The Flutist's Life by Erv Monroe of Muramatsu America Flutes with Trudy Kane and Joan Sparks. May 13 2020
You leap at the opportunity!
When the call came in to provide the narration for the Muramatsu America project to narrate Erv Monroe’s hilarious and all-too true
Kristen and I set the stage, thinking of these great instruments, and Trudy Kane who was performing the flute part. Filmed in front of the fireplace in my living room, my 14K Muramatsu was on one flute stand, and the Muramatsu that Murray Panitz bought back in the 1970’s was on the other. The backdrop is dedicated to Trudy: a rendition of “The Flight of the Valkyrie”!
Earth Day. Aprill 22, 2020. April 22 2020
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY
Earth Day. An interesting day during this COVID-19 quarantine. Think of it, though. Haven’t you noticed how clean the air is, how delicious the breeze smells, the quiet, the numerous calls of birds? In a very curious way, our lockdown is benefiting the earth, and let us celebrate that!
COVID-19 is also an opportunity to slow down and consider how effective we were when we could just jump in a car and go wherever we wanted. Did we savor moments, friendships, practice time? Did we have time to simply sit and think creatively?
Well we sure do have that time now!
At Flute Pro Shop we are using the time to reconsider products, services, and protocols.
We have been a fan of E-Cloth for at least a year. I use the product around the house almost exclusively. One day, after ordering for my own personal use, yet another call came in regarding cleaning and sanitizing the flute in a safe way.
It was an “ah-ha” moment. Putting both the product and the need together was right there.
You see, E-Cloth is densely woven so that you can eliminate 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses from surfaces using only water! How perfect for musical instruments! We began using E-cloth glass cloths at flute events. They cleaned the flutes immediately into a bright shine. This is especially good news for wooden piccolos and headjoints, for which alcohol is damaging.
Cleaning other surfaces, that we do not ordinarily think of, became quickly necessary with COVID. The E-Cloth general-purpose cloth can safely clean the outside of your case and case cover. The E Cloth glass cleaner and polishing cloth is perfect for the outside of your flute. A little spritz of water on the cloth and you can whisk away any germs that might linger.
That brings us to the next product we have fallen in love with. The Spit Sponge. The Spit Sponge is dual purpose: the top side of the pad dryer is ultra-absorbent and is for the pads themselves. The other side of the dryer-and this is super exciting-cleans the tone hole! For all of us multi-tasking fans, this is a dream come true.
It dawned on us that conscientious flutists would want all these items in one easy to manage place that is portable. An instrument cleaning kit was born! The contents are: E-Cloth glass cleaner and general-purpose cloth, hand sanitizer (proceeds benefit Veteran Dogs) Spit Sponge (2 in a pack), 2-oz spray bottle for water, alcohol prep pads, just because, all in a convenient kit. You can find all of these items either singly or in the flute cleaning kit pictured below at www.fluteproshop.com where 10% of all online purchases will go directly to the Red Cross for the Covid-19 Medical relief program.
From all of us to all of you, stay safe, stay clean, stay well and keep practicing!
Provocative Pairings at Flute Pro Shop. March 13 2020
Self Care at Flute Pro Shop! December 13 2019We are introducing our new Self Care section at www.fluteproshop.com.
FMC Flutes Available at Flute Pro Shop! February 25 2019
FMC FLUTES AVAILABLE AT FLUTE PRO SHOP!
It was a very friendly and polite email from Japan. The gentleman requested that I consider adding FMC flutes to the FPS inventory. We frequently receive emails like this, so I was skeptical. With so many options in manufacturers, why bring another one in?
When I auditioned the first FMC flute, I was astonished. You get a bit jaded with trying new flutes, especially when attributes are overstated. From the first note I knew these were special flutes, unlike anything we had in the inventory.
I will be writing quite a bit about FMC, and will provide history, manufacturing techniques and more. But for now, here is what Alexandra Conway, flutist in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, has to say about them:
How did you learn of FMC flutes?
I was searching for a new flute with a completely open mind. I tried anything I could get my hands on, probably over 100 flutes, from a wide variety of makers, in an attempt to find MY flute. I had some great advice not to look at any of the specifications of the instruments before trying them and I did my best not to even try to guess while playing the instrument what it might be and only to focus on the sound and the feel of the instrument. I was lucky that a flute shop in my area had a couple FMCs. I was immediately drawn to the sound and the feel of the instrument. Although I could find very few details about the flute at the time, I was hooked and have never looked back.
What qualities of sound do you find in FMC flutes that are unavailable in other flutes?
In the interest of full disclosure, it has been quite a few years since I have really tried other instruments so I'm not totally sure what some of the newest flutes have to offer. What I love most about my FMC is the resonance in the sound. Most flutes have "dead zones" where you have to really work to get that ring in the sound. The masterful construction of the FMC has eliminated that for me and I find the instrument to be incredibly even throughout the range. Despite the abundant resonance, FMC's produce what I would call a compact sound with lots of core and in-tune harmonics.
How is the scale of the FMC flute?
The scale is pretty much impeccable. It's not quite like any other flutes that I have tried. Problem notes for many flutes (C#, Eb et cetera) are not a problem for the FMC.
What are the challenges you face in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and how does the FMC flute assist you with them?
In Winnipeg, we play a wide variety and vast amount of repertoire and experience some of the most extreme weather conditions in North America. My FMC allows me to be flexible enough to play such a vast repertoire and the construction is so stable and reliable that I don't have to worry the crazy weather will send it out of adjustment.
You play in many other ensembles. Is the FMC flute flexible enough to go from orchestral playing, to chamber music, and on to solo works?
In a word, yes. I can produce any sound I want on this instrument. It has the range of colors and dynamics to accommodate any style of playing. At this point, it's hard to imagine playing something else.
Thank you, Alex! I am sure there will be many more fans of these wonderful flutes!
Email: email@example.com to set up your very own trial~
NEW MINIATURES! January 04 2019
There was a difficult point in my life during which the only music that made sense to me were the Brahms German Waltzes, Op. 39. At that time, I was doing a great deal of freelance orchestral playing, and I would listen to these little gems endlessly as I drove up and down the Mid-Atlantic. I considered I-95 my middle name.
As time has gone on, I have grown to understand that quite often a simple work, played well, is the only answer.
And so, when Louis deLise agreed to the New Miniatures project, I could answer this need in the flute repertoire. Inspired by so many of Flute Pro Shop’s customers who have come back to the flute after 20-30 years away from the instrument, I asked Louis to write these pieces to be playable, sophisticated, and with some of the jazz, pop, and rock idioms at which he is so skilled. These are true gems: perfect forms, beautifully crafted, each with a beginning, middle and end. When playing these, you have the sense you are telling a story. This is in part because the titles are a verbal description of the musical implications. “Early January”, for instance, starts with the holiday hangover, then moves into energy and ends with the spirit of, “let’s make this the best year ever!”
Anne Sullivan, harpist extraordinaire, adds her own creative phrasing and exquisite timing to this three-way project. She has ensured that the harpist can approach each piece with confidence, while maintaining the fresh harmonic language and rhythmic subtleties that are so much a part of Louis’ compositional technique.
The project encompasses 12 miniatures which are released once a month. The score, parts, and recording will be released on the 11th; available until the 22nd. Then, poof, they will go away. Every three months, a volume of 3 printed score and flute part will be available for purchase, published by ALRY. By the end of the year, there will be 4 volumes of miniatures, and a CD compilation will be released. Anne Sullivan and Joan Sparks will provide performance guides.
These are our combined 2019 gifts to you! Enjoy them, perform them, make them yours!!
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.
National Flute Association Convention | World Premiere | Salone del Astor | Louis Anthony DeLise | August 01 2018
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.”
Nor'easter SALE at Flute Pro Shop March 02 2018
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
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.
Flu Year Resolutions January 30 2018
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! January 11 2018
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.
Sarah's Space November 29 2017
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
SPARX -Flute & Harp Duo | COMMISSION CELEBRATION & WORLD PREMIERE by Daniel Dorff! September 16 2016
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.
“When I’m 64….” September 05 2016
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 August 12 2016
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.
Blizzard Jonas 2016 with Flute Pro Shop's PAN-o-METER January 21 2016
Greetings from ground zero for Winter Storm Jonas, aka The Blizzard.
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.
“The December eBay Amnesty Flute Repair Special” December 03 2015
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's Scary Story Contest Winners! November 12 2015
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
SPARX Flute and Harp Duo | Joan Sparks and Anne Sullivan November 03 2015
5 years and 32 feet long.... July 03 2015
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….
A bouquet of flowers. June 19 2015
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.
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.
- Page 1 of 2