Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2020 Wyoming All-State etudes videos

It's once again All-State and Honor Band season across the country, and I am always eager to try to create something of value for our auditioning Wyoming students. I have recorded myself performing this year's All-State etudes, which you can find on my You Tube channel and in this post, below.

You can download all three excerpts (two for flute, one for piccolo) and scales here. Let's get started!

Etude #1: 
  • Rhythm counts! If you are new to compound, mixed meter (or just not in love with it yet), I strongly suggest articulating a smaller subdivision to ensure your note lengths are precise and correct. If you go to the UWYO flutes Instagram page on Friday, 9/27, you can find a mini-lesson on how to do this, complete with demonstration videos. In the demonstrations, I am articulating the eighth note beat and the sixteenth note beat, and stomping my foot on the rest so I know I'm doing something active and in-time for that crucial pause. 
  • Each phrase has a clearly marked dynamic, and they must all sound different. Map out your dynamic range on a single stable pitch: piano is the quietest sound you can make with a focused sound and excellent pitch, mezzo piano is one obvious notch louder, mezzo forte another step louder, etc. Fortissimo should still be in tune. To get louder, you drop your jaw (it should naturally go down and back at the same time) in increments for each louder dynamic. Conversely, to get quieter, your jaw will come up and forward slightly, like saying "oooo". Remember you'll have to do some shifting within each dynamic to ensure that every note is your chosen volume. 
  • Make sure your fingers are all working as a team on each note! Always practice with a metronome, and alternate very slow practice with woodshedding/looping techniques (minimum 10 perfect repetitions or 1 minute per day on each short difficult passage) daily. You'll see a link to my post describing these practice techniques in "scales", below. 
Etude #2:
  • Choose one goal note per phrase to help you keep a sense of forward motion through all of these repetitive notes; every note leading up to that goal note should have a slight sense of growth, and any notes after your goal will recede slightly. Your goal note should happen pretty late in each phrase--see if you can hear mine in the video! 
  • If q=68 is too slow for you to play beautifully, start by practicing at the slowest comfortable tempo you can do, then gradually slow it down in increments. You haven't perfected a tempo until you can play in tune, with clear tone and correct dynamics ten times in a row. 
  • Be sure your vibrato depth/speed matches your volume--shallow and slow for piano, deep and fast for forte. Practice whole notes crescendo from piano to forte, then decrescendo back to piano ("diamonds") and experiment with your vibrato to fill up, but not go beyond the borders of, your sound at every volume. 
  • As with etude #1, map out your dynamics

Scales: Visit my blog post, "Tips for Creative Practice" to keep things fresh (and accurate).

Deadlines: check in with your band director early and often about getting everything recorded and turned in on time! 

A few thoughts about the value of taking these auditions: Every time you challenge yourself to learn a new, difficult piece of music to the best of your ability, you get better as a musician! You also get a chance to practice getting nervous--and getting past those nerves-- in performance, which makes the next performance less terrifying. And whether or not you get the chair you want this year, you can be happy in knowing that you stretched yourself and grew both as a flutist and as a musician from the experience. There's no punishment for not getting in, and potentially great reward if you do make it, so it's the easiest gamble you'll ever make. Given all you'll learn about yourself and how to learn music, you'll win no matter what. 

If you're coming to Saxofluticon this year, I encourage you to workshop some of this music in our All-State master class. There's still time to register (deadline: Oct. 1).

Good luck, and enjoy the process!

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