Easter Egg Hunt 2017

Spring 2017 Newsletter

Native Flutes and Extended Techniques


By Alberto Almarza


"Music is the sum total of scattered forces… it has been turned into a speculative song! I much prefer the notes coming from the flute of an Egyptian shepherd: he contributes to the landscape and hears harmonies ignored by our treatises…"

Claude Debussy, 1901


The flute is one of the most varied and widespread instruments in the world, going back tens of thousands of years in many societies. As a result of the multiple types of flutes and the diversity of their musical and social role throughout the world, an amazing repertoire of timbres and playing techniques have been developed, preserved by flute players of native cultures. Many of these techniques arose from the desire to evoke nature, imitating birdsongs, wind and water. Others came into being as an attempt to produce sounds that would have healing powers and communicate with sacred spirits.

The following is a list of some of the most common extended techniques and examples of their use in world flute music.


Circular pan flute, Thailand Ritualdouble recorder, Mexico



  Multiphonics: technique that allows the flutist to produce several          sounds simultaneously. The fascination with multiple sounds is as old as the flute itself. From double to sextuple flutes, they can be found everywhere.

  This circular pan flute from Thailand and a double recorder from Mexico are good examples of instruments designed to produce chords.





      Circular Breathing: breathing and blowing at the same time. A technique which is thousands of years old and common throughout the world, it has only recently been introduced to Western music. In addition to the flute, it is used by many other wind instruments.


Bansuri,  India




Microtones: refers to the use of intervals smaller than a half step. With the exception of the Western modern flute, every other flute in the world is designed as a non-tempered instrument and uses microtonal intervals for tuning and playing.


An elegant example is the Indian transverse flute Bansuri. The player uses the middle segment of his fingers to cover the holes, rotating the fingers to bend the pitch.







Ceremonial vessel flute, Mexico






Whistle Tones: produced by blowing extremely slow air into the flute. Again, we find many instruments that were especially made to create very soft, high-pitched notes.

A notable example is this ceremonial flute/sculpture from Mexico.







Ney , Iran





Color Variation: includes “airy tone,” “white sound,” “reed sound,” singing and playing, etc. All of these sounds and techniques can be found in many different traditions of flute playing.

The Persian Ney, one of the oldest known flutes, is one example of an instrument designed to produce a remarkable array of different colors.






To summarize, most of what we refer to as "extended techniques" in Western flute music have been part of traditional music from around the world for thousands of years. It is only recently that we have begun to acknowledge the enormous influence of world music on our own Classical tradition. As we explore the relationship between music of the world and contemporary Western music, we discover that we are not isolated; rather, our music has been enriched by that of other cultures. Flutists and composers today are enhancing our musical experience by drawing from this remarkable palette of sounds and techniques and, in the process, demonstrate that the power of musical experience is universal.




Alberto AlmarzaAlberto Almarza is Professor of Flute and Head of the Flute Department at Carnegie Mellon University, and former Principal Flute with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Chile. He has performed and taught in the US, Latin America, Korea and Europe, and has recorded for New Albion, Elán, Albany, Centaur, and Naxos Records. He has appeared as soloist with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Memphis Symphony, BachFest Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonic, National Symphony and National Chamber Orchestras of Chile, and the Arianna String Quartet among others. Most recently, he performed at a TED TALK Conference, and was featured on the PBS program Horizons.

He is the co-founder with Jeanne Baxtresser of The Consummate Flutist, and currently serves as its Artistic Director.

February 2017 Newsletter

Administrating, Artistically

By Jessica Dunnavant


When, as a teenager, I began to think about a life in music, I pictured my life revolving around performing, with maybe a little teaching on the side. That’s pretty much as far as my imagination went, and while my adult life and career do bear out those dreams in lots of ways, I could never have imagined all the work it takes behind the scenes to pull off any public artistic venture. Someone must set and maintain a budget, which sometimes involves fundraising. Someone must choose the program, gather and prepare the music, hire the musicians and communicate with them throughout the process. Someone must advertise and promote, create and print programs, be a liaison with the venue—all of that—and not one of those tasks involves learning, rehearsing or performing music. In my experience, it’s almost always the musicians themselves who end up filling those administrative roles, whether or not they would ordinarily choose to do so.


I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard a musician cry off trying something because they don’t feel qualified to do it (meaning, often, something like this: “but my degree is in piano!”) But the truth, especially with small festivals and ensembles and societies, is that there is often no one else to do a thing. I certainly do not have an arts administration degree, but in the twelve years that have passed since I finished my DMA, I have been a grant writer, a fundraiser, and emcee, a PR writer, a graphic/web designer, a personnel manager, an event planner and at times even a caterer. I’ve trolled the IRS website for rules and regulations, and written and revised by-laws. I’ve learned Robert’s Rules of Order and presided over board and committee meetings. All that, and I have three degrees in flute performance. All that, and then on top of it also all the practicing, rehearsing and performing that I expected.


In truth, the most valuable skill you can have when you’re putting a toe into these waters is this: can you take a big project and turn it into small, manageable tasks? If you can do that, you can start a chamber ensemble, put on a festival and deal with the financial ramifications of existing as a business entity. Here are a few other ideas I have on how to get the job done.



  1. Discover your natural aptitudes. If public speaking is needed, are you comfortable doing that? I am a natural, card-carrying extrovert. Just give me a mic and an audience, and then hope I know when to shut up! If that’s not you, can you fake it? It’s really important to do this well, if you are the mouthpiece for your group, either on public media or live at concerts. When someone explains to the audience that their performances could never happen without generous donors, that someone needs to be able to look at the audience and radiate confidence and sincerity.
  2. About faking it: sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. Does your group need bylaws? Are you planning to apply for 501(c)3 status or register with your secretary of state? Use the internet. There’s a lot of reliable information there, especially on and your state’s secretary of state website. You may also have local resources that you know nothing about. Here in Nashville, we have a group called the Center for Nonprofit Management. They are a fount of information, offering courses and networking and even a jobs website for those looking for full or part time employment in the nonprofit sector.
  3. Use your passion! The person who speaks for any organization ought to be someone who is passionate about it. Likewise, the person who plans the small details of a concert, who designs the promo posters and promotes the Facebook posts, ought to be someone who legitimately cares deeply about the product or performance on display. Is there anything worse than listening to someone apathetically describe why the public should support an event? If you don’t care…why would anyone else? If it’s stressful to think of exposing your passion to strangers, just think of it as another performance. Write down exactly what you want to say and study it so that, in the moment, you won’t have to read it word for word. That sincerity and personal connection is still the most important thing.
  4. Know when to ask for help. Delegating tasks to other people is an invaluable skill. If there are specific things that need to be done, or larger more abstract roles, look around you and see the people you’ve got to work with. What are their aptitudes? And if no one is offering to help, that doesn’t mean they’re not willing. Just ask. 


One of the best parts of membership in a small ensemble or an association is that everyone matters. Every donor, every performer, everyone who comes in contact with your group has a role to play. I always say to donors and volunteers who are associated with one of my groups that if you want your donation and your time to matter, because of our small size, no one will ever appreciate you more than we will. That sense of community and belonging doesn’t just keep the musicians of the group together. It also keeps people coming to our concerts and volunteering their time to help us succeed. And in the end, isn’t that sense of community and belonging the best part of any event?


Flutist Jessica Dunnavant is a freelance musician and teacher. An early music specialist, she is a member of Music City Baroque and teaches Baroque flute at Middle Tennessee State University. She has performed and taught across the country, including academic appointments at Florida State University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. As a modern flutist, she performs with the Jackson Symphony in West Tennessee and teaches a large, successful studio of pre-college students.

January 2017 Newsletter

Music, Healing and Our Communities:

  An Empowering Partnership

Michelle S. Lynch, PsyD, LP

Detroit Medical Orchestra

DMO Group Shot


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, for more information about the orchestra as well as a full listing of upcoming concert dates.


Michelle Lynch with FluteMichelle 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:

Dewar, G.D. (2014). Music and Intelligence:  A Parent’s evidence-based guide.  Retrieved from:

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:

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:

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:

Mount, B.M. (2004, September 9). The Healing Power of Music.  Retrieved from:

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 Newsletter

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. 



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November 2016 Newsletter



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


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 Newsletter

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
  • 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, Or or our through our website:



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.


Silver Bells Holiday Promotion

September 2016 Newsletter

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