Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I Look for in a Prospective Student - Leone Buyse

© Leone Buyse, 2002 excerpted from remarks made on August
Leone Buyse
19, 2000 during a Pedagogy Panel presentation at the National Flute Association Convention in Columbus, Ohio.
  1. Innate musicality, which often manifests itself as a special “spark” that demonstrates musical imagination.
  2. A good ear. Of course an ear can be trained, but if a student is seeking chamber music or orchestral employment, naturally fine pitch recognition is a pre-requisite for first-rate ensemble playing.
  3. Excellent instrumental command for her or his age group. I currently have 2 DMAs, 2 second-year MMs, 2 first-year MMs, a senior, 2 sophomores, and a freshman. When they first auditioned I evaluated each on the basis of tone and vibrato production, finger technique, and articulation in comparison with their peers .
  4. A spirit that indicates drive, determination, and a passion for music and flute playing.
  5. Curiosity and flexibility. Over the years, I’ve found that the best students are those who genuinely want to try new ideas and give different viewpoints (whether a teacher’s or their peers’) a chance.
  6. Communication skills. These are so necessary in our profession, and can be taught to some extent, but some people have a better natural grasp of their importance. The world is a web–especially the music world– and a successful career is often dependent upon how well you can express yourself. An example of what gets my attention would be a letter, email, or phone call in which the inquiring student immediately identifies her or himself as being a student of so-and-so, briefly describes important successes to date, such as placing in a national competition, or attending a competitive summer festival, and explains how an interest in Rice developed. That approach gives me so much more to work from than the typical “Hello; I’d like to take a lesson sometime because I’m considering your school.”
  7. Good citizenship. In addition to honing fine communication skills, a musician needs to to understand the importance of being a supportive colleague. A music school is a world in its own right, and a studio is a microcosm within that world. When I am choosing potential new studio members, I imagine them as citizens of the Shepherd School flute community, people who will be asked to contribute not only in the orchestral program but also in weekly studio classes. There will always be prima donnas in our world, but I believe in encouraging and cultivating those students who have a unique musical message yet at the same time appreciate and celebrate the individual gifts of their peers.

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