Of course singing and playing is a topic we continue to visit in class. We worked through a standard Taffanel and Gaubert exercise, playing an ascending pattern and singing the descending pattern. This practice requires anticipating the pitches that are to come, but also knowing which octave to sing in for your vocal range. While doing this, Robert brought up the idea of mentally placing yourself in a concert hall with an audience of your biggest fans when you’re practicing. This exercise not only encourages a big sound, but it helps overlap some of the mentality between practicing and performing.
Continuing with the Karg-Elert Op. 107 studies, we talked through 14 and 16. Number 14 is a great etude to practice French tonguing. The forward tongue combined with high “umlaut” vowels accommodate quick staccato passages quite nicely, which is exactly what 14 is. The French tonguing may also be combined with the more American low “ah/aw” vowels for legato notes. (If the high vowel shapes are maintained outside of staccato settings, the resulting sound may be wiry.) Number 16 is great practice for the different tongue and vowel combinations. And, of course, using the abs as support behind the sound and tonguing is key. When the tonguing is too quick to give a full ab burst for each note, it is steady ab support that works best.
Robert showed us his transcriptions of two Paganini caprices. He talked a bit about his process of arranging the pieces for flute and he also played through them for us. He shared that some of the multiphonics require very intentional throat tuning so as to not add “crunch” to the harmonic language.
Our main repertoire focus for the day was Flying Lessons 3. The first line of the second page starts with key clicks. For the most projection, initiate the action from the wrist. Related, check out Jim Schmidt's gold flute pads; they’re an investment, but Robert says they last forever (even with the amount of contemporary playing he does). Continuing through Flying Lessons 3, following the key clicks there are two large-interval multiphonics. For the Bb and F set, it works best for me if I focus on playing a loud Bb (the lower pitch) and letting the overtone F appear from that. That isn’t always consistent for me though, and in those moments, Robert suggested rolling my bottom lip out while bringing my top lip down to better focus the air stream. There are more large-interval multiphonics in the second line of the second page; the same technique of striving for a loud dynamic on the bottom note combined with the indicated fingerings will achieve the desired “fast beats” effect. On the other end of the spectrum are the small-interval multiphonics, such as the one at the end of the second line on this page. For this kind of multiphonic, maintain a steady air stream and roll the flute in/out to find both pitches. (Robert has a video explaining different multiphonics types.)
The last line of Flying Lessons 3 is harmonics over singing a single pitch. My “sfff” for the last phrase wasn’t exactly wow-worthy, so that became a teaching moment. Robert basically told me not to settle for what I may consider my “acceptable” sound; I should go for the extremes! It struck me as the type of thing that should be applied to life outside of flute playing. So, take that and run (or prancercise), if you’d like.
A political discussion also occurred. Thanks for the weirdest election ever, America.
- Thanks to two care packages, I now have over 50 granola bars in the apartment
- I dropped off my laundry like a real New Yorker
- Ichi (the cat) consistently hangs out with us now!
- I had a very successful printing experience at a UPS store (after the Staples fiasco, this is worth mentioning)
- I walked by a Harry Potter table/display at Barnes and Noble AND DIDN’T BUY ANYTHING
Until next time!