a musically talented person will instinctively try to make music with the other person. Some inexperienced sightreaders will get stiff and start to count with their body, stopping the musical flow. Anybody can learn how to make a good sound and play fluidly, getting their fingers to move. The part that can’t really be taught is playing expressively. Music is a language and a thought process, which not everybody understands. You have to get beyond the rudiments of music to learn how to express yourself. Music comes straight from who you are and becomes sound. The body has to get out of the way.”


Years of studying the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, and other body awareness disciplines, have given Schocker insight into ways to help people learn to let their bodies get out of the way of their playing. “People misunderstand breathing, how to get resonance out of their instrument. How their mask (the muscles of the face) works. People think they are getting volume by hitting their fingers hard on the keys, or by squeezing or lifting their ribs, when they take a breath. And when they blow, they start pushing the air forcibly from their gut, closing the ribs down, so they think incorrectly that they don’t have enough air. I look for ways to get people to be easier in their bodies. All of the instructors I’ve worked with have shown me certain physical habits of mine that were getting in the way of my playing. So even though I’m not an Alexander teacher or a Feldenkrais expert, I use all of the things I’ve learned, in conjunction with using my ears, to intuit problems that people have.” 


His awareness of how people’s physical habits affect their playing has enabled him to help players of different abilities, including some with serious problems. “I’ve had a couple of students come to me suffering from focal dystonia, who couldn’t play at all, and I got them playing again. One person was seeing a psychiatrist who said that all of their problems would go away if they stopped playing flute. But this person really wanted to play! The flute’s a pretty sensitive instrument, and the harder you try to play it, the more difficult it becomes. If you can get people to take a step back from what they are working so hard at, you can get them to play more easily.”


Mr. Schocker has a collection of vintage flutes, mostly made by William S. Haynes and Louis Lot, and he says he has learned a great deal from learning how to play each one. “They all demand certain concessions,” he notes. “I love the old French flutes. I have five Lots, and they make the most spectacular sound. I have the flute that Jean-Pierre Rampal’s father Joseph owned. I find it thrilling, just knowing this was the sound that Jean-Pierre grew up hearing, and being able to make that sound. I have a recording of father and son playing a duet and there it is, you can hear the flute, and yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. I think the sound of those old flutes was much clearer, cleaner, and purer than modern flutes, but not as easy to play. They demand attention. You can’t bear down on them.”


Many students who attend the monastery classes come back annually. Over time they make progress, and others are able to hear the changes. Some are also flute teachers, and they are able to learn new ways of working with their own students from observing Mr. Schocker’s approach with each flutist. He encourages them to get their students to sightread, and to listen to as many different recordings and live performances as they can. “They need to know how the music sounds with all the parts, not just the flute part,” he says. “If you only know the flute part, it’s like trying to copy a painting and only copying the purple part. Or like learning your lines in a play but not knowing what the other actors are saying in between. Maybe this is the fault of the society we live in, which places such emphasis on perfection. It creates an atmosphere of fear. We should emphasize musical enjoyment more. It’s supposed to feel good to make music, to connect with good feelings when we play.”


Schocker is constantly discovering new things about his own playing, and finding new ways to explain concepts of breathing, technique, and musicianship to his students. His fascination with the flute, and his pursuit of making the most expressive sound possible while keeping the body relaxed, means that there will always be something new to learn, by him and by the flutists who come to the monastery to work with him.


In addition to the retreats at Holy Cross Monastery, which are held twice a year, Gary Schocker teaches in his homes in New York City and in Easton, PA. For more information, visit garyschocker.com.


Gary Schocker Headshot

Flutist-composer-pianist Gary Schocker is an accomplished musician of outstanding versatility. At age 15, he made his professional debut when he performed as soloist with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has won numerous competitions including the Young Concert Artists, the National Flute Association, the NY Flute Club and the East-West Artists. Often, he concertizes in duo with guitarist Jason Vieaux. Internationally, he has toured and taught in Colombia, Panama, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, France and Italy.


Schocker has composed sonatas and chamber music for most instruments of the orchestra. He also has written several musicals, including Far From the Madding Crowd and The Awakening, which can be heard on Original Cast Recordings. Both shows were winners of the Global Search for New Musicals in the UK and were performed in Cardiff and at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as in New Zealand. In New York, they were winners of the ASCAP music theatre awards.

Schocker has won the International Clarinet Association's annual composition competition twice and the National Flute Association's annual Newly Published Music Award numerous times. Among artists who have played his compositions, James Galway gave the American premier of Green Places with the New Jersey Symphony.

In 2008 Schocker was commissioned to write the required piece "Biwako Wind" for the International Flute Competition in Biwako, Japan for which he also served as judge.

Gary has private flute studios in NYC and Easton, PA where he dually resides. He is on the faculty at NYU. He performs on Haynes and Louis Lot flutes.




 October 2016


Flute Choir: Beyond the Basics

        by Gail Green

You might be thinking, how do I start a flute choir or how to transition being the new director of an established flute choir.  It starts with 3 basic guidelines:  

  1. Plan
  2. Communicate
  3. Responsiveness 


Plan – Organized planning before the first rehearsal will help with team building and trust.

  • Listen to other flute choirs and get inspired and gather ideas.  Flute festivals and Youtube are great resources.
  • Name the flute choir.  
  • Find a place to rehearse.  Churches are nice places.  
  • List concert venue possibilities. A few concert ideas can be at churches, libraries, museums, performing arts centers or clubs, nursing homes, hospital lobbies.
  • I like to set the performance dates and work backwards to set the rehearsal schedule. If you are transitioning to an established flute choir, perhaps not change was has worked in the past.  It is good to keep traditions and then add a few of your own ideas as time progresses.  
  • Decide if you want to have a membership fee to purchase music. 

Suggestion: Set up a bank account to deposit money and debit card for purchases.  Have a joint bank account with a member of the flute choir to be accountable to each other.  

  • Compose an email invitation for the upcoming season with all information that includes rehearsals, concerts, membership fee (if you decide). I have found that if people know up front your vision for the season before they commit, they appreciate it and can plan accordingly.  Some flute choirs rehearse all year and some have certain times of the year.  We have 2 seasons.  One in the fall and one in the spring.  It works for us.  
  • Send your Invitation letter of your upcoming season in emails to prospective members.  Target your invitations to the caliber of your group.  If anyone can join, then realize that there will be a span of abilities and choose music accordingly.  If you have an elite group then you might have auditions or by invitation only.  An idea would that the director would give the interested person a flute choir part, they rehearse on their own and submit a recording by a certain date via email.  It saves time and takes off a little pressure on the individual.  
  • Keep a list of committed members with their emails for that season.  
  • Choose music that fits the group, also assess your audience and what they would find interesting and educational.  If you only have C flutes and no alto flutes or bass flutes, then start with trio’s or quartets and double up on parts.   Start simple. 
  • Assign and get parts to members.  They practice and come prepared.
  • Pre-Plan the warm up, tuning, seating arrangement and music schedule for the rehearsal.   


Communication – It is very important to stay on top of sharing information to members.

  • Initial invitation of the season to prospective members of the flute choir.
  • Email reminder of the rehearsal dates to committed members of the time and place, bring music if you have permission to scan parts so members can print and practice, bring music stands if needed.
  • Email what to prepare for the rehearsal and links of other groups performing the pieces you are playing. 
  • Advertise concerts through social media, local music shops, schools, churches, and your local flute association, if you have one.  
  • Create a website with information about your flute choir and information to join.  Our is michiganfluteorchestra.com
  • Create a Facebook page
  • Order flute choir business cards, flyers with your flute choir photo with contact information



  • It is very important to return emails and phone calls in a timely manner. 
  • It builds relationships, trust and rapport
  • As you respond, be flexible, people have families and schedules that sometimes conflict. Don’t take it personal, enjoy who is there.  


In closing, 

Have fun, be confident, stay the course. Planning and Conducting like anything else takes time, practice and consistency.  As we experience and grow and learn from each season, it is exciting to evaluate and plan for the next season. And, how fun to cultivate new friendships along the way.  

Any questions, please feel free to contact me, Gail Green, gailgreenstudio@gmail.com. Or michiganfluteorchestra@gmail.com or our through our website: michiganfluteorchestra.com



The Michigan Flute Orchestra to Perform at Detroit Institute of Arts and Madonna College

The Michigan Flute Orchestra has an exciting upcoming season.  The Orchestra will be performing at the 

Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) on Friday, October 14, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in Rivera Court at 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI and Madonna University on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. in Kresge Hall at 36600 Schoolcraft Road, Livonia, MI.


The Michigan Flute Orchestra is an ensemble of dedicated and accomplished flutists from the southern Michigan area.  The instrumentation consists of the entire spectrum of the flute family:

Piccolo, C Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Contra Bass Flute.    

The Orchestra has a great program that will include Catherine Sherwin and Carol Marcus who will perform a duet from Ervin Monroe’s arrangement of “The Royal March from the Sonata in F Major” by Georg Telemann.  In addition, Miranda Browne will perform on piccolo two movements from the “Concerto in C for Piccolo” by Vivaldi, arranged by Nancy Nourse and Robyn Myers will perform “Prayer from a Jewish Life, No. 1” by Ernest Bloch, arranged by Francine Ross Pancost.

Mark your calendars for engaging performances this fall!


Gail Green


MFO is under the direction of Gail Green.  Gail received her Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 Instrumental and Vocal Music Education from Central Michigan University.  She taught music in several public schools throughout Michigan and has performed in several community orchestras and bands, pit orchestras, flute choirs and a variety of chamber groups in Michigan and Canada. Gail is currently a member of Trio Dolce and the flutist with the Dexter Chamber Strings. She also serves on the board with the Southeast Michigan Flute Association, and adjudicates Solo & Ensemble Festivals. She lives in Brighton, Michigan where she has a private flute studio.






September 2016 


Flute Lessons to Lesson Plans:


My First Days as a Teacher


by Ashley Hagadon


First year teacher, that’s what I’m labeled. It seems to be a terrifying phrase because every time I mention it, I get responses like ‘hang in there’ , ’just focus on surviving’ and ‘next year will be better’. Straight out of college I entered a world of seasoned educators, interviews, staff meetings, and more emails than I could keep up with. Among all the chaos I felt completely overwhelmed and underprepared. But there’s also an uncontainable excitement welling up inside of me because I’ve finally reached my goal. Years of being a student, preparing myself for the role to change.

The transition from student to teacher isn’t an easy one. Suddenly, I’m influencing more than just myself. There aren’t any teachers hanging over my shoulder, molding my musical knowledge and talent. Instead I have hundreds of little faces staring up at me, eagerly awaiting my next activity. Thrown in the spotlight, grasping at any lessons or tips I can remember and wondering where I threw that theory textbook from freshman year. We learn folk dances, listen to Vivaldi, do the hand jive to Greig, use our voices like firecrackers, have rhythm conversations with puppets, play song name charades, and shake the rust out of our instruments. And after the whirlwind of it all, I go home and fall on my bed for a very long nap.

Under the piles of papers, hoards of emails, strict deadlines, or the pressure of performance it’s easy to forget to step back and remember why we chose to be musicians in the first place. However you express your love for music, remember that our works of art are really meant to be works of heart. No, this year I’m not preparing for juries, I’m preparing the next generation of musical minds, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Ashley Hagadon

K-8 General Music, Band, & Choir at Honey Creek Community School

Eastern Michigan University, Bachelor in Music Education


 August 2016


NFA Internship Program

by Dr. Kimberlee Goodman


I attended my first NFA convention in the summer of 1993 in Boston.   I went to the convention and was completely overwhelmed by the sights and sounds.  The following summer, attending as a seasoned expert, the convention was held in Kansas City and I decided to volunteer my time as a door guard.  I really loved contributing and feeling like a part of the organization.

In the year 2000 I was finishing up my master’s degree at Ohio State with Kathy Jones and she suggested that I serve as Equipment Chair for the August convention which was being held in Columbus.  I enthusiastically signed on to join the team and launched myself into a career of service.  The experience was certainly demanding; the Equipment Chair is responsible for every chair, stand, microphone, projector, marimba and kitchen sink that is requested.  After the convention I was exhausted but very proud of the hard work our team had done.  I had the privilege of working with George Pope and Jane Berkner who have since become lifelong friends.

At that time in NFA history the Equipment Chair was a revolving position and many people have held it including the indefatigable Debby Hyde-Duby. After the Columbus convention in 2000, I still served the NFA at every convention by taking pictures, videotaping masterclasses, and helping in any way I could.  In the spring of 2008, Madeline Neumann (former NFA convention manager) contacted me and asked if I would like reprise my role for the upcoming convention in Kansas City.  At this convention I worked alongside with Jonathan Keeble, Rebecca Johnson, and Townes Osborn Miller.  I think the most appealing part of this work is the problem solving.  At this convention a cellist had traveled to Missouri to perform at the convention and after he arrived he realized his cello had been damaged in transit.  We worked together to find a suitable instrument from a local music store and the performance went off without a hitch.  

The 2009 New York convention was unbelievable, we had over 5,000 flutists in attendance and we set a new Guinness Book of World’s Record for the largest flute choir ever assembled (conducted by James Galway).  Note:  This record has since been broken.  My then boyfriend (now husband), Jack, came to New York with me hoping to have a fantastic vacation.  I was so overwhelmed with the enormity of the convention Jack, thankfully, helped me the entire week.  Soon after this convention Jack was made my official Equipment Chair Assistant!  He now accompanies me to every convention and he is a great help – especially in lifting heavy things!

Fast forward to the 2012 convention in Las Vegas.  Tadeu Coelho was the incoming Program Chair for the next convention and decided to shadow each NFA staff member.  After watching me for a few hours he inquired, “You have a doctorate right?  Then why are you moving chairs and stands?”  After laughing for a while I explained that moving chairs and stands was just part of the job.  Dr. Coelho suggested that I start an internship program to get some much needed help with my job.  

In the spring of 2013 the NFA sent out a call to the contingency for summer interns.  The response was overwhelming and I had the difficult task of narrowing down the pool of outstanding candidates.  We had an incredible group that included undergraduate and graduate students from around the country.  It is my hope that these interns become the future leaders of the National Flute Association.

2015 NFA Interns

The 2016 convention will celebrate the third anniversary of the internship program.  I’m very happy to have created a program that serve the needs of the NFA and of budding professionals for years to come.

Note:  If you are interested in applying for the Convention Internship program or volunteering for the NFA conventions please contact Kim Goodman at equipmentmanager@nfaolnline.org





Dr. Kimberlee Goodman has been on the faculty of Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio since 2005.  She has performed and presented in Thailand, Korea, Sweden, Finland, and Argentina.  In 2013 she joined the staff at Jazz Arts Group in Columbus, Ohio where she serves as the Orchestra Manager for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.  She also runs the annual fundraiser for the organization.  Dr. Goodman holds flute performance degrees from Arizona State University and The Ohio State University.






July 2016

Stars and Stripes Forever

by Nan Raphael


The first time I played Stars and Stripes was with my high school band. It was tradition that whoever was playing solo flute got to play the solo in Stars and Stripes. It was quite an honor. I prepared by playing along with a recording from an LP of Sousa Marches. 

During the course of my 26 year career in the US Army Field Band I had the honor of playing the solo in Stars and Stripes Forever at the end of every concert. I would estimate that I played that solo around 3,000 times and never tired of it. Since out of the band I still occasionally get to play it as a guest artist with a community or university band. Most recently, I joined 13 other well known piccoloists from around the world in a performance of it on the closing concert with the US Army Field Band (my alma mater) at the National Flute Association Convention in my hometown, Washington, DC. 

I feel a special affinity for John Philip Sousa since he was born in Washington, DC and lived in my neighborhood… Capitol Hill. Mr Sousa was born in 1854 to a large musical family. He was the 3rd of 10 children. He got an early start with his musical studies at the age of 6. He learned to play several instruments and at the age of 13 he was enlisted into the Marine Band by his father after he attempted to run away and join a circus band. His first composition, Moonlight Over the Potomac, was published when he was 18. After 5 years away from Washington, performing and conducting, he came back to lead the Marine Band which he did for 12 years from 1880-1892. With the encouragement of the band's promoter David Blakley, John Philip started his own band which became the first American Band to tour Europe and the first to log over 1,000,000 miles on the road. 

In 1896, while on vacation in Europe, John Philip Sousa's promoter David Blakely died so he had to return home to take care of the Band’s business and prepare the band for an upcoming tour. Following is a quote from his journal on how S&S came to being. “Here came on one of the most vivid incidents of my career. as the vessel (Teutonic) steamed out of the harbor, I was pacing the deck, absorbed in thoughts of my manager’s death and the many duties and decisions that awaited me in New York. Suddenly, I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed.” 1932- one year after the Sousa Band folded- Sousa died at age 77 after conducting a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, PA. The last piece he conducted was the Stars and Stripes Forever. The march became immediately popular and in 1988 it became the official National March as stated in Title 36, Section 10, paragraph 188 of the US Code. 

John Philip Sousa and family members are buried at Congressional Cemetery which lies on the southeastern corner of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  The Cemetery is one of the most historic cemeteries in the country and has become a popular place for both locals and tourists to visit. The dog walking community was the catalyst for it's revitalization and now offers a wide variety of activities such as tours, 5K races, movies and even a chamber recital series called Notes from the Crypt. 

How fortuitous after playing Stars and Stripes so many times that I get to pass by his resting place every morning with my dog. Perhaps the spirit of John Philip Sousa had a hand in this? So, if you are planning a visit to DC, please add Congressional Cemetery to your list. 


fNan RaphaelSince retiring from the US Army Field Band in 2003, Nan Raphael, now an artist for Gemeinhardt Flutes,  has been a guest artist/clinician nationwide, piccoloist with the International Flute Orchestra, Washington Winds, Columbia Flute Choir and Capitol City Symphony. Nan has written several articles about piccolo playing for Flute Talk and the Flute Society of Washington Newsletter as well as being published in the National Flute Association’s Pedagogy Anthology Vol. 2. She has 4 piccolo CD’s and a book of piccolo excerpts from the symphonic band repertoire. www.nanraphael.com




June 2016


The Magic of Moyse

by Dr. Cate Hummel






In his long career as a performer and teacher, the flutist, Marcel Moyse (1889-1984), influenced many musicians around the world. From Europe to the US and even to Japan, there are musicians alive today who studied with Moyse and pass his musical tenets on to their students. He always credited his own teachers, Paul Taffanel, Philippe Gaubert and Adolphe Hennebains for teaching him these principles. Moyse was mindful of the legacy of his teachers passing their knowledge to him, which he then communicated to his own students. 


Perhaps the most magical aspect of Moyse’s playing and teaching was his gift for communicating the qualities and nature of a beautiful sound. He could make an analogy or create a metaphor for the quality of sound that would help a student find the right color or shading suggested by the dynamics or contour of a phrase. Here are just a few: 




“Alors, you ‘ave a gold embouchure? Yes? Well, I want the tone the same!” 


“Don’t change the color in a phrase just because it’s easy. When starting a new phrase, keep the color.”


“You have to practice the breathing as you practice the notes”


“Play your Bach appoggiatura with love.”


“Don’t simply blow in the flute – give it your warm breath.”


“You try to make an effect. No—you must feel.”


“When playing really softly, try to get the shadow of a sound—not the sound.”


“Vibrato? You need luminosity on a note—like sugar on strawberries or dew on a leaf.”




Over and over in his teaching, Moyse stressed that it was important to “play the music, not the flute.”  He said, “…First of all be a musician. Love music. Have something to say and feel, however vaguely, that this ‘something’ needs a means of expression – a voice, an instrument…a flute, for example.” To Marcel Moyse it was of paramount importance that you “Do not show your own temperament but that of the music.” He related to Trevor Wye, “When I die, I want to leave behind a tradition for flute players; a respect for the music.”


Of utmost importance to understanding Moyse's teaching is to begin to realize how intensely he valued the ability to speak musical language clearly.  Moyse writes in The Flute and its Problems: Tone Development Through Interpretation: “Certainly music has its own language.  The laws which govern the construction and consequently the interpretation of a musical phrase are as precise and as subject to analysis by a musician as the laws of prosody are for a writer;  but in music, they are often more difficult to discern.” This hierarchy of beats is so clearly delineated in the first two melodies in the 24 Petites Études Melodiques, and throughout the rest of the book. In a nutshell, make the hierarchy of beats audible. In 4/4, beats 1 and 3 are strong, 2 and 4 are weak. In 3/4, beat 1 is strong, beats 2 and 3 are weak and weaker. Weak leads to strong, especially going from the last beat of a measure to the first beat of the next measure.


Use your color to define the phrase structure. For example, in a 2+2+4 phrase structure, taper the first phrase, and release the second phrase so it leads to third phrase. Show how in 4 + 4 phrasing, the antecedent is like a question and the consequent is like the answer. Recognize and make the apex of the phrase audible with color and dynamics.


Moyse taught that the recapitulation or return to opening material is special. It should be like a fond memory. If the phrasing permits, no breath before the return, go right into the phrase. There are several great examples of this in the 24 Petites Études Melodiques. An excellent example from the repertoire is the recapitulation of the Chaminade Concertino. It should be ever so quiet, with a light, clear color, supported by the piano or orchestra playing pianissimo. 


Find the skeleton of the phrase and practice the skeleton as a melody in its own right. There are some outstanding examples in the Andersen etudes, e.g. op. 33, #5; op. 15, #3. Let the skeleton be the thread that ties the entire section/piece together. There are other famous examples from Bach Sonatas and the Mozart Concerti that Moyse cited repeatedly in his teaching. 


Moyse emphasized that it is essential to understand how to correctly execute expressive devices, for which there is a long tradition from the 19th century that he inherited from his teachers, such as appoggiaturas, acciaccaturas, syncopation and gruppetto.  Appoggiatura means “to lean”. Lean on the dissonance with color, and then play the resolving note simply. With an acciaccatura, the grace is louder than the main note, like a singer’s cry in the voice. Moyse always explained that the word syncopation comes from the Latin “syncope”, which means to faint. No vibrato in the long note. Like a gasp or a startle. Moyse said of gruppetti (turns), “Eat every note”. 


Finally, there is a distinct vocal pedagogy known as the French declamatory style. For Moyse, this meant being able to speak through your instrument, not just sing. In French vocal pedagogy, there is an acknowledgement that the French language is very musical sounding language. Therefore, the melodic tessituras can be rather narrow because the language carries the expressiveness rather than the melody. There is also a kind of emotional restraint that is part of French national character. The emotion is there, but the expression of it is held in reserve, just beneath the surface. This lends an expressive potency where the expression is implied rather the overtly expressed. Moyse considered it crude to be too effusive. Perhaps another way of saying this is that “less is more”. 


The Magic of Moyse was his unique and enduring ability to make musical expression come alive for his students and for us today. 










Marcel Moyse, Tone Development Through Interpretation for the Flute (and other wind instruments: The study of expression, vibrato, color, suppleness and their application to different styles, New York: McGinnis & Marx Music Publishers, 1962.




Marcel Moyse, The Flute and Its Problems: Tone Development Through Interpretation for the Flute, Tokyo: Muramatsu Gakki Hanbai Co., Ltd., 1973




Marcel Moyse, 24 Petites Etudes Melodiques avec variations (facile) pour Flûte, Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1932.




Susan Fries, “My Teacher: Remembering Marcel Moyse, Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007.




Cate Hummel, “Marcel Moyse and Tone Development Through Interpretation: A Study Guide”, DMA dissertation, Manhattan School of Music, 1996.




Ann McCutchan, Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1994.




Trevor Wye, Marcel Moyse: An Extraordinary Man, Cedar Falls, Iowa: Winzer Press, 1993.






Cate Hummel Headshot

Dr. Cate Hummel is in demand as a performing artist and clinician in the Midwest and around the country. Dr. Hummel is Adjunct Professor of Flute at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. She is a clinician and scholar for Altus and Azumi flutes. In this capacity, she travels to schools, music dealers, flute events and educator conferences around the country performing and presenting on a wide range of topics including her research on the teaching of Marcel Moyse, good practice habits and flute pedagogy. She also created the popular blog Dr. Cate’s Flute Tips, at drcatesflutetips.wordpress.com especially for music educators about flute pedagogy. She is the founder and director of Dr. Cate’s Flute Camp, a day camp for 7th-10th grade flute students that meets every July. www.fluteline.com







May 2016
Merging Cultures Through Music 
From an early age we've familiarized ourselves with foreign music: ethnic, urban, ancient or contemporary music from other cultures, yet our instrumental techniques, our learning methods have remained relatively static, repeating the same exercises and patterns for decades, and even centuries.
Diversity is a motivating force; a creative, renewing source of ideas and concepts when the origins of these ideas are understood and respected. As soon as we understand that we can actually participate and learn from these cultures, and use this new knowledge for our own growth and benefit, we are building the bridge that connects us to the world, and to these sources. We begin to broaden our perspective and renew our understanding of things we previously saw under a single light source. We discover historical and cultural values; by opening up this different view we understand the wealth of instrumental, rhythmic, formal elements that we have overlooked, perhaps even in our own musical sphere.
In our unlimited era of global information it's good to be exposed to foreign music, but it's even better to find a way to reach some degree of immersion, to investigate and perform, to keep an unprejudiced curiosity that will allow us to integrate what these sounds can teach us. Curiosity can't harm us, yet it can certainly teach us a great deal!
Carmen HeadshotColombian flutist, composer and arranger Carmen Marulanda absorbed the musical roots of her country at a young age. Her entire artistic and educational trajectory expresses essential links to these traditions. Her projects: 12 Original Colombian Pieces for Flute and Guitar, Traversuras for Flute and Piano, Traversuras Warming Up! and the Flute Duets 1&2  are an eloquent collection of studies based on Latin American genres. The ingenuity of this works, in addition to the varied musical content, is the presentation: all the musical accompaniments are recorded in a play-along Mp3 files, giving the flute student direct access to the original style of each region. Uniting teaching and composition, these works represents one of the newest musical trends, where the dialogue between composer and tradition is partnered with educational values.





April 2016


The Flute and Flight: A Composer’s Source of Inspiration

Howard J. Buss, Composer


There is something special about the timbre and agility of the flute that suggests a sonic kinship with birds and the action of flight. Several versions of the creation myth of the Apaches describe how a man, looking for his missing wife, used a flute to transport himself over mountains (“He started away, traveling with a blue flute which had wings … he went entirely around the border of the world.” )1 Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals, and Messiaen’s Le Merle Noir are just a few examples of the numerous compositions that associate the flute with the avian world. 

As a composer I am inspired by many sources including nature, the human condition, literature, and mythology. Among my compositions for flute with a connection to flight are Pipe Dream for solo flute (written for Kim McCormick) in which birdcalls are interjected to present new melodic and rhythmic ideas and influence the overall development of the work. In “Treetop Capers”, the second movement of Tennessee Suite for flute, viola, and piano (written for Shelley Binder), the character of the music is based on observations of the antics of the songbirds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Night Flight for piccolo, clarinet and piano (written for Rebecca Arrensen) depicts an eventful flight of a jetliner that culminates in a section conveying a dramatic descent through heavy clouds and a ferocious thunderstorm. My composition, Dragon Flight for flute and piano (written for Marianne Gedigian) is an evocation of a colorful fantasy world in which a dragon awakens and takes flight. 

Some of my compositions for flute have been inspired by outer space and mankind’s relationship to it. A full listing is below; however, the purpose of this article I will focus on two recent works:

Space Renaissance Suite for unaccompanied flute was composed for the renowned Italian flutist, Elena Cecconi. It was inspired by the tenets of the Space Renaissance Initiative, which is dedicated to influencing world opinion to support space travel and to “lift humanity from the cradle of the Earth.” The 4 movements explore imaginary scenarios one may experience during future space travel and the colonization of distant worlds. Through the Portal  and Alien Storm musically depict one’s first glimpses of an alien world about to be settled. Introspection and Reaching Beyond address the intriguing opposing mental capacities that allow a human being to tap into his/her inner self to connect with the universe, and also to kindle the desire to reach outward to new adventures and exploration.




Space RenaissanceAlien Loop de Loops


Alien Loop de Loops for flute and electronic recording is a playful and capricious fantasy piece designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences. The title refers to both programmatic and technical elements in the composition. I imagined a flutist standing outdoors during an air show by an alien craft. In the opening section he/she plays unaccompanied, but is then joined by the recording, which contains sounds generated by traditional instruments as well as an "alien" voice, the spacecraft, and various elctronic effects. Technically, the title refers to how the recording was made. It consists of numerous sound loops that combine to form a sonic tapestry that provides the sounds of the air show as well as the accompaniment for the flutist. Sound samples: 1234

Below is a list of my flute compositions that are in some way connected to flight. All of these works are published by Brixton Publications.


Commercially-recorded flute works::


Composition / Instrumentation / Flutist / Title of CD / Record Company      


Night Flight / piccolo, clarinet and piano / Lois Bliss Herbine / Take Flight / Crystal


        Sound samples: 1, 23


Dragon Flight / flute and piano recorded / Elena Cecconi / Flute & Piano / Bottega Discantica          Sound samples: 12


Moon Glow / flute and piano / Elena Cecconi / Sognando lo Spazio / Urania  


           Sound samples: 12


Pipe Dream /solo flute / Kim McCormick / Twilight Remembered / Capstone  


        Sound Samples: 123


Stellar Visions / flute and marimba / Kim McCormick / McDuo / Ravello 


        Sound samples: 12



Other works:


Composition / Instrumentation / Flutist for which it was written


Space Renaissance Suite / solo flute / Elena Cecconi


        (Sound samples above)


Alien Loop de Loops for flute and electronic recording / solo flute / Elena Cecconi 


        (Sound samples above)


Cosmic Portraits / versions for flute, clarinet, alto sax & tenor sax; and woodwind quartet /    Shelley Binder / YouTube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWz7U4uxMAc


Constellationfor flute, one percussion and piano / Kim McCormick 


       YouTube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCY1gqIlhc4&feature=youtu.be


Sky Blossoms  for flute and one percussion / Connie Lane


       YouTube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4KEk35cSRM


Tennessee Suite / flute, viola, and piano / Shelley Binder


       YouTube performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjb14uyyfSk


Pliny Earle Goddard. “Myths and Tales from the White Mountain Apache”



About the author/composer


Howard Buss


Howard J. Buss is recognized internationally as a composer of contemporary classical music. His compositions have received critical acclaim and have been performed in more than 50 countries. Faculty musicians from major universities as well as current and former members of organizations such as The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, etc have performed them. Buss’ more than 170 published works include instrumental solos, chamber music, symphonic, choral, and band works. 


Buss has received numerous awards and his commissioned works include original compositions and arrangements. They have been recorded on the Albany, Bottega Discantica (Italy), Crystal, Capstone, DUX (Poland), Equilibrium, HoneyRock, IBS Classical (Spain), PL Productions, C. Alan Publications, Ravello and Urania (Italy) labels.


Howard J. Buss received his B.A. in Applied Music from West Chester University, M.M. in Performance and M.M. in Composition from Michigan State University, and D.M.A. in Composition from the University of Illinois. He is the founder and editor of Brixton Publications (ASCAP) and Buss Publications (BMI), which publish contemporary American concert music. 




March 2016


The History of Altus Handmade Flutes


Altus Factory ImageThe founder of Altus flutes, Mr. Shuichi Tanaka, known as “Speedy” to his friends, is a man of many talents. He is an artist, musician, engineer, businessman, and most notably a master flute maker.

As a teenager, Mr. Tanaka studied flute with renowned Japanese teacher and performer Toshio Takahashi. During this time he not only developed into a gifted flutist, but also a sensitive student of flute making with keen insight into the needs of flutists. 

In 1977, Mr. Tanaka met British flutist William Bennett. The two men had much in common including their respect and admiration for the vintage flutes of Louis Lot. With Bennett’s influence and the inspiration of the finest vintage flutes, Mr. Tanaka designed an innovative modern flute rich in expressive tone colors, with ample capacity for resonance, accurate intonation, and mechanical strength. This was the first Altus flute, built in 1981.

William BennettOver the next decade, global respect and interest for Mr. Tanaka’s innovative Altus flute increased. In 1990, he designed a beautiful building on a peaceful site in Azumino, at the base of the Japanese Alps, to inspire his artistic creations. This breathtaking facility is where Altus flutes are still handcrafted today.

Tanaka and William Bennett shared an admiration for Albert Cooper’s vision of updating and modernizing the traditional flute scale. Bennett combined his vast performance experience and quest for precise intonation with Mr. Tanaka’s flute making vision to create the Altus-Bennett scale. 

Altus EngravingAn instrument’s scale is determined by the size and placement of each of the tone holes and their relationship to each other. This crucial design aspect allows flutists to play with accurate intonation and effortless tone. 

The collaboration of Tanaka and Bennett set a new standard for flute design. The Altus-Bennett scale was carefully designed to provide effortless intonation, impeccably tuned harmonics, and exceptionally balanced registers. This monumental achievement is one of the hallmarks of the great Altus flute making tradition. 




The Altus flute is founded on friendships, collaborations, intense research, and a passionate devotion to music as an essential part of life. 





For more information on Altus flutes, please visit our website: www.altusflutes.com, or contact Altus Sales Manager, Chiarra Conn, at chiarra.conn@khsmusic.com.





February 2016








Cubital Tunnel Syndrome 




Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (QTS) is a common problem in flutists, yet it is not as well known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is the second most common nerve entrapment disorder, after Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and is frequently seen in flute players, especially in the left arm and hand. The typical causative factors are repetitive movement, coupled with the posture and positioning of the left arm. This problem arises from the repeated bending and straightening of the elbow or prolonged bending of the elbow, putting pressure on the nerve. 




Cubital Tunnel occurs when the ulnar nerve is caught, or entrapped between the bones, tendons, ligaments, and other tissues in the elbow. The ulnar nerve innervates the fifth finger and the fifth finger side of the fourth finger (called the ulnar side). The ulnar nerve is what most people recognize as the tingly sensation you have when you ‘hit your funny bone’. 






      Flute players are prone to developing this, in the left arm, because of the way we stretch that arm when we hold the flute. (String players get in in their bow arm, because of the same type of positioning). Posture can play a role, especially if the flutist is holding the left shoulder higher, which stresses the muscles, causing inflammation in the areas that surround the nerve even more. This will lead to swelling which causes an increase in the pressure on the nerve. 




The main symptoms of QTS are pain in the elbow, and along the path of the ulnar nerve. This will result in numbness and tingling in the fifth finger and the side of the fourth finger that touches the ring finger. If QTS is left untreated, it will result in the loss of function in the small muscles of the hand. 




The tests used to diagnose QTS are the same as for Carpal Tunnel. 


The Phalen’s test is not going to diagnose QTS, but will assist the flutist, or teacher, in knowing when to seek help. When performing this test, we hold our wrists in a flexed position for 30-60 seconds. The back of the hands should be touching. It looks similar to mirror image of praying. If you have any nerve impingement, it causes numbness and tingling. The numbness and tingling does not have to be dramatic, so if you experience any, you will need to address it before the damage becomes severe. 






Another test to assess for QTS is to tap over the nerve in the affected elbow. It is considered positive it the causes tingling in the elbow or fingers. You can actually palpate the nerve in the elbow, or the ‘funny bone’, which will cause pain, tenderness, or tingling in the affected fingers. These are not meant to take the place of seeing a health care provider. Instead they can help us in managing the condition, and knowing when we need to see a health care provider.




So what do you do if you think you have QTS? Untreated, it will progress to loss of function, which could limit or end the ability to play. Consequently, it is very important to get to a medical provider that is knowledgeable about these type disorders in musicians. The exact course of treatment will depend on duration of the problem, causes, and severity of the nerve compression. 




There are many treatments that you can do at home, and should do as soon as you suspect you might have QTS. It frequently takes a while to get an appointment, so these things should be done while you are waiting. Easy treatments at home are the use of ice, and splinting. Ice will help with the swelling, and the pain. The splints are not as easy to find as those for Carpal Tunnel, but they can be found online. A suitable splint is anything that will keep the elbow straight, especially while sleeping. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds, such as Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, or Tylenol, might help, but are not as useful as in Carpal Tunnel. Stretching before and after practise sessions or concerts will be very beneficial. Complementary treatments, such as therapeutic massage and acupressure can provide significant relief to the areas that are inflamed and causing pressure on the ulnar nerve. 












Any musician that has QTS should limit playing sessions to no more than 25-30 minutes, followed by a break. A flute with an offset G will be advantageous, since it lessens the stretching of the ulnar nerve, especially in someone with smaller hands. There are key extenders you can purchase for the flute that extend the G key, which can help alleviate the stretching of the nerve also.  






One of the tests that is done to assess the damage to the small muscles is a non-invasive test called a Nerve Conduction Test. This test will be useful in treatment decisions. Upon completion of appropriate testing and evaluation, and if conservative or complementary methods fail, surgery may be necessary. There are several different types of surgery that can alleviate QTS, and which one performed would be individualized. Even with surgery, if the problem has been untreated and allowed to linger, there can be loss of function, which will be permanent. This is why it is so important to find a provider as soon as you notice symptoms. While this is very frightening for the musician, it can prevent worsening of symptoms, and permanent loss of function. 




The best treatment is to avoid the problem. This means correcting bad posture, and hand position, before it causes an issue. Small hands benefit from a flute with an off-set G. Seeking the advice of a teacher can help with finding a flute that fits the hands, posture and hand position. 




Another important point to remember is that there are many tasks we perform that can aggravate this problem. Gardening, washing dishes, computer work, and certain sports can aggravate QTS. Avoidance of the non-musical activities is very important in recovering from this problem.  




Some of the most important things to remember if you do develop any of these symptoms, or are diagnosed with QTS:


  1. It is treatable. 
  2. Do not be afraid to see someone about the problem.
  3. Try the easy things (ice, NSAIDS, splint) while waiting to see someone.
  4. We usually do not recommend complete rest anymore. There will be a period where you can’t play as much. You have to learn to pace yourself and take breaks. 
  5. Avoid non-musical activities that aggravate the problem. (Not doing the dishes and pulling weeds was a big plus for me!)
  6. Follow what the doctor recommends. It is better to miss a gig, than have to stop playing altogether!



Dr. Sandra Cox was the winner of the National Flute Association’s Convention Performer’s Competition in 2003 and 2004. Advanced degrees in the medical field, combined with music degrees, give her a unique perspective on musician health, and performance-related injuries. She is on the NFA Performance Health Committee and is a frequent presenter on performance health topics, having presented at  Kentucky (KMEA), Tennessee (TMEA), Texas (TMEA), Hawaii (HMEA), Milwaukee (MTNA), China (ISME), Greece (ISME), the Midwest Clinic, International Horn Symposium, Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair, and the National Flute Association.


She is on the faculty of Southwest Tennessee Community College, and freelances in the Memphis, Tennessee area. 




January 2016


Options for Supporting the Bass Flute




By Christine Potter




Bass flute players frequently develop fatigue in the right arm when holding up the instrument. This problem is most prevalent during rehearsals when the bass is held up for long periods of time. Because the right arm is extended out from the body, it is difficult for back muscles to hold up the weight. Some strengthening of the back muscles can improve endurance, but there is also weight focused on the side of the right thumb. There are some adhesive cushions that can improve the discomfort in the thumb. Look under the performance aids category of a retail website to find these.




Note from Flute Specialists: Try the Thumbport for Alto Flute or the Flute Gels. Click here to see our inventory of finger assists for both the right and left hands.


Swimming is great exercise for strengthening the back muscles and improving posture in general. Contact a physical therapist about your individual issues. At the end of the article, there is a description of an exercise that I use to strengthen the back and arm muscles.


For rehearsals, the easiest solution is to use a second music stand to support the end of the bass. The first option is to use the kind of stand that has a solid music rack (commonly referred to as a “black” music stand). Turn the rack section upside down so that the ledge where the music usually sits is at the top. Place a thick cloth on this ledge and position the end of the bass on the cloth. You can raise or lower the height of the stand to suit your needs. The second option is to use a lightweight folding metal stand (commonly called a “wire” stand”) and nestle the flute into one of the joints of the music rack on top of a cloth. Here is the link to a YouTube video I have made demonstrating these solutions.






Note from Flute Specialists: See our full inventory of music stands here. Also, check out this Roi Flute Resting Pad.


There is also a device called a Bass Flute Lap Crutch that has been developed to solve the arm fatigue problem. It is also demonstrated on the YouTube video mentioned above. Some of these crutches have quality control problems, like the adjustment screw does not tighten enough to hold the rod at different heights. The main problem with the crutch is that it is not attached to you or the flute and you need a free hand to grab it quickly when you lift the flute off. Look under the performance aids category to find this product.




Note from Flute Specialists: We just added a Bass Flute Crutch to our inventory.


It is possible to construct a bass support from rigid, hollow, plastic pipe available at hardware stores. If you have some construction skills, or know someone who does, this would be a good project. The simplest form of the support would require two pieces of pipe glued together. One length of pipe would go from your right leg up to where you want the flute to rest, and a second short piece of pipe cut in half length wise would form the cradle in which the flute lays.


The extra stand and the plastic tube support we hope to only need at rehearsals. They take up extra room that isn’t always available and they are not particularly attractive for the audience to look at. When I am working on piece, I practice sitting down with my support in place, but always transition to playing with no support as I get closer to a performance. As a soloist, I usually play standing, so supports of any kind are not a realistic option.


Some people have had luck adapting supports made for other instruments. Bass clarinet stands seem to be a good fit. They can provide both a spot to rest the end of the instrument when playing and a place to put the instrument down when not in use. Those wire stands mentioned above can also be repurposed by constructing a padded support in the shape of a “y”  that attaches to the top of the rod instead of the music rack.




Bass Flute Stand

 Myra Fox, an attendee at the 2016 Alto and Bass Retreat, came up with this solution to holding up a bass or alto.




One brand, Kotato, has solved this support problem for bass players. They have designed the body of the instrument to include screw threads on the bottom under the F key. The maker provides an adjustable rod with a threaded swivel joint which screws onto the threads. The flute is free to move around because of the swivel joint, a decided advantage over the plastic tube construction mentioned above. A small leather foot on the opposite end of the rod sits on the chair between the player’s legs. The new Sankyo bass is also working on a support system using a neck strap but it still needs some improvement.




Note from Flute Specialists: You can see Kotato alto, bass, and contrabass flutes here. Also, see the full line of Kotato Alto Flutes here. Also, check out the DiZhao Vertical Bass Flute here


I would like to encourage you to join the low flutes Facebook group which frequently discusses these and similar issues. Just put "low flutes" in the search field. 


I am interested in hearing about other people’s solutions to this problem so I can pass information along. Please contact me if you would like to share your ideas. chris@chrispotterflute.com.




Here is a description of an exercise that I use to help me strengthen my back. 




Take a stretchy exercise band and wrap part of it around the doorknob on the outside of a door. Flatten out the rest of the band and position it across the edge of the door above the latch and close the door with part of the band sticking out on the inside of the door. Stand sideways to the door and hold the taut band with your outside hand. With the elbow remaining in contact with your waist, rotate your lower arm out until there is resistance. Do sets of 10, then switch to the opposite arm. You will find this improves your posture as it as strengthens your back.




Online Flute Workshops
Dr. Chris Potter will be teaching a series of online workshops through New York-based company LessonFace beginning January 30th. A video is made of each workshop which is available to those who register before the class starts. The video can be watched at anytime, day or night, for at least one year, beginning the Monday after the class.
The topics are: 
Saturday, Jan 30th 1 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) Improving Breath Control
2:30 EST Setting up the Curve of an Alto or Bass Flute
Saturday, Feb 6th  1 PM EST Tone Development
2:30  (EST) Solutions for Cracking Notes on Alto and Bass
Saturday, Feb. 20th 1 PM EST Taming the Third Octave 
2:30 EST Performance Aids for Alto and Bass Flute




Chris Potter Bio PicChris Potter is an internationally recognized alto and bass flute expert. She was the first chair of the National Flute Association’s Low Flutes Committee and has commissioned and premiered many pieces for alto and bass. Performances have been presented in all major US cities, and in Paris, London, Toronto and Mexico City. Her numerous books are published by Falls House Press and British publisher Kevin Mayhew. She has numerous helpful videos on bass and alto on YouTube, and her 12th Alto and Bass Flute Retreats will be held in June in North Carolina and Colorado. Chris is also the Flute Choir Coordinator for the James Galway International Flute Festival in Switzerland.


Chris Potter
NFA Low Flutes Committee
James Galway Festival Flute Choir Coordinator









December 2015


Alto Flute: choosing a curved or straight head-joint
By Dr. Christine Potter


People who are interested in purchasing an alto flute must make a decision whether to get a curved or a straight head joint. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and people should try each design before deciding. Most entry-level altos can be purchased with either head joint or both head joints.


If you are a flute choir director purchasing an instrument that several people will use, I suggest getting an alto with both head joints. You will have short people and tall people, people who just can’t balance the curved head well, and people whose hands hurt if they play a straight head.
The primary advantage of a straight head joint alto is that the intonation is better in the third octave. It is not as good as a c flute’s intonation in this octave and you will still make some adjustments, but it is better than the curved head. The reason the intonation is better with a straight head is that makers are able to make a continuous taper from the crown end of the head joint to where it joins the body of the flute. If you look at your c flute head joint, you will see that the crown end of the head joint is smaller than where it goes into the body. This was one of the design features found to be necessary to improve overall flute intonation.


Some people prefer the more flute-like physical relationship of the straight head alto, it feels very similar to what you already know and there is just the one adjustment needed to line up the mouthpiece with the body, just like the flute.


The big disadvantage to the straight tube is that if your arms are short, the right hand has to twist to the left when you reach for the keys. This is painful for many people, and the foot joint notes are even more difficult to reach and are more awkward to play. The right hand thumb is put under even more stress as it tries to keep the flute from rolling backwards while having an even heavier instrument to support that is farther from the player’s body. The tube is larger in diameter than c flute, so it makes balancing the alto on the left index finger joint also difficult. This was my situation when I was looking for an alto many years ago, and I found a curved head instrument with a stunning sound that I have had ever since.


The big advantage of the curved head joint is that your right arm and hand are a comfortable distance away and there is no twisting of the right wrist. The little finger is perfectly positioned to play the foot joint keys with ease. The lowest notes are easy to play and access.


A second advantage of the curved head joint is that with a little experimentation, one finds a spot to set the position of the head joint so that it leans slightly back against the chin and prevents the flute from rolling backwards. The curved head joint actually allows a more stable position for the instrument than the straight head.


The big disadvantage is the intonation of the notes in the third octave. Starting with the C above the staff is almost all ¼ step sharp. It is not yet possible to make a continuous taper from the crown end of head-joint, through the curve and into the flute. Makers are using a graduated cylinder approach, where each section is slightly larger than the one before.  This helps, but not enough. Look for improvements in this design in the future.
Choosing a curved head joint means you will need to develop alternate fingerings for the third octave when you have notes up there. You will need to become fluent with these fingerings, and you will find that more than one will be necessary depending on dynamics and surrounding notes.


A second disadvantage of the curved head joint is the challenge of finding the best possible position of the two independent parts of the head joint in relation to the flute body. The head joint does not go directly over the flute body or directly between the flute and the player. Start from a position on top of the flute and then tip the curved part about ½ an inch towards you, then adjust the short straight part of the head joint where you need it to be. Experiment with these angles until you find what works best for you. Once you find the correct relationship of these two parts, you will find that the balance is even easier than on the c flute.

If you are thinking you will do most of your practicing on the curved head to save your right wrist and then switch to the straight tube as you get closer to the performance, it’s a good thought but doesn’t work in reality. You will have to spend plenty of time on the straight tube to work out intonation and tone issues, and your wrist will still hurt. Go for the curve.


Copyright Nov. 2011, Chris Potter




Chris Potter is an internationally recognized alto and bass flute expert and flute choir conductor who commissions and premiers pieces by a wide variety of composers. The next premier will be a piece for low flutes ensemble by Katherine Hoover. The composer/arranger of many books, her next publication will be a method book for alto flute, scheduled to be available in March 2016. Her 12th annual Alto and Bass Flute Retreat will be held this summer in Boulder, Colorado with a second retreat on the east coast. In demand as a conductor and performer, she is also the flute choir coordinator and conductor of a low flutes choir for the James Galway Festival in Switzerland. Contact Chris at chris@chrispotterflute.com





Have Flute…. Will Travel!


by Katherine Calvey




I intended to compose (not music, but rather this article) in the sierra mountain village of Mexiquillo Durango, Mexico last week, until a power outage left me with my thoughts to ponder in the darkness.  Although the glow from the fireplace lit by my fellow campers (motorcycle aficionados- not classical music devotees) only softly illuminated the paper on which I had been notating adventures lived while devoted to playing the flute transnationally, the warm jovial conversation shed light on many facets of my career as a flutist. 




While other campers romped through mountains on their motor bikes, one gentleman stayed back at the cabin in case I needed anything.  Although I was obliged by his attentiveness, I confess I secretly prayed for a way to silence the CD of brassy Mexican “banda” music he demonstrably enjoyed. I certainly wanted to avoid complaining since I was the only ‘señorita’ allowed at this type of event in history. I didn’t want to appear as a stuffy classical musician!  Some orchestra colleagues - a talented Georgian pianist and her oboist husband coincidently came to escape music and enjoy the September Mexican Independence Day weekend in the cabins down the path in peace and quiet. Without any alternatives in the listening music repertoire, my friends joked my prayer was answered with lightning literally striking in front of our cabin causing a black out for two full days!  








Most fellows enjoyed their jokes while cooking out around the fire yet one friend started a deeper conversation about my solo concerto. He had not attended many live orchestra concerts, but he perceived my desire to express something special to the audience a few days prior in my performance of Zyman’s Flute Concerto. He enjoyed listening to a few impromptu songs I played at the cabin, mentioning a connection felt as I played ‘from the heart’. I told him that is precisely why I perform music. 




When I graduated with my master of music from the University of Michigan as a young lady, I enjoyed playing in several area orchestras as well as teaching many students. Nevertheless, I was willing to give them up to explore new territories in pursuit of a full time orchestral career.  That is why when my teacher Leone Buyse called me with a job opportunity as principal flutist of the Barranquilla Symphony in Colombia, I knew it was a matter of how fast I could pack my bags, grab a Spanish dictionary and hop on a plane to an unknown land. My concerned mother warned Colombia could bring hardships such as encountering a tarantula (I did end up seeing a few) or a more dangerous animal such as the ‘guerilla’ (not the animal ‘gorilla’).  In Popayan, Cauca where I taught flute at a branch of the national music conservatory, one recital was canceled three times due to political unrest. When the atmosphere settled, we finally performed and it was magical!  People were crammed into the concert hall so tightly they had to sit in the aisle on the floor.




I personally saw the opportunity living in Latin America to perform in an orchestra also as a means to visit interesting places.  While working as the principal flutist in the orchestra of Cali Colombia I headed south to see the equator while performing as a guest for a flute festival in Quito, Ecuador and further south to visit Machu Picchu after my flute festival recital in Lima, Peru.  As a Siren at heart I am definitely a water lover. When I moved to Acapulco to become principal flutist of their orchestra, I was delighted to live by the beach. I also had the opportunity to visit a friend in Panama I met along the way.  It was I who convinced this friend to not only to travel to The San Blas Islands off the coast of The Darien Gap, but also to swim from one island to another and back – fortunately avoiding sharks! While I was in San Salvador as a soloist with the National Symphony of El Salvador, I was invited to the ocean by the clarinetist and his viola player wife whom brought along young people from a hearing impaired missions group for which they volunteered. We enjoyed a day at the beach and later that evening they even went to watch my performance of Nielsen’s Flute Concerto - ecstatically sitting in the front row watching the orchestra’s movements, seeing the conductor, feeling the musical vibrations and a few were even able to slightly perceive sounds of loud accents and fortissimos!  When I thereafter accepted a job offer to become the principal flutist of the orchestra in the northern desert area of Chihuahua, Mexico, I was focused on being close to ‘home’ – the U.S.A.  I still enjoyed the area, visiting Copper Canyon and I even made a CD Canyon Echo inside Namurachi Canyon of solo flute repertoire with all natural affects that actually occurred at the moment of recording.  




Unfortunately, not every story had a happy ending. The town where I live now suffered some terrible years of extreme violence for which no one could have prepared. Shootouts were a daily occurrence. People feared for their lives. Two lives of people I cared for were lost in the violence. At that point I was ready to return to the USA regardless of having a music job lined up or not. Somehow I ended up staying though. I’m not sure how I managed other than by the Lord’s blessing of music and sharing it with people. Maybe I was touched by the gratitude in an eighty year old lady’s eyes as she told me it was the first time she had ever seen an orchestra when we performed in the outskirts of a Mexican town. Perhaps I felt I was exactly where I was supposed to be when a friend’s elderly ailing father was inspired by my flute playing to play his guitar at their family gathering in Torreon and that would be the last time he played before departing from this world. Possibly my music contributed to a more profound purpose in facilitating things such as ‘new beginnings’. In northern Mexico, a student’s parents were separating but her mother agreed to attend her father’s church once with the sole purpose of hearing me perform that evening. Something wonderful happened at the service and she continued to attend so regularly with her husband, they reconciled!  








I am not sure how much longer I will stay in Latin America. I have a great desire to finally return home and I believe my experiences have helped me acquire much to share via performing as well as teaching in my homeland of the USA.  I am thankful for the sustaining hand that has kept me safe during my wonderful journey. When I left Michigan as a young flutist, someone told me my road would be winding but would be paved with gold, and that it certainly has been. 




Katherine Calvey




Principal Flutist – Camerata de Coahuila in Torreon, Mexico.




Orchestra Director of the Centros Estudios Musicales de Torreon music college.








Facebook page:












Please ask Flute Specialists about:




 “Canyon Echo” CD’s of solo flute repertoire recorded live in Namurachi Canyon Mexico or for “Silent Night” CD/ classical flute and guitar duo. 




“Road Paved of Gold” book of more detailed adventures during the travels of flutist Katherine Calvey. Anticipated release 2017.  




*Katherine has always found a road leading back to Flute Specialists to have her flute maintained or repaired by Robert Johnson for the past twenty years!




Flutist, Katherine Calvey began her studies with various members of the Cleveland Orchestra, (William Hebert & Jeffrey Khaner) while playing in The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, directed by Dr. Jahja Ling. She received Master Classes with flutists Julius Baker, Robert Willoughby and James Galway. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance from The Peabody Institute of Music as a student of Mark Sparks and a Master of Music degree from The University of Michigan where she studied as a full scholarship student of Leone Buyse.


Katherine won first place in various music competitions including The Littmann Music Competition/ New York and The Mid-Atlantic Flute Competition/Washington D.C amongst others. She has performed as a concerto soloist with international symphony orchestras in Central America, South America and in North America (Mexico & the USA) and has enjoyed performing recitals in places such as Curacao, Hawaii, Italy etc.. 


Ms. Calvey's orchestral career includes important concert venues such as Carnegie Hall with The National Youth Guild Orchestra and Europe with The American Wind Symphony. She has also performed as a member of orchestras in Colorado, Michigan and Ohio. She has served as the principal flutist in a variety of orchestras in Colombia, Mexico and China. Her current position is principal flutist for The State Chamber Orchestra of Coahuila, Mexico.


Katherine has actively served as a flute professor; head of wind instruments departments; and has been a college conservatory orchestra conductor. She is proud that all her students have either won competitions; orchestral positions or are successfully employed in  music. She has given master classes in China, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Europe, Peru, and the United States. 


Ms. Calvey has recorded three compact discs, “Flute Fantasia”; “Silent Night”- flute & guitar; “Canyon Echo”- repertoire for solo flute recorded live inside Namurachi Canyon; and “Flute Fantasia”. Katherine is working on a book “A Road Paved Gold” (to be published hopefully by 2017)  in which she shares more about her adventurous travels throughout her career. To schedule a recital/concerto performance, master class, orchestral section flutist,  purchase CD’s or view her performance schedule, please write to:  Katherine Calvey Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katherine-Calvey/357267981022559





    Our "How to" Flute Repair Video Series!


We have recorded and released six videos on repairs that flutists can do themselves at home. Some are just temporary repairs to get you through that impending performance or rehearsal. Others are small tasks you can do on your own that will save you a trip to our shop. 



You can access the entire series on our website for FREE! 


Or access the videos individually here:


1. How to Fix a Loose Headjoint

2. How to Fix a Loose Headjoint Cork

3. How to Fix a Spring that Comes Off Key

4. How to Disassemble a Flute

5. How to Reassemble a Flute

6. How to Polish a Flute



Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, Flute Specialists, and leave us comments to tell us what you think. 


Of course, there are many repairs you can't do on your own. That's what we're here for! Contact us any time, we are here to help!



Welcome to Washington D.C.!


By Aaron Goldman, Principal Flute of the National Symphony Orchestra


Every year, when the National Symphony begins its Summer Season, I have a little more time in  my schedule to enjoy the benefits of summer. Trips to the beach, outdoor swimming pools, barbecues, and best of all, the National Flute Association’s Annual Convention. I have attended eight of the past eleven conventions and always find them to be wonderfully inspirational. There is no other place you can hear so many flutists within such a concentrated period of time. There are many more events scheduled than time in the day to hear it all, but stopping into a concert or masterclass for even just a few minutes can leave a lasting impression. Every year, I manage to hear something, either someone’s playing or a comment in a class/workshop, that gives me new ideas. I leave conventions invigorated and awed by the attendees' shared love of the flute. 

This year, the convention is taking place in Washington, DC, my hometown for the past nine years. Aside from the iconic monuments and government buildings, DC’s art museums can’t be missed. The Hirshhorn Museum and the American Art Museum are two of my favorite places in the city and the National Gallery of Art has an incomparable collection. Best of all, most DC museums are free. Joanna Bassett, this year’s Program Chair, has arranged two events in the city before the official start of the convention. One is at the Kennedy Center and the other at the Dayton C. Miller Collection at the Library of Congress. Both places are worthy of exploring outside of the planned special events and both offer excellent tours.


DC’s mass transit can take you just about anywhere in the city and is fairly easy to navigate. The convention hotel is located at one of the red line Metro stops, or you can get on a number of buses whose routes go right down Connecticut Avenue. The most confusing aspect of taking the Metro is knowing what your fare will be. The cost varies depending on the distance you’re traveling, the time of day, and what kind of ticket you are using. You can see all the fares on large signs above the ticket machines, but deciphering them can take longer than the ride itself. I recommend checking the Metro Trip Planner at www.wmata.com/rider_tools/tripplanner/ which will give you the exact fare as well as estimated travel times.


DC Metro Fares


When riding the Metro escalators, stand only on the right side to let those who are walking pass on the left. The term for people who stand on the left is “escaleftors.” 

Alternatively, there are taxis, Uber, the Capitol Bikeshare, and many places within walking distance. 

The hotel is close to a few different neighborhoods with various dining options. Adams Morgan is just on the other side of Rock Creek park from the hotel and has a myriad of dining options. One of my favorites is Pasta Mia on Columbia Rd. It doesn’t take reservations and there is often a long wait on weekends, but if you have a chance to go, it’s worth the time.


Going the opposite direction from the hotel will take you past the National Cathedral (also worth visiting) and to Wisconsin Avenue. The Cactus Cantina is a festive Mexican restaurant which can easily accommodate large parties, or Two Amy’s has great pizza next door.

If you head south on Connecticut Avenue, you will arrive at Dupont Circle which also has plenty of great dining options. It also has one of DC’s best private museums, the Phillips Collection.


I hope many of you will make the trip to DC for this summer’s convention and will take a few extra days to visit everything the city has to offer.


Aaron Goldman HeadshotAaron Goldman, Principal Flute of the National Symphony Orchestra since January 2013, joined the NSO as Assistant Principal Flute in September 2006. Prior to joining the NSO, he was Principal Flute of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed as guest principal with the Baltimore Symphony.

An active soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Goldman has performed concertos with the National Symphony, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Virginia Chamber Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Florida, and has performed at several National Flute Association’s annual conventions. He appears as part of the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, and is active in NSO In Your Neighborhood, the NSO’s signature community engagement project. He has also performed with the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, the National Chamber Players, the 21st Century Consort, the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, and participated in many educational programs with the NSO, including performances in the Family and Terrace Theaters. He has given lectures at the Carnegie Institute, and the Smithsonian Institution, such as “The Magical Flute” and “Math and Music: Closer Than You Think” alongside former NSO cellist Yvonne Caruthers.

Mr. Goldman received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and is on the faculty of the University of Maryland.





Orchestral Etiquette

     by The Entire DSO Flute Section! 

DSO Flute Section July 2015

We recently asked the Detroit Symphony Orchestra flute section for their tips on orchestral etiquette. Their responses were informative and very amusing! Enjoy!


David Buck


David Buck, Principal Flute 



1) There's nothing more distracting than seeing someone turn around and stare when you're playing a big solo in band or orchestra. No matter how great your colleague may sound, never turn your head back to watch or see who's playing--not in a rehearsal, and never in a concert. By the same token, never turn to look at someone if you believe they have made a mistake. We're all on stage to play music together, not to judge one another.




2) Warm up at pitch. All orchestra and bands have a certain pitch that they tune to - A440 and A441 are both common. It's very easy to be influenced by the pitch of those sitting around you. If you hear someone warming up sharp, it's natural to adjust and to start playing a little sharp yourself. You might not even realize that you're doing it! Make sure you tune your instrument carefully from the moment you begin warming up to help encourage accurate intonation for the whole group. Don't wait for the oboe to give the A to start playing in tune.


3) Know the count. As wind players, we frequently have to count long rests - sometimes 50 measures or more. If you're great at playing by ear, that's wonderful! Count every rest anyway. You'll ensure that you make your own entrances correctly, and you'll be an asset to your section if someone else looses count.



Sharon Sparrow, Assistant Principal Flute Sharon Sparrow


Over the last five years, we have hired many different players to sub on 2nd flute at the DSO.


Therefeore, I have had the privilege to work with many different players, and can pass on this useful information to you if you are ever subbing in a new orchestra on 2nd flute! I have titled this:

 “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” !




The Good:  


Be prepared! Know not only your own part, but how it fits with the whole group. Play through with a recording or youtube video before setting foot on the stage. 


Be early! Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for your 2nd player to arrive and wondering if they’ll be there before the tuning note. 


Be respectful! A little shuffle of the foot goes a long way if your Principal player plays a solo nicely. But don’t overdo it…it can also be annoying if too much!


Be flexible!  Your job as 2nd is to be a chameleon. Blend in with what is being played around you and do not stick out. Be the perfect partner to your Principal, as if you were a perfect pair of ice dancers. Move with him/her, blend, follow!


Be grateful. Saying thank you is a very nice gesture. Hopefully you will also always be thanked for your service, too!




The Bad:


Don’t be a leader! If you are playing 2nd, don’t come in BEFORE the Principal. Don’t stand up BEFORE the Principal for bows. Don’t play louder than the Principal. 


Don’t ask a lot of questions. It is appropriate at the end of rehearsal to ask if your Principal might want anything different, but other than that, do not ask questions. And absolutely do NOT raise your hand to ask any questions of the conductor!


Don’t move around too much. Stay stable, quiet and solid. Do not talk during the rehearsal, pull out your phone for any reason, or put reading materials on your stand. Oh, and check that your phone is turned OFF, as one substitute player’s phone rang onstage DURING a concert! (not a flute player AND we never saw that person again!).




The Ugly:


Play IN TUNE!  Matching pitch is one of the most important tasks at hand when subbing. Prepare carefully so that you can immediately adjust to the pitch that you hear on your left, right, or the row behind you!


Dress appropriately. Ask the Personnel manager for a copy of the dress code for concerts and follow it to the letter! Nude hose onstage when black hose is required is NOT acceptable and it is really uncomfortable for the Principal to pull you aside to explain! (ladies :-)!) For rehearsals, remember that some of your colleagues onstage may be “old school”, where dressing up was required for being onstage. Things like cutoff shorts, belly shirts, club wear, etc, MAY offend or color your first impression with some colleagues! 




I know that many of these tips seem like a no-brainer…however this list was derived from ACTUAL occurrences onstage over the last few years! You truly only get one opportunity for a great FIRST impression, so I’m hoping this, along with the other fabulous tips from my colleagues will be beneficial! 


Hope to see you all onstage one day at Orchestra Hall!


Jung-Wan Kang



Jung-Wan Kang, Substitute Second Flute 





1. Be prepared

   a. Practice your part thoroughly.

   b. Listen to recordings, at least three different ones if you’re unfamiliar with the work. This will give you some good ideas of the different interpretations that the conductor can take.

   c. Study the score - it’s important to know how your part fits in to the rest of the ensemble.

2. Be flexible

   a. Being flexible is essential, both towards the conductor and your fellow orchestra members. You will often be asked to play your part differently than how you practiced it at home, whether it be in terms of tempi, dynamics, articulation, or pitch. Always keep in mind that you are just one part of a larger ensemble.

   b. You won’t always agree with the different ways that you’re asked to play your part; however that’s inevitable when you’re playing in an orchestra. Try to be open-minded and embrace the different ways that others are interpreting the music. It can be a great learning experience to try different interpretations that you never thought of.

3. Be conscientious

   a. As a general rule, don’t move unnecessarily, and don’t play louder or use more vibrato than everyone else. Of course there are exceptions such as if you are playing a solo or an especially prominent line, or if the conductor specifically asks for it that way. However, in general keep your ears open and fit your playing into the ensemble. If you're moving too much, playing too loudly or with too much vibrato, the orchestra won't sound harmonious, not to mention you will be very distracting to those around you.

   b. Be mindful of your behavior when you’re not playing, whether it be during rehearsals or even during rests. Don’t move unnecessarily, don’t make unnecessary sounds/noises, and don’t talk unless it’s about the music, and even then wait until a break if possible. Also, don’t wear perfume and be careful that your jewelry doesn’t make noise.

4. Be kind

   a. Be supportive of your colleagues. Playing in an orchestra can be very stressful, and it’s important to keep a positive energy for yourself and for those around you.

   b. Often times you will need to go over sections of the music with your colleagues during breaks or before concerts, whether it be to settle issues of pitch, articulation, or balance. When these situations arise, it is important that everyone involved stays positive and flexible. Remember that the goal is to sound good together.


Jeff Zook, Flute and Piccolo Jeff Zook


Be nice:



Playing in any ensemble can be difficult but there is nothing that can make it more so than having to work with people who make your life miserable.


Be considerate to those who may not be as experienced as you and be respectful to those with more.  You can always learn from ANYONE if you have an open mind.


So when you enter the stage, check your ego at the door.




Don't move:


When others have solos or difficult passages, don't turn the pages of your music or adjust your stand. I once had a colleague who would jingle his key ring during my important piccolo solos!  Not helpful!




Listen Left:


In the flute section the principal sets the STYLE of playing for each piece - this includes pitch, note lengths, articulations and dynamics.  The second flute matches the first, and the third flute or piccolo matches the second - and so on.  Unless you have a solo line, you need to be aware and take these cues from whoever is on your left.




Festival SouthMississippi may not be a place you consider to have a significant cultural economy, but in south central Mississippi, the city of Hattiesburg boasts a vibrant and quickly growing arts scene. About to begin its sixth year, FestivalSouth®, June 6-20, 2015, will again be the platform upon which several educational institutes will take place, including the Southern Flute Festival, presented by Dr. Danilo Mezzadri.  Thanks to the healthy partnership between FestivalSouth® and the University of Southern Mississippi School of Music, the Southern Flute Festival has helped establish a reputable center for flute studies and performance.


FestivalSouth Event Picture 1


In its second year, the Southern Flute Festival (June 6 and 7, 2015) will host Tadeu Coelho, Patti Adams, Danilo Mezzadri, Bernardo Meithe, Carlos Feller, and Mary Chung during the two-day institute.  There will be several competitions, including the Young Artist Competition with up to $500 in prize money and the High School Competition with up to $300 in prize money. There will also be an Orchestral Master Class Competition and Master Class Performers Competition. The festival will also feature master classes, lectures, flute choir rehearsals and performances, and a Vendor Showcase where Robert Johnson and Flute Specialists, Inc. will be returning for their second year.  



Festival South Danilo MezzadriThe timing of the Southern Flute Festival coincides with FestivalSouth®, which is a multi- week, multi-genre arts festival.  More than 20,000 attendees will partake in over 90 events, all in Hattiesburg, including its historic downtown and the University of Southern Mississippi campus. Thanks to strong partnerships with local businesses and universities as well as individual support, FestivalSouth® contributes $1.8 million to the local economy and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the country and world. It provides employment for more than 300 artists each year, boosting a statistically underemployed segment of Mississippi’s workforce.  Modeled after the popular SXSW festival in Austin, and unique arts festivals like Chautauqua and Aspen, FestivalSouth® features music for everyone, including classical, country, blues, gospel, rock, and Broadway.  Each year, it hosts art exhibits, dance performances, educational institutes, events for children, and more.  This year it launches several new events, including the FestivalSouth® Film Expo (June 1-4, 2015), the Festival5K, and its Late Night Music Series.

FestivalSouth Statue



I am the Development Coordinator for the Hattiesburg Concert Association, the 501(c)3 organization that presents FestivalSouth, and I spend the year fundraising to make FestivalSouth happen.  First and foremost, though, I am a professional flutist who lives and works in Hattiesburg, MS.  I have been fortunate to participate in FestivalSouth as a chamber music performer, in the FestivalSouth® Orchestra, and as a lecturer and performer in the Southern Flute Festival.  I have found my place as a flutist here and in the region, and now that I add arts administration to my list of professional activities, I have found a way to make a bigger difference in this community. Being a part of Hattiesburg’s energized arts community and seeing the way FestivalSouth® and its institutes improve the quality of life for all who participate fills me with pride.  FestivalSouth® not only makes Hattiesburg special, it makes Mississippi and the region around us special.




Festival South Danilo MezzadriHattiesburg, known as The Hub City, is about equidistant from Jackson, MS, Mobile, AL, Gulfport, MS, and New Orleans, LA.  It is a unique city, standing apart from the rest of Mississippi, especially from the assumptions and stereotypes many have about this southern state.  Small businesses speckle the historic downtown as well as the quickly growing suburban areas.  Primarily a college town, it is relatively progressive with regard to the state of education, and in attitudes toward human rights and health and well-being. The arts play a role in the expression of these collective community values and reinforce what music and the arts mean to humanity.  FestivalSouth®, through its institutes, concert series, visual art exhibits, children’s programs, and additional events, is the realization of how the arts can improve our quality of life, bringing a community together, inspiring, educating and entertaining its residents.  Hattiesburg is the perfect place for this realization.

I would like to invite “ya’ll” to come south for the 2nd Annual Flute Festival, here in Hattiesburg, and STAY for the amazing concerts and events during FestivalSouth® 2015.  Come see and hear for yourself the talent we attract here in Hattiesburg.  For more information about the Southern
Festival South Rachel BioFlute Festival and FestivalSouth® 2015, please go to www.southernflutefestival.org and www.festivalsouth.org.  



Rachel Taratoot Ciraldo is the Development Coordinator for the Hattiesburg Concert Association in Hattiesburg, MS. She is the principal flutist for the Baton Rouge Symphony and Meridian Symphony and the second flutist for the Gulf Coast Symphony.  She performs regularly in Duo Cintemani, with classical guitarist and husband, Nicholas Ciraldo.  



All photographs taken and provided by Alē Wooten













A Flutist's Guide to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
     By Sandra Cox, D.M.A. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most frequently encountered disorders by all instrumentalists, caused by repetitive movements in the wrist and fingers. This is the most common of the nerve entrapment disorders. These conditions are more common in women, and persons with diabetes, thyroid disorders, and arthritis, or are pregnant. 

It occurs when the median nerve is caught, or entrapped, between the bones, ligaments, and other tissues found in the wrist. The median nerve innervates the thumb, index finger, third finger, and the thumb side (called the radial side) of the ring finger. 


                                                            CTS Median Nerve Innervation

 Median Nerve Innervation 

CTS develops when there is an increase in pressure in the carpal tunnel, or the wrist. This causes swelling, which puts pressure on the median nerve, which will begin to cause symptoms. The median nerve can be damaged depending on the cause, severity, and duration of the pressure. Many flutists do not realize that the damage is occurring in the early stages. Because of this, it is important to seek help when you notice anything that is unusual, before there is any permanent damage. 

The most common symptoms seen are numbness and tingling of the hands and fingers. Some will experience pain in the wrist that sometimes radiates to the arm and shoulder. The problem is caused by repetitive motions, such as preparing for recitals, or working on difficult passages repeatedly. Often, flutists do not notice the symptoms when practicing or playing. Instead they notice numbness in their hands while driving, waking up at night with numbness, or dropping objects while distracted. As long as the symptoms are intermittent, they usually will not cause permanent damage. 

There are some simple tests we can do to check for CTS. These are not meant to take the place of seeing a health care provider. Instead they can help us in managing the condition, and knowing when we need to see a health care provider. One of the easiest and best tests is called Phalen’s test. When performing this test, we hold our wrists in a flexed position for 30-60 seconds. The back of the hands should be touching. It looks similar to mirror image of praying. If you have any nerve impingement, it causes numbness and tingling. The numbness and tingling does not have to be dramatic, so if you experience any, you will need to address it before the damage becomes severe. 


                                                           CTS Phalen's Test

Phalen’s Test


The Phalen’s test is not going to diagnose CTS, but will assist the flutist, or teacher, in knowing when to seek help. CTS can affect the muscle strength on the affected side. To check for muscle strength, just have the person place the tip of the thumb and the tip of the fifth finger together, while someone else tries to separate them. The side that is affected by CTS will be weaker. 

So, what do you do if you think you have CTS? There are some things you can do on your own, before you see a health care provider. One of the most important is to stop any non-musical activities that aggravate the problem. Another easy way to alleviate the pressure on the nerve is to sleep with a splint that keeps the wrist straight and in a neutral position. Most people sleep curled up, which will aggravate the condition; so the splint lets the wrist, and median nerve, have a much-needed rest. Splints can be obtained without a prescription at most drug and department stores. 


                                                           CTS Splint Examples

CTS Wrist Splint


Another treatment is to take over-the-counter Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS). Examples would be Tylenol, Aleve, or Advil. Some medical conditions can prevent taking these, so you should check with a provider first. Some have found taking Vitamin B6 helpful, since it is a natural diuretic, and is a protect ant for the nerves. If it does not help, it will not hurt you. One of the most important, and best, things we can do is use ice regularly on the wrist. It should be done at least 20-30 minutes two to three times a day. Most people cannot immediately get an appointment to be seen, and all of these are helpful until you can get an appointment. 

When you first start to notice symptoms, it will be very helpful if you start keeping a record of everything you experience, i.e. symptoms, what you were doing when you had them, any treatments, etc. This information will be very helpful to the health care provider in deciding what to do next.

What happens next, when you do see the health care provider? One of the first things done is a trial on steroids, either by mouth or an injection. The injection places the medicine right in the area that is being affected. The oral steroids affect your entire body, and have some side effects that are not very pleasant. Most health care providers are very judicious when it comes to injecting joints. Too many injections can actually damage the joint, causing more problems in the future. This is why it is important to find someone that is a specialist in treating these problems. The best specialties for this are orthopedics (bones) and rheumatologists (joints/arthritis).  Some will have a nerve conduction test, which evaluates if there is any nerve damage. 




While many will benefit from some of the above treatments, others will require surgery. It is considered a last resort, and is frightening for many of us. But the thing we must remember is that all the more conservative options have not worked. So, it is better to have surgery than risk permanent, and career ending, nerve damage. The surgery is simple and recovery is relatively fast. 




Some of the most important things to remember if you do develop any of these symptoms, or are diagnosed with CTS:


  1. It is treatable. 
  2. Do not be afraid to see someone about the problem.
  3. Try the easy things while waiting to see someone.
  4. We usually do not recommend complete rest anymore. There will be a period where you can’t play as much. You have to learn to pace yourself and take breaks. 
  5. Avoid non-musical activities that aggravate the problem. (Not doing the dishes and pulling weeds was a big plus for me!)
  6. Follow what the doctor recommends. It is better to miss a gig, than have to stop playing altogether!
  7. Most important-It will get better!!




by Linda Mintener

Linda MintenerFlutist Linda Mintener, through her church, organizes an annual flute concert to raise funds for more than 85 Chinese orphan children to go to school.  The concerts are free with a free-will offering taken, all of which goes to support the orphans.  The 9th annual Chinese Orphan Benefit Concert will be on Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 2:30 at First Baptist Church in Madison, Wisconsin.  All are invited to attend.

Linda began the concerts when she became aware of the catastrophic situation that occurred in China’s rural Henan Province from her friend who has been a missionary in China for over 20 years.  The tragedy occurred in the 1990s when blood collectors came into small village farming areas and recruited poor subsistence farmers to give blood in return for a small fee to augment the families’ meager incomes.  Unfortunately, unsterile blood collection procedures spread the HIV virus to those who participated.  The result was the death of more than 10,000 adults from HIV/AIDS, leaving behind more than 2,000 orphaned children.  Most of the children now live with elderly grandparents who are left without the support from their now deceased children that they had relied on in their old age.  The grandparents are aged beyond their years, having lived through the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward and having endured periods of near starvation.  

In some families, it was the father who participated in the blood collection and subsequently died of AIDS, leaving a young widow unable to provide for herself and her children.  In such a situation, the widow, in order to survive, sometimes remarried and moved to another area, abandoning her children—an additional type of loss for the children to bear.  Elderly and frail grandparents—often in poor health, and without the ability to support even themselves—became the sole supporters and care takers of their orphaned grandchildren.  It is the only option for the children to survive since there are few, if any orphanages or services for orphans in their area.  As the AIDS orphans age out of the school system, the Chinese Orphan Project has now expanded to support orphans whose parents died from causes other than HIV/AIDS.  

All of the children we support live with the stigma of poverty and their status as orphans in a country where family status is so important.  They are taunted and teased often unbearably sometimes forcing them to drop out of school.  In some villages, the villagers shun the AIDS orphans and their grandparents, with no one in the village willing to even speak to them.  The children’s status in their village is often raised when they have our funds to buy new clothes to replace their rags and schoolbooks, pencils and paper.  The fact that foreigners from halfway around the world support and even visit them (which always gets lots of attention in the villages) gives the children more respect.  Children have told us that after receiving our support and visits, the other children will speak to them and play with them, when they would not before.  After the children receive our funds to buy the necessities for school, their grades often shoot up, and they become some of the best students in the school.  Of course, some students struggle in school, perhaps due to the terrible losses they have endured at such young ages. 

Two of our children, a boy in middle school and his sister in high school, live entirely on their own supported by our funds.  Both parents died of AIDS, and their grandmother is now too ill to care for them.  They live in their deceased parents’ home during school vacations and board at school during the school year.  There are no other relatives to care for them and no other place for them to go.  They had to sell their inherited rights to farm their parents’ land to pay for the medical expenses of the brother’s neurological disease. They grow squash in their front yard, and survive on that when they are at home. Both are excellent students. One cannot even imagine what would have happened to them without our support.  

The flutist community has become a great supporter of the Chinese Orphan Project.  Many well-known and excellent flutists have come at their own expense to perform in our annual Chinese Orphan Benefit Concerts, including Alexa Still (who has come twice), Jonathan Keeble and his harpist partner Ann Yeung, James Pellerite (on Native American flute), Patricia George (editor of Flute Talk magazine), and Roberta Brokaw (who has come the last 8 years!).  The Madison Flute Choir and its elite Chamber Group perform, as well as other Madison flutists.  Several additional flutists have offered to perform for our future concerts.  All performers volunteer their time and talents to come to Madison and to perform.  The concerts include all sorts of classical music – solos, duets, and types of ensembles by Mozart, Bach, Doppler, Delibes, Debussy, etc., – as well as some Chinese melodies including Medley of Old Chinese Folk Songs arranged especially for us by Matt Johnston of Alry Publications.   

Linda started the concerts in 2007 with the goal to support just two of the AIDS orphans.  Amazingly and unexpectedly, the Project is now supporting 85 orphans in Henan Province, providing them with money to allow them to stay in a home with a relative and to pay fees for such things as school, boarding, books, transportation, and exams and to buy school supplies, adequate clothing for hot summers and cold snowy winters, and a proper diet.  The children would not otherwise have these things--often not even pencils, paper or schoolbooks.  Before our support, the children had little, if any, ability to get an education.  The Chinese Orphan Project’s support for the children has greatly changed the children’s lives, allowing them to attend school on an equal footing with others and letting them look forward to a bright and healthy future contributing to Chinese society.  

The annual concerts have not only raised money collected in the concert offering, but have also raised awareness of the orphans’ plight and encouraged individuals to support an orphan child for $250/year for young children and $500/year for high school students.  Our sponsors have come from 11 different states and 4 countries.  In addition, the flute industry members have generously donated flutes and other items for us to sell for the benefit of the Chinese Orphan Project, and flute retailers, such as Flute Specialists, have donated money to support a child.  

The children the Project supports range in age from kindergarten to four who are now in college.  Most of the children are HIV-negative, though we have sponsored a few who are HIV-positive or have AIDS.  We are very proud of those who have passed the national college entrance exam -- quite a feat for children who come from rural schools that are much inferior to those in large urban areas.  Two of our college students will graduate this spring; another is in the 2nd year of a 4-year nursing program; and one is in his 1st year of a 3-year technical college program.  Last year, our oldest student, whom we had supported for several years, graduated from college.  She had lived in a one-room dirt-floor home with her widowed and disabled grandmother and younger brother who had dropped out of grade school.  Now, she has a good job that supports herself and her grandmother.  

Linda and her husband have been to China’s Henan Province four times to visit each of the children and their guardians in their humble rural homes, bringing home photos and stories of each child.  On those trips, Linda and her husband have been greeted with hugs, bright smiles and tears of gratefulness.  Each child has a poignant story of loss, grief, adversity, and survival.  A huge thank you to the flute community which has contributed so much to change the lives of these children who are at the bottom of Chinese society.  

If you are interested in contributing to the Chinese Orphan Project or in sponsoring a child, you can do so through First Baptist Church-Madison, Wisconsin.  A contribution of any amount is appreciated and will go into our general funds to support the children.  One hundred percent of the donations is sent to the Chinese charity that works with us, which takes 10% for their administrative costs.  The remaining 90% goes directly to the orphans twice a year after the school records show the child has finished the school semester.  Checks may be made out to First Baptist Church and sent to Linda Mintener, 3976 Plymouth Circle, Madison, WI 53705.  It’s tax deductible as allowed under the federal and/or state law requirements.  You may contact Linda Mintener at LMintener@AOL.com or (608)231-1680 for further information. 

Chinese Benefit Concert 2015

Official Press Release:


The 9TH Annual Chinese Orphans Benefit Concert

On March 22, 2015, at 2:30, First Baptist Church of Madison, Wisconsin will present a flute concert to raise money for the church’s mission to provide an education for orphan children in China’s rural Henan Province.  This year’s concert will feature three prominent out-of-town flutists who have generously volunteered their time and talents for this fundraising event.  James Pellerite is an acclaimed performer on the Native American flute.  A former flute professor at Indiana University and principle flutist for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, he took up the Native American flute upon his retirement, and has become instrumental in promoting this unique instrument.  He will perform several pieces that he has commissioned—solos, as well as duets and trios with the modern flute, viola and cello.  A main feature will be his World Premier performance of John Heins’ new composition Nature Story. 

In addition, Patricia George, editor of Flute Talk magazine, will grace us with a performance of a lovely CPE Bach sonata and will join local flutists to play Cimarosa Suite, a delightful trio composed by her husband Thom Ritter George.  Paired with that will be Concerto in G Major by Domenico Cimarosa, a lively and flashy duet with flute choir accompaniment performed by Linda Mintener and Roberta Brokaw (Linda’s Indiana University music school colleague who joins us for the 8th year).  Elizabeth Marshall—of the Madison Symphony and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra—will then join Roberta (her former flute professor) to play a duet of lovely Chinese tunes.  

Another special treat will be the Madison Flute Choir performing Andante and Allegro by Telemann recently arranged for flute ensemble by Carol Gilkey, Roberta’s former student.  And, there’s more!!  Come join us!  Admission is free with a free-will offering taken for the Chinese Orphans Project.  

The past concerts, as well as other donations and individual sponsorships, have raised money to provide the opportunity for an education to 85 orphans ranging from kindergarten to college students.  Many of the children were orphaned when their parents died of HIV/AIDS contracted from donating blood in exchange for small amounts of much-needed cash.  Most of the children live with elderly and infirm grandparents who have little or no cash income and struggle to care and provide for themselves, let alone their young grandchildren.  The grandparents were farmers, but now most are disabled and unable to do farm work or other physical labor.  That means they cannot provide the money for their grandchildren to go to school since they cannot pay for the school fees and basic educational necessities, such as schoolbooks (which the government does not provide), pencils, notebooks, transportation costs, and exam fees.  Our support helps provide the children with those things, as well as adequate clothing (for hot summers and cold, snowy winters) and a healthy diet.  

With our support, many of the children who did not do well academically or who were not in school have jumped to the top of their class.  We are very proud of our four children who are now in college and one who has graduated and has a job.  Of course, some of the children struggle in school, perhaps because of the difficulties, grief, and poverty they have lived through.  

Flutist and concert organizer, Linda Mintener, has visited the children in their rural homes on four separate occasions.  She has experienced and seen first-hand the smiles, hugs and tears of gratefulness from the children and their grandparents.  Come to the concert, enjoy an afternoon of lovely music and donate to this great cause.  If you cannot make it to the concert, you can still sponsor an individual child ($240/year) or donate in any amount by sending a check made out to First Baptist Church to Linda Mintener, the Project Coordinator, 3976 Plymouth Circle, Madison, WI  53705.


Happy Holidays

by Amanda Sparfeld



It's that time of year again, when the colorful lights twinkle on the trees and cozy little houses all around the world. Snowfall, snowmen, menorahs, Christmas trees, singing carols-- all of the beautiful holiday events for the month of December.
As I write this, I am in-between performing two shows of Wicked which is currently at the Detroit Opera House. Though not necessarily a Christmas story, it is a fun show the whole family can enjoy!
Previous to this, I performed Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" with the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra at the Detroit Opera House.
This piece is a real staple of the flute diet in the month of December, and each year I am reminded what a delightfully challenging piece it is.  I still remember my teacher, Robert Langevin, liking the Principal Flute part to that of an étude book. Throughout the ballet, the flute spins out scales, rapid octaves, various articulations, trills, rhythmical patterns, and melodious solos. I always find myself in peak shape when preparing for The Nutcracker, and I can't emphasize enough to my students the importance of learning and practicing the part. It will undoubtedly make you a better flutist, and you will be ready if you are ever called to substitute with an orchestra in an emergency.

One other piece I'd like to bring to your attention is "Christmas Images" by Michigan composer Terry Herald. It is a gorgeous piece scored for flute duet and harp (or guitar), with beautiful harmonies in a lilting 6/8 pattern. I recently performed this with Jeff Zook of the Detroit Symphony and it was received with great applause. You can find a recording of it on Jeff's CD entitled "Comfort and Joy" featuring flutist Sharon Sparrow and harpist Kerstin Allvin.

So enjoy the holiday season-- Grab some friends, learn some holiday music, and perform it for your friends, family, and community. After all, being a musician is about sharing the art with which we devote ourselves to everyday. Best of holidays to you all and happy fluting!

~Amanda Sparfeld 

Amanda Sparfeld is the Principal Flutist with the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra at the Detroit Opera House, Principal Flutist of the Sarasota Opera,  and also the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra.  She is the former Principal Flutist of the Miami City Ballet, and has substituted with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.   

As a chamber musician and soloist, Amanda performs with organizations including New Music Detroit and Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, performed concerti with the Sibelius Camerata and Allegro Chamber Orchestra, and gives solo recitals around the country.  Amanda maintains a private flute studio outside of Detroit and has served as Interim Flute Instructor at Oakland University in Michigan.  

Amanda studied at Manhattan School of Music where she earned a Professional Studies Certificate from the prestigious Orchestral Performance Program.  Other degrees received include a M.M. in Flute Performance from the University of Miami and a B.A. in Music from Principia College.  Her primary teachers include Robert Langevin, Marie Jureit-Beamish, Jenny Robinson, and Christine Nield-Capote.



The Healthy Flute  

by Sandra Cox, D.M.A.



Performance-related injuries. These three words can strike terror in any musician. What exactly is a performance-related injury? It is, simply, any injury that prohibits a musician from performing on an instrument. There is no limit on how much it interferes with playing, whether in performance or practice. It does not have to be so severe that it is incapacitating. This means that many times, we can continue to perform. Unfortunately, not having the injury evaluated means that we may be inflicting damage. This damage can continue, sometimes for a long time, and this could prevent performance. 

In order to understand injuries, we need to understand how they are categorized. Injuries can occur in many different ways. Things like broken bones, and accidents are certainly problematic, and can cause multiple problems. But that is not what I am talking about. I am referring to injuries that occur because of what we do when we play, and how we accomplish the playing. 

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of injuries. Many of the problems musicians have can be classified into one or the other. These two categories are Overuse Syndromes, and Nerve Impingement Syndromes. Either of these can occur independently, or together. 

Overuse syndromes, sometimes called repetitive strain disorders, happen when we perform the same motions, over and over. The repeated movement causes irritation, and swelling in the joints, tendons, and ligaments. The musician perceives this as pain, although initially, it may not be very bad. If not addressed, it can become debilitating. An example of an overuse syndrome is DeQuervain’s Tendonitis, which is found in the thumb areas. 

Nerve impingement occurs when a nerve is ‘caught’ between two structures. Many times you can have a nerve impingement that goes along with overuse syndromes, and sometimes the impingement is due to swelling around the nerve. These can originate in the neck region, but affect the hands and fingers. Examples of nerve impingement would be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. 

There is a myriad of problems that the musician can suffer, some more common than others. While not technically an injury, the end result is the same…. playing is compromised in some way. Allergies to wood, and metal can create major issues with playing. Hearing loss is something we all should be concerned about. Performance Anxiety is one that has received a lot of attention off and on over the years, and remains one of the biggest obstacles a musician can overcome. 

The flutist who suffers from some type of injury should be informed, and know what to do, and where (and when) to go for help. It is very frightening when faced with some type of injury or complication that compromises one’s ability to make a living. This column is intended to help educate flutists about performance-related injuries, so that we are informed. The old saying ‘knowledge is power’ certainly applies here. Learning about injuries, how they develop, treatments, prevention, etc. will hopefully lead to less injuries, and more fluting! 

Dr. Sandra Cox was the winner of the National Flute Association’s Convention Performer’s Competition in 2003 and 2004. Advanced degrees in the medical field, combined with music degrees, give her a unique perspective on musician health, and performance-related injuries. She is on the NFA Performance Health Committee and is a frequent presenter on performance health topics, having presented at  Kentucky (KMEA), Tennessee (TMEA), Texas (TMEA), Hawaii (HMEA), Milwaukee (MTNA), China (ISME), Greece (ISME), the Midwest Clinic, International Horn Symposium, Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair, and the National Flute Association.


She is on the faculty of Southwest Tennessee Community College, and freelances in the Memphis, Tennessee area. 



Muramatsu Inc. Japan
The Muramatsu flute company has been making professional flutes for nearly a century, and is still family owned. 
The founder of the Muramatsu company was an artist, who became enamored when he heard a Boehm system flute for the first time. This sound was new to Japan, and inspired the young Koichi Muramatsu.  He had recently acquired engineering skills while repairing instruments for the army music school, and he resolved himself to creating such flutes himself. This young artist and flute maker did not realize at that time, in 1923, the legacy he would be creating. He was to become the founder of modern day flute making in Japan.
At first he could not support himself just by making flutes, so he took a job painting theater signs. He liked the schedule, as it allowed him time to make flutes. He writes, “When I played my flute for other employees at the theater, they wanted me to play more. This different flute sound was very intriguing to them.” 
These were difficult times, he writes in his memoirs. “I spent all the money I earned from painting to buy new machinery. My number one priority was to constantly improve my flutes.” Muramatsu worked long hours and once told friends, “Work is reliable, but not the schedule.”
Five years after he started making Muramatsu flutes, he was contacted by a large musical instrument distributor in Japan. They were very impressed with his flutes, and signed a contract to distribute them. Over a period of time, Koichi Muramatsu‘s flute making shop grew. He had to add more and more employees. He encouraged all his employees to learn to play the flute, a tradition which is carried on by Muramatsu Inc today. 
Koichi Muramatsu took great pleasure in making people happy through music. He writes in his memoirs, “I believe at this time, as I’m writing this essay, many people are playing and enjoying my flutes.” 
In 1962 Koichi Muramatsu died. His legacy was continued by his son,  Osamu Muramatsu, into the twenty-first century. Today Muramatsu Inc is still family owned and is led by Koichi Muramatsu’s grandson, Akio Muramatsu. Muramatsu produces more professional flutes than any other maker in the world. They are sold on every continent. 
Family traditions continue in the Muramatsu company, which warmly greets traveling flutists to Japan and maintains friendly relationships with flutists worldwide. Flutists are always welcomed to visit the Tokyo Flute Shop and the company sometimes allows visitors to the factory in Tokorozawa.
By the 1970s, the Muramatsu flute was well known by flutists in Europe and was considered to be the mainstay by flutists in Japan. Muramatsu was selling flutes worldwide, but the Muramatsu flute was virtually unknown in America.
In 1974, I was approached by an importer of musical instruments who asked me to help him find a flute worthy of importing. I was unfamiliar with the Muramatsu flute at that time. The importer invited me to accompany him to a number of international manufacturing trade shows, but I was unable to find any flutes that met the standards to which American flutists were accustomed. One day I was teaching a student from New York City who was traveling around the country taking lessons from different flutists, collecting material for a dissertation about approaches to pedagogue and teaching styles. I noticed that the flute he was playing was not one of the familiar brands. Out of curiosity, I asked if I could try the instrument and found that it was pleasing to play. I was impressed.
After talking to the importer about my experience with this flute, we tried to contact the Muramatsu company. To no avail. We eventually learned that all musical instrument sales in Japan at that time went through what they called, “trading companies.” After finally making contact, several Muramatsu flutes were shipped to America and the marketing of Muramatsu flutes in America began to evolve. 
In 1975, I was invited to join the importer for a visit to the Muramatsu factory in Japan. The experience was unforgettable.
Their approach to business was different than I expected. They did not want to “talk shop” at all during the first days of our visit. Instead, they insisted that we join them for four days of sightseeing, dining, and getting to know each other. I will never forget the mountain spa where we wore kimonos and sandals the entire time, took hot baths, drank lots of sake, tried to tell stories and jokes through a translator, and eventually fell soundly asleep upon straw floor mats. I felt as if I knew the members of the executive board very well upon our return to the modern hotel in Tokyo. 
We spent the remaining days of our trip at the factory in Tokorozawa, playing flutes of many different metals and flavors, in many different settings. We discussed our observations and shared our opinions about tone, mechanics, and intonation. I found the factory engineers to be open-minded and receptive to new and different ideas. Hiroshi Aoki, one of the  world’s distinguished flute engineers told me, “We want to always know what today’s flutists like. We are not making Muramatsu flutes for ourselves.”
I was surprised to learn that the Muramatsu factory manufactured virtually every part of the flute. This continues today. When I later visited the factory in 2002, I was invited into the Research and Development room. I was shown a big machine that had a digital readout at the top. The numbers flew by and the machine produced a number of different whirring sounds. Finally, a tiny screw fell out of the bottom tray. It was part of a new flute being built. Muramatsu even makes its own pads.
The Muramatsu company is very traditional. They only implement changes to the Muramatsu flute after much research, testing and study. Everyone at the factory is included in discussions regarding new plans, and eventually issues are passed to an executive committee and ultimately to the president of the company, Akio Muramatsu. 
Another thing I learned about the company was their loyalty to their workers. Muramatsu strives to keep quality high by employing the same workers for their entire careers.They also take all personnel and their families for a week long vacation every year. The company makes a strong effort not to release employees during lean times, nor to expand their employee base too quickly during times of high instrument demand. I recall Osamu Muramatsu telling me on one occasion, “We prefer steady growth to ups and downs.” That philosophy has served them well. Their family of workers return the loyalty in kind. 
After returning from our trip in 1975, a new company was formed in America called Muramatsu USA, and I was appointed American consultant. It took only a few years to establish the Muramatsu flute in the United States, as it met quick approval and acceptance by a number of distinguished American flutists. 
In 1995, I was appointed by Osamu Muramatsu to become the official representative for Muramatsu flutes in America. The name for the new distributorship is Muramatsu America. 
Muramatsu America’s early initiative was to increase the number of dealerships throughout North America and to make sure that professional flutists everywhere had opportunities to test Muramatsu flutes. Of course, by this time, there were many flute clubs, flute festivals, and even flute specialty shops, and the Muramatsu America expansion fit well into the mold of the developing flute community throughout the country. 
Recently, Muramatsu America has opened a new office called the Flute House in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan, where we invite customers to come and try instruments from a very large inventory. Though there is a waiting list for Muramatsu flutes from the factory, Muramatsu America orders flutes many months in advance to have ample inventory at all times for American dealerships and flutists. 
Muramatsu takes great pride in training talented technicians to work on the Muramatsu flutes here in America. Among some of the earliest people to receive training was Robert Johnson, who studied Muramatsu repair at the factory in Japan and has carried on his expertise at his own company, Flute Specialist, in Clawson, Michigan. 
Muramatsu does not pay individuals to play their flute, nor does it give away instruments to famous flutists. The philosophy has always been that the flute will stand on its own merits and the quality speaks for itself. It must be working, Muramatsu sells more professional flutes worldwide than any other flute maker. 
© 2014 Ervin Monroe


Back to School: Back to Work

It’s that time again; time to stock up on school supplies, time to dust off the instrument, time to buy more sheet music, time to start lessons again, and most of all, time to get back to work.  Summer stock is over, and the regular performing season is beginning to take full swing.

Now that schooling is over for me, it’s time to find work.  This fall season, I can be seen on the Detroit Opera House stage in Elektra and Madame Butterfly with Michigan Opera Theatre, subbing for multiple churches, working as a substitute teacher, and costuming Bowling Green State University's fall opera Amal and the Night Visitors for their Arts Extravaganza weekend.  The only thing I wanted out of my schooling was to be employable in the arts, and diversification has been my life.  I have done everything from performing on stage to performing in the pit orchestra, costuming, directing, and artistic director.  My goal is to always be involved in the Theatre.

This year, I have been blessed with an opportunity to perform with the Michigan Opera Theatre as an apprentice singing my first solo part on the Detroit stage.  It will be my second time singing a solo part on a professional stage: increasing my professional repertoire from ten words and three notes off stage to over a minute on stage singing over 70+ musicians without a microphone, but no music career starts on a professional stage.  My musical life has consisted of a slow and steady upward motion combining a lifelong passion with a professional career, but I have never forgotten where my music comes from and my passions began.

When I was little, my mother would buy me records, then cassette tapes, and then compact disks of the musicals she would take me to see either at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis or on Broadway in New York City.  I would play them during bedtime and memorize every word and note and then be taken to see the musical.  I could tell my mother every note from the instruments to the singers that was different than the memorized recording in my head, but musical talent and skill was not uncommon to my family.  Everyone in my family had some form of musical background, and it was apparent that I would share some musical talent.  Because there was such a musical background in my family, my mother decided it was time for me to begin learning an instrument, and so in third grade, I set out to have my own musical career with my very own instrument.

Choosing an instrument can be a life-long commitment, and for me, it will stay with me the rest of my life.  It feels like it was only yesterday that I picked out my first instrument even though it occurred over two decades ago.  Because I went to a private school with no music program, my mother took me to our local music store in Columbia, Missouri.  I got to try out every instrument possible which is a service the public school system provided for fifth graders.  I started with a trumpet since that was my grandfather’s instrument; it was to no avail.  I could put lots of wind through but no sound came out.  I also tried a French horn, my grandmother’s instrument.  There was just as much success as the trumpet.  I was not interested in a trombone or tuba, so we moved from the brass family into the woodwind family where hopefully I could find more success.  I could squeak out sounds on the clarinet, but my mother said she would not have a squawking instrument in her house.  I wasn’t allowed to even look at a saxophone because of the Presidential scandal at the time.  What does a saxophone have to do with impeachment hearings?!  I’ll never know, but it was out of the question.  A snare drum has no melody, and it did not help that it was heavy.  Why in the world would I want to play an instrument that just gets heavier as you progress?  It’s the only instrument I know that increases in size into a trap set.  I was running out of options.

The only band instrument left was the flute.  The salesman brought out a flute for me to try and pulled out the headjoint for me to try to make a sound. It was a success; I could make a sound.  Then the salesman showed me how my finger could change the pitch with just the headjoint.  I never did put the whole instrument together that day.  It was settled; my first flute was an Armstrong.  It was a nickel plated flute with a c foot.  The lining of the case was blue, and it came with a cleaning rod.  Shortly after the purchase, we found a flute teacher, and my grandparents paid for private lessons.  I’ve never gave it a second thought that I should be doing something else other than music.

Now I enjoy playing for musicals when I am not on the stage.  One of my favorite parts of playing for a musical is the variety of instruments required to be performed by one person.  Most of the scores call for one person to play flute, clarinet, and saxophone with additional possibilities of recorder, oboe, piccolo, alto flute, English horn, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, and others.  Before I played for my first musical in 2000, I learned to play clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, and piano.   How I ended up playing each of these instruments came in an unusual way, but that is another story for another day.

Diversification is the name of the game, and I will always love learning a new skill like another instrument or lighting a stage.  Who knows what is in store for me this fall.  I love every minute of it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Back to school, back to work, and back to the theatre is the life for me. 




Tenor Blake Bard, from Ulman, MO, is currently singing with Michigan Opera Theatre apprentice for the 2014-15 season including Young Servant in Elektra and the Registrar in Madame Butterfly.  Recent Roles include Parpignol in La Boheme with Toledo Opera, Danilo in The Merry Widow and Le Chevalier in Dialogues des Carmelites with Bowling Green State University, Prunier in La Rondine and covering Franz in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.  As a Young Artists with Chicago Opera Theatre, Blake covered Egeo and Sole in Giasone and Mambre in Mose in Egitto.  Blake holds a Bachelors in Music and Masters in Music in Voice Performance from Bowling Green State University.  Other special interests include reed doubling for musicals, costuming, directing, and farm living.




August 2014

New Caliendo Flute Ensemble Piece Premiering at the 2014 NFA Convention


by Julie Stone, Professor of Flute, Eastern Michigan University


Emerald Flutes in Performance
“How about a new premiere?! Let's really celebrate!” These were the words in an email from Christopher Caliendo responding to my inquiry about a piece for the Eastern Michigan University Emerald Flutes to perform at the NFA Convention in Chicago. Needless to say Dr. Penny Fischer and I 
(co-directors of the ensemble) were speechless!! We are fans of his compositions for flute ensemble and were looking for an upbeat crowd pleaser to complement the other pieces on our program, Flutes Plus! (flutes with additional instruments). For this occasion, Caliendo composed an upbeat piece, Hoe Down, that is everything and more that one would expect from this exciting composer. Along with a fast tempo of quarter=148, the piece includes intricate rhythms, 16th note passages, fast articulation, and even a few contemporary techniques to make the rodeo come alive! In the Caliendo style, no part is overlooked and includes an interesting ride for all parts. He did include parts for optional cello and harp since the ensemble will be playing other pieces on the concert with those instruments. 


The EMU Emerald Flutes have a long-standing relationship with Caliendo since its performance of La Milonga at the NFA Convention in 2000 so this is a sentimental and exciting occasion for all of us. We hope to see many of you at our concert at noon on Thursday, August 7, in the Normandie Lounge at the Hilton Chicago. In addition to Hoe Down, the program includes Chinese Dragons for four flutes and percussion by Nancy Faber; Symphony Atlantis for flute orchestra, harp, and cello by Melvin Lauf, Jr.; and Dance with Me for flute ensemble and CD by Wil Offermans. Members of the ensemble who will be performing in Chicago include:

Penelope Fischer and Julie Stone, directors

Members: Mare Almhiemid, Terese Brooks, Ashley Hagadon, Sarah Hamilton, Joshua Lockhart, Anjali Martin, Timothy Mullins, Amber Nellett, Mary Rose Nieman, Kathryn Suminski, Kyle Thompson, Dakota Williams, Sherry Young, Kayla Younkin, Celisa Guitierrez, harp, and Kelsey Brichford, cello


Julie Stone Headshot
Julie Stone
 is Professor of Flute at Eastern Michigan University and flutist with the Eastern Winds. She has performed widely as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician winning awards including the National Flute Association Professional Performers Competition. She was a featured performer in the International College Music Society Conference in Berlin, Germany and has recorded for the Albany, Crystal, and ACA Digital labels. She has been published in Flute Talk magazine and the Flutist Quarterly and has taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. 







July 2014

Building a Program for the NFA Convention

by Alice Dade - Assistant Program Chair 2014 NFA Convention


Phil Dikeman and I became friends when I started subbing with Detroit Symphony in 2009, where Phil was Assistant Principal as well as Acting Principal. We were known to shop together, dine at the glamorous Sonic, and bond over our enjoyment of cooking. We also figured out that Phil was a judge when I competed in the NFA High School Soloists Competition in 1998!


In 2011, Phil and I were about to begin new careers as professors at Vanderbilt University and The University of Missouri. Since both of us came from orchestral backgrounds, this was completely new territory.  We were on the phone or texting each other quite a bit with student success stories, ideas for studio classes, revisions of syllabi, and all things new professor. I don’t think I would have gotten through my first year in Missouri without his advice or good listening skills.


When Phil told me he had accepted the offer of Program Chair for the NFA Chicago 2014 Convention, I knew he had his work cut out for him. It’s a notoriously difficult, time consuming position which people have told me is another full time job. He then asked me if I was interested in being his Assistant Program Chair. I heard myself saying yes without thinking, and couldn’t believe what I was committing to! What exactly did this job entail?  But, this was Phil—had it been anyone else I may have asked for time to think about it.


For a few months, there was an underlying sense of panic in all of our phone calls. Once in awhile we received emails from NFA members with questions about the gala concert, or concerts they were interested in performing in Chicago. At this point we weren’t sure how to answer anything, which added heat to our bubbling panic. Thankfully we caught ourselves and started a tradition of saying, “NFA 2014!!” much like Molly Shannon in Superstar, at the end of emails and phone calls. We knew we had to keep our sense of humor intact. We also knew that attending the New Orleans convention in 2013 would answer a lot of questions.


New Orleans was integral as we met Ann Welsbacher, Publications Director, and Brian Covington, Web Consultant. Brian created the database of proposals with a user-friendly search tool. We could search by the title, performer, proposal number, or choose to see one category at a time. As an NFA member sent a proposal it was entered into the database and sent to us via email. Ann walked us through the schedule grid, essentially the Events at a Glance schedule found near the end of an NFA program book, as well as the program book itself. All of this gave us a basic idea of how to get to work once the proposal deadline had passed.


We knew it was October 11th because the proposal emails suddenly stopped. It was time to compile programs. We read through every proposal and took notes of repertoire we didn’t know or pieces that seemed to fit together on a concert. Phil and I found it helpful to compare notes on the phone. We also created a dropbox folder with our brainstorms of concerts as well as lists of proposals to accept.


Once we had chosen recitals, chamber concerts, workshops, panels and lecture recitals from the database, we needed to send out the letters. This was a memorable night as Phil and I were up until about two or three a.m.! We divided the list into categories so the work was shared between us. There was also a lot of double/triple checking in this step, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any proposals!


It was time to enter them into the grid, now color-coded and specific to the Chicago Hilton, thanks to Sandy Saathoff. Rooms were set-aside for flute choir, presentations in need of audio/visual equipment, and competitions. Our next questions were: how many scheduled concerts or lectures should there be in one day of a convention? Better yet, how many concerts should we schedule in one hour?


Phil and I then took inventory of previous conventions. For instance, Saturday in Las Vegas 2012 there were 16 concerts, in addition to 4 exhibit showcases, 5 lectures, 3 lecture recitals, 2 panels, and 7 workshops. Since every convention venue has a different amount of space, we would be working with different numbers. However, we did come to realize that each day, actually each hour, needed to be well balanced. There should be a concert or workshop for every type of flutist, whether they are amateur, professional, someone who specializes in new music, baroque specialists, flute choir enthusiast, or college student.


There were more late nights of typing programs and moving concerts because of scheduling but the bulk of the work is now finished. The program book is ready for print! Some things pop up here and there but we are at the point where we’re looking forward to seeing these programs come to life. 


On the first full day of the convention, Alexa Still will present a panel discussion and workshop on Arnold Jacobs, someone I’ve always thought was fascinating. There is also a panel discussion titled “Off the Beaten Path” with all of our pushing the envelope flutists including Greg Patillo, Hillary Abigaña, Ali Ryerson, Shivhan Dohse, Barbara Siesel, and David Weiss. Jeanne Baxtresser and Alberto Almarza will present a career mini-conference on teaching and collaborative teaching. That night the Gala concert is so exciting as Carol Winenc, Life Time Achievement Award Winner Maxence Larrieu, Christina Jennings, Jonathon Keeble, Nicola Mazzanti, and Cecilie Løken will perform.


After an exciting first day, there are still so many artists and events to look forward to, including Mimi Stillman, who will give her NFA premiere performance. Jonathan Keeble will perform a flute and harp recital, including the beautiful piece Dance of the White Lotus under the Silver Moon by Stella Sung. Carol Wincenc and Judith Mendenhall will present a Moyse Workshop and Nicole Esposito and Michel Bellavance will present a joint recital. I will not miss the Flute Lover’s Luncheon as Claire Chase is the guest speaker. And finally, for the piccolo player in you, Mary Ann Archer, Christine Erlander Beard, Peter Sheridan, and Cynthia Ellis will present a Potpurri of Piccolo.


Mark Sparks will present a recital, as will the flutists of the L.A. Philharmonic. The Chicago Flute Club is now twenty-five years young and will present four new works commissioned by the organization. Zart Dombourian-Eby will present a masterclass for amateur flutists and Nancy Stagnitta will present a workshop for the new to jazz flutist. The performers of the Gala concert on Saturday night include Julien Beaudiment, Leone Buyse, Robert Dick, Mary Kay Fink, and Sarah Jackson. And to end the convention, Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway will present a concert with pianist Philip Moll.  


We have worked hard to schedule this convention in a way that you will be able to see every concert or event you would like. Thanks to Phil Dikeman, Kelly Jocius, Executive Director, Kris Mayo, Beth Chandler, Zart Dombourian-Eby, and the NFA board, this convention will be great. I can’t wait to get to Chicago!


Alice K. Dade is the Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of Missouri, Principal Flute of Festival Mozaic, and Artist Faculty of Medellín Festicámara in Colombia. Previously, Alice was Acting Co-Principal Flute of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Alice writes a column for Chicago Flute Club’s Pipeline and has been published in Flute Talk Magazine and The Instrumentalist. A graduate of The Juilliard School, Alice studied with Carol Wincenc, Robert Langevin, and Sandra Church.



May 2014

by Althea René


How to Get Started In the Music Business:

I was born in Detroit, Michigan and came from a musical family.  My Father (Dezie McCullers) was a part of the Funk Brother’s horn section with Motown and my two brothers are musicians as well.  I am excited to be the first flute player to Hit # 1 on both the Billboard and Smooth Jazz charts with my most recent CD “In the Flow”.  I spent much of my early career successfully meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles establishing my career while raising two boys as a single mother and working days as a Deputy Sheriff in Detroit courthouses. I have recorded five CD’s and have had three record deals.  Presently I am signed with Trippin & Rhythm Records/Sony Records distribution Label.

Every year, Colleges & University programs prepare thousands of jazz musicians with hard earned diplomas.  When these graduates hit the streets with high hopes many learn that the diploma doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful beginning in the music industry. The dream was simple: To perform music one loves for attentive audiences in jazz clubs, concert halls, and festivals while earning a fair wage for their efforts.  But  once set loose from the nurturing college environment one can quickly experience a new reality. “The world doesn’t take kindly to jazz artists”. Even after years of “paying one’s dues” only a small percentage of jazz artists will eventually realize their “dreams”.  Those that do are often referred to as “The Chosen Ones”.  Commercial success results from a rare combination of talent, perseverance, good looks, personality, ambition, geography and an ability to skillfully navigate unpredictably changing public tastes.

Why so few “Chosen Ones”? Simple economics: People who want to play jazz actually outnumber those who enjoy it or pay to hear it. Consequently, in the microscopic jazz economy, there isn’t nearly enough to go around though competition for the crumbs is relentless and sometimes brutal. This simple financial reality underlies virtually all of the difficulties in sustaining a career as a jazz musician.

But when the jazz bug bites, it’s hard to shake.  So it is very important to practice every day, perfecting your craft, because you never know when your big break will come and you need to be prepared. Remember that hard work, focus, and strong spiritual faith will help you to achieve your goals. Your goals and your music can redefine the state of jazz today! 

Soul Jazz Flutist,

Althea René


I was born December 25th in Detroit, Michigan and I began my musicaljourney at age four as a classical flautist. I studied classical music while attending Howard University in Washington D.C. and later I gained further musical inspiration from the accomplishments of Yusef Lateef, lan Anderson, and my father, one of Motown's original Funk Brothers, Dezie McCullers. ! have since developed my own creative style.

As a single mother I raised two boys. For more than 10 years I was also employed as a Deputy Sheriff for Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit). Today, I am a full-time performing/recording artist, regarded by many as a "master of my craft" and one of the world's most exciting solo improvisational flautists.

May 2013, ! released my fifth project "ln The Flow". Collaborating with Grammy award winning producer Michael Broening; (producer for legendary icons George Benson, Marion Meadows, and Paul McCartney) we co-wrote the title track. That song became my hit single and it reached number one ranking on both the Billboard Chart and the Smooth Jazz Chart. Our partnership allowed me to become the first flute player in the history of Billboard Music Chart to reach the number one spot. My second single release "Sunday Cruise' is ranked in the Billboard top 20.


2014 - Capital Jazz Cruise Althea Rene
2014 - Las Vegas City Lights Jazz and R&B Festival
2014 - Austin Jazz Festival
2014 - Jazz on the Hilltop
2014 - Brian Culbertson Napa Valley Jazz Getaway
2013 - Capital Jazz Festival
2013 - Low Country Jazz Festival
2013 - Jazz Fest West
2013 - Spring Breeze Jazz Cruise
2013 - Sea Breeze Jazz Festival
2013 - Chene Park Soul-Jazz Explosion
2012 - 2011 lnternational Dubai Jazz Festival
2012 - Spring Breeze Jazz Cruise
2012 - 20th Annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Fest
2011 & 2009 - St. Lucia JazzExtravaganza
2011 & 2009 - Sea Breeze Jazz Festival
2011 - Berks Jazz Festival
2010 - Capital Jazz Festival
2010 - Capital Jazz Cruise
2009 - Norman Brown Smooth Jazz All-Star Cruise
2008 - Brian Culbertson's Smooth Jazz All-Star Cruise
2007 - North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands
2007 - Russian River Jazz Festival
2007 - BET Studio Jams

www.AltheaRene.com                   www. Facebook.com/AltheaReneFanClub


In The Flow, Trippin'N Rhythm Music, 2013
No Restrictions, Red Cat Music Group/Bungalo Records/Universal Music Dist., 2008
In The Moment, Chocolate Caramel/Koch, 2006
Chocolate Rush, Chocolate Carmel Music, 2003
Flute Talk, lndependent Release, 2000




April 2014 


Purchasing a Piccolo

by Nan Raphael



While the repertoire for piccolo has increased exponentially in the last few decades so have options for those who are ready to purchase a new instrument. There are many more choices in all price ranges for buyers than there were even 15 years ago. In addition, many improvements have been made in the scale, headjoint cut and design, padding etc. The intent of this article is not to recommend specific brands but to broaden awareness of the range of options one has in all price ranges that have been introduced within the last 20 years.


When purchasing an instrument, the first thing you should consider is how much are you willing or able to spend.  Purchasing a used instrument may allow you to get more for your money. Once that is determined, consider testing new and used instruments to find the best fit. If you are trying out instruments at a showroom or flute fair you can seek a quiet area where you can really hear for evenness of sound, scale, tone quality, overall response etc. You can request a trial period so that the instrument can be tried out in familiar settings. If there are headjoints to choose from, ask how long exchanges can be made and try every cut to find the one that responds best for you. During the trial period, work closely with a tuner to make sure the scale is acceptable and that the tone is even throughout. What works for one person may not work for another.


The next thing to consider is whether to purchase a plastic, composite, metal, plastic with metal headjoint or wood instrument. The material a piccolo is made of will have an effect on tone quality and response. In general wood piccolos produce the mellowest sound but have more resistance. Wood piccolos are generally preferred by professionals for tone quality and the capacity to blend better within an ensemble. The most common wood used is grenadilla which is the most durable and stable. Some makers have experimented with and offer more exotic woods including Cocus wood, Cocobolo, Rosewood, Ironwood, Morado, Pink Ivory, Satine, Bocote or Kingwood (which is no longer being used to make piccolos since it is in very short supply). Piccolos made of Kingwood can now only be found in the used market and as a result have become very expensive. Some people do have an allergic reaction to exotic wood.  While many high end wood piccolos have sterling silver or silver-plated keys and tenons, they can be purchased with gold keys and or gold tenons as well. Plastic or composite (blend of wood and resin) is an excellent choice for outdoor playing since these materials make the instrument more weather proof. While brighter sounding than wood, they are a little mellower than plastic. Plastic is the least expensive and is a good choice for those who need a “wash and wear” piccolo for marching band or summer community band/orchestra. Composite instruments are a little more expensive but still excellent options for outdoor playing. To expand the versatility of a composite instrument, some makers offer the option to purchase a wood headjoint in order to achieve a mellower sound for better blend without the expense of purchasing an all wood instrument. Options in metal can range from silver plated, nickel plated, to sterling silver or gold.


The bore (the inside of the body of the piccolo) comes in two shapes, conical and cylindrical. Conical bore piccolos taper toward the foot end of the instrument and generally provide more uniform sound throughout. Cylindrical bore piccolos are the same width throughout with easier response in the upper register, but thinner sounding in low register.


Once you’ve selected the make and model, decide what headjoint style you want.

Silver heads have a flute-like lip plate while most plastic, composite and wood piccolos have no lip plate. This could take some time getting used when starting out on piccolo. There are some models that offer a carved lip plate to make it easier for those who don’t play a lot of piccolo and who prefer the feel of a lip plate. There can also be a wide variety of embouchure hole shapes to choose from as well such as wave, or modified wave embouchure holes (which facilitate response in the low register).


If purchasing a mid priced or more expensive instrument, do inquire about pads used. Pads do have an affect on tone quality. Improvements within the last 30 years have made pads more durable and stable than the traditional felt pad which is still in use today after 100 years especially on less expensive instruments. Cork is also an excellent option for varying weather conditions. The disadvantage to cork is that frequent swabbing is necessary to prevent water buildup, especially when it’s humid. Straubinger pads are made with multilayered synthetic materials which make these more stable than traditional skin pads and are used on many high end instruments.


For the high end purchaser, there are several “extras’ to choose from such as pitch, extra keys, pad type and headjoint cut. There are three available pitches A-440, A-442, and A-444. Most players prefer A-442. Extra key options include split E (recommended), C# Trill, high G# mechanism.  

Last but not least there are some essential accessories to have on hand. All piccolos come with a cleaning rod. What you need to provide is a cloth with stitched edges. There are several other swabs out there such as The Piccolo Flag which does a great job of collecting water on the inside edge of the cork, the Piccolo Snake. For cleaning pads and soaking up excess water BG soft clothes are good options. If one decides to oil the bore of a wood piccolo, take care not to get oil into the pads or mechanism. Almond oil or Naylor’s Bore Oil are best.  For sticky or dirty pads, Pad Juice with applicator strips will keep pads healthy in between COAs.


Now that you are armed with what to look for, have fun shopping for your new piccolo. Hopefully, your purchase will give you many years of satisfaction.



Since retiring from the US Army Field Band in 2003, Nan Raphael, now an artist for Gemeinhardt Flutes,  has been a guest artist/clinician nationwide, piccoloist with the International Flute Orchestra, Washington Winds, Columbia Flute Choir and Capitol City Symphony. Nan has written several articles about piccolo playing for Flute Talk and the Flute Society of Washington Newsletter as well as being published in the National Flute Association’s Pedagogy Anthology Vol. 2. She has 4 piccolo CD’s and a book of piccolo excerpts from the symphonic band repertoire. www.nanraphael.com



March 2014 



Having been said to “blow listeners’ minds” and “bring the house down”, Erica Peel and Shivhan Dohse are the two flutists behind In Sterio.  Cited as having performances nothing short of “awe inspiring” and “spellbinding”, the girls have been described as “two Rhonda Larsons meet Greg Patillo”… and they have just released their much anticipated sophomore effort, a CD/DVD combo titled “Awake”.




The album, composed mostly by In Sterio member Erica Peel, features completely original material inspired by the works of abstract artist, Jerry Peel.  From the Cameroon-inspired title track, “Awake”, to the new age-hard rock-impressionistic sounds of “Purple Tide At Dawn”, the album seamlessly navigates through rock, latin, funk, jazz, trance, world and classical styles to create a fresh and moving soundscape.  It also gives rise to completely new genres, like the light-astral-funk sounds of “Blue Crinkled Moon” and the industrial-dubstep-disco sounds of “Synchroneity”.  The album is a journey through which the listeners will find themselves forgetting that it’s two flute players who are rocking their world!




The included DVD highlights the art from which the album was inspired, and brings the music to another level with stunning video animations by Drew Morton.  This modern, high-energy, outside the box duo presents an innovative project that is the first of its kind.  Reviews have been rolling in, and this is what they have to say:




          "Erica Peel and Shivhan Dohse both give masterful performances. Their playing is expressive, colorful and enchanting, and they make it sound effortless." — Tammy Evans Yonce, The Flute View




          "The album is terrific---unique, musical, interesting and flat-out enjoyable. It stretches the conventional uses of the instrument and provides lots of good listening. The writing and sense of orchestration are brilliant.” — Dennis Delucia, Yamaha Percussion Artist




          “…the discipline of formal training never killed the imaginative spirit of the two.  And in an era in which very plastic pop and vanity rules, In Sterio can own any chamber at ease; or provide just the high grade meditative experience you are looking for.” — hypursuit.com






Both classically trained musicians and Miyazawa Artists, Erica Peel and Shivhan Dohse are acclaimed flutists with authentic talents and abilities reflective in the captivating sounds they create.  They are fearless musicians, always pushing the limits in innovation. In Sterio is actively touring and have been repeat guest  performers at the National Flute Association Convention and featured artists at the Florida Music Educators Association. They are also regular guest artists for flute associations and Universities across the country.  Their performances fuse virtuosic playing with original and eclectic cross-cultural music for a powerful presentation of sound.  At live shows, they’ve added synchronized visuals as a striking backdrop to the already compelling musical experience. Performing around 30 concerts a year, In Sterio continues to make their mark as one of the "leading and most intriguing chamber ensembles" in the country.  In Sterio has published two of their works thus far (‘Frank’ and ‘Awake’ - both for two flutes and CD accompaniment), and plan to have the rest of their music available by the end of the year. 




Believing that music education plays a vital role in our culture, In Sterio is tremendously passionate about the residencies they hold in communities throughout the US, particularly at the elementary level.  “Being given the opportunity to directly connect with and inspire
the younger generations is always a highlight for us.  The eyes-wide-open and jaw-dropped looks when we play will never cease to give us a sense of purpose.  What we do means nothing if we can’t share it, and be a part of instrumental musics’ relevance and continuance.” 




At a recent residency in Ames, IA, a group of 1st-6th graders spent a period of class time listening to In Sterio’s album and creating artwork based on what they heard.  As they entered the school, Erica and Shivhan were greeted with the paintings hung across the walls.  This meant the kids were listening… they were feeling and reacting.  This is what In Sterio believes music is about.  Sharing.  Connecting.  Listening.  Finding strength and vulnerability within ourselves and others… allowing us to live our lives to the fullest.  www.insterio.com







February 2014

Sharon Sparrow
It’s that exciting time of year again filled with auditions, solo and ensemble presentations and competitions! There are many things I’ve learned in my many years of teaching, coaching, and judging events and chose these following tips to help you succeed and do your best in this exciting month!

PREPARATION is the key! I could tell you every trick in the book for the day of your performance, but nothing is as important as the many hours of preparation you MUST put in leading up to that day! Seems simple, but if you feel prepared, and I’m talking extremely prepared, then and only then can you be filled with confidence!


Now here is a hint about preparation: Practice the things you CAN’T play, not the things you CAN. If you play the opening of the Chaminade Concertino beautifully, but struggle with the Presto at the end, STOP playing the beginning! Spend your time practicing the hardest parts. Repetition and slow practice are your best friends! Do you think the ice skating champions spend their practice time skating around and around the rink? NO! They practice the triple jump OVER and OVER again! We have all heard the saying “Practice makes Perfect”, however I learned and believe in something a little different: “Perfect practice makes perfect”. You MUST practice slowly and carefully!

An important part of your preparation, and one most often skipped over, is to set up at least two “mock” performances before your event. Even if no one is available to listen, try to create an environment most alike the one you will be playing in, and perform your piece beginning to end, just as if you were at the real event. Afterward, take notes on how you felt, what were your strengths and weaknesses. Each time you do this, you come that much closer to ensuring a stress free, successful audition!

Now that you have prepared let’s talk about the day of your event. Here are some important do’s and don’t’s :

DO leave early!! Being rushed or not having time to settle in and mentally adjust before you play can only work against you. Leave a half hour earlier than you planned.

DO dress up! Anytime you play for anyone, look as professional as you can. It does make a difference!

DO check that you have everything before you leave your house! Many a student has arrived without music, accompaniment, swab, even flute!

DON’T worry if you feel nervous. Everyone gets nervous! It means that you care and that this is important to you. Embrace it! Let it be the fuel that gives you the edge to play your best!

DO bring a source of music and headphones for your warm up room. Instead of participating in the chaos of some warm up room situations, sit somewhere alone with your headphones on and favorite music playing.

DON’T play your piece in the warm up room! Play long tones, slow scales with good tone or any melodies that you may have memorized, also with your best tone. If you play through your piece and happen to make a mistake, this will really affect your confidence and upcoming performance. You KNOW IT by now! Trust your preparation!

DON’T socialize. You are here for one purpose. Until after you play/perform, keep your focus on that. You will need focus and energy, so minimize distractions. There is always plenty of time to socialize after you finish playing!

DO pack a snack and some water. Playing when extremely hungry is never optimum.

OK, right now stop reading this article and go and get a blank index card (or small piece of paper). Now write down 5 positive things about your performance! Pretend it has already happened and that it was amazing! For example: “my tone was beautiful” “I nailed all the hard runs in that” “my preparation really paid off!” “I had such a fun time playing that piece!”  Now take that index card and put it in your flute case. Each time you are waiting to perform, pull out that card and read/repeat those 5 things to yourself. While you are reading, be sure you are taking nice, deep breaths. Believe that you have already played your piece and it was wonderful!  Even if you are nervous (which you hopefully will be because you care!) this exercise will decrease any anxiety you have and increase your confidence!

Lastly, there are three things you need to know:

1) We, your judges, audience members, jury graders, etc, WANT YOU TO PLAY GREAT! You will be surrounded by POSITIVE ENERGY! Add your own positive energy to that and you have a recipe for success!

2) Your world does not depend on any one performance. The sun always rises the next day, the snow always falls (Michigan!),  the people in your life still love you, you are still able to play the flute as well as the day before.

3) Remember that you CHOSE to play your instrument! With every performance you have the opportunity to create something unique, creative and very special, which in turns makes YOU unique, creative and special!

Best of Luck!! (but you won’t need it!)



Sharon Sparrow has been a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra flute section for the past 16 years, currently serving as Acting Assistant Principal Flute. She is very passionate about teaching, and teaches Flute at both Oakland University and Wayne State University, as well as coaching select students in her home in Grosse Pointe. She received her Bachelor Degree at the Juilliard School and a Master of Music at Manes College in NYC and attributes her musical successes to her wonderful teachers, Julius Baker, Thomas Nyfenger and Geoffrey Gilbert.

January 2014


Flute Choir Fun by Paula Buermele

We are all familiar with musical ensembles ranging in size from the duet to the symphony orchestra. We listen to many combinations of instruments and vocalists creating beautiful sounds that please our ears, lift our spirits, and stir our emotions.

The flute choir is an often hidden treasure in the musical ensemble world. When I mention that I play in a flute choir, people are often surprised and intrigued that flutes come in more than one size and sound range. After all, it is rare to see an alto, bass or contrabass flute in a concert band or orchestra performance.

When a flutist discovers a flute choir, a new dimension of music opens to them. I joined the Flute Specialists Flute Ensemble when I first began taking lessons from Kasey Martin, who directs the flute choirs at Flute Specialists. There are two groups, an intermediate and an advanced group. They alternate Saturday rehearsals at Flute Specialists but combine when we have an opportunity to play somewhere.

At first I was hesitant to participate because the flute was a new instrument for me and I was concerned I would hold the group back. But I soon learned that every skill level is accommodated and Kasey is very adept at finding ways for everyone to participate comfortably.

There are many things I enjoy about playing in the flute choirs. There is no pressure to attend every rehearsal and you are always welcome whenever you can come. I have been participating for five years and really enjoy meeting new people and seeing the core members semi-regularly. I switch between the intermediate and advanced groups depending on my schedule and that is perfectly acceptable.

We also have the opportunity to try the alto and bass flutes provided by Flute Specialists during the rehearsals. I enjoyed playing the alto flute so much that I eventually bought my own.

There is a rich library of music that takes advantage of the voices of the piccolo, concert flute, alto flute and bass flute. The Flute Specialists Flute Ensembles have built a repertoire suitable for playing venues ranging from candle lighting ceremonies for cancer awareness, to playing for various churches, to entertaining at local farmers’ markets.

I have found that participating in flute choir has really helped me grow as a musician. Much like participating in a vocal choir, you learn to hear the other voices in relation to your own voice and that really helps build intonation skills, sharpen rhythmic awareness, and grow your self confidence.

The primary reason, though, that I participate in the Flute Specialists Flute Ensembles is because it is fun. 


Paula Buermele is a member of the Canton Concert Band, the SE Michigan WELS Band, and the Flute Specialists' Flute Ensemble and studies privately with Kasey Martin.



December 2013

Performer Spotlight: Interview with Amanda Sparfeld 


I met up with flutist Amanda Sparfeld at a local trendy restaurant.  While eating deliciously messy burgers, we discussed her beginnings in music, her evolution as a flute player, her career at the Michigan Opera Theater and as a private teacher, and future projects and goals.  Below are some highlights from this inspirational afternoon.


FS: Tell us how you got started down this path.

AS: I grew up in a somewhat musical family.  My grandfather had been a trained opera singer from New York City.  He pursued a career in opera, but then my mom was born and he basically ended up finding another job so that they could survive in Manhattan.  But music was his love and his passion.  I grew up going to a private school like 2 miles away from my grandparents’ house in Connecticut which was about an hour from New York City and my mom worked at the school.  My grandparents would pick us up at 2 or whatever time we were done, she would work until 5 and so I would spend 3 hours or so every day at my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather, I’m sure purposely, would sit at the piano and sing and play.  It was magical for me to see him in his element.  Even though I didn’t really have a lot of conversations with him as a child, I could sense how much he loved it and how much he wished he had that career full time.  He had trained very seriously to make it big, he had been on the radio, and I’m sure he really wanted to make it at the MET or something.  I kind of picked up on that.  Even before I started flute, I started piano and even before I started piano I think I was already thinking “I want to take the torch and I want to make this my life”.

FS: Did you sing a lot with him as well?

AS: He encouraged me to and he used to record me actually.  And I would get a little shy but I would sing for him.  I ended up singing in the chorus and stuff all through school and musicals too.  When I was six, I think I was six or seven, I started piano.  He was responsible for that.  He found the teacher and he paid for all the lessons.  And I loved it.  I loved it because it was music. 

But even so, during all that time, I wanted to play the flute.  We had a very close family friend who actually, through our church, would play hymns in Sunday School.  She had been trained at Julliard and studied with Julius Baker.   So she was no longer pursuing a professional career but had been principal flute in the New Jersey Symphony and when I was growing up was playing locally still on the side.  It wasn’t like some amateur playing the flute.  I was hearing a well-trained solid flutist.  I was very much drawn to the flute, to the sound, to the way it looked, the beauty of the instrument itself.  I remember hearing her play the Ibert Concerto and watching her.  My parents played a lot of classical music recordings growing up so I just was always drawn to the flute.  My mom had sort of natural musical talent but never pursued it. My dad didn’t really have any but they both played a lot of classical music which was helpful.  I grew up hearing it all the time. 

But my grandfather was really the biggest influence, I would say, in my life and the reason I’m in music.  I begged and begged and begged to play the flute even when I was playing piano I was like “Please can I play the flute?”  And they said you have to wait until fifth grade band.  My dad would always do the thing where you blow into a bottle and you get the sound and he said “Why don’t you just do that until you get your flute” so I would literally just practice on bottles.  I would just do that for fun.  I still remember the day I got my flute; it was like the best day ever.  I still remember the smell of the case.  I was so determined to get a sound out.  There was no question of course.  When they do the whole presentation of all the instruments I was like “All right, I know I want the flute, let’s just get right to it.”  I remember going home and getting a sound out the first day.  I had some 3 or 4 years of piano so I could learn how to play the flute itself and not have to learn theory which I think is a great way to start in music.  I fell in love with music, fell in love with flute.  Within that first year I started taking lessons.  Once I started flute, I stopped piano.  My grandfather not only paid for my piano lessons and bought our family a piano but then once I got the flute he paid for the flute and paid for all my flute lessons.  So he was literally responsible for me doing music because my parents couldn’t afford it.  I think my second flute was purchased technically by my grandmother because he had just passed away at the end of my eighth grade year.  That was pretty tough because I had a really strong connection with him and musically so especially.  All my lessons through high school and everything were all paid for by my grandparents.  So that’s how I got into flute.

FS:  Did your grandmother get to see you grow as a flutist?

AS: Yes.  I remember going to concerts with them and sitting in the audience at the New York Phil numerous times and saying that’s where I want to go.  I want to be on that stage and I want to play with them.  My dream from a very young age was to play with the New York Phil.  I can’t even remember if I had been playing the flute or not yet but I still remember watching the flutists the most.

FS: So what did it feel like when you were finally on stage?

AS: Oh my gosh it was unbelievable.  Unreal. I was playing second flute to my teacher (Robert Langevin) and he is one of the most laid-back people.  He helped to make me very calm and comfortable in that situation.

FS: What do you like the most about playing with the Michigan Opera Theater?

AS: :  I wouldn’t have realized this when I started but I love playing opera because when I’m not playing I’m listening to the singers and I feel like they are my teachers.  I love the challenge of opera.  It’s unlike a symphony orchestra which is a little more straight-forward: you’re on stage and it’s more predictable.  With singers you have to be so flexible.  You have to be staring at the conductor practically. Night to night it can change.  They may take certain things a little faster, a little slower, they may stretch certain notes, they may rush through them.  You never really know and you have to be so flexible as a player and sensitive.  I think the coolest thing in addition to that is that there are times when I can play really loud and there are times I have to play super soft.  I feel that this is really challenging, in a good way.  I feel like it’s made me a better flutist, hands down.  It’s so inspiring.  It’s not really a surprise to me, having grown up listening to my grandfather sing.  Go figure, I end up in an opera.  I’ve been around singers my whole life.

FS: So you started playing in 5th grade, how much would you say you were practicing at that point?

AS: I wasn’t one of those people that that’s all I did.  I loved it but I was also in sports and I was also a really good student.  I know that we would have a chart in band and it would require us to try to practice a certain amount.  I usually did more.  I would say anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour at that point.

FS:  And how did that evolve as you got into high school and beyond?

AS: High School-same thing I was really involved.  I was doing cross country and track and soccer.  I did a lot of sports and was really involved in school stuff.  I probably did a couple hours a day, not as much as I should have done had I wanted to go to conservatory.  I mean I did want to go to conservatory but I also went to a boarding school for my last two years of high school so I felt a bit alone in that I didn’t have someone helping me.  I did have a really supportive band director who actually drove me to a lot of my auditions and helped make it possible.  My senior year I was realizing I was a little bit far behind where I should be to get into some of the schools I wanted to get into.  So I turned down AP courses that I wanted to take.  None of the teachers could understand it of course.  They were like “Why aren’t you taking an AP course?” and I would say “Because I have to practice.  This is what I want to do with my life.”

By the time I went to college I sort of re-dedicated or devoted myself.  I was like I’m not doing any sports anymore.  I’m not doing any more student body stuff, just flute.  So at that point I was doing 4 hours a day.  I essentially did four hours in addition to rehearsals.  From college on I did at least four hours a day. 

FS: Who is your favorite flutist?

AS: (Robert) Langevin - he is my hero.  It was like soul mates in a sense that his sound was the closest conception to my own that I had ever experienced.  I listened to a lot of recordings and I would pick and choose what I liked.  He was playing the way I had conceived in my own mind and how I wanted to play as well.  When you find someone like that you’re like “I have to study with you.  I have to keep working with you because you’re not going to make me change the way I naturally play”.  He was kind of like a dad; he would be like my flute dad. A really humble, very genuine, sincere man. No ego.  A  hard worker and an incredible flutist.  A very deep musician.  My favorite thing about his playing is the soul behind it.  There’s no “this is about me”.  It’s about the music.  An incredible, rare thing to find in someone that talented.

FS: What professional flutists do you find yourself listening to most?

AS:  I find I don’t listen to a ton of flutists actually.  I probably listen to more singers than instrumentalists.  I would probably say it’s somewhere between Robert Langevin and Emmanuel Pahud.  I do listen to Galway though.  I have to admit it.  And Trevisani.  (laughs) It kind of depends on what I’m preparing for or what I’m in the mood for. 

FS: Are you able to have any hobbies outside of all this music?

AS:  I would say running is my main hobby.  I like to read.  I like to read the book before I watch the movie.  I like supporting other art or concerts.  I don’t do it a ton but I do enjoy going to other events or other concerts.  I like to hike.  I’ve done skiing, surfing, just about any sport I like to do.  I would say running is my main outlet; it is the one thing I can do all year that doesn’t take a lot of organization.

FS: Do you have any advice for flutists of all levels?

AS: One of the biggest things I would say is that you don’t have to go to the best schools to do well.  I think the most important thing is just putting in the time and having the passion and the drive.  I feel like anyone can do it when you have those things.  I don’t discourage having balance.  There are times when I think maybe I should have worked really hard as a kid but I just did what was normal to me. I wasn’t around people who were only practicing and didn’t do sports.  It was normal for me to be balanced and I don’t think that was a bad thing.  I think always finding the balance at whatever level you’re at is important.  I’m not going to tell a 5th grader to practice hours and hours a day. 

For anyone wanting a career, I think it’s a very tough business but it can be done.  Resilience is needed. Resilience and a fighter’s spirit. 

The other advice I have is stay inspired.  For any student of any level, go to concerts, go to live concerts, go to as many concerts as possible.  Even if you have to just go on Youtube.  It’s ok to not be the best one, sometimes I think it’s better not to be the best.  At Miami I was the best but then I didn’t have anyone to push me.  At Manhattan School of Music I was one of the best but I had more people that were challenging me.  Stay inspired and always enjoy the whole process.  Keep the love of what you do.  Stay positive.


Amanda Sparfeld is the Principal Flutist with the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra at the Detroit Opera House and the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra.  She is the former Principal Flutist of the Miami City Ballet, and has substituted with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.   


As a chamber musician and soloist, Amanda performs with organizations including New Music Detroit and Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, performed concerti with the Sibelius Camerata and Allegro Chamber Orchestra, and gives solo recitals around the country.  Amanda maintains a private flute studio outside of Detroit and has served as Interim Flute Instructor at Oakland University in Michigan. 


Amanda studied at Manhattan School of Music where she earned a Professional Studies Certificate from the prestigious Orchestral Performance Program.  Other degrees received include a M.M. in Flute Performance from the University of Miami and a B.A. in Music from Principia College.  Her primary teachers include Robert Langevin, Marie Jureit-Beamish, Jenny Robinson, and Christine Nield-Capote.





November 2013

The Evolution of the Gary Schocker Headjoint: An Interview with Gary and Dave Williams


This is the story of a decade-long conversation, and the remarkable innovation that has resulted:  a headjoint that combines the ease of playing of a modern headjoint while retaining the beautiful sound and wide range of colors which are associated with older flutes.  Made by flutemaker David Williams, and named after Gary Schocker, the flutist to whose demanding specifications it was created, it represents an exciting new direction.


It all began in December, 2004, when Gary Schocker, one of the best-known flutists in the world, walked into the shop of Williams Flutes in Medford, MA.  There, he met flutemaker David Williams, and an unusual relationship was born.


Schocker was on a quest:  to find a flute that he loved playing as much as the first handmade flute he ever owned, a used Haynes from the mid-1950s, which his parents had bought for him as a bar mitzvah present.  He had stopped playing that flute after it was rendered unplayable in the late 1980s by an unscrupulous technician who had claimed he could improve the headjoint, but who ruined it instead.  “That’s what led me to playing modern flutes,” Schocker explains.  “My repair guy said, ‘I’ve got this really beautiful gold Haynes you should try.’ And I picked it up and I felt my whole back open—it was so much easier to play.  At that point it was a good thing for me, because I had a lot more physical tension back then.”


Williams, a professional flutist himself, who worked at a major Boston flutemaker for several years before starting his own company in 1990, was on a quest of his own:  to create a flute that better suited his own playing needs than what was then available.  He, like Gary Schocker, had spent his formative years and the first part of his professional career playing a Haynes (in this case, one from the early 1960s) that was built before the “modern” era.  According to Williams, “The first time I ever played a new-style headjoint was when I went to work at the flute company in 1982.  I had just performed the Prokofiev Sonata (in D Major, Op. 94) two weeks before, and I picked up one of their flutes and played some of the arpeggiated sections and said, ‘Oh my god, what is this?’  Because I had never experienced anything like it before.”  But then he goes on to say, “It took me many years to come back around to see what was missing from that sound for me.”


A little knowledge of the history of flutemaking is helpful, in order to understand what is meant by the term “modern” as it applies to flutes.  Until the mid-1970s, American flutists had essentially two choices for handmade flutes: Haynes and Powell.  Both companies had based their designs on the prized French flutes which first arrived in the U.S. in the 1880s, most notably those made by Louis Lot.  As such, the scale, which determines the placement of the tone holes, was pitched at A=435 or thereabouts.  The low register of flutes based on this scale tends to be flat, and the highest register tends to be sharp.  However, flutists who grew up playing these instruments were taught how to adjust for these idiosyncrasies so that they were able to play in tune.   Beginning in 1974, Powell began building flutes based on a new scale devised by British flutemaker Albert Cooper, and shortly thereafter Haynes adopted a scale developed by their own master flutemaker, Lewis Deveau. 


Around the same time, flutemakers began experimenting with headjoint design, changing the size, shape and cut of the embouchure hole, and changing the height of the riser and shape of the lip plate.  As a result of the changes in scale and the style of headjoint, the sound of a modern flute has very different characteristics than “old”, pre-Cooper scale flutes.  Something may have been gained, but much is also lost.


Of the modern flutes, Gary Schocker says:  “Someone who gets a modern flute with a large embouchure hole and a very sharp (blowing) edge, is going to be able to play that flute in any way—it’s just so easy—and that’s a goal of the modern flutemakers, to make somebody feel like every note is going to come out every time, and loud.  But the irony is, in a hall, those flutes don’t project as well as, say, a Louis Lot from 1869 or a Haynes flute from 1956.  They sound really loud up close, but they don’t have the same projection—they stop.”


David Williams adds:  “I learned how to play the flute with the understanding that it was not built perfectly in tune, but there were some great advantages.  The third octave is traditionally sharper than the rest of the instrument but it gives you the opportunity to move into the note more in the third octave, and to play pianissimos that are actually in tune without having to strain yourself.  Now, the third octave is refined and resonant, but that complex, gorgeous ‘howl’, that emotive sound that old-scale flutes are capable of, is just not there in a modern flute.”


When Schocker walked into Williams Flutes in 2004, he was not looking for another flute.  He was playing the gold Haynes and was happy with it.  “But I got really fascinated with what David was doing,” he says. 


Williams remembers their first meeting like this:  “Gary tried out what I was making at that time, which was based on all modern stuff, and he liked the headjoints.  He bought one and took it home with him, and later purchased a silver flute from me.  Then he played a 14K solid gold flute of mine and a wooden Williams flute, which he played for a couple of years.”


But, ultimately, Schocker sold almost all of those instruments (he still owns the wooden flute).  “I’m just a homing pigeon when it comes to old flutes,” he says.  “There’s something about the way the harmonics stack up that just keeps bringing me back to them.”


Schocker started really listening to recordings of flute players he admired.  He had grown up listening to Julius Baker, with whom he studied beginning at age 15, and also to Jean-Pierre Rampal, Elaine Shaffer, and others who were performing and recording in the 1970s.  But he went back to recordings from the 1920s and 30s, and even earlier, of Philippe Gaubert, Adolphe Hennebains, Fernand Dufrène, and others.  “I loved those guys, and they were playing on those old flutes,” says Schocker.  “My love of the flute sound is really based on the old guys.  To me, the flute sound is like a flame.   Or like water.  But it should always have a delicate quality, as if the flute is magically making a sound.  It’s very hard to do that on a modern flute because when you hit that sharp edge, long before you can shape anything the note has already been shaped.  So, for me, playing those modern flutes ultimately led to a lot of frustration.”  He began experimenting with older flutes:  in addition to older Haynes and Powells (at one point he owned Powell numbers 2 and 105), there were Louis Lots, as well as flutes made by Bonneville, Rive and others. 


“I went to one of Gary’s performances,” recalls Williams.  “And he was playing an old Haynes, and the sound felt to me like scratching an itch—it was something I had missed for a long, long time.   And I started asking him about what he was doing.  He let me play some of his old flutes, the ones that he considered to be extraordinary instruments.   And I looked at the headjoints, to see what made them extraordinary.” 


The two men started a dialogue, which quickly blossomed into not just a collaboration but a close friendship.  “I get a new idea, and I call him up, and he’ll try it,” says Schocker.  “And he’ll call me back and say, ‘Hey, man, that’s incredible, I loved that idea!’  Over the years as I was playing his flute, I really liked it but I couldn’t get my high register happening.  And I would say to him, well, could you do this?  And could you do that?  And because his ego is so remarkably small, and because he is the most humble, kind person, he was willing to make these changes to help me get the sound I was looking for.  I’m so incredibly lucky to have a friend like him because, well, he loves my playing, and he listens to me, and so I make a suggestion, and something will come back for me to try.  And it’s kind of like being king!”


Says Williams, “Of course, Gary may very well be the best flute player alive, and he is certainly the best flute player I have ever stood in a room with.  But he is humble beyond belief.  And he is the most introspective human being I’ve ever met, which means he spends a lot of time analyzing the mechanics of flute playing.  He analyzes what he does on a daily basis, on an hourly basis, every minute.  And Gary loves music and he loves the flute, and that was really the thing that we bonded over.  And we’re both extremely curious about everything.  I stumble onto things by taking observations that Gary makes and little experiments that he does.  Initially when he tells me something he did, I’ll be somewhat skeptical that it could actually make a difference, and then we’ll send videos back and forth, and I’ll see what he is talking about.  He tries things that I would never think of trying—some of the things he’s done are just so amazing to me, and have led to innovations on my part.  ”


“David finally realized that all this time he was taking the modern flute as his starting point and working backwards, and what he really needed to do was to take the Louis Lot or the Haynes model and work forwards,” observes Schocker. 


“I began re-learning my own craft,” states Williams, “by looking at what the masters had done years ago.  To be honest, I was originally coming from a mindset of ‘the old stuff really is passé, and what everybody is doing now is an improvement.’  Everything was considered an improvement—that word was bandied about over and over again.  And of course, it wasn’t an improvement, it was a change.  And when you emphasize one aspect of the sound of an instrument, it’s always at the cost of de-emphasizing another aspect.  So basically the whole push, from the late sixties almost to the present, has been not so much to emphasize the color or the tone quality of the instrument, but to emphasize the LOUD quality.”


Williams also looked at crown design in the old flutes, trying many different designs until he found what worked best with the different headjoint cuts.  “He’s somebody who’s very experimental,” says Schocker.  “And he gets excited about things and he likes to just get down in the sandbox and try it all out.  He’s not stubborn; he’s not married to a product, as if once you put a label on it you have to make it the same way for the rest of your life.”


With each change in the design, Williams sends a headjoint to Schocker to try.  Due to the ease of making a video with the iPad and posting it on YouTube, it is possible to have almost immediate feedback about the relative merits of each change.  (A quick search for Gary Schocker on YouTube reveals dozens of short videos of headjoint trials, which he has made public so that other flutists can observe and learn). 


“What he has created is something that is a lot more comfortable to play than an old headjoint,” explains Schocker.  “The sound is a little cushier, a little bit more forgiving.  And the high register has this beautiful, singing quality.  The embouchure hole’s smaller, the wall’s lower, and there’s no overcutting or undercutting.”


Williams came up with the idea to call this new headjoint the “Gary Schocker Headjoint”.  “When he suggested this to me, I said, ‘Well, why would you want to do that?’” Schocker admits.  “And he said, ‘Because it’s based on everything I’ve learned from you in our conversations, and from your teaching.’”


In recent years, old instruments have fallen out of favor in the flute world, as can be readily demonstrated by the drop in prices commanded by these flutes.  According to Williams, “Current opinions reflect the fact that a lot of today’s players learned on new-scale flutes.  So if you learned to play right from the beginning on a new-scale instrument and then you pick up an old-scale instrument, it’s out of tune.  Because when you go to play it the way you normally do, the old flute doesn’t work the same way.”


Observes Schocker, “There are beautiful instruments out there and now is the time to buy them.  If someone is reading this article and they wonder why I sound the way I do, they should try playing on an old Haynes or Powell sometime, and see what they get, what it’s like.  Or they can try one of these Gary Schocker headjoints made by David—it’s the closest you’re going to get to an old-scale flute sound.   But you have to have a pretty good technique.  You can’t just pick it up and blow it, like you blow a free-blowing modern flute.  I don’t think it’s for everyone.    I think it’s for somebody who hears something in the old flutes that they love.”


One of the happiest outcomes of this collaboration is that Williams was able to take the ruined headjoint from Schocker’s first, beloved Haynes, and put on one of the newly-designed Schocker lip plates.  “Now it sounds like a Super Haynes flute, you know?  I just love it,” says Schocker.  “Because I’ve owned this flute my whole life, and because it has twice been stolen from me and come back to me, I just feel like I was meant to play it.”


Over the past couple of years, Williams has made several dozen Gary Schocker headjoints.  He continues to make refinements based on feedback from Schocker.  “We are questing for a design, but it’s not going to be an exactly repeatable design,” he says.  “I’ve always wanted to have slight variations in every headjoint so that it was unique, so that it would find a unique owner.  It’s been a pretty successful way to do it so far in my life.  I’m not a ‘cookie cutter’ type of guy.  For every player there’s a headjoint that’s ‘the one’ for them, but it might not be ‘the one’ for another player.”  Like Schocker, Williams calls the flute sound magical, and likens flutes to magic wands.  So it is fitting to imagine that each individual flute or headjoint is destined for a specific owner.


When asked where their collaboration might go next, Schocker speculates that he would like for Williams to make a flute that has both open and closed hole keys.  “The closed hole has a kind of solidity which I love, and the open has a kind of freedom.  I think they might be combined.”


There will always be new things to try, and adjustments to be made.  As long as these two inquisitive, curious flute minds continue to work together, the flute world can only benefit from what they discover.



October 2013

A Flutist’s Guide to the Fall Season

John McMurtery, D.M.A.


Autumn is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather, crunchy leaves, and football games contribute to its unique appeal. If you are in school, you might be preparing for marching band shows and competitions, but it’s not too early to start thinking about concert season if you haven’t already. Here are some ideas to help you prepare.


First, make sure your instrument is in good working condition. Playing your flute or piccolo outdoors in extreme temperatures will often make the delicate mechanism go out of adjustment. Don’t try to do repairs yourself. Visit your skilled local repairperson.


Consider participating in events like solo and ensemble competitions, regional bands, and your All-State festival. Get the audition materials and deadline dates from your band director or private teacher and fill out the application forms. Attend workshops on the audition music by professional flutists in your area.


Once the forms are sent, you can begin preparing for the audition. Plan a regular time to practice every day. Your teacher can help you structure your practice time effectively. Thirty minutes of focused practice every day is much better than cramming three straight hours before your weekly lesson. Create a distraction-free zone for yourself and make sure the phone is off (unless you are using a smartphone app as a metronome or tuner) or set it to the “do not disturb” function.


Learn the music well in advance, and then put it away for a while (maybe a few weeks) while you work on other material. When you come back to it, you’ll find it to be much easier. If you are preparing for auditions or an important performance, playing for as many people as you can ahead of time will help you feel less nervous on the big day.


Here are some items you will need during your practice sessions. Your teacher can advise you on how to get the most benefit from these tools.

  • Instrument in good working order
  • Pencil with a good eraser
  • Metronome
  • Tuner
  • Practice notebook
  • Recording device


One major difference between playing the flute on the marching field and performing on the concert stage is posture. Marching instructors often encourage flute players to hold the instrument exactly parallel to the ground, head tilted up toward the press box. While this creates a good visual image on the football field, it can force some players to raise their shoulders, causing unnecessary tension. In your personal practice, allow your head to align naturally with your neck, and make sure you’re keeping your shoulders down. Check your posture in a mirror frequently.


Fall is a busy time of year, so be sure to get lots of rest and exercise, and drink lots of water. Proper hydration is essential for good flute playing. Carry a water bottle with you during the day.


Finally, attend a concert at your local symphony or go to a professional flute recital. Hearing and seeing experienced musicians perform will teach you many wonderful things and inspire you to raise your level.


John McMurtery is professor of flute at Western Illinois University and section flutist with the New York City Opera Orchestra. He performs with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Luna Nova, and UpTown Flutes. He earned a D.M.A. from The Juilliard School, M.M. from Rutgers University, and B.M. from Central Washington University.







September 2013

Robert Dick Presents the Glissando Headjoint

NFA 2013 was a blast!  This year's National Flute Association Convention was   held in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Great concerts. Fantastic master classes. Exquisite food.  Celebrity flutists. A fun time was had by all!  Check out our pictures on facebook


A highlight of the convention was our product showcase.  Robert Dick presented his Glissando Headjoint along with Flute Specialists President Robert Johnson.  On Saturday August 10, a packed room heard all about the sound opportunities created for flutists and composers by this innovative headjoint.  The Glissando Headjoint telescopes and slides creating sounds more similar to that of the human voice.  Robert Dick demonstrated how the traditional flute can be transformed into an instrument free to express a full range of dynamics and colors while seamlessly sliding from note to note. Soon we will have the showcase presentation video available on our website.  In the meantime, check out our video of Robert Dick and Nina Perlove from NFA 2012.