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


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.

Escape
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:

GRANTS

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.

ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
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

CROWD FUNDING
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:
POST ANNOUNCEMENTS ON FORUMS
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

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


ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A GRANT APPLICATION
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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. Riner’s Practice Triad of Triumph

It's an "oldy" here at University of Wyoming with a dorky title, but I find myself coming back to this formula again and again in studio class to great results.  In keeping with my post on developing efficient practice habits earlier this month, here's UWYO's good old ...

Dr. Riner’s Practice Triad of Triumph
Tone (45 minutes for music ed./B.A, 60 minutes for performance; 30 minutes for minors)
*First, cover the entire range in step-wise motion
OptionsWye, pp. 8, 16, 21
Moyse, pp. 6-9
Wilkinson, pp. 22-23
Edmund-Davies, 1 exercises from the “Sonority” section, starting 8va, going down to low B
Second, specialize low (do 2 exercises if this is a problem area)
OptionsWye pp. 9-12
Moyse pp. 10-14 (bonus: add articulations to include steps 4 & 5)
Moyse split octaves (from Tone Development Through Interpretation)
Third, specialize high (do 2 exercises if this is a problem area)
OptionsWye, pp. 18-21
Moyse, pp. 15-22
Moyse, split octaves
*Fourth, practice leaps & dynamics to test embouchure (do 2 exercises if this is a problem area)
OptionsWye, pp. 6, 22-23
Wilkinson, pp.10 (#1), 13 (#6), 29-37, 56-58
Edmund-Davies, 1 exercise from “Intervals” section
"Diamonds" + slurred octaves
Harmonics and/ or whistle tones
Fifth, practice articulation
OptionsWye, 2-3 exercises from “Articulation” section
Edmund Davies, 1 exercise from “Articulation” section
Salvo, 5 pages daily
Supplementary: Vibrato
Wilkinson, pp, 46-52
Dr. Chris Potter’s Vibrato Workbook
*Supplementary: Extremes Project, using any simple melodies from books like Louis Moyse’s 40 Little Pieces, rudimentary etude books like Andersen Op. 37, or Gariboldi 30 Progressive Studies or Op. 132, or the “Intonation” section of Wye
*=essential exercises for busy days.
Technique (45 minutes for music ed./B.A, 60 minutes for performance; 30 minutes for minors)
Your time should be spent intelligently on your etude and your assigned scale patterns.  
ScalesYour short-term goal is to pass the semester scale test, but your long-term goal is to achieve mastery over all common tonal patterns for ease of learning and performing music. To this end, it may help to “mix up” your scales now and then so they don’t get stale; just grab any one of the technique books listed below and find the patterns you are currently working on for a different perspective.  
Trevor Wye’s “Technique” section, Paul Edmund Davies’ “Fingers” section, and individual exercises from Geoffrey Gilbert’s Sequences may be used as supplementary exercises after all basic pattern work is done for the day.
EtudesIt is crucial that you woodshed efficiently in your etude; merely playing through it over and over again every day will not get it learned in a week.  Identify problem spots the first day of a new etude, bracket those passages, and spend time woodshedding each one every day.  At the end of your technique practice session, run the entire etude.  Your etude is practice learning music quickly and efficiently.
Repertoire (45 minutes for music ed./B.A, 60 minutes for performance; 30 minutes for minors)
Under this category falls solo music for juries, recitals, and lessons; orchestral excerpts; chamber music parts; and, when necessary, difficult spots in your large ensemble music.  Priorities should be made according to the order listed above. Employ creative woodshedding techniques to avoid the exhausting syndrome of performing a concert every day in the practice room; very little time will be spent running entire pieces.
Books referenced
Tone:
Edmund-Davies, Paul.  28 Day Warm-Up Book. Pub.: Carolyn Nussbaum Company
Moyse, Marcel.  De La Sonorite. Pub.: LeDuc.
Potter, Chris. Vibrato Workbook.  Pub.: Falls House Press.
Salvo., Victor. 243 Double- and Triple-Tonguing Exercises. Pub: Mel-Bay.
Wilkinson, Fiona.  The Physical Flute. Pub.: Mayfair Music.
Wye, Trevor. Practice Books for Flute, Omnibus Edition. Pub.: Novello.
Technique:
Gilbert, Geoffrey.  Sequences and Technical Flexibility. Pub.: Southern Music Company.
Marquarre, AndrĂ©.  Daily Exercises.  Pub.: Southern Music Company.
Moyse, Marcel. Exercices Journaliers pour la flute. Pub.: LeDuc.
Reichert, Matthieu .  Seven Daily Exercises for the Flute, Op. 5. Pub.: Southern Music Company.
Taffanel, Paul and Philippe Gaubert. 17 Grands Exercices de Mechanisme pour flute.  Pub.: LeDuc.


Nicole Riner ©2016

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Talent Isn’t Everything!


It is a common myth that only the most talented musicians “make it” in the music business.  But recent research (which I find so inspiring) shows that natural ability is a small part of what sees people through music programs and on to stable work in the industry.  Instead, hard work and dedication are the most important factors to success. So, if you're into setting New Year's goals for yourselves, look no further than revitalizing your good, old-fashioned work ethic! Best wishes for a fruitful 2017--NR


DESIRE

“Hard work will beat talent if the talent doesn’t work hard.”--Etieno Etuk

Studies conducted in a wide array of fields in the past 30 years have changed what we think makes a person great.  Some researchers now argue that the existence of specific, innate abilities is a myth.  No one is naturally born to do anything.  In studies of successful professionals, researchers have found athletes who were terribly clumsy in childhood and international chess masters with below-average IQs.


PRACTICE

Deliberate Practice (William Chase and Anders Ericsson) states that it takes at least ten years to show results.  Practice must be lengthy,  regular, and intelligently designed in order to lead to improved performance.

Practice Tricks: visit "Tips for Creative Practice" for advice from the UWYO flute studio!

PUTTING IT INTO ACTION: the need for mentors

The teacher is crucial in guiding correct kinds of practice by assigning useful exercises, teaching for efficiency, and being persistent with a firm but flexible structure in lessons.

Identify promising performers early: starting early allows the body and brain to develop in advantageous ways (not to mention developing good habits from the start).

Chunking of material expands memory, and repetition is crucial: the development of myelin around nerve fibers and neurons in the brain, which makes those fibers and neurons more efficient, occurs by sending the same signal through the nerve fibers again and again.

Choose exercises for your students that push them beyond what they can currently do and allow them to build the skills that are important.

Allow students to not always be perfect so that they learn to continue striving and learn how to cope with failure.

Students need frequent, rapid, and accurate feedback.

Inspiration, not authority, is the best model for motivating your students.

Lead by example, and get parents on board, as well.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, University of Chicago, studied adolescents who were academically outstanding and found that an environment which is both stimulating and supportive at home was a salient feature.

Intrinsic motivation is the only sustenance in the end (but extrinsic motivators can reinforce)



Tips from the graphic design world (from the Design Consortium “Boxes and Arrows“):

1. Practice a lot
2. Attend to details
3. Be versatile
4. Make an effort to learn
5. Anticipate problems
6. Set goals
7. Have a positive attitude


From George Leonard’s Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment.  (1991)

Five Keys to Long-term Success and Fulfillment

1. Instruction
2. Practice
3. Surrender
4. Intentionality
5. Pushing the Envelope

Mastery is:

-the process in which what was difficult becomes both easier and more pleasurable.
-long-term dedication to the journey, not the bottom line.
-gaining mental discipline to travel further on your journey.
-realizing that the pleasure of practice is intensified.
-knowing that you will never reach a final destination.
-being diligent with the process of mastery.
-maintaining your commitment to hone your skills.
-after you have conquered one hurdle, jump the next one.
-being willing to practice, even when you seem to be getting nowhere.
-being patient while you apply long-term efforts.
-practicing for the sake of practice.
-winning graciously, and losing with equal grace.
-placing practice, discipline, conditioning, and character over winning.
-being courageous.
-being fully present in the moment.
-maintaining flexibility in your strategy and in your actions.
-a journey.
-determination.



Suggested reading:

Colvin, Geoff.  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World Class Performers from Everybody Else.  New York: Penguin Books, 2008.

Daniel Coyle.  The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown.  New York: Random House, 2009.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success.  New York: Little, Brow, & Company, 2008.

Greene, Don.  Fight Your Fear and Win: Seven Skills For Performing Your Best Under Pressure--At Work, In Sports, On Stage.  New York: Broadway Books, 2001.

Leonard, George.  Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment.  New York: Plume Books, 1991.

Loehr, James.  The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental, Emotional, and Physical Conditioning from one of the World’s Premier Sports Psychologists.  New York: Plume Books, 1994.

Mack, Gary and David Casstevens.  Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence.  New York: Contemporary Books, 2001.

Werner, Kenny.  Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within. New Albany, IN: Aebersold Jazz, Inc., 1996.


Nicole Riner ©2016

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking back, looking ahead

Good old Wyoming driving. 



One of the things I love most about being a musician is the opportunity to travel and make new friends, and 2016 was certainly rich in opportunities. 

February was the beginning of my travel with a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention in Virginia. I gave a workshop, "Finding Our Inner Voices as Flutists", which precipitated my slow-moving work on a tone workbook based on vocalises (more on that soon, I hope!). While I was there, I also gave master classes at Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University, where fabulous teachers Tabatha Easely and Julianna Nickel (respectively) have two very positive, talented flute studios. In April I taught master classes at the Oklahoma Flute Society Flute Fair and University of Southern Mississippi, and in September the Montana Flute Association sent me on a whirlwind tour including stops in Missoula, Great Falls, Malta, and Billings. I was and am always so grateful for the warm hospitality I am treated to by hosting teachers and their students alike, everywhere I go.  Anyone who says the music world is cold just hasn't looked in the right places yet! 

Talking about breathing at VCU!


I traveled with my chamber group, Verismo Trio, to lovely University of Jamestown in January (really, it was lovely, just shockingly cold). I don't know that I've ever visited a small town with a population so totally happy to be from there! We also served as the resident ensemble for the New Music Festival in Kearney, Nebraska, where we were lucky enough to hook up with composers Anthony Donofrio and Jason Emerson, whose music we had already been playing for ages. In the fall we stayed closer to home with concerts in Sheridan and Casper, Wyoming, where it was wonderful to reconnect with old friends and meet a couple of news ones, too.  Our most exotic gig might have been Southern Arkansas University, where we were part of the festivities for their first-ever saxophone festival (a very different animal than a flute festival!) and we each ate our weight in fried food. Even the green beans were fried. 
At the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND

At University of Wyoming, we organized some great instructional videos on the All-State audition materials, in keeping with our mission to serve the greater musical community of Wyoming, and got some wonderfully appreciative feedback for our efforts. And while hunched over the computer here and there, I have begun a collaboration with Alry Publications to publish my transcription of a fantastic Dvorak violin sonata along with poking through a new kind of tone book, as mentioned above, which I hope to have ready for preview in the coming months. 

In 2017, look for me, often generously sponsored by Altus Flutes, at the Women in Music festival at Mississippi University of Women in March and giving master classes at colleges in Pennsylvania and Alabama, so far.  My full schedule is continually updated on my website here

Thank you to all of my gracious hosts and willing students, near and far, in 2016, and here's to an equally inspiring 2017!  Wishing you all the best in your artistic endeavors this year...