Saturday, May 27, 2017

Exploring the whole musical package at the Rhode Island Flute Extravaganza

I am super excited to see a new (to me) state as an Altus Handmade Flutes-sponsored guest artist of the Rhode Island Flute Extravaganza June 3, joining Andrea Fischer (Fluter Scooter) and Katy Dorrien in a day of workshops and performances in Cumberland. I've been charged with the duty of talking for one tiny hour about tone, breathing, and expression, which seemed an impossible task at first! But when you think about the linear development of any piece of music, from the basics of sound production to the final musical product, it makes sense.  Here's what I'll be presenting, and if you're local, I hope to see you there! (PS--you're always welcome to use and adapt the materials I share here for your own purposes, and I appreciate your crediting me on any original material you reproduce of mine.)

Spoiler alert: there is a book coming. As soon as I can rub two minutes together to get something more accomplished on it!

Breathing, Tone, and Musicality: Developing the Whole Package!
Dr. Nicole Riner
Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute, University of Wyoming
Altus Performing Artist
www.nicoleriner.info

1. Breathing: You should fill up from the bottom, all the way up until you can’t find any more space to store air. Utilize those little pockets of space in your sides and back, too. Practice isolating different zones to ensure you are completely filling up. Online exercises: search “Breathing Gym” on You Tube.

2. Tone: Move the center of the lips forward as you go higher on the flute or to get quieter, while forming the syllable “ooooo” in your mouth. To go lower and/or get louder, open your mouth by putting more space between your back teeth and pointing the air, with the center of the lips, down into the hole, forming an “oh” or “ah” syllable in the mouth. Keep your corners flexible at all times. Don’t roll the flute inwards or outwards to achieve different octaves or pitches, but make your lips do it instead. Practice octave slurs, “diamonds”, and harmonics every day for maximum flexibility in addition to chromatic long tones.

3. Expression: A clear idea of where each phrase begins and ends, with one goal note per phrase in mind, is a good starting point. Then, let your dynamics, tone color, depth/speed of vibrato, etc. communicate that phrase shape. For example, by itself, this is a pretty boring passage:


But with some help from you, it can become quite meaningful:


Notice how the crescendos give a sense of climbing to these ascending arpeggios. Put a (*) over one goal note per phrase, indicated by a complete set of < >. Make sure that note is your sonic peak, in color, dynamic, and depth of vibrato. And what about?...


Accented phrases have a muscular feel, while staccato (and later slurred) phrases create a more playful counterpart, as if the soloist is alternating between a march and a light waltz. Be very thoughtful to consistently perform the dynamic and articulation that’s written.
Now it’s your turn: go back up to the first example and pencil in some of your own original markings. How will you clearly communicate them to your audience?

The following material is excerpted from my forthcoming Book, The Flutist’s Expression Workbook. Please contact me at nicole [dot] riner [at] gmail [dot] com to purchase a copy. All material on this hand-out is ©2017, Nicole Riner.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

lessons from Robert Dick

World-renowned new music specialist and all-around genius Robert Dick did a three-day residency at University of Wyoming last month, and he was inspiring on so many levels.  As the host, I got to spend the most time with him drinking wine and driving between Denver and Laramie (not at the same time), so what he said in front of the students and what he said to me has gotten all mixed up in my brain.  But it was all a consistent message, and I will just leave a few of the most precious bits here for you to do with what you wish...

*Playing the flute and making music are not necessarily the same thing. There is a level at which you are merely a technician, and then there's the level beyond that, in which you use your technical skills to actually say something with the sounds you are making.  You must always strive to be at this level. 

*We are all actors on the stage (and I would add, to some extent, in the studio).

*Listen, listen, listen.  Not just to that one piece you are learning, but to all things related to it, however tangentially.  Listen for pleasure, but with awareness.  Listen because this is your art.

*Learn who you are and what you want from your musical life and make it happen; don't just force yourself to fit into a ready-made, imposed formula.

Also, please listen to his latest CD, The Galilean Moons.  It is amazing. Can you wear out a CD?  I might be halfway there. 


Thanks for everything, Robert!!

Robert performing Flames Must Not Encircle Sides at University of Wyoming, April 23, 2017.

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:


Friday

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

Saturday
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!

Sunday
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
http://www.grammymuseum.org/explore/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
www.mosquitoburritoms.com
Fresh-Mexi Cuisine for the hipster student crowd

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


Starkville, MS:
Nine-twentynine Coffee Bar
VISIT WEBSITE
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
VISIT WEBSITE
315 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-5258
Two tasty rolls for $6.95 for lunch? Yes please.

Lost Pizza Company
VISIT WEBSITE
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
VISIT WEBSITE
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