Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Introducing: Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive!

I am so super excited to announce our first-ever Wyoming Summer Flute Intensive, designed for serious flutists grades 8-12, taking place at the beautiful UW campus in Laramie June 9-11, 2017. This has been a fantasy of mine for years now, and I hope we will see students from far and wide attend!

This short, intensive program is designed to prepare students for serious high school study and, eventually, college auditions, and it segues beautifully into UW's long standing Summer Music Camp, but it works great as a stand-alone kick start, too.

My friend Rachel Bergman and I will lead students through the following schedule:


Noon: check in and registration begins
3pm: Welcome, Establishing a Breathing and Stretching Routine
4pm: Building a Better Tone
5:30pm: dinner
7:30pm: Faculty Recital

8am: breakfast
9am: stretches/breathing/tone
10:30pm options: Piccolo Basics OR Conquering Performance Anxiety
12pm: lunch
1:30: How to Practice
2pm: Articulation Class
3pm: Master Class
5:30pm: dinner
7pm: Open Mic Night: everyone plays!

8am: breakfast
9am: stretches/breathing/tone
10:30am: supervised practice
12pm: closing remarks and picnic lunch

You can read all about it and register here. Housing is affordable and tuition is free for all. And of course, contact me if you have questions at nicole [dot] riner [at] gmail [dot] com. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Choosing the right college for you.

Having just survived another audition season and round of acceptance letters at University of Wyoming, and having also initiated a handful of these conversations with my own graduating students, the topic of school shopping is very much on my mind right now. Prestige is something, but there is so much more to a school, and the fancy name on your future degree won't keep you happy every week if you have found yourself studying with the wrong person, in the wrong environment, or the wrong subject matter for you. I hope this may be helpful for those of you who are just starting this process, as well as those of you who are still finalizing it!

Your flute studio is your family for the duration of your degree and, hopefully, your entire career!  And how lucky are you to get to choose your own family? So for those of you just starting this process for next year's applications, some crucial things to consider...

I.  Research.  Look online for materials like syllabi, audition requirements, and other info about the studio, the teacher’s activity in the field, etc.  A teacher’s bio will give a sense of what “flute family” s/he comes from.  Do this before you email!  Don’t ask questions that are already answered. 

II.  Communicate: Contact the flute teacher and ask specific questions that pertain to you (size of studio, number of graduate students, where do graduates go afterwards).  General questions are virtually unanswerable. Your prospective future teacher should be willing to communicate and do so in a timely manner. It’s a portent of things to come. 

III.  Visit.  Contact flute teachers ahead of scheduling a visit.  See if you can get a lesson and/ or sit in on a current student’s lesson.  Ask for contact information for current students. Sit in on studio class, ensemble rehearsals (not just the elite ensembles, but the one you are most likely to play in as a freshman), and music theory/ history classes being taught that day. Get a feel for the musical community you might be joining. 

IV. Don’t be shy.  It's hard, but do it. Visit the practice room area and approach flute students who are not in the midst of practicing.  Ask them what they think of the program, what they think the differences are between the various majors, what they think of their flute teacher, etc.  Friendly students will be surprisingly candid.  Unfriendly students will not make pleasant colleagues. 

V.  Decide what’s most important to you.  Flute teacher, strength of academics, music ed. placement, location, etc. This seems obvious, but until you have a philosophy on how you will judge schools, you're going to be all over the place, mentally.

VI.  Prepare the audition thoroughly! Find out what the music requirements are as early as possible  (scour the websites before asking) and work diligently to prepare so that you play your best.  Schedule other performances of your audition  pieces (solo and ensemble, a recital, playing at your church, etc.) beforehand to build your confidence, and recycle as much literature as possible from one audition to the next. 

Good luck!

Nicole Riner ©2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My trip to Northern Mississippi!

Some of you know that I also keep another for-fun blog, DrinkFoodTravel, in addition to this flute-centric one. Sometimes those two worlds intersect, and it is a great privilege to travel so much for work, affording me opportunities to see new parts of the country, meet wonderful flutists, and of course, eat delicious food. Here's a run-down of some of my favorite stops on a recent trip I made to visit the flute studios at Delta State University, Mississippi State University, and University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).  I also performed with some of my colleagues from Flute New Music Consortium at the inaugural Music by Women conference at Mississippi University for Women.Thank you to all of these hosting flute teachers for your generosity in letting me work with your students, and thanks Shelley Collins for the fab t-shirt (see below)!

Cleveland, MS:

The Grammy Museum Mississippi
800 W Sunflower Rd, Cleveland, MS

Mississippi Grounds
219 S. Court Street
(662) 545– 4528
Coffee House with great breakfast burritos and a killer cappucino

Mosquito Burrito
301 Cotton Row
(662) 843-4822
Fresh-Mexi Cuisine for the hipster student crowd

Hey Joe's Cafe & Record Shop
118 E. Sunflower Rd, Suite C
(662) 843-5425
I didn't try the gourmet burgers, but the local craft beer menu was impressive.

Starkville, MS:
Nine-twentynine Coffee Bar
106 E. Main Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 268-8014
Not only beautiful inside, they will make coffee however you can imagine for it to be made.  The pour-over was divine.

UMI Japanese Cuisine
315 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-5258
Two tasty rolls for $6.95 for lunch? Yes please.

Lost Pizza Company
325 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 324-0050
Chewy crust and a plethora of toppings, this is a local favorite with several locations across northern MS.

The Little Dooey
100 Fellowship Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-6094
If you want a proper plate lunch, this is the real deal.  Suggested by a local, I do not regret the gut-busting plate of spicy pork, potato salad, and turnip greens that kept me full for over 24 hours (see below).

Oxford, MS:

Burns-Belfry museum about African American history:
710 Jackson Ave. East
Oxford, MS 38655
Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 and Wednesday through Friday 12:00 to 3:00
Admission is free

Civil Rights Monument on campus:
University Circle,
University of Mississippi,
University, MS 38677

I did more wandering than eating here, but the local chain deli Newk's on campus was actually super delish.  The Square is also a great downtown area for shopping and eating, it would seem, but alas, I had to hurry back to a rehearsal in...

Columbus, MS:

Harvey's at 200 Main Street (VISIT WEBSITE
I can you now that the Cajun Pasta (very much like Crawfish Monica) was fantastic.  Upscale Southern food with a varied bar. 

Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts Exhibition. Visit www.muw.edu/as/art/gallery for information on this and other W exhibits.
Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm. The exhibits are free and open to the public.
1100 College Street MUW-70
(662) 329-7291

Other restaurants recommended to me by locals, but which I did not get to try, include

121 S 5th St
Columbus, MS 39701Phone number(662) 327-6500
Cajun/Creole: great fried green tomatoes

Jackson Square Grill
1927 U.S. 45
Columbus, MS 39701(662) 328-8656
Big on seafood and with a great brunch

Hana Korean Restaurant and Market
4226 Mississippi 373
Columbus, MS 39705
(662) 434-8881
Cheap and comforting stone pots and curries

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Music Review: Escape by Ryan Woodhouse

I loved this piece when I first got it and still hope to see more people program it!  Listen (this excellent performance is not by me) here.

Ryan Woodhouse
©2013 Potenza Music

In the front material to Escape, composer Ryan Woodhouse writes that “Music possesses the amazing ability of transporting its listener to a beautiful world of sound where the pressures of everyday life can be momentarily forgotten.  The escape that music can provide is the inspiration for this piece.”  This rather general description really does not do the pieces justice; Escape is an eight minute emotional roller coaster ride for the audience, taking us from a hazy fog, to intrigue and sheer fright, and on to a dreamy lyricism that makes this a very compelling addition to a collegiate or professional recital program.

The piano part is often minimalist in approach, switching from one vamp to another, while the flute in turn growls, shrieks, slides between pitches, and floats to a mysterious end.  There are some simple extended techniques used very sparingly, including pitch bends, flutter tongue, and humming while playing.  Range in the flute part goes from low C to high G, and rhythm/meter is standard for an advanced undergraduate player.  The tempo remains slow throughout, but the flute part sometimes breaks into fast chromatic and tonal fragments over the piano’s steady, repetitive part.  The piano part is not particularly technical and fits easily with the flute part, requiring minimal rehearsal time for more advanced performers. 

Woodhouse’s ability to evoke so many varied, convincing moods in a short period of time is laudable, and Escape is a thrilling piece to hear.  It is a wonderful addition to the repertoire. 

Nicole Riner ©2016

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Commissioning new music: a guide to get started

This is a preview (and hopefully helpful resource for later!) of the presentation I am leading on behalf of Flute New Music Consortium at the Music by Women festival March 3-4 in Columbus, MS. If you're in the area, I hope you can come!  Some amazing music by Nicole Chamberlain, Amber Beams, and Kay HE will also be performed. And some of this information will be presented again, in round table form with composers and commissioners, at NFA in Minneapolis this summer!

Funding Ideas for Commissioning Projects:


Aggregate Sites:

American Composers Forum: composers forum.org/programs/commissions-awards-grants-fellowships

BMI Foundation: www.bmi.com/foundation/

Musical Online: www.musicalonline.com/foundation_grants.htm

Barlow Endowment for Music Composition: barlow.byu.edu/Pages/index.html
Things to know: There is one commission prize every year for an LDS composer, and another one every year for the general public; since requirements are so open-ended, this is a very competitive application.

Carnegie Corporation Aggregate Site: carnegie.org/grants/grants-database
Things to know: Grants here often require a special focus and/or educational content, so read about the grants first, then tailor your project to the required language.

Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program: www.chamber-music.org/programs/classical/grants#1408
Things to know: must be a member of CMA to apply; the director of the program is very hands-on, so make contact with her as you develop your proposal to see if she has any suggestions for making it better.

Things to know: There is no strictly classical music category, just a general “performing arts” group, and integration with other artworks is an important element to the projects they fund.

National Endowment for the Arts: www.nea.gov/grants/apply
Things to know: highly competitive; if you are writing for a grant through your school, only one application per school per year, is accepted, so coordinate with your school director to ensure you are qualified.

Local and stat arts organizations often have either specific grant applications for artists or discretionary money for intriguing proposals.  Must be a member of the organization to apply.  To look up your state and region, go to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies: www.nasaa-arts.org

Go Fund Me: crowdfunding.com (No limit required, no penalty for not reaching goal)
Indiegogo: indiegogo.com
Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com (Financial goal must be reached in order to collect)
Rocket Hub: www.rocket hub.com

Finding Composers:
American Composers Forum: composersforum.org
Composer’s Forum: composersforum.ning.com
Cornell University Composers Forum: music.cornell.edu/calendar/composers-forum
European Composers Forum: composersforum.eu
UNT Composers Forum: music.unt.edu/students/composers-forum
Washington Composers Forum: www.washingtoncomposersforum.org
Young Composers Forum: www.youngcomposers.com

Composers for Performers, Performers for Composers: www.facebook.com/groups/2439162951
Group for New Music Ensembles and Composers: www.facebook.com/groups/182679433724

Background Information

Bios from every ensemble member and the composer

Ensemble bio that proves some history as a performing entity

Include composer’s and ensemble’s resume (or performer’s individual resumes if an ensemble resume is not possible)

Copies of the front pages of the composer’s and grant writer’s passports to prove citizenship (if this is a requirement for the grant)

Sample works

Sample programs from the ensemble

Sample recordings, generally 2-3 each from the performing ensemble and the composer (there will be time limits imposed and some requirement that a percentage of this recorded material is live and unedited)

Sample scores from the composer, professionally bound

Details of the Project

Composer’s description: Include as much detail as possible, particularly the length and instrumentation of the proposed piece. Description of structure, inspiration for the piece, and special requirements for the performance are helpful to include here if possible.

“About the project”: how does the commission relate to your programming, why have you selected the composer, and what (if any) is the history of your creative relationship?

Projected premiere: when, where, how…

Copy of your agreement with the composer

Financial Details

Create a budget that justifies your financial request, including projected fees for the composer, ensemble honorarium (CMA suggests $1,000 / performer as a maximum), and copying costs. Research the grant’s allowable range sty within it!

Excel spreadsheet of your ensemble’s operating budget is sometimes required (CMA)

Nicole Riner ©2016