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Flute Talk – An Interview with Julee Kim Walker

I’m so thrilled to have Julee Kim Walker, flute professor at Texas A&M University – Commerce, as my guest on the blog today. An amazing musician and teacher, Julee shares her passion of music with young flutists everyday.

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Flutist Julee Kim Walker remains an active performer and pedagogue in the DFW and Texoma regions. She is the newly appointed Instructor of Flute at Texas A&M University – Commerce starting Fall 2012. Prior to her appointment, she held teaching positions at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Grayson County College, Eastfield College, and the University of North Texas as a Teaching Fellow. Ms. Walker received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Currently, she is a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) at the University of North Texas. Ms. Walker has served on the Board of Directors in the Texas Flute Society, and the Oklahoma Flute Society, and is the Director of the Texas Summer Flute Symposium.

Ms. Walker’s primary teachers include Terri Sundberg, Tim Day, Karl Kraber, Christina Jennings, September Payne, Helen Blackburn, and Elizabeth McNutt.

She resides in Rockwall with her husband, a trumpet professor, and 3 cats named Samson, Delilah, and Trouble.

What inspired you to play the flute?

I remember watching the TV show “Who’s the Boss” in 5th grade. There was an episode that featured actress Alyssa Milano playing the flute. I remember thinking it was shiny and had a beautiful sound, and that I was going to play flute in 6th grade!!

What are some of your favorite pieces to perform?

The Great Train Race by Ian Clarke is one of my most favorite pieces to perform. It requires high energy and is so fun to perform. The response from the audience is always overwhelming….it is definitely a crowd pleaser!!

I also enjoy performing the Hue Fantaisie. It explores a wide range of technique, lyricism, and tone color on the flute.

What about your students? Any favorites they seem to flock to?

My students seem to have an affinity towards Ian Clarke’s music. Specifically, many of them are interested in performing the piece Maya for Two Flutes and Piano this semester.

I also have students who really enjoy performing Francis Borne’s Carmen Fantasy – a familiar melody with lots of flash!

If a high schooler where expressing interest in studying music in college, what advice would you give them to prepare them?

Know that even though music is something you enjoy, it is hard work. It takes perseverance and dedication to be a successful musician. Know that being a music major requires extra responsibility.

Take advantage of any music theory courses offered in high school. A lot of times, freshman students come into college with no music theory background, and seem to feel lost the first semester of theory.

What are some practice tips that have helped you on flute over the years?

I’ve heard this tip many times – simple yet so true. SLOW PRACTICE! Oh and, use a metronome!

Here’s the one everyone asks me – how do you perform and not get so nervous? Any tips for kicking out the nerves at auditions or performances?

The best way to overcome performance anxiety, in my opinion, is to do it often. Our body’s natural defense mechanisms will kick in when we feel pressure when performing. You have to become familiar with yourself…how does your body react to that particular situation? How does it make you feel? Once you are able to identify these things, you understand yourself better, and you feel more in control. Don’t forget to take some deep breaths before playing, but most importantly, feel the music and let it take control.

Who are some of your favorite flute performers? Is there one that really inspired you more than others?

Emmanuel Pahud is my absolute favorite flute performer. I recently saw him perform live and was absolutely inspired by his level of musicianship, along with his flawless tone, technique and lyricism. His playing speaks to your soul!

What’s the most fun thing about being a musician and/or your job?

The great thing about being a musician is that, your job is never predictable. It keeps you on your toes, whether it be performing, gigging, teaching, or practicing!

If I were to turn on your iPod or radio, what would I most likely hear?

I enjoy Top 40 hits, but my favorite bands are the Punch Brothers, Muse, and Radiohead (all 3 of which I have seen perform live very recently!)

Tell me about the upcoming flute symposium. What can flutists expect the week to be like? Who are some of the performers/teachers this year?

The 3rd Annual Texas Summer Flute Symposium will be a week filled with recitals and masterclasses with Guest Artists from all over the US. It will also include flute choir, chamber music and electives, ranging from instrument repair to piccolo classes. We are very fortunate to have the following Guest Artists join us this year!

John Thorne is the new Professor of Flute from Northwestern University in Illinois. He was previously the Associate Principal Flutist of the Houston Symphony for 20 years.

Terri Sundberg from the University of North Texas will be joining us again this year! She is one of the most well-respected pedagogues not only in the state of Texas, all around the world!

Conor Nelson from Bowling Green State University will be gracing us with his presence…..he is full of energy and students will absolutely enjoy his teaching and playing.

And last but not least, Areon Flutes, a flute trio from California, will be joining us with their trendy, avant garde performances. Can’t be missed!!


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Upcoming Summer Flute Events

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Here are a couple of events I just found out about that would be awesome to go to:

Flute Frenzy 2012
Allen High School
July 23-27, noon – 4:00pm each day
Only $115

Special Guest: Dr. Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at University of North Texas
(her Flute Etudes Book is the high school All-Region book)

To Register: www.allenisd.org/Page/180

Summer Seminar, Flute Pedagogy
with Dr. Pamela Youngblood and special guest Gary Schocker
June 27-28, 2012, at Texas Women’s University, Denton, TX
Concert 7:30, June 28

To Register: Email at music@twu.edu or call (940) 898-2500

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