RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Practice

The Five Day Flute Workout

The Five Day Flute Workout CoverIt’s here! The Five Day Flute Workout! Go to my new website, The Flute Stop, to sign up for the newsletter and get your FREE copy. If you’re already a subscriber at The Flute Stop, I’ll be sending a free copy out with the December newsletter, so don’t worry!

The workout book is designed to help you go through all your major scales and arpeggios, plus get in a full workout of high to low tone builders and flexibility studies each week, all in one place! Let me know what you guys think!


Summer Practice Challenge


Backward Scale Practice Challenge:

  • Try practicing your scales by starting on the highest note of the scale first. Play down two octaves, then up two octaves.
  • Practice each one all slurred, all even eighth or sixteenth notes, depending on your level.
  • Use a metronome to help you build speed.
  • Try this with all twelve major scales.

Good luck! Let me know how you do!

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.


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!!


4 Tips for Building Speed on the E minor “Elegie-Etude” by Donjon

The All-Region audition is getting closer. Here are some tips I’ve shown my students to help them build their speed on the “fast etude” for this year’s Texas All-State Auditions. I hope they help!

1. Chunk by Chunk

  • Practice small chunks at a time, say two or three lines. Gradually increase your speed.
  • Start with a comfortable metronome tempo. When you can play the entire section easily without flaws at this tempo, bump the metronome up one click (generally 3-4 beats per minute depending on your metronome). Repeat, gradually increasing your tempo over the next few weeks until you reach your goal tempo.
  • Try piecing the chunks together a few at a time near the end of each week.

2. Use Alternate Fingerings

  • For measures 26-33, use the alternate F# fingering for all F#s in this section.

  • For measures 18, 19 and 20, you can leave your third finger on the right hand down as you play the first two groups of 32nd notes of each measure. Look for other measure that might work like that for you!

3. Daily Repetitions

  • Building speed takes time. The more daily repetitions, the better. It will probably take you many weeks to reach reach goal tempo. So start today – don’t wait!

Procrastination + Fast, Unsure Fingers = Fall Apart at the Audition.

4. Three Points of Balance

  • Check your balance points as you play. Are you putting too much pressure on the right hand? Or too much on the left? In order to play fast and fluid, you need to have equal pressure and balance between each hand.

  • Exercise: Try holding your flute with only the three balance points. At first, the flute may roll backwards on you. That means your not putting enough pressure on one of these three points. Practice over a bed or couch (for your flute’s safety!). When you can keep the flute from rolling backwards using only these three points, you’ve got your flute balanced!

Good luck building your speed, and good luck at the audition!

7 Tips to Surviving the All-Region Audition


The feeling of crickets hopping around in the pit of your stomach. Secretly wanting to throw your flute out. Wishing you’d miss the bus to the audition so you don’t have to play for the judges.

Sounds like the All-Region auditions are closing in on you.

Everyone goes through those nervous moments. The key to surviving and conquering them: preparation. Check out these seven tips to crush those annoying crickets. And maybe in the process, you might end up with a chair in the coveted All-Region Band.

  1. Practice Today: Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not when you win the lottery (wouldn’t that be awesome?). It’s always today. Procrastination never works.
  2. Routine Works: Set a practice schedule and stick to it. If possible, practice during the same time of day. Find a quiet room, free of distractions like Facebook, texting and TV. Use the Musician’s Practice Journal app for iPad and iPhone to help you log your time and activities. And don’t forget to use a metronome.
  3. Technique, Technique, Technique: Play your scales and arpeggios everyday. This will give you confidence and enhance your technique. The etudes are made up of tons of scales and arpeggios.
  4. Tackle the Tough Stuff: Mark the hardest measures, then practice them everyday, at least 5-10 times each. If there’s a crazy hard run, do the same thing. You can even break your etudes into manageable chunks to practice more efficiently. Check out Three Secrets to Efficient Practicing for more tips.
  5. Relax: Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Don’t demand perfection – allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and keep going. If you start dwelling on the bad stuff during the audition, you’ll wind up making more mistakes.
  6. Give Yourself Time: Get a good night of rest. On the audition day, eat a healthy breakfast. Drink water plenty of water. Dress comfortably. And get there early to have ample warm-up time.
  7. Enjoy the Music: Find the beauty in the notes. Try to express the music on the page. Isn’t that what makes the flute so amazing?

“Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail.” ~ Sir James Galway

For more reading:

2012 Texas High School All-Region Etudes Announced

Flute Etudes Book, Mary Karen Clardy, European American Music Corp. or Schott

Etude 1:
Page 14-15, E Minor, Elegie-Etude
Tempo: Quarter note 56 – 66
Play: m. 9 to m. 33-1st note
Errata: m. 7 and m. 32, beat 4 should be marked as a septuplet..
m. 13, the dynamic marking mf should be placed one note later- after the breath mark (posted 7/20/2012)
m. 19, the dynamic marking of p, should be placed one note later after the breath mark(posted 7/20/2012)
m. 30, the fourteenth and fifteenth notes should be G# and F-natural like in the upper octave.
m. 33 there should be D#’s and A naturals in both octaves on beats 3 and 4. (revised 7/20/2012)
In m . 11 – PICCOLO – play the 6th through 8th notes and the 21st through 23rd notes up an octave (posted 7/20/2012)
M. 18 and M. 20 – sharp on the note 8 in the measure (D#). (posted 7/20/2012)
M. 19 D# should be in all octaves so an accidental should be applied to the 5th,12th and 16th notes of the measure. (posted 8/2/2012)
M. 21 – needs a sharp on note 7 in the measure (C#).

Etude 2:
Page 68-69, Eb Major, Op. 80 / 3
Tempo: Quarter note 48 – 60
Play: Beginning to m. 42 (no repeats, take second ending)
Errata: M. 20 – The C-flat is as marked on beat one. There is no error. (posted 8/2/2012)

Etude 3:
Page 37, B Major, Op. 30 / 11
Tempo: Dotted quarter note 54 – 72
Play: Beginning to end (no repeats)
Errata: The second ending is incorrectly marked as measure 17. It is actually the second half of measure 16, but the music can be numbered after this acknowledging this error.

So You Want to Be a Music Major? Interview with Dr. Sydney Carlson

If you’ve been considered majoring in music after high school, what do you need to do to prepare? I’ve asked my former university professor, Dr. Sydney Carlson, to share her perspective on what you can do to be ready for the next level.

Dr. Carlson is currently the professor of flute at Portland State University and a member of the Portland Opera Orchestra. Throughout her career, Dr. Carlson has been on the faculty of University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin. Her students have been accepted for further studies at Yale, Cal Arts, the Curtis Institute, Rice, Baylor, the Paris Conservatoire at Versailles and the Boston Conservatory. She has performed with various orchestras and chamber groups around the world, including 15 seasons with the Houston Grand Opera, and holds music degrees from the Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University and the University of Houston. In addition, she has studied flutists Byron Hester, Bonita Boyd, and David Shostac, and performed in the master classes of Julius Baker, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Robert Aitken, Samuel Baron and James Walker. She has recorded on the Mark, Delos, Albany, Guild, CIEM, and Urtext Digital labels.

What is the difference between a university music program and a conservatory program?

Both have advantages. At a conservatory, you are immersed in a highly charged musical atmosphere. Universities can have more varied opportunities and allow students to change majors easily. Some universities have highly acclaimed music programs, for example, Indiana University, Northwestern University, Rice University or Boston University.

What are the advantages of local music school programs?

Instate tuition and local auditions cost less. You can also meet the teacher and see the school very easily.

Does attending a summer music program have any advantages for prospective music majors?

When you go to summer programs (like flute symposiums or workshops), you can talk to other students about their plans and the teachers they like. You can also get a feel about the teacher and how they feel about you. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, so be sure you “click”!

You may want to take a trial lesson with the teacher as well. Make sure to thank them with a card or email afterwards if you do.

If a flutist is auditioning, what do they need to know?

An in person audition is always best. However, taping the first round audition can save you money in the long run. If you go this route, plan early, secure a location and pianist if necessary, and work with a professional recording engineer. Allow yourself at least two sessions to record your audition.

After your audition, following up with a thank-you note or email to your prospective teacher is a great way to build a positive relationship.

What preparation tips do you have for prospective flute majors?

  • Take private lessons all year. Get used to practicing!
  • Take piano lessons in high school.
  • Take the music theory courses offered at your high school.
  • Participate in your school band and orchestra programs.
  • There are community programs, such as Youth Symphonies, Solo and Ensemble contests and studio recitals you can participate in.
  • Research prospective schools during your Sophomore and Junior years.
  • Attend Summer Programs and trial lessons during your Sophomore and Junior years.
  • During the summer going into your Junior year, choose schools and plan your audition repertoire
  • Start learning your audition repertoire during the spring of your Junior year.
  • Remember, you’ll have auditions early your Senior year and recordings to make, so early is better.
  • During the fall of your Senior year, make audition tapes and perform your repertoire with your pianist.

Full Biography
Highly sought after as a performer and teacher, flutist, Sydney Carlson joined the faculty of Portland State University in 2008. Currently a member of the Portland Opera Orchestra, she has appeared with the Oregon Symphony, Portland Ballet Orchestra and Portland Chamber Orchestra. She is a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. While in Houston she performed frequently with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet Orchestra, and contemporary ensemble, Musiqa.

Dr. Carlson was previously on the faculty at the University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Her students have been accepted for further studies at Yale, Cal Arts, the Curtis Institute, Rice, Baylor, the Paris Conservatoire at Versailles and the Boston Conservatory.

She has served on the faculties, of the Texas Music Festival and the American Festival of the Arts as a chamber music coach, flute teacher and recitalist.International appearances include concerts in Mexico in the cities of, Xalapa, Veracruz; Mexico City and Merida She was invited to join the American Sinfonietta as principal flute on a tour of Europe and at the Bellingham Festival in WA.  In 2009 she made her recital debut in Guangzhou China.

Sydney holds degrees form the Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University and the University of Houston. She was privileged to study with Byron Hester, Bonita Boyd, and David Shostac. Additionally she has performed in the masterclasses of Julius Baker, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Robert Aitken, Samuel Baron and James Walker. She has recorded on the Mark, Delos, Albany, Guild, CIEM, and Urtext Digital labels.