Thursday, May 30, 2013

Choosing a Recital Program

By Tammy Evans Yonce

THE FALLING CINDERS OF TIME was composed especially for my dear friend, Heidi Alvarez, and completed in the Spring of 2011. The structure of the work is episodic in nature with a recurring motive of a minor third uniting the different melodic ideas. The work is also somewhat of an elegy for my mother who passed away during its creation. The center section of the piece and its ending contain brief quotations of the gorgeous melody from the middle of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” which was one of my mother’s favorite compositions. The title is drawn from this brief bit of my poetry:
Nights float on streams of silver.
We watch the falling cinders of time
As the last glint of watchfulness fades.
--Michael Kallstrom

Tammy Evans Yonce
When choosing a recital program, I try to make sure it is balanced and includes a lot of variety. I chose to perform The Falling Cinders of Time first on this recital for several reasons. I’m very comfortable with it and enjoy performing it, so I knew it would put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the performance. Audiences also enjoy it, and its relatively short length is a good way to start a performance. The rest of the program included several different types of pieces. While I primarily focus on new music at this point, I am aware of my audience. Some audiences are tolerant of new works, and others would prefer to hear the standard repertoire that is more familiar to their ears. My most recent recital included a Bach sonata, a work by Gaubert, and a lot of new music. Among the new works, I still try to include considerable variety. The Falling Cinders of Time is a solo work; two others included digital audio, one was for flute and clarinet, and another was for alto flute and piano.

When I help my students choose recital repertoire, I guide them towards a varied program that represents the different stylistic eras. I want them to choose music they feel a connection to, but it is also my responsibility to make sure they know the essential standard repertoire that classically-trained flutists should know. I also think it is important that they include new music on their recital programs. I encourage them to seek out new pieces, listen to recordings, and work with composers to learn about new repertoire possibilities. Since collaboration is such a crucial element to music making, I also encourage them to form chamber groups and include those works on their recital. This helps students learn repertoire as well as essential rehearsal skills.  

Besides including works from various stylistic eras and different instrumental combinations, I also think it’s important to include works of varying difficulty. Obviously students should stretch themselves to continue developing higher levels of technique, tone, and musicality, but it can be daunting to play an entire program of intensely difficult music. By including difficult works that really push a student’s limits as well as an occasional “easier” piece, it allows the student a bit of relaxation and creates a more manageable pace.

After the rehearsing has been done and the student gets closer to the recital date, it is important that he or she begins to run through the entire program to get a feel for what it will actually be like during the recital. Rehearsing the actual performance is just as important as the practice that happens leading up to the big day.

By choosing a program that includes works from contrasting stylistic eras and for different instrumental combinations as well as various levels of difficulty, students will have a program that is challenging yet manageable and will provide their audiences with a musical experience they are sure to enjoy.  

Follow Tammy Evans Yonce on the web:
Learn more about Dr. Yonce's work at her personal website, or on Twitter @TammyEvansYonce.

Find her recording of Falling Cinders of Time:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Attempts at Beatboxing

By Katherine Kemler
Katherine Kemler
Like many other flutists, I was wowed by Greg Patillo’s beatboxing on YouTube, and when I found out that he had written a piece for the NFA High School Artist Competition, Three Beats for Beatbox Flute, I was determined to learn it.  Because I had already played a lot of contemporary music that used extended flute techniques and was used to making percussive sounds with my mouth, I thought that this was not going to be too difficult for me. Was I wrong!!!  I bought the piece last summer and thought it would be nice to include at least some of it on my faculty recital at LSU in Sept.  As I started working on it, I recorded myself, but when I listened back, what I was doing wasn’t anything like the sounds made by Patillo on YouTube or even 15-year-old Annie Wu, the girl who won the NFA High School Competition in 2011.  So, I decided I needed to start in a more basic way.  I went to Patillo’s Beatboxing 101 video on YouTube and learned some basic beatbox sounds and starting practicing them as I was walking around the house.  This was very annoying for my husband.  “Must you do that?” he would ask, to which I replied, “I must”.  I also watched other people’s videos of plain beatboxing without a flute.  Eventually, I came back to the piece itself, but this time, I used a metronome at a ridiculously slow subdivided tempo and I slogged through it.  Once I started doing that, it got a bit better, and I slowly increased the tempo.  In an article I read, Patillo suggests playing small parts of the piece in a loop until you get it.   
I performed the first movement of the piece at the end of my faculty recital on Sept. 9th.  It did not go so well, but the audience really liked it.  I kept practicing and did it again at the University of Michigan when Amy Porter invited me to do a recital and class there in mid-September.  It went much better.  Encouraged, I started working on the third movement, and was able to add that one when I performed at Mount Holyoke College in early November.  I performed that movement again at another concert in Baton Rouge in January of this year.  I am now working on the second movement, which I think is the most difficult because one must add a little singing to the mix.  I have done a lot of singing and playing, but playing one note and singing another while beatboxing seems to be very difficult for me. 

Once I learn the entire piece, I want to go to New York sometime to have a lesson with Patillo.  I am sure that I am still doing things wrong.  I tend to slow down, get hyperventilated, and I cannot use a microphone because my beatbox sounds are too loud!!  But I am having a lot of fun with this and so glad to be able to do it at all.  I encourage others to give it a go. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Legato Articulation - Paul Edmund-Davies

Last month, we read a terrific post by Powell artist Naomi Seidman on staccato articulation.  If you haven't had a chance to read it, take a look at

This week, we join Paul Edmund-Davies as he discusses legato articulation.  He examines the connection between language and articulation by comparing and contrasting characteristics of the English and French languages.  These two languages, as he demonstrates in the video, have very different tongue placement and "weight."  Mr. Edmund-Davies also discusses the practice of varying rhythms to help practice legato tonguing -- namely by dividing longer notes into patterns of notes with a shorter duration.  Curious to hear how these techniques sound?  Take a look at the video at

Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Quick Tips on the Chaminade Concertino

By Cynthia Ellis

Cynthia Ellis

The Chaminade Concertino is a staple in the world of flute repetoire, and it certainly presents many technical challenges.  How does one work through these?  Powell Artist Cynthia Ellis shares her tips with us in this video, working through difficult rhythmic patterns and addressing rubato passages.  She also emphasizes the importance of practicing chromatic scales and offers an alternate fingering for the final note of the Concertino.  To view the full video of her "5 Quick Tips," visit

Cynthia performs on a 19.5K Handmade Custom Powell.  She received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with Honors from California State University, Fullerton, and was chosen as Music Associates Outstanding Student of the Year upon completion of her work in 1983.  Ms. Ellis is a member of the Pacific Symphony, playing solo piccolo since 1979.  Her performance credits also include Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Pasadena Chamber Orchestra and the Cabrillo Music Festival in Santa Cruz, California. She has also served as the principal flutist for touring ballet companies on their Orange County stops including the Royal Ballet of London, American Ballet Theater, Stuttgart Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. In January of 1995, she was appointed Principal Flutist with the Opera Pacific Orchestra, a position she held until the company’s closing in 2009. She has recorded with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as well as on several major motion picture and cartoon soundtracks.

To read her complete bio, visit

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inspiring Forces - Leone Buyse

The 2013 NFA Convention may seem far away in terms of time, but we are busy preparing already.  We always enjoy meeting flute students, teachers, performers, and of course, many of the great "giants" in our field.  As we prepare for this year's convention, we thought it fitting to take a look back with Powell Artist Leone Buyse.  Ms. Buyse was the recipient of the 2010 NFA Lifetime Achievement award, and in this excerpt from her acceptance speech, we learn more about those who have inspired her -- which in turn continues to inspire us... 

Leone Buyse - NFA Limetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech (Except)
Anaheim - August 14, 2010

Leone Buyse
Who have been some of the most strongly influential forces on my landscape?  My teachers, of course.  I owe and immeasurable debt of gratitude to David Berman, Joseph Mariano, Michel Debost, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Marcel Moyse, and Gaston Crunelle.   And I owe a tremendous amount to my students. I am absolutely convinced that they are largely responsible for making me the person I have become, and that they will play a vital role in my personal evolution during the years ahead.  The legendary French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger said

The teacher is but the humus in the soil.  It is the product that counts. The more you teach, the more you keep in contact with life and its positive results. All things considered, I wonder if the teacher is not the real student and the beneficiary.

I couldn’t agree more, and remain thankful daily for the privilege of teaching.

Another extremely influential force in my life is Fenwick, and I am so delighted to be receiving this honor with such a close friend. Everyone knows that we were students of Joseph Mariano at Eastman during the same era and colleagues for a decade in the Boston Symphony. Together we performed and recorded chamber music, organized the Greater Boston Flute Association in preparation for the 1993 NFA convention, videotaped interviews with Mariano at his Cape Cod home, and organized Mariano’s 90th birthday celebration and Dallas NFA tribute in 2001—perhaps our best collaboration ever! And I might add that Fenwick played Bach – beautifully – just before I walked down the aisle to marry Michael 23 years ago.   But what you might not realize is how much I’ve learned from Fenwick.

When Fenwick was building his home near Tanglewood  25 years ago I worked a bit at the construction site and learned how to lay a vapor barrier. When we played together in the orchestra I observed how the best second flutist imaginable consistently supported his colleagues.  In professional meetings and social situations I learned from Fenwick the value of speaking only when it’s appropriate, and then choosing only the words necessary to make one’s point.  And from Fenwick I’ve learned the importance of accepting and dealing gracefully with life’s challenges. Thank you, Fenwick.

Our former NFA president Kathy Borst Jones has influenced and inspired me through the decades by her unswerving commitment to both the NFA and her students. Throughout her current health challenge she has remained a major inspiration to all who know her, and I would like to share with you a paragraph she wrote in the spring. Her words serve as a powerful mantra to me, daily.

Carpe Diem.  Live in the moment.  Appreciate the little things. Throw away the bad and the stuff you can’t change.  Do work on the things you can change, and don’t wait until tomorrow. Each and every day is a unique gift and can never be repeated. Laugh. Cry. Be merry. Say you love someone.  Tell people what they mean to you, now. Don’t wait.

Touching words -- truly.  Thank you, Leone, for sharing this with us!  For the complete transcript of this speech, visit