Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wyoming Saxofluticon is in one month!

Hey middle school & high school flutists in Wyoming and Northern Colorado!

Our ninth Wyoming Flute Day / Saxofluticon is happening ONE MONTH from today at University of Wyoming.

Here's the sales pitch:

Wyoming Saxofluticon (formerly Wyoming Flute Day) is a day-long celebration of all things flute and saxophone! Run by Dr. Nicole Riner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute at University of Wyoming, and Dr. Scott Turpen, Professor of Saxophone at University of Wyoming, this annual fall semester event includes individual master classes on All-State and All-Northwest audition material for each instrument and general workshops for all, with topics ranging from practicing effectively to conquering performance anxiety and wellness issues like breathing and physical health. Rotating locations ensure that every corner of the state is reached. UW faculty and students perform and serve as mentors throughout the day, and all participants have the option of performing in the flute choir or saxophone ensemble for the gala concert. For ages 13 and up; registration is free, lunch provided.

Deadline to register: Oct. 1

This year's schedule is slightly compressed to accommodate students who also wish to participate in the UW Marching Invitational at the stadium, and here it is:

10:30 All-State master class and instrument specific workshops for flute and saxophone.
11:30 a.m. flute/saxophone ensemble rehearsals
12:30 p.m. Lunch provided by UW Department of Music
1:30 p.m. dress rehearsal
2:30 pm concert
3:30 pm reception in lobby

And here are some cute pics from years past to show you how much fun you've been missing. We hope to see you there! 
Flute Day 2014

Saxofluticon 2016

Flute Day 2013
The flute choir at Saxoflutison '15
Saxofluticon 2015

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Developing your Home Music Studio: A Worksheet

Every August, I invariably end up posting on this topic, because I field so many questions regarding private studio teaching throughout the summer and fall. Perhaps I should get smart and post these pieces earlier; I suspect most of us are too exhausted by the time June rolls around to make much of use of the information until August rent and electricity bills come due (I know I am)! At any rate, I hope this information is timely enough; a private studio is an ongoing adventure, so these actionable items can feed your creative spirits and business-oriented minds throughout the year!

This worksheet accompanies a series of lectures I recorded for iCadenza's Coro series two years ago but can be adjusted to fit your own experiences and environments. I am happy to answer questions as you work through this; just post below!

List all of the locations you could post a flyer advertising your studio (consider community centers, libraries, and individually list all public schools with music programs which include your specialties).

What workshops are you ready to teach in the public schools right now?

List area music teachers’ organizations along with contact information, website, and membership fees.  Put a * next to the ones you plan to join.

Finding a space
Where will you teach? List possible locations and their pros and cons, including what improvements you might need to make to any potential location. This list could include your home, area schools, churches, community centers, etc. 

Designing your syllabus/contract
 Your mission statement--please answer the following:
  1. What age levels do you prefer to teach?
  2. What ability levels do you prefer to teach?
  3. What genres can you teach?
  4. What kind of learning environment do you wish to create for your students?
  5. What are your goals for your students?
  6. List any specific pedagogical interests of certifications.
Other policies--please list the following:
  1. Payment: list acceptable forms, due dates, and late fees
  2. No-show/make-up policy
  3. Required equipment
  4. Expectations for practice (amount of time, quantitative evaluation of preparedness, etc.)
  5. Other (required attendance at performance, required number of performances given, etc.)
  6. What expectations do you have for parents?
Creating an online presence--your checklist
To do in the next four months:
    Name your studio
    Create a logo (check out Canva if you’re not a designer)
    Purchase the domain name for your studio
    Start a Facebook page
    Start a website, including
    bio: approximately one page in length, in Word document terms
    teaching philosophy: one page
    A/V: you could include video or audio recordings, pedagogical videos, photos
    studio policies
    contact information
    resources/links/articles you would like to promote
    calendar of performances/studio events
    payment page
    student accolades page

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Using Social Media to Grow Your Studio

It's that time of year again--school is back in session, and it's just starting to dawn on students that they could benefit from some lessons before honor band audition season (hopefully you'll get them to stick around beyond that). Those of us teaching at the college level are already preparing audition advertising materials for next January and February, and we will begin posting information about scholarships and assistantships next month.

I know what I do, and it works OK, but in this age of ever-changing social media platforms and mores, one can never remain stagnant. So, I put together a panel of young, smart flutists who are doing some really cool things on social media and we held a thoroughly enjoyable discussion at NFA at the beginning of the month. I certainly learned some things, and I put together some of my favorite points the panelists made in this handy table, below. 

For more detailed ideas about developing and advertising your studio, you can also review my previous posts, 

Is it time for an audit of your private studio? Part 1

Is it time for an audit of your private studio? Part 2

*      *     *      *      *      *     *      *     *      *     *      *     *      *
The panelists:
Jessica Banks, flute professor, Mississippi State University

Jolene Madewell, teacher and blogger, Practice Room Revelations

Kallie Snyder, owner, Snyder Flute Studio and creator, The Sound Musician
Instagram: @thesoundmusician_
Facebook: The Sound Musician, Snyder Flute Studio

Brittany Trotter, social media guru for NFA conventions 2017, 2018
Instagram: @brittanyflute
Twitter: @brittanyflute
Facebook: Brittany Trotter

Tech skills developed with some apps to get started: 
Photography and photo editing: Snapseed, VSCO, Adobe Photoshop Express
Audio/video recording and editing: Acapella, Audacity, Garage Band, iMovie
Graphic design:Adobe Spark, Canva, Phont/Vont, PicPlayPost
Web design: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly
Organizational tools: Buffer (schedule social media posts), Google analytics, Google Drive, Planoly

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

2019 NFA preview

It's almost that time of year again, that heady mix of excitement, neurosis, and classmate reunion that is the National Flute Association convention. I know I've shared a lot of this advice before, but it still holds true, and I am particularly hoping my UW students will read it before we caravan out to Salt Lake City next week! Whether you're going this year or not, I encourage you to make it happen at least occasionally (I know it's expensive, but it truly is like nothing else in our profession). If you've never been, some words of wisdom:

  • Bring (healthy) snacks that can act as meal substitutes to save money and avoid missing out over the lunch hour. 
  • Dinner breaks are usually (sort of) built in to the schedule, and if you've never attended NFA, the Myrna Brown Dine-Around is a great orientation. You can learn more about it here
  • Bring layers. Sitting in a heavily air conditioned convention center all day for four days is painfully cold! 
  • Don't be shy.  Approach performers to congratulate them.  We like that, and we won't bite. 
  • Make new friends. Check out prospective teachers in performance and see if you can take a lesson. This is a great networking opportunity.
  • Maybe don't buy a new instrument there?  The exhibit hall is too chaotic to really get to know anything. But do try instruments and gather a list of what you'd like to try in the calm and quiet of your living room after you get home. (Students: play everything for your teacher before purchasing!!) 
  • It is most customary to arrive late and leave early for events because everything is always double- and triple-booked.  Anywhere else it's rude, but at NFA it's mandatory to breeze in and out for maximum exposure. Don't worry, we won't get mad. 
  • You cannot possibly see/hear everything, so don't stress about what you're missing out.  Just go to the things that compel you most. Try to buddy up with someone who wants to go to different events and share notes over dinner afterward. But do go to something every hour if possible!

I'll be doing some performing and some talking again this year, and here are the details:

August 1-4: National Flute Association Convention at Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City UT

August 1 @ 10:30am: Joseph Hallman's Four Pieces for flute and piano on "Fresh Voices"Check out this amazing piece, which won the the Flute New Music Consortium's Competition last fall! Each movement is dedicated to a different composer or artist: Jolivet, Nico Muhly, David Lynch, and Poulenc, respectively. I'll be performing with Katie Leung on piano. 

August 2 @ 1pm: "Using Social Media to Grow Your Studio"I'll be moderating this panel discussion featuring Jolene Madewell (Practice Room Revelations), Kallie Snyder (The Sound Musician), Jessica Banks (bachnbaseball on Instagram), and Brittany Trotter (brittanyflute on Instagram). 

As always, I will also be available for private lessons throughout the week; just email at nicole (dot) riner (at) gmail (dot) com. 

University of Wyoming students, alumni, and fans, we'll be gathering for a UW dinner together (Dutch treat) on Saturday, August 3 at 5:30pm. To join us, just meet us at the registration table. 

And if you're partial to the contemporary world of flute repertoire, come see me at Flute New Music Consortium's annual NFA dinner Friday, August 2 at 5:30pm. We'll meet at the registration table for this one, as well. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Building an etude: practice techniques on Andersen #4, op. 21

Here's a rough video I made recently of Etude #4 from Andersen, Op. 21:
I love the haunting melody Andersen chose for this theme-and-variation-style study, and it provides lots of opportunities to practice creatively. Any of these techniques can be applied liberally to all of the music on your stand, so let's use this as a case study.

First, here's the etude as a free download.

Now, let's come up with something special to do in each section.

THEME: This can either be very captivating or very boring, depending on how much care you give to the music itself.

  • Identify the beginning and end of each phrase (4 measures in this case).  
  • Assign a character, color, texture, mood, whatever works for you, for each phrase. Every single one must be at least a little different, whether it's a variation on a previous mood or a total departure.
  • Experiment with how to produce these elements of your sound to support that assigned character: articulation (working within what's written), volume, color/quality, vibrato.
  • Put an * over the most important note in each phrase--only one per phrase. Every other note must be moving towards or away from that note. 
(PS: always remember this road map and impose it on each of the variations as you see fit!)

VAR. 1 (eighth notes): We're going to play with time here so it doesn't sound too stodgy.
  • Practice strictly in time with the metronome on the quarter note (your chosen tempo).
Now, we're going to start giving and taking time--this must be balanced to avoid creating a steady ritard or accelerando where you don't want it. If you take time on a note in any given measure, you must give it back before the end of that measure! 
  • Move the metronome to the half-note beat. Practice so that you can consistently play it at a steady tempo in this way, always playing beats 1 & 3 precisely with the metronome. 
  • Now, choose one special note every two beats you wish to emphasize. Keeping the metronome on the half-note beat, you're going to stretch that special note as much as you dare while still aligning with the metronome click on beats 1 & 3. 
  • Adjust as you see fit to create a flexible, fluid line that's not too predictable but not out-of-balance. 
VAR. 2 (triplets): More notes=more potential for mistakes! Let's make sure they all get their due:
  • Play only downbeats (assuming a quarter note beat) by themselves, using the mirror.
  • Now play only the second and third note of each triplet, still using the metronome to fill your silence on the downbeats. This will take more practice, both for rhythmical and note accuracy, but will yield perfect confidence on every note eventually. 
  • As you put all notes together, don't forget your phrase shapes (THEME) and your chosen stretch notes (VAR. 1)
VAR. 3 (sixteenth notes): as the number of notes per beats increases, we need to prioritize the moving  notes which represent the actual melody. For each phrase,...
  • First practice playing only the first two sixteenth notes on each beat (the notes that are slurred)
  • Then add the filler (articulated) notes, playing them slightly lighter and quieter than the melody notes.
VAR. 4 (Modulation to E Major): Again, we want to outline the simple melody here, for our listeners and for ourselves, to avoid making this sound like a jumble of notes. 
  • Identify the simple tune (it will be slightly different than the original melody). As I look at the first phrase, I see it as the downbeats of 1, 3, and 4 (first measure), then only the downbeat of measure 2, then  the downbeats of 1, 3, and 4 again (third measure), and in the fourth measure of this variation, downbeats of 1, 2, and 3. In other words, the notes, occurring on downbeats which are a noticeable leap (a 3rd or more) away from the notes around it. 
  • Practice slurring this simple melody many times, playing it lovingly, beautifully, and with great phrase shapes (see "THEME"). 
  • Add the rest of the notes, choosing to make them "filler" as in Var. 3 or swirling notes which propel you forward, depending on their shape and trajectory. For instance, the ascending scale fragments at the ends of measures definitely move forward (swirling), while repeated notes in between the melody notes (as in measures 1 & 3 of this variation) are filler. 
Return to the THEME (last line): how do you make this sound senza espressione, as directed? Experiment with a slightly unfocused sound, using little to no vibrato. But don't forget your special notes--every phrase must have a sense of direction, even if it's very subtle.