"How to" Flute Repair Video Series


    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!

August Newsletter

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 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.

July 2015 Newsletter

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.


Spring 2015 Newsletter


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.


Hattiesburg, 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 Festival South Danilo Mezzadriarts 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 Flute Festival and FestivalSouth® 2015, please go to and  

Rachel CiraldoRachel 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

Jelly Bean Contest!

Jelly Bean Contest Flyer

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. 

                                                           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 Wrist Splints

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!!
Flute Benefit Concert for Chinese Orphans


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 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.

December Newsletter

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.

November Newsletter

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. 

October Newsletter
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