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Music, Healing, and Our Communities- January 2017

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, www.DetroitMedicalOrchestra.org 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. 

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6 Weeks to Finals- December 2016

6 Weeks to Finals

by Sharon Sparrow

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

 

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

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

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

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Perceptive Flutist, Master Teacher- November 2016

PERCEPTIVE FLUTIST; MASTER TEACHER

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gary Schocker Headshot

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Flute Choir, Beyond the Basics- October 2016

Music, Healing and Our Communities:
An Empowering Partnership

by Michelle S. Lynch, PsyD, LP Detroit Medical Orchestra

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Michelle Lynch with Flute

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

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

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

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

 

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December 2016

6 Weeks to Finals

by Sharon Sparrow

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 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

Perceptive Flutist, Master Teacher

by Sharon Sparrow

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gary Schocker Headshot

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

 

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

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

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

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

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October 2016

Flute Choir: Beyond the Basics

by Gail Green

 

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

  1. Plan
  2. Communicate
  3. Responsiveness 

 

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

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

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

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

  

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

 

Responsiveness   

  • 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, [email protected]. Or [email protected] or our through our website: michiganfluteorchestra.com

 

  

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Mark your calendars for engaging performances this fall!

 

Gail Green

 

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

 

 

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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

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NFA Contest 2016

NFA Convention Contest 2016

Guess the weight and win a $100 gift certificate!

This year for the NFA Convention in San Diego, we had to ship all of our products to display in the exhibit hall. Now it’s your chance to guess how much we shipped! Guess the weight of the products plus the pallets; the closest guess wins!

 

The first place winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Flute Specialists and second place wins a $50 gift certificate.

 

How to Enter:

“Like” Flute Specialists, Inc. on Facebook. 

Send us a private message with your name, e-mail address and your guess for the number of pounds. Please DO NOT post guesses on our wall!

Deadline: 

Sunday August 14, 2016 11:59 EDT

 

Official Rules:                                      

1.Only one guess is allowed per person. Guesses are only valid if received by Facebook private message.

2.Must be 18 or older to enter.

3.If more than one contestant has guessed correctly, the first and second place prizes will be split between all winners.

4.Winners will be notified by Facebook. Gift certificates can be used online or for in-store purchases. 

5.No purchase necessary to enter.  Just “like” the Flute Specialists, Inc. page on Facebook.  It’s free and easy!

6.If you have any questions or problems, e-mail us at [email protected]

7.Deadline for all entries is August 14, 201611:59 EDT

 

Contest Flyer

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August 2016 Newsletter

 

NFA Internship Program

by Dr. Kimberlee Goodman

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 NFA Interns

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

Note:  If you are interested in applying for the Convention Internship program or volunteering for the NFA conventions please contact Kim Goodman at [email protected]

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

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July Newsletter

Stars and Stripes Forever

by Nan Raphael

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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June Newsletter

The Magic of Moyse

by Dr. Cate Hummel

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Play your Bach appoggiatura with love.”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

References:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cate Hummel Headshot

 

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

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May 2016 Newsletter

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

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

Howard J. Buss, Composer

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Space RenaissanceAlien Loop de Loops

Alien Loop de Loops for flute and electronic recording is a playful and capricious fantasy piece designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences. The title refers to both programmatic and technical elements in the composition. I imagined a flutist standing outdoors during an air show by an alien craft. In the opening section he/she plays unaccompanied, but is then joined by the recording, which contains sounds generated by traditional instruments as well as an “alien” voice, the spacecraft, and various elctronic effects. Technically, the title refers to how the recording was made. It consists of numerous sound loops that combine to form a sonic tapestry that provides the sounds of the air show as well as the accompaniment for the flutist. Sound samples: 1, 2, 3, 4

 

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

 

Commercially-recorded flute works::

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

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

Sound samples: 1, 2, 3

Dragon Flight/ flute and piano recorded / Elena Cecconi / Flute & Piano / Bottega Discantica          Sound samples: 1, 2

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

Sound samples: 1, 2

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

Sound Samples: 1, 2, 3

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

Sound samples: 1, 2

 

Other works:

Composition / Instrumentation / Flutist for which it was written

Space Renaissance Suite/ solo flute / Elena Cecconi

  (Sound samples above)

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

        (Sound samples above)

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

Constellations for flute, one percussion and piano / Kim McCormick

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

Sky Blossoms  for flute and one percussion / Connie Lane

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

About the author/composer

 

Howard Buss

 

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

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

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

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March 2016 Newsletter

 

The History of Altus Handmade Flutes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denis

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

For more information on Altus flutes, please visit our website: www.altusflutes.com, or contact Altus Sales Manager, Chiarra Conn, at [email protected].

 
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February 2016 Newsletter

Flute Carrot

 

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

pastedGraphic_2.png

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

pastedGraphic_4.png

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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January 2016 Newsletter

 

Options for Supporting the Bass Flute

By Christine Potter

 

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

 

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

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy-W6R7Xhjw

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Bass Flute Stand

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

 

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

 

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

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

I am interested in hearing about other people’s solutions to this problem so I can pass information along. Please contact me if you would like to share your ideas. [email protected].

 

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

 

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

 

Online Flute Workshops
Dr. Chris Potter will be teaching a series of online workshops through New York-based company LessonFace beginning January 30th. A video is made of each workshop which is available to those who register before the class starts. The video can be watched at anytime, day or night, for at least one year, beginning the Monday after the class.
The topics are: 
Saturday, Jan 30th 1 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) Improving Breath Control
2:30 EST Setting up the Curve of an Alto or Bass Flute
Saturday, Feb 6th 1 PM EST Tone Development
2:30  (EST) Solutions for Cracking Notes on Alto and Bass
Saturday, Feb. 20th1 PM EST Taming the Third Octave
2:30 EST Performance Aids for Alto and Bass Flute

 

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

Chris Potter

NFA Low Flutes Committee

James Galway Festival Flute Choir Coordinator

www.chrispotterflute.com

Posted on

December 2015 Newsletter


Alto Flute: choosing a curved or straight head-joint

By Dr. Christine Potter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Nov. 2011, Chris Potter

 

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