Sunday, September 9, 2018

All-Northwest Wind Symphony Audition Etudes 2018

Dear Wyoming high school flute students from the majority of the state!:

You've got a little less than one month left to put together your Wind Symphony audition for All-Northwest.  And I strongly encourage you to do it!  This new(ish) ensemble opens the door to an exciting, inspiring musical experience that was until recently attainable by very few in our state. From traveling to dreamy Portland to meeting other like-minded, serious musicians from area states, this can truly be a life-changing experience for you.  So please consider buckling down and learning this very playable music--you can do it!

To check eligibility, read the list of qualifying Wyoming schools:

And then get the music:

Here's my two cents on the scale and etudes, with corresponding videos:

Chromatic scale (Exercise #1): Practice this every day with the metronome on. You'd be surprised by your tendencies to speed up or slow down, which will only make it harder! I recommend performing this scale with a resonant, full mezzo forte throughout (be sure to shift down enough for a rock star low register). Articulation should be semi-detached--not too choppy, but not mushy.  Use firm contact with the tongue hitting above the back of the top teeth (or thereabouts--adjust with your ears). You should hear a clear front to each note with no explosion or distortion of sound, and no "thumping" sound from the tongue inside your mouth. 

Expressive Etude (Exercise #2): Work to differentiate between the various articulations. How quickly your tongue snaps back down after initial contact plays a large role in how long or short the articulation will sound; for staccato, the tongue should snap down fastest, for legato, slowest. Accents should involve a bit more surface area from the tongue and a firm but quick placement. Map out your dynamics so that they each sound different, and remember you are changing volume not by drastically changing air speed, but by blowing down more into the head joint (loud) or more across the hole (quiet). I consider mezzo forte to be my comfortable "speaking voice", so mezzo piano should be just a little quieter than your natural sound, forte a bit louder.  Be sure to take a really big breath before the last line to make that extra long, five-measure phrase if possible!

Technical Etude (Exercise #3): This is a great opportunity to practice your springy staccato articulation!  See above, and also visit my articulation challenges from last summer for a brush-up. The last line requires an especially precise coordination effort, as you must decrescendo even as you feel like you're playing ascending pick-up notes at the ends of the measures, then perform a subito forte at the beginning of the next measure.  Remember to do this with air direction rather than speed (see above), and practice this SLOWLY with a metronome so that you can ensure this is happening gradually and consistently while you also take care of notes, rhythms, and articulations.

Be sure to review my tips for making a winning audition recording from last October, as well.

Good luck to all! (Deadline to apply: October 3, 2018)

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