The thought just popped out of my mouth. Literally. Kristen and I were at Louis Anthony deLise’s studio, listening to “Red Lotus” (flute/string quartet) and out it came. “I’d like to commission you to compose a piece for me.”
Almost a year later, here we are, on the eve of the premiere of the piece.
One of the elements I admire about Louis’s music is the incredible contemporary nature of it. “Salone del Astor”, for flute and vibraphone. Louis has a background in writing and producing music for recordings and broadcasting as well as concert pieces for instrumentalists and singers. Knowing this, my request was to fuse these idioms with classical forms, to create something very new.
Louis does not write easy music. “Salone” is no exception. Practicing it alone revealed lots of technical challenges because the patterns of notes and intervals were very different. Soon, however, the notes fit nicely under my fingers. The rhythms, shifting meters, cross accents, and syncopation were challenging to be sure, but given the organic nature of the work, all made sense with practice.
The first read-through with Harvey Price on vibraphone revealed the challenge of ensemble.
It took several rehearsals for us to find a degree of comfort to be able to not hold onto every eighth note!
A great test was when Harvey and I played “Salone” in its entirety for Linda Henderson, Harvey’s wife. Front to back, whatever happens, happens and we recover and go on. This was real pressure. Linda is a fabulous musician, pianist, and has the best ears in the biz. We nailed it almost entirely!
One word about Harvey: he is accurate. I can depend on him to be where he has to be, when he has to be there. Period. Rehearsals have been business like, high energy, and some of the most productive I have experienced. No fuss, no muss, get the job done.
Now on to the premiere. Lessons learned, notes in fingers, rhythms indelibly ingrained.
Let’s see how it goes!!!
PS I have the perfect dress, shoes, and accessories. In case you were worried.
Joan Sparks of Flute Pro Shop will premiere Salone del Astor at the National Flute Association convention at 2:15 pm on August 12th 2018. Commissioned by Ms. Sparks, Louis Anthony deLise composed Salone for flute and vibraphone. Vibraphonist for the premiere will be Professor Harvey Price of the University of Delaware.
The composer writes, “In Salone del Astor I bring together several disparate musical and personal ideas I have been toying with for several years. These include the intersection of my work in popular music and life as a composer of concert music; the exploration of my European ancestry; the preoccupation I have with music for dancing and singing; and only recently, a survey of compositions by Astor Piazzolla…For me, music is most often the impetus for dance or for song. In my musical world, music never just is: it has function in addition to purpose. It is natural (almost to the point of expectation) that I would create movements that are abstractions of dances.”
Any item in the FPS inventory that contains the words North, East, Storm, Rain, Wind, will be drastically reduced!
Schunck: North Star Overture
Eastman Cherry Wood music stands
Schulamit Ran: East Wind
David Stock: East Wind
Gary Schocker: Rain and Shine
Daniel Dorff: Cape May Breezes (close enough)
Katherine Hoover: Four Winds
Power Lungs (so you can create your own Bombogenesis)
Each purchase will include a FREE Storm Bottle! Ours is even more accurate than AccuWeather!
* Sadly, no products matched the name of the storm, or the scary term, “Bombogenesis”
LINK TO THE SALE = https://www.fluteproshop.com/collections/noreaster-sale
1936 February 04 2018
Today, listening to the rain on the roof, in anticipation of the Super Bowl (fly Eagles, fly!) and still coughing and sneezing, I turn for inspiration to the story of “Ferdinand the Bull”.
As my brother in law and I helped my mother go through a room filled with books many months ago, we came across this wonderful book. This particular copy was worn, edges torn and brown, the black and white artwork faded.
A classic in every way.
I wondered about the author and the illustrator. How profound this little tale is. What inspired it? Did they have the flu the week before they wrote and drew?
The author, Munro Wilbur Leaf, lived from 1905 to 1976. It is said he wrote the entire story in one hour using a yellow legal pad. It was labeled subversive when it was published in 1936. “Ferdinand” was seen as pacifist, banned in Spain, and burned in Nazi Germany. Since then, it has been translated into 60 languages and has never been out of print.
Leaf once said, "Early on in my writing career I realized that if one found some truths worth telling they should be told to the young in terms that were understandable to them."
This should pertain to people of all ages.
The illustrator of “Ferdinand” was Robert Lawson, a friend of Munro Leaf. Lawson lived from 1892 to 1957 and was admired for the illustrations of children’s books that were central to his professional career. He is the only person to win both the Newberry Award and the Caldecott Medal. During World War 1, he was a member of the American Camouflage Corps. It is said that his WWI experiences had a profound effect on him, and he dedicated his life to illustrating and writing children’s stories which all had common themes of peace, understanding, and community.
And so here we have Ferdinand.
Let’s think about 1936. The Berlin Olympics and Jesse Owens. Italy neutralizes the Ethiopian Army. Nazi Germany re-occupies the Rhineland. Italy annexes Ethiopia and Addis Ababa. “Gone with the Wind” is published. The Spanish Civil war begins. In October of 1936, Joseph Stain’s Great Purge begins in the Soviet Union. “Peter and the Wolf” premieres in Moscow. In England, King Edward VIII abdicates the throne. This only skims the surface of the tumultuous year of 1936.
Against this backdrop of international chaos, Ferdinand simply stops and smells the flowers.
Small wonder this tale was considered subversive and pacifist.
Contrary to the political structures, “The Story of Ferdinand” is alive and well today. In 60 languages. Read to millions of children. Is a new movie.
While struggling to take the time to fully recover from the flu, I realize that I should remember Ferdinand. Sometimes just being yourself, in the face of so many conflicting influences is, well, enough.
More than enough.
Lessons from the Flu of 2018
It came on overnight.
Wednesday was a productive, fun day. K and I had packed for one of our favorite regional flute conferences: the Florida Flute Association Convention. The last weekend of January. What could be better for these Delawareans than Orlando?
Thursday morning came. And with it came the flu. Full blown. You know the symptoms, so I will not bore you with them. It was the fever that made up our minds. The process of cancelling flights, hotel room, flowers/balloons, and our exhibit took several hours. And then, there was no choice but to give in to the flu and go to bed.
Had K and I gone to Florida, I am convinced we would have ended up in the hospital.
Feeling very proud that the right call had been made, I “took it easy” Friday. Unhuh. Saturday, everything was worse. Texting my Dr., he said that the protocol this flu season was to call in a prescription for TamiFlu.
It was a miracle! By Sunday I could think, breathe, stand up without being dizzy. The shower didn’t hurt my skin! Slight fatigue, but I was so much better. I was back!
So many fun things can be accomplished while at home “sick”. I had a wonderful time. Cleaned out my bedroom closet (don’t you LOVE to throw things out??) did laundry, made a fun dinner, worked on music inventory, fulfilled orders. Sunday was a productive day. In touch with K all day, I pretty much ignored her pleas for me to take it easy. I was convinced she had it worse than I did and carried on. So many entreaties to slow down. I should have listened.
Monday. Ah Monday. Flu was right back at it. Fever, chills, uncomfortable shower, intense fatigue, the list goes on.
Tuesday. Same. I texted my sister that I was “thinking of taking it easy the rest of the week.” The phone rang immediately.
“Joan. You have a long history of not taking care of yourself. You MUST take the rest of the week off. Promise me you will.”
Well. I flashed back on all the times I had soldiered on through illness. What had been accomplished? Was St. Peter going to give me extra credit for it all when I approached the pearly gates?
So here it is Wednesday. Slight improvement on all fronts. Yes, the rest of the week will be quiet, truly quiet.
For my entire life I have muscled through things. That’s why I was a swimmer (still am). When things got tough and painful, I just would put my head down and get to the wall no matter what. You learn how to separate yourself from pain to do the job at hand.
Same is true with the life of a musician. The show HAD to go on regardless. One memorable adventure was this exact week about 30 years ago. It was my masters recital. I had bronchitis. I played with a fever. You can hear the rasping breaths on the tape. The audience had to be uncomfortable. It took many years to rebound from the sense of not playing my best at that critical moment. And I never remember that concert from the context of being sick.
Cancelling this week’s activities was, well, liberating. There simply was no choice for myself or other people I might infect. When is the flu not contagious? I don’t know.
I have made some “Flu Year” resolutions:
- Define for myself what self-care really is. Do it.
- The show really does not have to go on. Nor do you.
- Paying attention to your body will speed up the healing process.
- Remember the serenity prayer:
- God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
- The courage the change the things I can.
- And the wisdom to know the difference.
May you all be well, treat yourself and your body with respect, and learn from mistakes!
Flute Care in Extreme Weather!
Here in Delaware, we are enjoying a few days of a January Thaw. Welcome relief from two weeks of very cold weather.
The winter months are especially difficult for our flutes because of the frigid temperatures and the very low humidity in our homes and work places. Did you know that the average concert hall, with the lights up, has the same humidity level as Death Valley? As the lights remain on, the temperature rises, so that high heat and low humidity wreak havoc on the pads. Conversely, in frigid temperatures, some of the glues used to hold corks, felts, and shims in place can become brittle and fail, which will put the flute out of regulation. Keeping your instrument insulated from drastic temperature and humidity changes can significantly lessen emergency trips to the Flute Doctor.
How to protect your flute from this devastation? Invest in a good case cover and insulated "gig" bag to reduce the impact of dramatic atmospheric changes. Think of it as the same kind of layering you would do for yourself in winter. I recommend the Wiseman case as both case and cover because of the insulating properties it offers. For those of you with French Cases, the Altieri case covers afford wonderful protection. Fashion minded? Dome makes beautiful case covers and an elegant City Bag. It easily converts to a back pack. Your flute(s) and piccolo are stored in chutes, music is stored vertically in a separate space. Elegant!
For a more economical and practical gig bag, you really can't beat the Altieri Deluxe Double bag, which can be used as a back pack, or with a shoulder strap. These bags are superbly insulated and will keep your precious flute and piccolo free from the stress of difficult weather conditions.
Now we are going to talk about flute hygiene. The flute must go in its case at the end of the day. Make sure you swab it out frequently during your practice sessions, at least every 45 minutes, which is the frequency of breaks you should take to protect yourself from injury. Thoroughly swab it out before putting it away at the end of the day, cleaning up against the cork plate with your swab. Flute Serviettes and the new Helix Wand are superior in this area. As carefully as you clean your flute, don't worry if droplets remain in the headjoint. They will help keep the humidity at the right place while the flute is inside the case. If you are like me, and practice throughout the morning, and teach in the afternoon, keeping the flute out is a very practical way to go.
Let's talk about the cold and flu season and your relationship with your flute. When you have recovered from whatever nasty bug you have picked up, take a few minutes to rinse your headjoint out with Listerine. Avoid flavored or sweetened mouthwashes!!! You want good, plain old-fashioned Listerine, like my Granny used. (Really) Rinse out the headjoint over a sink, run warm water through it, and then swab it out carefully. Take a Q-tip, dip it in the Listerine, and very gently swab the Riser (the piece of metal that attaches the lip plate to the tube.) Is your Riser 14 or 18 Karat Gold? DO NOT use any pressure from the Q-tip on the riser. The metal is very soft, and you don't want to alter its shape in any way.
Another valuable addition to your flute maintenance program is a flute peg. Not only will you avoid scratching or denting the flute by lying it down on a surface (reducing its value) pegging your flute is the best way to keep moisture away from the pads and at the same time keeping it available for you to pick it up on an as-needed basis. Find a studio peg that has a weighted base and a solid peg, lined, like the Lyricraft pegs. These pegs are decorative as well: they multi-task! Hercules makes very sturdy pegs with heavy weight legs as the base. Both companies make alto, base, and double/triple/quad stands.
Maintenance by a qualified repair technician on a regular basis will ensure your flute will remain stable during weather events. Make sure this person is your friend! You want them to respond immediately if the unthinkable happens. Here is a simple formula for maintenance: 1 hour or less daily practice, once a year maintenance will be fine. 2 hours a day=twice a year maintenance. 3 hours=3 times and so on until 4 hours. This way you will avoid the last-minute disaster right before the big concert or audition. Think of it this way: if you are under stress for an event, so is your flute.
Just wait till Spring! Lots of advice for that seasonal change will be forthcoming....
Visit www.fluteproshop.com where all the items mentioned in this blog are for sale. Enjoy a 10% discount at check out using the code: THAW.
In September, we all had the pleasure to meet and host the piccoloist from the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She gave a series of university classes, and was in residence at Flute Pro Shop, where she presented a day and a half of workshops and masterclasses. Sarah is one of the most well informed musicians I know. She had many recommendations to the staff of FPS. Pointing out that piccolo players (and more than likely flute players) WILL lose hearing in the right ear, she was adamant that all of us wear ear plugs when we play. FPS will soon have in stock the best non-prescription ear plugs available. Sarah also had many ideas regarding repertoire (now in our library) cork grease, cleaning swabs, piccolo manufacturers, and more. Our sale will reflect Sarah’s recommendations and favorites! Please shop Sarah’s Space November 29-30 and enjoy 10% off and a free silk piccolo swab! You will know your choices have been recommended by the best!
The discount code to use as you checkout is PiccoloLove. Enjoy!
Click here to purchase tickets in advance!
Saturday, May 27th | 7:00 PM
First and Central Presbyterian Church | 1101 N. Market St. Wilmington, DE 19801
Featuring works by Bach, Gaubert, Debussy, Faure and Rachmaninoff
Tickets in advance: $15.00
Tickets at the door: $20.00
Seniors and Students : $15.00
COMMISSION CELEBRATION AND A WORLD PREMIERE!
SPARX Flute and Harp Duo
October 15, 2016
First and Central Presbyterian Church
Rodney Square, Wilmington, Delaware
Admission is $20.00/$10.00 for seniors and students.
Available at the door.
Flutist Joan Sparks and Harpist, Anne Sullivan, collectively known as SPARX, celebrate the process of commissioning new music in a program that will feature 3 SPARX commissions. The composers are Charles Holdeman of Philadelphia, Lowell Liebermann of New York City, and Daniel Dorff also of Philadelphia.
Each composer has found inspiration from historical composers and/or styles. On October 15, Sparks and Sullivan will pair each new work with earlier music that relates to it. The program will begin with Charles Holdeman’s Sonata Scintillante (2014). Written for harp and flute/alto flute/piccolo in 4 movements, the style is Holdeman’s lyrical and whimsical expression. Debussy was a great inspiration to Mr. Holdeman, so the Duo will begin the program with music from this beloved composer.
Lowell Liebermann is a prolific composer of international stature. His Sonata for Flute and Harp, OP. 56 (1996) will be the second featured piece on the program. The work is comprised of 4 movements that are continuous, and takes the listener through emotions ranging from rapture to serious contemplation. Mr. Liebermann cites Gabriel Faure as a chief influence in his early works. Thus the “Morceau de Concours” will open the second section.
Ending the program will be the world premiere of Daniel Dorff’s Serenade for Flute and Harp (2016). This work is in 5 movements and was influenced by the 14th century composer Solage and the style known as Ars Subtilior, the most famous source of which is the Chantilly Codex and has been described as 14th century Avant Garde. Similar in inspiration to the Dorff Serenade are the Medieval Dances of Josef Lauber, two of which will round out the third and final section of the program.
Joan Sparks will be joined in concert on March 11, 2017 by First and Central’s organist and music minister, David Schelat. Planned for that concert are works by Frank Martin, Lowell Liebermann, and Mark Haggerty. On June 3, 2017, the British pianist Timothy “Philharmonic” Carey will join Ms Sparks for music by Gaubert, Debussy, and Bach. All concerts start at 7:30. Admission is $20/$10 for seniors and students, and is available at the door.
Which is today…
How did that happen?
I was probably 15 when the Beatles song with the above words came out. At that point, 64 was so far in the future, I had absolutely no comprehension of what it would be. I was, however, frightened of the age and so chose not to think of it very much at all.
And now, here I am. It isn’t frightening to turn 64. It is remarkable to be this age and still feel as strong and well as I did in my 20’s and 30’s. I am grateful for this healthy body which has seen me through so much and continues to function very, very well.
It is with gratitude I recall a very happy early childhood with two sisters and a brother to share in some high jinx adventures. Things got complicated, as they do for many, in my early teens. At age 12 I began competitive swimming, and in one summer grew 4 inches and lost 20 pounds and learned that hard work resulted in success and self-confidence. Yes, I was bullied in school, but that ended up ok because my flute became my dearest friend and confidant. Hours of practicing daily helped make up the technical development missed due to a late start on the instrument. Lessons earned in the pool translated beautifully to the practice of music.
College was a big adventure. Imagine this very sheltered 18-year-old, who was not invited to her High School senior prom, heading to a large campus where in her freshman year she never missed a weekend of dating….
With that year under my belt, I focused on practicing and studying and was able to graduate with a good GPA. During the summers I worked as a life guard and swim coach, and that is where I met my husband-to-be. We worked with 80 kids 4 hours every morning, and that made for a great working relationship. We were married the August after I graduated, and just last week celebrated 42 years of marriage. ( In the words of Uncle Mac, the first 41 years were the hardest!!) Seriously, my husband has been a source of love, support, inspiration, and is always there. We have two grown children who are happy and working at what they love.
A busy freelance career started after undergraduate school, and I had the great privilege to study the flute with the legendary Murray Panitz, the principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In many ways those lessons became the basis for my musical identity that has lasted all these years.
Teaching has been a part of my life since the age of 17 when my teacher at that time said, “I can’t do anything with this one. See what you can do.” She and I are in touch to this day! My students have been a challenge, inspiration, and some have become my dearest friends. They have won awards, gone on to be musicians, teachers, music therapists, educators and professionals in their own right.
My third child is my business, Flute Pro Shop. For the last 7 years I have put all I have into this project. I love this business: the look on flutists’ faces when they find the instrument of their dreams, the excitement of new music, the mental exercise of putting the right flute into someone’s hands, the pride of quality workmanship of our manufacturers, the creative outlet of marketing and sales. I am joined in this enterprise by the remarkable Kristen Michelle, who matches my work ethic step-by-step, and whose artistic and creative genius is an inspiration always. And boy does she have a great ear!
If things go on as they seem to be going, I have a good 30 to 40 years left. I am looking forward to continuing to grow FPS, performing concerts and commissioning new works, swimming in meets (am pretty good in my age group!) doing more volunteering, perhaps getting back on the pool deck as a coach, lots of laughing, friends, travel, and insights.
If things don’t go that way, this has been a remarkable life and I am grateful for it all.
Liebermann Sonata for Flute and Harp, Op.56
This is a story about a dream come true.
At the 1990 NFA Conference, I was asked by a well-known flutist to turn pages for her accompanist during the finals of the Young Artist competition. It had become a sub-specialty for me, so I agreed, not knowing the rehearsal would have an impact on events far into the future.
On the program was the flute and piano sonata of Lowell Liebermann. In manuscript form. In a wire-bound book. It was a page-turner’s nightmare, actually, but that was not what captured my imagination and interest.
I had never heard music like that before. Dark and brooding at one moment, and then bursting forth with muscular fireworks the next, the fabulous new effects of rhythm, harmonies, and sheer brilliant technique left me spell bound as I dodged the pianist’s left hand. Exiting the rehearsal, I was able to whistle, hum, and hear almost the entire sonata in my head. Wondering when the last time that happened might have been, I resolved that when it came time for me to commission a new work, it would be by Lowell Liebermann.
Several years later, my flute and harp duo was awarded the Chamber Music America Residency Grant Award. During that time, Anne Sullivan (harpist) and I decided that we would commission a work for flute and harp that would be a significant addition to the repertoire. I thought immediately of Lowell.
Commissioning is a fascinating process. I recommend it to all musicians. Being part of this creative process is an experience like no other. As musicians, we are re-creators. Just thinking of what it would be like to compose a work unlike any other is mind boggling to me.
Greetings from ground zero for Winter Storm Jonas, aka The Blizzard.
What's a flute shop to do when weather phenomenon like this shows up and forces the cancellation of the Flute Society of Philadelphia's Flute Fair?
We will have a virtual Flute Fair, right here in Wilmington, Delaware.
Who better to help us with this project than our old flute friend, Pan?
Our Pan is 15" tall. The Weather Channel tells us that Jonas will dump 12-18" of snow on us Friday-Sunday. I'd say Pan is just the right size for us to gauge the accuracy of this prediction.
Here's how the Flute Fair will work:
From the time the snow starts until we have 6"on the ground (or up to Pan's knees)
ALL SHEET MUSIC will be 25% off.
Here's the fun part: from 6" until the snow stops, ALL SHEET MUSIC will be 50% off.
This is how Kristen Michelle and I will keep from getting cabin fever: we will be filling your orders as soon as they come in.
Measurements will be taken every hour once the the snow starts.Special prizes will be available for those of you who accurately predict the total snow fall amount here at FPS at 4 hours into the storm. We will take accurate measurements using our exclusive Pan O'meter.
Simply use Pan15inches25 or Pan15inches50 in the code box and your discounts will be applied.
Flute Pro Shop
“The December eBay Amnesty Repair Special”
The following is a fictionalized compilation of several instances in which FPS has rescued flutes in distress.”
It was a dark and stormy late afternoon in early December. There was a tentative push on the shop door and, and in walked one of Flute Pro Shop’s clients, soaked by the pouring rain and looking sheepish.
Joan stood up to greet her. “Hello!”
A torrent of words poured out.
“Please don’t hate me. But. I saw this really great deal on a silver flute on eBay. The store looked legit, and the price was fantastic! It looked great in the photo. It didn’t bother me that it was listed as ‘no return’, and ‘as-is.”
“The thing is it doesn’t play very well and I don’t know what to do. So I got all my courage up and came to you. Can you help? Please?”
“Please sit down,” Joan said, “let me hang up your coat. Would you like a cup of tea? Now, let’s look at this flute and see what we can do for you. I’ll bet you saw our December special.”
“Yes. Many of our clients are lured by low prices on eBay, and do exactly what you did.”
“I’m not the only one?” She was very surprised at this.
“Not at all,” Joan assured her, “it is a problem, and many don’t have your courage to come see us. We decided to offer an ‘eBay Amnesty Discount’ to anyone who has received a flute from an eBay site and finds it is in bad repair.”
“Oh! Then I am in luck! Well. Sort of.” She shrugged.
“Do you have the EBay receipt with the flute model and serial number?”
“I was supposed to keep that?”
“It would have been easier, but if you don’t mind logging into your eBay account, we can find it there.”
Comforted by the tea, she opened up her IPad, logged into eBay, verified the flute was indeed purchased there, and the flute was signed in and placed in the repair queue.
As it was, the flute needed a complete Clean, Oil, and Adjust (COA) and needed 4 pads replaced. Typically this service at Flute Pro Shop is $365.00.
Due to the Amnesty discount, the COA was only $299.
She came back into the shop on a bright sunny mid-December day, and opened the door with energy. “Hi!”
The flute was presented to her, and she played it at once.
“Wow! I can’t believe this is the very same flute I brought in a week and a half ago! I bet it cost a lot to have it sound this good.”
Much to her delight, the price was reasonable, and she left happy with a flute that worked well.
This scenario happens fairly regularly, which makes us wonder how many others are out there struggling with a poorly regulated flute.
Flute Pro Shop is reaching out to you, the bargain seekers (and who isn’t these days?) to say we love you anyway, and we love your flute, and we will take excellent care of you both!
Go to www.fluteproshop.com to get the details of this wonderful offer.
And next time, check us out before making that eBay purchase!
FLUTE PRO SHOP SCARY CONTEST WINNERS!
Thank you to all who participated! We are looking forward to this again next year!
Winning Story. "Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony piccolo part. Every flute payer dreads this beast!"
We got to the scherzo. All was going well. First entrance fine, on to the tempo change. Nice tempo, no problem. I don’t usually need to count here, but I will. THE CLARINET COMES IN A BAR EARLY!!!!!! But I am counting so I somehow keep it together and come in at the right time. Everyone gets back on track. All is well. Or is it?
Despite the gratitude of the conductor, from that point on every time I hear the lovely pizzicato of the scherzo my palms start sweating and I get nervous. It even happened once in a school demo concert when I knew we weren’t even playing the piccolo entrance. Now this ghost haunts me for the rest of my days. Talk about spooky.
And my current conductor loves Tchaikovsky…
1st Runner up.
Why I Always Use Tape, A Horror Story
It’s Fall, 2008. I’m a sophomore in West Chester’s music program. Today is the flute studio
recital and I am about to play a Bach Sonata for not only Dr. Kim Reighley, but all of my peers.
Now, the story could just end here because anyone with even just a little stage fright knows
how nerve wracking this alone can be; sadly, it doesn’t.
It’s my turn and I start my piece and things are going well: my fingers are behaving, I remem- ber how to breathe. I’m going to be just fine. I turn the page and count the last measure of
rests and start to come back in. But something isn’t right. Is the accompaniment in the wrong
spot? My part doesn’t sound right. It’s because my pages are in the wrong order. I’ve somehow
flipped the last two pages... My stomach plummets to somewhere well below the stage and I’m
frozen with embarrassment, fear, and shame. I stop the accompanist and tell the audience that
my pages are in the wrong order. In this moment, I promise myself I’ll drop out of college and
move to a new state so I never have to face these people again.
But the show must go on. I fight the urge to run crying from the auditorium, shuffle my pages
back in order, take a breath, give the accompanist a cue and finish the piece.
And this, friends, is why you should always tape your pages together.
2nd Runner up.
My first recital ever was my Junior recital for my undergraduate degree. I was doing well and was feeling great about my performance until I got to the section of Varese's Density 21.5 with all the fourth octave D's, and I forgot the fingering. I suddenly had no clue. I floundered on stage, trying to figure it out, attempting several (incorrect) fingerings, until I had a realization: this piece is UNACCOMPANIED. There's no pianist to confuse, or to curse me for sudden changes of plans or random cuts. I can play whatever I want, and no one (except for my teacher, all the other flutists in the audience, any composition student that's studied it, and the horrified ghost of Mr. Varese) will know! I had a way out of this nightmare: pretend the part with all those lovely high D's didn't exist. So I skipped the whole section, and finished the piece as smoothly as I could under the circumstances. It probably only lasted a few seconds in real time (it seemed like an eternity), but it resulted in several hours of post-recital waterworks - and years of performance anxiety. I now know several fingerings for the fourth octave D (for insurance - or idiot-proofing - take your pick) and have since performed the piece successfully - after having written in the fingering above those measures in my sheet music.
3rd Runner up.
Double, double toil and treble
Fingers burn and flutists revel;
Section of a flute lip plate
In the caldron boil and bake;
Key of Powell and students of Baker;
pad of Haynes & audition takers.
Piccolo peg and wood of fife;
Taffanel, Gaubert and practicing strife.
For a charm of powerful trouble
Scary as a nasty spit bubble. Double, double toil and treble; Fingers burn and flutists revel. Cool it with a contra bass G, Then take it to Joan, Kristen & David Kee
Flute Pro Shop is continuing its L'Awning Concert Series with a SPARX Flute and Harp Duo concert on November 20th, 2015.
More party than performance, house concerts are gatherings where you'll enjoy fantastic music in an intimate, informal setting. The evening will feature music of Lauber, Rodrigo, Debussy, Liebermann, and Daniel Dorff with plenty of time for mingling with artists and guests.
Friday, November 20th, 6 to 8 p.m.
Performance location is in North Wilmington. Address and event details will be sent to guests who RSVP.
Free to attend! All we ask is that you bring a refreshment (soda/beer/wine) to share.
Space is limited, so RSVP by November 15th.
July is a great month of celebration for me. All my children were born in July.
A son in 1985, a daughter in 1987, and Flute Pro Shop in 2010.
The human children are out in the world, on their own, and thriving. Thank goodness. Because Flute Pro Shop has entered kindergarten and still needs careful nurturing and guidance.
Just as children become their own people, so do businesses. In this case, FPS has become its own little person, and I do believe it is becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
To celebrate this 5th birthday, FPS was named a Top Music Retailer for 2015 by North American Music Merchants (NAMM). Not only is that, but the awards banquet at Summer NAMM in Nashville on the actual birthday of FPS! Our music retail peers looked at FPS and decided we were worthy of that honor at this tender age. What an honor! What a challenge!
The entire team here at FPS pulls together and creates a dynamic business that represents best business practices in repair service, on-line presence, social media, vendor relationships, the curated music collection, and the many new and previously owned instruments in the inventory. There is a true understanding of service to the customer. It starts with answering the phone, shipping instruments, accessories, and music in attractive, professional containers, maintaining an attractive place of business, and goes from there. The team here values each and every customer no matter who they are.
And let’s talk about the customers. FPS enjoys loyal, informed, and curious customers who stay in touch and give valuable input. The large majority see what FPS is doing and appreciate it. They tell others. We have groups of customers “generations” deep: top flute personality-teacher-students-students of students. It’s kind of a family tree.
One final observation: in this time of cuts in the arts, ever-increasing competition, and bitter rivalries, FPS remains a positive environment in which customers feel validated, encouraged, and cared-for, and they give that back to us.
To all of these customers, and to the FPS, a big thank you from me, Dave Kee, and Kristen Michelle! What will the next 5 years bring? Stay tuned. Big things are coming up. And I do mean big. As in 32 feet long….
There was a large basket of flowers on the porch! For me!
Having just returned from playing a noon-time concert that consisted of three major flute and tenor arias from the JS Bach b-minor Mass, and the Sts. Matthew and John Passions, I naturally supposed the flowers were from the grateful tenor for my heroic work that day.
That assumption was very wrong.
They were from the famed first flutist of the New York Philharmonic, Jeanne Baxtresser.
The previous day she had called me after tracking me down through AFM Local 802 in New York City. She had read the book, "Dyslexia, a Modern Watergate" by Dr. Harold Levinson as research to help a family member. My son and I were very successfully treated by Dr. Levinson, and he published much of my journal in his book, in which I detailed the many improvements my son and I had enjoyed since beginning treatment. My photo was published, as well as the fact that I was a professional flutist. Jeanne did the rest herself.
"I've met you before," I said as we chatted. I recalled the time I was substituting with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the run out concert we did at Avery Fischer Hall, the home of the NY Phil. In a classic moment, the Philadelphia musicians were taking the stage as the New Yorkers left it. Jeanne and Mindy Kauffman, the piccoloist in the Phil, were just packing up when the Philadelphia flute section got to our chairs. I was introduced to Jeanne and Mindy and we all exchanged greetings. Looking out into the hall as we warmed up, I saw Jeanne and Mindy, listening.
In that program, I covered the 2nd flute part in the Copland 3rd Symphony. The third movement opened with the now-famous "Fanfare for the Common Man" theme. Only it is introduced by two flutes playing in open octaves, 4ths and 5ths. And....what did Riccardo Muti begin the rehearsal with? Yes indeedy, the 3rd movement of the Copeland. Yikes!!! Luckily all went well, the pitch was fine (my teacher, the legendary Murray Panitz, was principal flute) and the rehearsal went on.
Back to Jeanne and the phone conversation: she remembered that occasion. We connected over that shared experience.
Jeanne and I spent a good hour and a half on the phone chatting about Dr. Levinson, the treatment, and how it was a good possibility that her family member could be helped. In that short amount of time I realized what a caring, compassionate and genuine person she is. Grabbing the phone, I called her immediately to thank her for the gorgeous arrangement. Again her graciousness flowed over the phone lines (back then, in the 80's, we still used land lines. We had "car phones" that were large, bulky, and had hand sets much like land lines).
I hadn't seen or spoken to Jeanne until last year, when Flute Pro Shop attended The Consummate Flutist seminar at Carnegie Mellon University. We reconnected over our two shared experiences. What I saw and heard in that amazing flute class inspired me to donate the Murray W. Panitz Memorial Scholarship for 2015, the 25th anniversary year of his passing.
Isn't it amazing where a bouquet of flowers will lead?
It’s time to settle down now. I’ve been walking around in a general state of delirium after FPS was named a Top 100 Music Retailer for 2015 by NAMM three weeks ago today.
While I was the one that wrote the applications, it is the team here at Flute Pro Shop that has earned the award. David Kee is an outstanding master flute repair technician who takes care of big flutes and not-so-big flutes with equal care and concern for the flutist. Tim, the reed repair tech, and flute sous chef, keeps us all current with the younger generation. Like our logo, and all the social media materials? That’s Kristen Michelle, who also is a fabulous flute whisperer, matching up flute and player in a manner that instills confidence. Denise is our bookkeeper, and knows very well how to say “no” to uninformed spending (generally speaking that is me). And Ron handles most of the inventory entry and all of the shipping, all the while keeping us laughing at his jokes.
Also in line for thanks are our manufacturers and flute makers who dedicate themselves to quality and innovation. It’s the feeling of pride in these outstanding products that fuels us to show these flutes, accessories and music with passion and energy.
And then, I must thank all of our customers who have supported us in our 5 years in this shop. Without your loyalty and referrals, this award would not be possible.
Rather than punching at the computer keys right now, I am typing with an attitude of gratitude for all the wonderful folks who have been there with us and who have helped FPS earn a Top 100 Music Retailer award for 2015.
Summer = Technique!!
As the calendar turns to May, I begin to plan my summer flute practice. At the same time, plans for the swimming season as well. Nothing like swimming out doors, when the honeysuckle is in bloom...but I digress...
I love the summer because I can practice for myself. The concert season is concluded, there are fewer concerts in which I am not in charge of the program, and I can work on what I want to work on.
So each and every summer I design for myself a Technique Building practice routine.
This year I am going to do Something New, Something Old, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue.
New=Nicola Mazzanti's Daily Exercises for the Piccolo. Only, I will do them on the flute.
Something old that I have been wanting to re-examine the are the Jean-Jean "Etudes Modernes." Looking through them today, I was reminded what a collection of gems they are.
And borrowed? Amy Porter's J. S Bach Six Cello Suites for Flute.
Finally blue. "Famous Flute Studies and Duets", or as we call it here at FPS, "Big Blue". In this collection are the Andersen etudes, Op. 30 and 63, and the fabulous solo version of "L'Apres midi".
I will park these volumes on my music stand and plan each practice session based upon what worked/didn't work the previous day, weeks, or months before.
The Mazzanti is where I warm up all techniques. I love the fresh approach, new exercises, and his commentary.
Next up is the Bach. So many of the flexibility exercises in the Mazzanti are the ideal warm up for these cello suites. I particularly enjoy bringing out the implied counterpoint in the Bach after having played those exercises.
Then, there is the Jean-Jean etude book. I plan to do these in order, as they flow so well one into the other.
Call me a nerd, but I love the solo version of L'Apres midi in the big blue "Famous Flute Studies and Duets." I will make this a daily routine. It is fun to bring out the various colors of the solo instruments. And I love playing the harp glissandos immediately following the famous flute solo in the beginning.
This summer I am adding something very new to me: improvisation. This will of course happen in the privacy of my very own studio, as I am very shy about the whole process.
If you'd like to explore these technical wonders with me, visit www.fluteproshop.com
and order the volumes outlined above.
If you enter the code: FPSSummer15, you will be given a 15% discount. After you complete your purchase you will receive a bonus discount code for what we will be releasing at the end of June! Stay tuned.
Enjoy! I know I will....
Every Saturday morning of each semester for 2 years of a masters degree from Temple University, and 2 more of doctoral work, I drove to Cherry Hill from Wilmington, DE for a 9:00 AM lesson with the legendary flutist Murray Panitz. That entailed a 6:30 wake up call, thorough warm up at home, and the almost one hour drive.
I loved those lessons.
But woe to you if you made an error that was less than intelligent.
One eyebrow would lift and you knew it was bad. You mentally scanned what you just did to be able to anticipate the criticism. If you could form a question around the infraction, sometimes, on a very lucky day, you could avoid the upcoming inquisition.
For the worst infractions, however, it was the eyebrow and a very sharp, "Hello?!" Yikes. Far too often it was a slip that was something that you knew all too well was going to be called out.
It took me 4 lessons to complete the 8 bars of the second movement of the Bach b-minor Sonata.
It took many many months for me to hear the word, "Excellent."
On that day, as I drove from my lesson into Philadelphia for a gig, Handel's "Alleluia" Chorus came on my car radio as I was crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge in my yellow Subaru sedan. It was spring, the windows were open, the breeze sweet. I was on top of the world.
And there was a parking spot on the street just yards from my gig! What a day.
Then there was that sound we all dread. That metallic crush when you know you have miscalculated where that taxi cab was on that parallel parking swing. The Philly cab driver was eloquent in his use of the vernacular, and I had to give insurance info, play the gig, and wait for the wrath of my husband.
Memories like this are part of the personal lore of my lessons with Murray. I cherish the memory of these. But even more so: that magnificent sound that filled the biggest halls regardless of the dynamic.
And now I have the great good fortune to be able to help others study with an inspirational teacher, and at the same time, help preserve the memory of a great musician and flutist.
With this in mind, I will fund three scholarships this year in memory of Murray. The first is through the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia. The second is for tuition to The Consummate Flutist seminar at Carnegie Mellon University and the third is for tuition at the Galway Flute Festival in Swizterland.
It is my hope that others will do similar donations in memory of their teachers. In this way we can preserve the legacy of those great ones who came before us.
It was a beautiful August morning-clear, warm, fragrant. There had been a violent storm the night before, and the world felt freshly scrubbed.
My black lab, Turbo, and I were on a trail walk along the Brandywine River. Turbo had been in deep mourning for two months, as his beloved companion the yellow lab Chester, had died in June. I had never seen anything so poignant than the grief exhibited by this magnificent dog.
But on this day, Turbo had a smile in his eyes and a spring to his step as we started out.
Crossing a bridge, we startled a Great Blue Heron, who flew out from under the bridge with a burst of color and the whir of wings beating the air.
Turbo was elated as he pranced along. We were both smiling now.
Typically, the end of summer was bittersweet for me. But this year, I was anticipating a very full season of concerts, talented students, and exciting work on the residency my flute and harp duo had developed. My mind was full of plans.
On the return, Turbo and I left the path, and walked along the river. He scrambled down the bank frequently to swim, his very favorite activity. Rather than cross a meadow damp with dew in my brand new trainers, I elected, as I had dozens of times that summer, to take a path along the stream over which the "heron bridge" crossed, and jump across at my favorite place.
The gully washer the night before had undermined my landing rock, and as my right foot hit, it shoved forward, pitching me back onto my left hip, which in turn drove my left hand into the stream bed.
I knew instantly that the hand was broken.
I swore a blue streak, and then Turbo's nose was under my arm and he nudging me out of the stream and leading me up the bank. Looking at my hand, I saw that the pinky was at an awful angle, pointing away from me at the knuckle. Turbo looked back, seemed to say, "let's get out of here" and marched in front of me the 1.5 miles out of the woods. Getting to the car, he hopped nimbly in the back, something he had not done in months.
On that walk out of the woods I knew that my wonderful concert season was going to be changed. I faced the reality of not ever playing the flute at a professional level again. I made plans to take up the work on my doctorate again, only now it would be a PhD in Musicology.
The hand was badly broken. I think the word "crushed" was used. My 4th metacarpal was broken in 2 places, my middle finger badly dislocated and the tendon had been pulled away from the pinky at the broken knuckle. The doctor speculated the force it took to damage the pinky that much. The word "tons" was used.
And so, I went home and picked up the pieces, Turbo curled at my feet, my devoted companion as I mourned the destruction of that concert season.
As it turned, out, I was playing again in 8 weeks, and with the guidance of a brilliant Hand Physical Therapist, my flute technique began to approach what it had been.
There was much to learn here:
1. Find out what the heck the symbolism of the Great Blue Heron is.
2. Use the bridge.
3. Yes, you can teach flute lessons without playing the flute. But you also have to develop a very strong vocabulary of adjectives.
4. It is possible to get stuff done in 10 minute practice sessions.
5. All physical therapists are guaranteed a place in heaven.
6. Concerts can and will be rescheduled and no one is the worse for wear.
7. You still have a right hand.
8. Paul-Edumund Davies "28 Days of Warm-Ups" book is fabulous for training the hands to move at the same speed. Esp. No. 3 and 4.
9. A puppy can change everything.*
10. There is more to life than playing the flute.
I learned that adaptability is a life long skill, and when you look beyond limitations it can lead you to great things. Like starting a brand new business.
*Two weeks later, we brought home our precious yellow lab, Blitz. He died a year ago this week.
11. All dogs go to heaven.
It was a balmy summer morning. Honeysuckle perfumed the air. Time to get up for an early morning swim practice. Only...the pool where the gang was going to swim was known for iffy chemicals. Thinking, "What color will my hair be after this swim?" I prepared to sleep an extra hour.
I had been coloring my hair since the age of 25, when I started to go gray. It started out innocently enough: henna rinses that would turn the gray hair a lovely auburn color.
By age 31 the henna could not cut it, and so I began having chemical hair color applied. That lasted 31 years, every 4 weeks like clock work. Occasionally I would attempt the process myself. Then I would run to the stylist and beg to have my attempt covered up. 372 color applications later, I was ready for a change.
That summer morning was a turning point for me. Why should my hair color-or lack thereof-make my mind up about swimming? Especially swimming out doors, which is my favorite.
I got up and swam with a fierce determination to liberate myself.
At the next hair appointment my stylist and I set up a plan, and the process of growing my hair out began. And guess what? The chlorine in the pool assisted! As the chemical color faded, my true color phased in. The entire thing took just 3 months.
And you know what was under all that color? Platinum! (At my house no one says gray or white). Platinum around my face that is. Darker in the back, and lots of other colors to boot. Monochromatic simply will not do.
I thought I knew why I changed my hair color: swimming, right?
My hair color says I have the courage to be my age. It says I have authority. That I am dignified, not flirty. I am a woman, not a girl. It says I know what I am doing, why I am doing it, and don't even try to give me any nonsense.
It says I am comfortable with my age, place in life, and ready to move full force into the next fabulous phase of life. Am I ever!
Delaware's favorite flute and harp duo SPARX gives a rare holiday performance on Saturday, December 20. 2014 at 7:00 pm at Church of the Holy City in Wilmington.
The program will include highlights from the duo's popular Christmas CD, Christmas Echoes, as well as classical and holiday music guaranteed to make your season beautiful and bright.
Click the link below to purchase tickets online
$20.00 at the door
I LOVE THE SUMMER! I love doing intense technical practice in the summer to protect and repair technique, sound, pitch and rhythm.
Join me this summer as we re-vamp our flute playing! This is a multilevel course designed to improve all levels of mind/body flute playing. It will require 1 hour of mindful flute practice each day, as well as 20 minutes of reading and exercise time.
There will be a class once a month at Flute Pro Shop to review the work ahead and the results of the previous weeks’ work. Classes will meet from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. The dates are: July 12, July 26, and August 9. The series of 3 classes is $90.00.
10 Week Flute Festival Study Course
Practice Planner for Musicians, or you can download the app “Practice Nag”
“Body Mapping for Flutists” Lea Pearson
“Flute Scale book” George and Louke
“24 Etudes” Op. 15 Andersen
“Etudes mingnonnes” Op. 131 Gariboldi (less intense than Andersen)
Power Lung: Green, or “Move Aire”
Long Tones of the Month
Total package: $250.00
The package includes free access to videos to help you along the way. You will be given a password when you make your purchase of the materials listed above, which will allow you access to the weekly practice plans and the instructional videos. And of course, you are invited to join the live classes once a month.
Let’s all raise the bar on our flute playing. The world will be a more beautiful place that’s for sure!