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!
There are two season changes that challenge flutes and their owners. Spring and Autumn.
As the first day of spring approaches this week, let's review the most typical problems associated with the atmospheric changes, and how to keep your flute in great working order.
For most of us, at sometime in the next three months, we will turn off the heat off in our homes, and shortly turn on the AC.
It is said that in the North Eastern US the typical relative humidity in our homes during winter, is down around 10%, which is rather like Death Valley. That's why the floor boards shrink, static electricity is such a problem and house plants need much more water. The pads, shims, and spacers that keep your flute regulated react by shrinking. This is why a flute, which has been working perfectly fine in January, shows up needing repair in April.
To help your flute make the adjustment, take just a few precautions:
1. Completely swab out the inside of the flute each time you play, and use pad cleaners at the end of the day. We recommend Flute Flags
for swabbing, as well as any of the high quality BG France products. BG France's
Universal Pad Cleaners
work much better than the standard cigarette papers to keep pads dry and stable.
2. Put the flute in its case
every night, as soon as you have finished for the day.
3. Let the flute come to room temperature before putting any hot air into it either by warming it up or by playing it.
4. Store your swab in the exterior pocket of your case cover. Not a good idea to put the moisture (ie spit) you've just taken out of the flute and put it on top of the flute, and then seal it in the case.
5. Store your flute on a shelf or in a drawer. There is a nasty pest called a Pad Bug, a cousin of the carpet beetle, that will literally eat your pads. They are tiny insects, but if you are putting a flute away for a while, and store it on the ground, you may have unwanted guests in your case and an unplayable flute when you take it out again.
6. Never let a well-meaning (but inexperienced in flute repair) band director try to balance the pads or regulate the flute. Countless examples of the problems this causes come through the shop door every Spring.
7. Piccolos: here we have some real issues involving wood and its care. Be extra careful in playing the piccolo only once it is at room temperature. Swab it out frequently. Keep it out of sunshine and fast moving cold air. Make sure you put it in its case every night. These little guys are so small it is tempting to leave them on your music stand or on a shelf.
Here is a good rule of thumb: if you are under stress, so is your flute! Solo and Ensemble coming up? Senior Recital? Audition for summer programs? The big end of year orchestral concert and you are slated to play the 1st flute part in Daphnis? Make a repair appointment at least 3 weeks in advance of the big day. The extra practice you put in during this time of the year stresses your flute and its adjustment. Anticipate this and avoid the nasty last minute rush to get your flute repaired. It WILL happen if you have the mind set of Scarlett O'Hara, "Fiddle dee dee. I'll just worry about it tomorrow." The problem is, tomorrow is the big concert.
Of course regular maintenance will head off any major problems, especially if you have noticed problems occurring in specific times of the year. I have a flute that always has a problem with the Bb mechanism in the early spring. Knowing that, I have David Kee, the, FPS flute specialist
, gives my flute a check up in April, and I end up avoiding a problem. As always, if your flute is acting strangely, take it to be repaired. The problem will never "just go away." Better to be safe than sorry....
To schedule your appointment with Dave please call 302.479.5000 or email email@example.com
We have all experienced it on both sides of the stage. A concert simply does not go well. The reasons for this are too numerous to count-everything from environmental, to physical, to emotional, to lack of preparation. The great drama of live performance is just that-it is live. And so it is scheduled. Often at a time when one may not want or be able to have to give a performance of stellar proportions.
So what do you say when your colleagues don't play well? How do you act when you don't?
First things first. Concerts require great courage and mental toughness. That is the given and something to always keep in mind. Respect is the least any performer deserves simply for getting up there and taking the risk. Few other people in any other field would have the guts to do so.
So, there you are at the reception, and your dear friend and colleague is putting on a brave face knowing he/she had just had a sub-par performance. Do you:
a. Say: well done, slap them on the back, and lie to their face?
b. Say: gee so sorry you just blew the evening?
c. Say: I really enjoyed your accompanist?
d. Defer talking about music with: What a great outfit!?
e. All of the above?
There are a couple of instances in which I did not meet my own standards. In one, my teacher at the time said, "I am so sorry. I know you play better than you just did." While that was difficult to hear, it cut to the chase as to how we were both feeling, and cleared the air for a frank and helpful conversation about the situation and why I would never ever put myself in the same position again
Another time I played the wrong fingering in an orchestra concert during a very exposed phrase. It was the kind of thing when you try so hard to match the pitch of your colleague-who was my teacher at THAT time-you play his note fingering instead of your own, and the result is ghastly. It was an Eb. Go ahead and try fingering the high Eb, and use the air as in a middle Eb. You will see just how horrible it was. I just wanted the stage at Avery Fischer Hall to swallow me. Two remarkable things: No ONE flintched. No one else in the section, the conductor, the audience. I wondered if I had actually done the dastardly deed! But at the end, another player said to me, "It's OK Joan. I don't think anyone outside of the section noticed." He was perfect: acknowledged the error,and comforted me at the same time. This happened decades ago and I am still grateful.
So how do you act when you have not played well? Sulk? Crawl off the stage? Don't show up at the reception?
First and foremost: give yourself respect. Standing up and playing is an act of courage, remember? No one on the stage plans to play or perform badly. We are all human, and that means we make mistakes. And as adults, it is difficult to be as prepared as we ideally would like. I often tell my students that if anyone wants to judge them, let that person live their life, and then play a concert flawlessly.
Now, we are not talking about blatant lack of preparation. But I am sure, dear reader you are not one of those. Why? Because you are most likely a flutist, and as such, most likely to be a "Type A" personality. As such, you would never not be prepared. You know I am right on this one!
So if there is a problem in a performance, and you need to help your colleagues through the awkward moment in the receiving line, use a distraction. Try:
a. I loved the acoustic
b. Wasn't the counterpoint interesting in the Prokofieff?
c. My accompanist, colleague, fellow performers are so much fun to work with!
d. How about those Phillies!
e. And this is the best: I'd love to have a crack at that fast movement again!
Complaining about conditions reflects badly on you. Why did you accept the engagement? Complaining about colleagues also reflects badly on you! Why do you feel you have to work with such idiots?
These few suggestions will make it so that you save face regardless of the situation, and never become the stuff of skuttlebut.
Good luck! Play well! Have fun! And be generous....
Snow has been a big part of my life recently. It was the reason I got one of the most memorable and sincere compliments in my life. Last week, while snowed in in Cleveland, I practiced my flute in my hotel room, getting a great deal accomplished because there were absolutely no interruptions. It was lunch time, so I put the flute away, and opened up the door to my room. A warm and friendly grinning housekeeper said, “Was that you playing the flute?” I said yes, it was. “You is GOOD!” came at me, with an even bigger smile. She made my day, and I told her so, gratefully.How often is a compliment so sincere and so heartfelt? This will stay with me for a very long time, and fueled much more practicing after lunch.There is only one appropriate response to a compliment. “Thank you.” Thanks to my Grandmother, this was ingrained into my conscience at a very early day. “You will receive many,” she would say, “learn to be gracious.”You see, if someone likes your flute playing enough to compliment you, they are, by definition, a genius. Accept that.If you demure, and say, “Well, it wasn’t my best.” Or-“Really? I didn’t think so.” You are telling them they have no taste. Refer to the previous paragraph. Why would you ever tell a genius they have no taste? “Gee Mr. Einstein, I really blew that high D. Didn’t you hear it?” Imagine.There are many comments you can make if you don’t think you played your best. I like these: “Great acoustic!” “The audience was so appreciative.” “I liked how they laughed at my jokes.” “The pianist is awesome.” “My shoes sure were comfortable.” And so on. That way everyone leaves feeling good about the conversation, and you can obsess over every cracked note on your own.There are 3 people to whom you should admit a less than stellar performance: your teacher, your parent, or your significant other. Don’t burden others with your negative thoughts.Next challenge: What to say when a colleague has a bad performance.
So, this Delaware girl (me) shows up in the greater Cleveland area without the means to sweep off her car and no boots during the first week of February. Clearly “lake effect snow” is something I have not been really aware of as I have sat snugly in the Mid-Atlantic region for most of my life.
Much to my dismay, when I woke up to 8 inches of snow Monday morning in Marietta, OH, the realization of my omissions was to say the least, uncomfortable. Fortunately the hotel had a broom that I could use to brush off my trusty Trailblazer. In the shoe department I was on my own. Flats soaked through, car cleaned the best I could, I headed off to the next destination through still more snow.
And, after two days and two stops, I ended up in a hotel at the Cleveland Airport. Where I sit, currently stranded by even more snow. Good news: I now have a broom and snow boots. It’s just the campus that was to have hosted my presentation closed today. It will happen tomorrow. Or so we think…
I had a very lovely day. Finally enough time to practice certain projects in a methodical, uninterrupted way! Getting to email, some of it a week old! Phone calls!
Fortunately there is a restaurant in this hotel. Note to self: always book hotels with restaurants in February in “snow belt states”. Yet another foreign term to yours truly.
The guests in this hotel, all of whom landed in the small restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, became chummy. After all, we had much in common: stranded, frustrated, and we had to eat. Bored eventually by our smart phones, we turned to each other for companionship and conversation. The whole room buzzed with it at dinner a short while ago.
Next to my table at dinner were two gentlemen from the south, as I could tell by their conversation. I busied myself with my wings and wine, and then one of them said, “Delaware”. As in, “Remember that power plant in Delaware?” Well. I could not let that go. I chimed in: I’m from Delaware.
And so the conversation unfolded. Marty and Mark were consultants for power plants which were looking to convert from coal power to natural gas. Turns out Marty, who grew up on a farm in South Carolina, had trained to be…
…an opera singer.
What fun that was, to hear the story of a farm boy whose mother insisted he and his 4 siblings take piano lessons. “I didn’t much take to the piano. But I could sing.”
He sang in all sorts of productions in his home town and beyond. Opera, musicals, choruses, church soloist. So when I told him about my business he related right away.
I learned a great deal about power plants, and that coal power is much cleaner than we think, and that much of US coal is shipped to China. I explained the global nature of flute manufacturing. And when it was all over I had two new friends, two new business cards, and two places to stay the next time I was in northern most South Carolina. Suddenly, being stranded had its advantages.
On Sunday, we at Flute Pro Shop hosted Lev Levit and David Houston from Levit Flutes as they presented us with an overview of their fine flutes, manufacturing approach, and an insight to the engineering that goes into the production of a fine handmade flute.
Levit Flutes sent three flutes for all of us to audition the week prior to their arrival. The Levit Standard gold flute with sterling keys was my personal favorite, but then I play on a gold flute. I was very pleased with the compact, complex quality to the sound, quick response, and ease of articulation. The pinless mechanism is very silky and the scale very even throughout the range. The Levit Standard silver flute was brighter than the gold flute, in a well balanced and easy to nuance sound. The third flute sent to us was a Kingma System flute. I can’t pretend to know how to best utilize this flute. The key work is complex and beautiful. I was impressed with how the additional keys didn’t interfere with traditional fingerings and how facile the keys were. There is a little added weight, but it was not a negative factor for me.
Lev and David also brought along an instrument that was in process. All the metal parts were placed on a table, and we could see the construction of the flute from the tube to the ribs, posts, steels, keys, springs, and so on. Completely fascinating to see the flute “undressed” like this, and also how lightning fast David, Lev, and our David Kee could assemble the key work.
It takes 100 hours to make a flute. At Levit Flutes, Lev does all of the flute making, while David finishes the flute. They explained that the engineering and initial assembly is empirical, while much of the finishing is intuitive. The balance of the two ways of thinking was apparent in the conversation between David and Lev. They both had answers to our questions, but their approach was sometimes dramatically different. The discussion was often very lively and fun.
What was wonderfully apparent was the passion with which each partner brought to the flute making process. That, and the deep knowledge they each had for flute making.
Lev is the protégé of Bic Brannen, and reflects deep respect for the great flute maker. The scale and headjoint design can be traced back to the legendary Albert Cooper. The key work was designed by Bic Brannen for the Oston-Brannen flute. As Mr. Brannen says, “No flutist seeking to purchase a premium quality instrument can afford to make a decision without first trying the Levit Flute”.
Here at Flute Pro Shop, we are proud to promote these fine flutes, and the men behind them!
|Flute Pro Shop Presents
The Levit Flutes Roundtable with Lev Levitt and David Houston .
Sunday January 12 , 2014
3612 Silverside Road, Wilmington, DE
2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
The design specs, metals, headjoint cuts and other innovations will be discussed.
Flutes will be available to examine and play in a Roundtable setting.
Refreshments will be served.
Seating is limited, so please make your reservation early!
Call 302-479-5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t miss out on this unique flute experience!
Recently, a well-known flutist who was traveling with 11 flutes made out of various woods had the instruments confiscated and destroyed (allegedly) by a US Customs Agent.
I travel frequently with many instruments, and have yet to experience anything remotely this disastrous, but have certainly had inconveniences and ill-informed TSA agents running across security holding 2/ 14 karat headjoints, exclaiming, “Guess what these are made out of??” True story. More than one time.
Here is what I have learned about domestic travel and traveling abroad with instruments.
First and foremost, your instrument should not travel in checked baggage.
And here is the rest:
Place your instruments in their own bin, one layer deep only. If they are piled up, you will be asked to step over to the exam table and the instruments will be swabbed with a dry cloth. Avoid this if possible. We know TSA is protecting us all. But rarely do they know the proper protocol surrounding opening a flute case.
The X-ray may not be able to “see” inside a wooden case. I will never again travel with any wooden case for flutes or headjoints. It is wise to have a travel case if you have a wooden case as your primary case.
The best solution? Any of the Wiseman
cases. Even if they are opened incorrectly your flute will stay securely in place.
As your instrument(s) go through the scanner, let the TSA Agent know that these are musical instruments.
I also do not put a metronome in a case cover or near the flute. Just my own personal precaution.
Avoid stowing your flute in the overhead compartment. It gets very cold up there. Your flute could go out of adjustment very, very fast. This happened to me as I was on my way to do one of the very early Web broadcasts from Chicago. Until I had played the flute for about an hour, I had no low register!
I always carry a gig bag. Here comes another story: I left my flute on a parking lot tarmac one cold and rainy evening at Clarion University in Clarion, PA, while I changed out of my good concert shoes into driving/rain shoes. The next morning, the biology professor turned the flute into security, but only after I had called from each exit of the PA turnpike to inquire about it. Yes, this was 1989, before mobile phones! A gig bag is too large to miss, or at least in my case, this is a mistake I only made once…
To completely ensure the safety of your instruments, and to avoid delays at Customs on either end of the trip, make sure you have filled out the proper paperwork at your local Customs office prior to travel.
The required form is titled “Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad”, Form No. 4457. Before traveling, visit the US Customs Service in your area. Along with the instruments you will be traveling with, bring proof of purchase and your passport. (Flute Pro Shop will be happy to send you a record of any instrument purchased from us.) List your instruments, makers, serial numbers, purchase price. The customs service will stamp it, and you are good to go. I stow this form in my Passport wallet just in case. This service is free, or in some cases a small fee is required.
The link to this form is: forms.cbp.gov/pdf/CBP_Form_4457.pdf
Remember, foreign repairs ARE dutiable. In addition to Form 4457, be prepared to show the receipt of the repair work and proof of payment.
Perhaps most importantly, treat the TSA Agent and/or Customs Agent with respect and politeness, regardless of how you are treated. They may or may not return the favor, but you will no doubt avoid unnecessary delays by behaving with dignity!
“I wish I had your life!” the very attractive and friendly woman said from across the Flute Pro Shop exhibit table at the flute festival last weekend.
My thought was, “Really??”
She had been following the FPS Facebook page, and seen the places I had been, the people I had been with, and the beautiful instruments that come in and out of the shop, she explained.
That evening, as I was once again in residence on I-95 North, I thought about that exchange. I began to feel lucky, and realized that what I do is an adventure, that no two days are alike, and I have a business that I look forward to going to everyday.
What makes it so rewarding? The customers! The incredible flute teachers all over the country. The performers who are setting the bar higher and higher. The folks at Flute Pro Shop who take care of things so I can travel and meet more wonderful people.
I live for the special smile a flutist flashes when the perfect flute is in their hands, and the way they cradle the case in their arms after the sale is made. I love the look of pride on the parents’ and grandparents’ faces that their child can make such a beautiful sound.
The other day, a long suffering little brother came into the shop while his sister tried piccolos. And yes, one must make sure that high C speaks readily! The little guy accurately pinpointed the best piccolo for his sister, making the same assessments I was making. A little humbling to be sure. But he was spot on and very proud of himself. He wants to play the saxophone someday, and I am quite sure he will be very good.
While I have sharply reduced my own teaching schedule, Tim at FPS has increased his. The improvement I hear week after week through the walls is amazing, and something I’m not sureTim as a teacher can tell, as he is so close to the process. A youngster who in September had no idea of how to play an F Major scale is now touring the circle of keys with ease.
How about the instruments Dave Kee restores to perfection? The gratitude of customers who have their beloved instrument back in top shape is wonderful to see. We often hear, “I never thought it could sound this good!"
Of course I get tired of driving, especially when I-95 is doing its best impression of a parking lot (NOVA comes to mind) And don’t get me started on TSA security regulations which require only one layer of instruments in each bin at the security screening... And there are those times when it can be impossible to please some people no matter how hard we all try.
But all in all, I think the woman I met last week is correct. I have a great life and rewarding work, and how can you not love that?
Flute Pro Shop's Snow Day Survival Guide
Hello all you fans of snow, ice and days off! But then there are times when we all have had enough. Enter Flute Pro Shop with our exclusive Snow Day Survival Guide. A sure fire cure for a dose of cabin fever.
Start this early in the A.M. and you’ll feel saintly by the end of the day. Comfortable clothes are recommended.
1 set of 10 reps at your most comfortable setting.
1-mile brisk walk on the treadmill (or ‘dreadmill’ as my friend calls it.) No treadmill?
Walk up and down a flight of stairs 20 times.
30-minute flute practice:
Long tones and chromatic scales/an etude/a new piece for you!
Upper body stretches
15-minute flute practice:
Any etude that is a challenge, or orchestral excerpts/standard repertoire that may have become rusty for you.
Repeat an additional 2x.
Guaranteed to make you exempt from shoveling! (At least that’s how it works at Flute Pro Shop.)
No snow in your region of the country? No problem! Choose a location that gets lots of snow—like Buffalo, NY or better yet for this year, Alaska—and ‘adopt’ it. When they get snow, you do too—virtually, of course.
Celebrate the Snow!
My neighbor invites us over for Brandy Alexanders the evening of the first real snowfall (it being Delaware, we haven't had one yet: snowfall or Brandy Alexander...) and it has become one of my most-cherished traditions. Take this opportunity to meet or get reacquainted with your neighbors.
I always keep the ingredients for chili and cornbread on hand for the above occasion. Check out the next blog for a copy of my favorite chili recipe, and by all means, use it to create your own tradition!
Advice from the Animals
There is nothing more enjoyable than watching dogs frolic in the snow. My two Labradors love it!
Watch your pets and try not to smile. Better yet, throw a bumper for them and give them a piece of puppy heaven. Take a Nap. Enough said!
What a mess.
Once the generator is running and you have a little light, read that travel book you’ve had on the coffee table since 2006 and enjoy pictures of the Caribbean!
Learn New Music
Prepare for the inevitable with the purchase of some exciting music.
Here are some of my favorites to get started:
Joseph Jongen: Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 77 Fabulous, and your technique will improve from the practice of this fine piece.
Boosey & Hawkens: Anthology of Flute Music (Composers include Harty, Lees, Gorecki, Del Tredici, Alwyn & Butterworth.) Some wonderful works that are not always in the standard repertoire.
Pizzolla: Histoire du Tango for Flute and Piano, Guitar, or Harp. Wonderful, evocative works that will make you think of warmer climates.
Khachaturian: Concerto for Flute and Piano. Originally for violin; fabulous for low-register articulation.
Geisiking:Sonata for Flute and Piano, editied by Trudy Kane. A real gift to the repertoire and destined to be a standard.
Gaubert: 3rd Sonata for Flute and Piano. Not for the faint of heart!
All of this music is in stock at Flute Pro Shop. Please email: email@example.com to order!
Snow Day Flute Party — Woot!
Invite your flute friends over and play fun games like
~Nail that Scale,
~Scale Roulette, or
~ Last Flutist Standing!
Look for all the rules in the next Blog!
Now that you are all set and prepared for your next snow day, share some of your snow survival stories with us. Comment on this blog, or post them on the Flute Pro Shop Face Book Fan page.
This week, the instrumental music business was given two incredible gifts:
- In a show of support for their Baseball Teams in the World Series, the Brass Sections of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra collaborated to produce an hilarious and brilliantly played medley of tunes including “I can do Anything better than You” and “Take me out to the Ball Game”.
- The Ohio State Marching Band did an astonishing job on the field in two different shows. In a tribute to Michael Jackson, the entire band “moon walked”. Later, they formed two battle ships, one representing OSU and the other University of Michigan, and the Ohio sunk the Michigan. All this while playing their instruments at a very high level indeed.
Here we have two organizations who know how to make their art forms personally relevant to millions of people.
I had to ask myself, “What am I doing to make this art form relevant to the community at large?”
So I am issuing a challenge to me and all of us in the world of instrumental music, regardless of genre: what can we do to make this art form personally relevant to one person each day.
- Share the video of the Brass sections supporting their baseball teams on Facebook.
- Share the video of the OSU marching band in the same way.
- Share anything that is universally appealing involving instrumental music.
- Talk about why you love to play your instrument to absolutely anyone who will listen.
- Involve family members and friends with your progress, new challenges, new and exciting music.
- Form a club that goes to concerts, operas, and ballets.
- Consider commissioning new work based on ideas that are currently relevant. There are few things more exciting than this!
- Take a friend to a concert. If you are a musician, point out what is going on, give some back story, and let them know who you know on stage.
- Start a new instrument, or simply change your equipment and write about it in any of the social media outlets.
- Join the board of any performing arts organization.
Let your passion for our art form show, act on it, bring people into the joy and beauty and power of instrumental music, and you know what? Your world will be a better place, and so will ours!
Ok. It's been out for a long time. Yup. I am a klutz.I was born that way. It manifested itself very early on. If there was anything in a room to trip over, my toe would find it. If there was an icy patch on the sidewalk, I would be down for the count. Learning to ride a bicycle was a long and bruising project, as was roller skating.
In the 9th grade during a basketball drill, I tripped over my feet, fell down face first, and broke my two front top teeth. Ever seen yourself with out teeth? That's when I cried. The school nurse suggested I avoid soup for lunch, called my mom, and said it was really a minor thing. Then I talked to my mother. She heard the lisp, called the dentist, and next thing I knew I was in the chair. My dentist was very young, and had the nicest blue eyes...
The process was very long and involved because the objective was to save the roots of the teeth and crown them. Such adventures with those temporaries! Running down the hockey field, chasing the ball, oops! Out fall the temps. Off to the dentist for a new set. French class, and saying "du" resulted in the teeth flying across the room. Home Economics. Stirring peach jam. I asked for the timer. Plop. Into the bubbling peaches. Hello Dentist. Band was a nightmare.
And then there was the horror of all horrors: I had to take the teeth out for swim practice. No one ever saw me smile at the Brandywine YMCA pool.Just so you know, my front teeth are housed in lovely permanent crowns.
But even those were not totally safe. Five years ago, starting a trail walk with my sister and my yellow lab puppy, she said something funny, I bent over, doubled up in laughter, just as the puppy bounded up to share the joke. Bam! His skull impacted my front tooth, and out it popped, landing under a car. My sister became very pale as I retrieved it and wanted to continue the walk. She insisted on driving me to...the dentist, who was still very attractive...Enough about my teeth, and on to even more fun adventures. How many times would I be given an orchestral bow, only to get halfway up and realize my long black dress was caught under the chair?
Or the time I tripped over something and landed into a dishwasher. It is now part of family lore: "Hey! Remember the time Joanie fell into the dishwasher!?"
At least I can be entertaining.
So here I am at age 61 and still a klutz. I had real proof of this two weeks ago as we were debarking from the Stenna Line Ferry in Harwich, UK. The gangway was very long, and down hill. I was being helped along by my 48.3 lb suitcase (a whole story in itself). Did I see the wet patch on the plastic coated floor? Nope. My left heel went out from under me, and wham! I impacted the floor, landing with all my weight on my right elbow. (Today the bruise is a greenish yellow.) So I am lying on my back, and as I look up, 6 or so cyclists, dressed in their best spandex, helmets and biking shoes, looking very concerned indeed, said in their charming British accents, "Are you quite alright?" My thoughts? 1. do my fingers work? And 2. How can I make this moment last?
This personal history has resulted in my policy to never walk anywhere with my flute out of the case.
Here's why: It was a concert that involved six of us: a soprano, tenor, yours truly, an oboist, cellist and an organist.The venue was a church with a marvelous marble floor. We were walking out to the applause to start the concert, and I realized the soprano was moving too slowly for the rest of us to make it onstage while the applause lasted. I pulled out to pass the soprano. Oops! My leather sole slid on the smooth marble and there was a gasp as I stumbled and got myself into an upright position. Lesson learned: long dress + high heels +14 Karat flute = potential disaster.
So if there is a klutz in your life, enjoy it! Life will never be dull, and you will always have someone who looks even sillier than you!
After having been in Europe for two weeks, it is time to get back into concert shape both on the flute and in how my clothes fit!
Last week, I practiced each day, and was astonished at two things: how unlike myself I sounded a week ago, and how much like I sounded like myself yesterday!
What a relief, especially as I had many dreams of not being able to play the flute while I was traveling.
The winning combination seems to be: Power Lung; lots of low long tones; slow, careful scales of all types. And my old standby: Taffanel-Gaubert 17 Daily Exercises.
Another reason for my desperate attempt to regain concert shape: the Flute Spa set up for next week with my friend and colleague Mindy Bowman.
Flute Spa day activities feature: playing through all of Taffanel-Gaubert. Ha! We will start out day at 10:00 with coffee and the first half of T-G, or to the end of No. 8. Then lunch at our wonderful Corner Bistro downstairs (we will have wine), getting back to T-G and No.'s 9 to 17, followed by a chair massage by the incomparable Ginny Fisher.
Want to join us? We can all participate virtually, and share our experiences! Compare aches and pains. See what revelations we have at the process.
Have you noticed that when events are tightly controlled, and people are expected to be at their very best, and are nervous about doing so, the most hilarious things happen?
As a musician I have been in many occasions that call for just that. I have been part of the actual situation, as in a concert or recital; or I have been in a more observational vantage point, as in events like Weddings, Christenings, Funerals, Art Openings, corporate events, and once, the ceremony in which a woman was made a full Army Colonel
Today I am reflecting back upon the time in my career during which I would play upwards of 60 weddings a year. In addition to being very labor intensive in the planning stages, there were many hilarious or ironic situations that could come up at any point in the process.
Even early in the process. Like the time a groom asked us to play Rite of Spring for Flute and Guitar.
Let me share one of my all time favorites ceremony stories,
This happened in Southern Delaware, where weddings are a very big deal indeed. The actual ceremony took place in a beautiful historic chapel. It was the autumn, just getting chilly, so everyone was in long sleeves, including the bride. Hers were satin.
The wedding party enjoyed champagne on the way to the chapel.
My harpist and I were playing the Prelude music, and kept going and going, well past the intended ceremony start, until the wedding planner gave the signal to begin the Processional. All happened as planned. The Mothers entered looking lovely, the handsome Groomsmen lined up appropriately, the brides maids processed beautifully, and the Father and the Bride came up to their places in front of the church. The bride was a bit wobbly, but that happens.
Until she fainted. Dead away. Down into the center of her hooped satin gown. As her frantic father and equally frantic intended husband tried to get a grip on her satin covered arms, she melted further into the hoops. Finally, in a last ditch attempt, they turned her on her side, where upon the hoops did what hoops do: they retained their hoopy state, and the poor bride was more exposed than she ever had dreamed she would be.
Oh-we kept playing background music as I tried my hardest not to laugh. You cannot laugh and play the flute. I know-I've tried-it does not work.
The bride was escorted to the sacristy, and a little while later came back to the ceremony and was duly married, pale, but otherwise unharmed.
None of us who were at that wedding will ever forget that event.
I am not the only one with a limitless supply of funny stories. Please share yours, and we can all enjoy these moments when all the planning in the world does not work at all.
At Flute Pro Shop, we are always looking for the highest quality products for ourselves and our customers. So when the opportunity to bring Martin Gordon headjoints on board, we jumped at it. These fine hand made, hand cut headjoints are the perfect way to modernize an older flute, or to bring a new sound dimension to a newer flute. They are very different than American or Japanese headjoints. The tone has a broader range of harmonics, and a strong fundamental pitch, and supports loud and soft playing. Depending on the flute, the articulation and response are very fast. They work the best, for us, on Powells and Miyazawas, and are excellent on Sankyo, Trevor James and more.
And, as I am always watching out for the style factor, Martin Gordon's crowns are distinctive and lovely.
We are showing them in the shop and on the road, so satisfy your curiosity and try them out!
Today, Flute Pro Shop, Inc., turns 3 years old.
July 10, 2010 is the day that I made Flute Pro Shop my full time occupation.
it was 2 distinct sole proprietorships: me as Flute Pro Shop, and David
Kee as Musically Sound, sharing shop space which we "inherited" from
Vince, a Buffet Clarinet dealer.
both businesses became busier, and more intertwined, we made the move
to incorporate in April of 2012. This simplified bookkeeping, billing,
inventory and more. Plus, I am now in a business partnership with a
person whom I greatly admire.
In fact, I admire all of the people here at FPS.
why: they all share the same dedication to quality, integrity, and
service to each and every client that is so important to Dave and me.
Time and time again I witness everyone pulling together to serve our
clients with the very best we have to offer regardless of their standing
in the flute world, their purchase level, or if we stand to lose money
on a situation. Phone manners are impeccable, follow up is considered
important, and interaction with the clients consistently puts the
client's interest at the forefront.
the scenes, we have a very positive and supportive culture. When I
travel for long periods of time, I know that the FPS staff will give
clients the same time and attention that I would have. Emails and phone
calls will be answered, people who ship flutes informed their beloved
instrument is in the shop safe and sound, and precious flutes are
packaged to exacting specifications.
So, how to celebrate?? An all-new web site!
friendly, easy to navigate, bright, clear, beautiful photos, and so
much more. In fact, as I write this, I realize that the web site
reflects us all at Flute Pro Shop! Quality is our hallmark, and this
web site is exactly that: a quality experience for all who enter.
visit the site, let us know your thoughts, browse at your heart's
content, be inspired by a flute, and join with us in the love of this
great instrument that has given those who play it, service it, and care
for it so much joy.
And for my husband and I, that means the
farm in Wells, Maine. We load up the Labradors, the humans, all sorts
of beach stuff, and head north. In about 7.5 hours, we are in a little
piece of heaven, here in southeast Maine.
sounds of traffic are rare, the bird calls frequent, the wild turkeys
abundant, and where the Labradors can run free through the hay fields.
years ago, some of the land around this property was sold to create a
country club and golf course. Then the recession hit and the project
was abandoned. How quickly the forest took over what had been cleared!
There is a mountain of top soil that is now covered with trees and
underbrush. We counted 15 abandoned earth movers, tractor trailers,
trailers, paving machines, a steam roller, all scattered in the field
across Burnt Mill Road. What an eyesore and waste this all is.
back here at the farm, we don't see much of that at all. We are
shielded by the remnants of an apple orchard, rolling hills, and a white
clapboard house about 1/4 mile away.
are honed by years of visiting here with our dear friends. Early on, it
was just the 4 of us, sometimes accompanied by friends. Then the
babies came, and we had quite a group. There was the annual play the
kids put on, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, trips to Dad's Ice cream,
Boogie Boarding, canoe trips, and more.
Beach time is a
big deal around here. It is hard to think that there is another beach
more beautiful than Drakes Island Beach. When the tide goes out, there
is a broad beach of hard sand, making it perfect for bocce ball, a
fiercely competitive game in which we use a tape measure to assure
accuracy! Long walks down the beach are a must. Early in the AM, the
Labradors enjoy a swim and a fetch at the beach, where it is a canine
Then there are the great towns of Kennebunkport and Ogunquit, where the food and shopping are excellent.
since it is raining and cool, we will go to Freeport, ME, and make the
annual visit to L. L. Bean and begin holiday shopping.
great fun of this is that we have shared this vacation time with dear
friends for decades. It is wonderful to spend time with a friend who
knows you so well, who understands the non-verbal communications, who
respects your space, and can tell when it is time for me to go to the
Laundromat (when the kids were with us it was how I got a little
solitude) This is the only friend I have like this, and I treasure
this precious time with her.
We can go other places
for summer vacation, and for some years we did, but a week each summer
in Maine remains a tradition that we cherish.
Just a little breather before NFA....Oh no! Now I have to practice....
Running a flute business is a fun and fascinating thing to do.
Everyday there is a new person to meet, a beautiful new instrument
coming in or going out of the shop, another story told. We share many
of these stories here, and invite you to comment and enjoy!
Link to previous blog posts: http://www.fluteproshop.blogspot.com/