Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gifts from the Heart

Powell Signature Flute

By Beverly Bizup Hawkins 
Yes, the time has come to change up the mundane trend of gift giving from wrapped boxes of empty emotion and last minute impulse purchasing of generic gifts to gifts from the heart, that communicate warmth from the soul.
With all of these thoughts in mind, music fits! Best of all, gifts that come with stories and warm the heart are gifts found everywhere in the flute community. In fact, the culture of Flute is ahead of this trend in more ways than one might think!
Go ahead, support your fellow flutists by purchasing flute recordings by colleagues. Pick a favorite composer and purchase some locally written sheet music for flute choir or plan on some duets with friends. Don’t forget gift certificates for private lessons or tickets to local recitals.
During this holiday shopping season, there seems to be a little piece for flute quartet stirring on the music stands of flutists. Not only is this fresh new piece of holiday music fun to play but the best part is the story behind it’s making and the composer’s choice for its official Soundcloud recording.
A few seasons ago, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra together with full line Powell dealers, Windworks Studio of Philadelphia, hosted a fundraiser for Tune-up-Philly, a program of the Youth Orchestra aimed at increasing self-esteem, cooperative learning and teamwork though classical music instruction. Based upon the El Sistema approach, this after school program nurtures urban children in challenging social and economic conditions, endeavoring to improve their overall academic success.
An amazing part of this lovely story is that Powell Artist Andrea “Fluter Scooter” Fisher, together with Powell Sales Associate, Daniel Sharp (then Tune up Philly flute teacher) and Philadelphia Composer Joseph Hallman all stepped forward to make classical music extra inspirational for those least likely to have access to live art. These three artists are all Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Alumni and were enthusiastic about “giving back”.
Daniel Sharp helped to co-ordinate and market the event, while Joseph Hallman wrote “Transfigured Carols” to welcome youth of all socio-economic backgrounds to perform together. Windworks Studio hosted a post performance reception and Andrea Fisher, best known as “Fluter Scooter” recorded all three flute parts on a Signature Powell Flute and the piccolo part on a Powell handmade custom. Profits from the sale of Fluter Scooter Bags on that day were donated to Tune up Philly.
Simply put, people are empowered by a wonderfully creative role model for strengthening our local economy and creating sustainability within the flute community as a whole.
So, go out and hunt for the deepest and most meaningful gifts this Holiday Season, spare yourself the soul sucking commercialism and give the gift of music and art.
Listen to the glorious sounds of the link attached and feel free to play along with your own flute, purchase the music and think about a Powell Fluter Scooter Anniversary Bag to keep the seasonal giving festive and truly meaningful.
Fluterscooter website:

Article author, Beverly Bizup Hawkins:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Finger Gym with Paul Edmund-Davies

Powell artist Paul Edmund-Davies has a new series of posts titled "Finger Gym" on his personal blog. As you might suspect, these posts offer exercises and suggestions to help build finger control.  In the first of the series, he presents one basic exercise in three major keys: G, Ab, and A.  He recommends continuing on with the exercise through all the keys, thinking them through rather than reading off of a page to help gain greater coordination and provide the brain with "an excellent work out!" Follow this link to view the exercise.

He advises:

Start off by practicing the exercise slowly and really concentrate on the finger or fingers that are lifting. After all, the muscles that close your hand are much stronger than those that open it! The fingers need to be positive, but also should never travel too far away from the keys……………the further they go away, the longer it takes to get back again. Not exactly ideal for the second or last movements of the Prokofiev Sonata! Once the thought/brain to finger connection feels more comfortable and positive, gradually increase the tempo.
Mr. Edmund-Davies offers additional tips on how to get the most our of these exercises, including suggestions on how long to practice as well as recommendations for rhythm and dynamics. Click here to read the full post on his page.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Artist Profile - Sooyun Kim

International soloist Sooyun Kim recently joined the Powell artist family and is currently a member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  Born in Seoul and raised in the United States, Ms. Kim made her debut with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of ten.  She has performed as a soloist with The Boston Pops, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Rundfunkorchester and Münchener Kammerorchester.  Ms. Kim is also a recipient of the Georg Solti Foundation Career Grant and became the first American since 1964 to win a top prize at Munich’s 2010 ARD International Flute Competition in Munich, at which she was also awarded a Special Prize for the best interpretation of a commissioned work by Bruno Mantovani.  She received her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Graduate Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Paul Robison.  Follow this link to read her complete bio on her Powell Artist Profile page.

In the following interview by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, we learn more about Sooyun Kim, including which career path she may have chosen had she not gone into music.  She also tells us about her current favorite book and recording -- but when she recollects her favorite Chamber Music Society memory, it is truly touching and inspiring.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Changing Flute Embouchures

By Patricia George

Over my years of teaching, I have changed very few student's embouchures. I prefer to think of embochures evolving into what the player needs to be successful. We certainly will not all look the same when we play in the third octave or when we have quick wide interval skips.

You must remember that each of us is a different size--I have students ranging in size from 6'4" down to elementary sized students. Yet, we play the same sized flute. Each of us has a different face--some lips seem to aways be in a smiling position at rest--others have more of a downturned expression and then most of us are a combination of the two--one side up and other side down. So, obviously each of us will look different when we play the flute. Do check out the flute embouchure pictures for Roger Stevens' book ARTIST FLUTE on Larry Krantz's web site. Each of these players has a professional sound, but look at how differently each is set up.

I would suggest you let your ear direct your embouchure changes. Work for sound and agility and when you have it where you want it, you will look like what YOU need to look like to get the best results. Playing lots of harmonics will help you in this area. I prefer playing the Marcel Moyse DE LA SONORITE at the harmonic (third partial with the lowest note counting as partial no. 1). For me, I get a much better and quicker benefit from doing the book this way.

Control in the third octave is as much about the air stream as it is embouchure. Size and speed--two important air stream S's. Most problems occur when the flutist does not keep the air stream moving. When things begin to sound rough, they stop blowing and everything gets worse.

Playing and practicing a lot in the high range will help you feel comfortable. Besides doing the Taffanel and Gaubert 8va--check out Thomas J. Filas--Leger Domain and Top Register Studies. I have the students double and triple tongue each note the first time through these books. Then various rhythmic patterns before setting in with the slurs. Practice with a metronome at both slow and fast settings. Control is being about to play very fast and very slowly.

*Note: This article first appeared in the "Teaching Tips" section of Larry Krantz's website.

About Patricia George:

Patricia George, Editor of Flute Talk magazine, is the flute professor at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and the American Band College.  She tours the US giving Flute Spa masterclasses for flute clubs and universities.  She is the co-author of Flute 101: Mastering the Basics, Flute 102: Mastering the Basics, Flute 103: Mastering the Basics, The Flute Scale Book and Advanced Flute Studies: The Art of Chunking which are all published by Theodore Presser.  She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and studied with Frances Blaisdell, Joseph Mariano, William Kincaid and Julius Baker. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Quest for A Flute: From ‘No Doubt’ to a Surprise Flight

By Helen Spielman

The flute chosen by Martha Long!

Martha Long, Principal Flute of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, attended the NFA 2014 convention in Chicago with one intention: to purchase a new flute.  After trying a huge array of instruments, she chose fifteen finalists, and through the gracious help of Carolyn Nussbaum, we found ourselves in a private room, listening to the same orchestral excerpts over and over again on those flutes.

I taught Martha for seven years during her teens. Martha asked me to listen, along with her flutist friends Matthew Roitstein and Ben Smolen as well as a pianist friend, so I happily spent most of this convention hearing her play the same orchestral excerpts over and over.  We narrowed it down to four instruments, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. Martha sounds good on any flute, but I wanted her to sound spectacular.  So I practically pushed Carolyn out into the hotel hallway, and said, “Don’t you know of some fabulous instrument, something that will be even better than those she’s playing now?” I knew that Martha’s flute was to be a gift from her parents, and they had impressed upon me that they wanted the very best for Martha.

Carolyn energetically pointed her index finger up in the air, saying, “Wait!! I’ll be back in five minutes!” ---- and whoosh! ---- she ran off down the hallway. I casually wandered back to my seat in the room, and when Carolyn returned, she had another instrument to add to the mix.

We went through yet another round of testing. I didn’t know how Martha had the stamina. No one, including Martha, knew what brands we were hearing. And then ------ one flute stood out so far beyond the others, it was clear beyond doubt.

“What flute is this?” we all wanted to know. Mary Lyons, a flute specialist who works for Carolyn, had been ably assisting us, and announced it was a very special Powell flute. Carolyn had known about the existence of this specific flute since the Spring and brought the instinct, knowledge and experience of her many years in the business to believe this would be right for Martha. Martha sounded amazing: as amazing as she always humbly describes her colleagues and friends as sounding.

Martha worried about the wisdom and the expense of purchasing such an elite flute. I asked her some tough questions: What is your highest goal for the next ten years? Her answer: “To sound better each day than I did the day before.” Does this flute sound like you? “Yes.” Do you want to go back to work and have people notice you have a new flute, or do you want to turn heads? “I know that I want to share this instrument with my family, friends, and colleagues, and I want this flute to be a voice in my orchestra.”

Well, then, which instrument will help you meet these goals? And gradually, along with speaking to the Powell staff, Martha embraced the idea that she could allow herself to fall in love with this flute.

Martha was so overcome with gratitude that she could not think of a better way to thank her parents than by visiting them and showing them the flute in person. So she switched her flight from Texas to my flight to North Carolina. The mischievous part of me told her, “Don’t inform your parents that you’re coming, Martha! Surprise them!”

My husband met us at the airport and we drove Martha to her parents’ home. We stayed at the car so Martha could have a moment with her parents. She walked into the house and we could see her parents’ mouths drop open in utter shock. “What are you doing here?” exclaimed her mother. Her father was simply speechless. At that point we were invited in, and watched Martha show the flute to her parents. She played Bach. The joy and love between them was a pleasure to see. Oh, except for Martha’s cat, Lola, who was staying with her parents and doesn’t care for Bach.

Martha is now playing on her Powell gold flute in the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio. The orchestra members and music director are all thrilled with Martha’s new instrument. She is giving a recital in December presented by Camerata San Antonio, and I will fly there to attend. This time she is going to surprise me, she said, with her dress. I wonder what that might mean!

Maintaining such a close relationship with a former student, one who is as kind, considerate, and fun as Martha has brought me more joy and satisfaction than I can  describe. Helping, even in the smallest way, to find her way to this Powell flute, was a rich experience.  Except for previously contributed articles to the Powell blog, having a few students purchase Powells through Carolyn Nussbaum, and being acquainted with Powell’s friendly staff, I have not been associated with Powell previously.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who were a part of this story: Martha Long, Janet and John Long, the staff at Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company, especially Carolyn Nussbaum, Mary Lyons, and Carolyn’s mother Shirley, the staff at Verne Q. Powell Flute Company, Martha’s friends, and, as always, my chauffeur and husband Fred.

Helen Spielman is a performance anxiety coach who taught flute for 24 years. Her passion is to help musicians maximize their highest potential on stage. She teaches positive self-talk for performance, self-compassion, the alleviation of perfectionism and worry about others’ approval, concentration, and consistent performance.  Helen works with musicians, moms, and business executives internationally via Phone and Skype. Her popular book A Flute in My Refrigerator: Celebrating a Life in Music is selling prestissimo and is available on Amazon as well as at flute specialty stores. Please visit for more information.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Iron Vivi"

By Viviana Cumplido Wilson

So I’ve been asked to write about my “athletic” side and I can’t help but giggle a little because if you’d asked my parents to describe me growing up, anything even remotely sounding like “athlete” (even mathlete) never would’ve made the list. When I ran my first half marathon in 2007, my mom was super worried that I might suffer a heart attack and die during the race, despite my being a perfectly healthy 26 year old. As you may have guessed, the Cumplidos are not an athletic people. So, how’d this happen? Not gonna lie, part of my attraction to running and eventually triathlons was the fact that it was SO unexpected of me, but the more I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Having the discipline to train for a race is very similar to the discipline required to practice and excel at a musical instrument. This is a skill that we as musicians have known most of our lives so applying it to new field required little to no translation. 
Races are also a competitive event and guess who loves competitions? This girl! However, let’s be real, as an amateur runner/triathlete, I’m not winning *anything*, it’s more so a competition of personal improvement- not unlike our respective musical journeys. Let’s face it, music is not something you really win at. Yes you can win a competition or win an audition but you’re being evaluated on subjective criteria and we’ve all had the experience when you feel like you did everything “right” and played your best and yet, you still didn’t get the win. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I find great personal and professional satisfaction from a successful performance. But…every once in a while, I need a clear cut win and that’s where racing comes in. It’s objective, scientific, and plays to my competitive heartstrings. If you follow a training plan (and stay healthy/injury free) you will most likely achieve your goal. Granted, my race goals are usually just to finish with a smile on my face but my competitive spirit will often kick in. I'll then make more ambitious goals; a faster time, a longer distance. I started running in 2006 when I joined The Phoenix Symphony and I quickly made friends with several runners in the orchestra. They showed me the ropes and before I knew it I was signed up for a 5k, 10k, and half marathon! Since then I’ve completed 5 marathons, 2 half Ironman triathlons, several half marathons, Olympic distance triathlons and countless shorter distance races. Do I love racing more than music? Absolutely not. I just find it to be the perfect complement to my artistic career resulting in a very healthy and much needed balance. Last November I reached my greatest athletic achievement and completed Ironman Arizona (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) with a finish time of 14 hours 19 minutes and 37 seconds but most importantly, with a giant smile on my face. WIN.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keep it Positive

By Cynthia Ellis

When teaching, tell students what TO do as opposed to what NOT to do.  I constantly hear teachers telling students negative commands: Don't tongue sloppy, Don't breathe there. How much easier is it to learn when a student hears: "Try tonguing like this" (and then show an aural example and explain what you are doing) or "Consider breathing here because the phrase is longer, if you need a catch breath, try this spot instead." Another positive comment about breathing might be "consider playing softer so you can make the long phrase and as you get confidence, play a little louder."  Notice the difference in your own reaction to reading a negative command based statement versus a positive solution based statement.  Good teaching is positive and supportive, and does not break down the student. There are times to 'wake up' a recalcitrant student, but again, keeping it positive and kind is always the best choice.

*Note - This article first appeared on the "Teaching Tips" section of Cindy Ellis's website.

For more on Cindy, visit her Powell artist profile page, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Making of Flute N Float

By Andrea (Fluterscooter) Fisher

(edited from “The Making of Hologram Fluterscooter,” originally published by The Flute View. August 2014.)

I had just finished performing my debut show at The Apple Store in Tokyo when I heard about the infamous 2Pac hologram at the Coachella Music Festival. After watching the YouTube video several times, and coming off an amazing performance where I involved a live light painter to create still and moving visuals as I played, I had an idea to take this performance to the next level: create a hologram of myself! and be able to play with and against a virtual version(s) of myself! What did that mean exactly? I didn’t know at the time how, where, when, who I’d be working with, but I was determined to make it happen!

Last fall, I finally decided it was the time to start working on this project. Now living back in the states, I started my online research about how holograms work. With all the buzz circulating about the 2Pac hologram, it was not difficult to find out what specific tech was used and how it was projected. It was also not difficult to find out how expensive it was to project a hologram for just 3 minutes. As an independent artist, finding $30,000 for a 3 minute performance didn’t seem worth it, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I began contacting all distributors of the Musion “Eyeliner” Technology (the technology that is needed to create the hologram effect) from New York to Los Angeles to their headquarters in London with a short description of my ideas as well as some sample pieces and my visions of how they would being performed. The London office was the most receptive and encouraging to me, recognizing the creativity in my project. Unfortunately the American companies just wanted money and weren’t interested…that was actually no surprise to me.

I was about to go to London and start meeting with the company to figure how to make my idea a reality, when I suddenly was called back to Japan for a month’s worth of concerts and teaching. They referred me to the sister company in Tokyo, StudioTED, and I showed them the press on my Apple Store show, and they were immediately interested in meeting with me while I was in Japan. I was so excited to start this project, even if it had to be in Tokyo!

My full show idea was over an hour long, where the visuals from each piece would melt into the next piece, creating a seamless visual and musical performance. Some music would be more traditional and contemporary flute music, and some would be commissioned by composers to write specifically for the event. After many meetings discussing how we could realistically put this show together, we decided to cut it to 20 minutes (4 pieces) and perform as a showcase in the studio showroom to attract sponsors and investors to book a larger show. Of course I wanted to do the full show, but the cost would have been very high for the company to put together and get a proper venue.

Fast forward to this past spring: I was back in Japan for more concerts (yes, I do most of my performing in Japan!) For the showcase, we chose Saint-Saens’ Aquarium which I arranged for 3 flutes, Robert Aitken’s Icicle, Debussy’s Syrinx (arranged for 3 flutes), and finishing with the first half of Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint. Did I mention everyone in the company reads music and one is even a composer? That definitely helps with the process! Not all the pieces would be with hologram, but holographic content would be used for background visuals. We drafted up a visual storyboard of how and where the holograms would be placed on the stage.

We booked 2 days for a video shoot in their showroom, where I would record each hologram separately for each piece. I had to choose costumes for each one, too, so I also had to wear the stylist hat, too! My Syrinx costumes were obviously Syrinx and Pan, and one of the women on the team even made me handmade goat horns for the Pan costume.  Since it’s a visual performance more than anything, costumes, makeup, hair are of equal importance as the music. And since I don’t do my own hair, one of the team members happened to do hair, so I lucked out there too!

Now that the video shoot was done, we kept exchanging emails and having Skype sessions about next steps. Getting a solid invite list was the next step as well as starting rehearsals, so I booked another trip to Japan late this July (and just returned a few days ago) to have some meetings regarding invite lists and rehearsals. What most people don’t realize about the hologram effect is that when the live performer is on stage, they do not actually see the hologram; it is like looking into water and seeing reflections. I am doing some minimal choreography to interact with the other holograms, so getting used to looking down rather than across was a challenge!

One more trip to Tokyo was left, and this time it was showtime!  A few weeks prior to the show, I hired a project manager (and translator between StudioTED and myself) in Tokyo to bring some key people to the event, people that could potentially sponsor a bigger full show in a larger space.  The turn out was great, and without the project manager, it would have been difficult for me to get the proper people in the audience.

On September 25, 2014, I presented 2 showcases of Flute N Float as a private event in the StudioTED showroom in Tokyo.   I only arrived in Tokyo on September 23, and the 24th was a full tech rehearsal day.  We did everything from sound, interacting with the holograms (knowing their placement on stage in relation to myself), costuming, and cueing music.  It was difficult to do in such a short amount of time, especially to memorize where the holograms are on stage AND having to memorize the music.  On the 25th, we had dress rehearsals all day, and then presented the shows in the evening.  It was so much fun, and I’m honestly surprised it was pulled off without a hitch!

I recently had a conversation with Juilliard’s Entrepreneurship director about this show and the steps I had to take to finally make it happen…about doing whatever it takes to transform an idea into a reality, even if it means trips back and forth to Tokyo. As performing artists these days, we can use all of the world as our platform, our audience, and our collaborators. There are no limits!

The video of the full live show has been done, and it will be available for download on in November 2014.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christina Jennings -- the History of Her Powell Flutes

Christina Jennings
We recently asked Powell artist Christina Jennings to tell us more about the Powell flutes she plays -- the options and specs, how she chose them, and a bit about their history.  Ms. Jennings shared the following about her two very special Powells...
Serial Number: 4682
Completion Date:
Sterling silver, soldered tone holes, .014" tubing, Cooper Scale, A-440, French cups, B foot with gizmo, in-line G, D# roller
Handmade Custom Metal Flute

Serial Number: 11367
Completion Date:
Sterling silver, soldered tone holes, .018" tubing, Modern Powell Scale, A-442, French cups, B foot with gizmo, offset G, split-E, C# trill, D# roller
Handmade Custom Metal Flute

I am the guardian of two special Powell flutes: number 4682 and 11367. Each flute came to me with a beautiful tone, an easy feel, and also an inherited legacy.

When I was thirteen, I came home from school to find that a complete stranger had bequeathed to me a 1976 Powell. The generosity of such a gift has continued to amaze me. This flute belonged to Evelyn Hansen Hurd, a resident of Hanover, NH, close to by hometown of Norwich, VT. Mrs. Hurd, a reference librarian at Baker Library at Dartmouth College, was also active in this thriving musical scene. She attended a performance of the Upper Valley Flute Choir in which I played the solo part to La Primavera, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Shortly after this performance, Mrs. Hurd, who had been battling cancer, was hospitalized and died. The memory I have of her funeral was of a cold spring day, and the beauty of this flute as it sang out the mournful Siciliana from the Bach E-Flat Major flute sonata.

With this spectacular instrument I played my Juilliard audition, performed aboard the QE2, debuted a solo recital at Carnegie Hall, and recorded my first CD Winter Spirits. This remarkable gift truly helped me find voice as a flutist.

Some fifteen years later, I became interested in exploring flutes with a deeper more expansive sound and with the addition of a C# trill key, off set G, and split E. I found such a flute in 2003 through Anne Pollack. The deeper sound, fluidity of the scale, and the power of the low register were among the aspects that impressed me. Anne explained that the flute belonged to a Boston doctor who purchased it shortly after his terminal diagnoses of cancer. This man was, Howard Blume, M.D, P.H.D chief of the Neurosurgery at Beth Israel/Deconess Hospital in Boston, on a clinical appointment with Harvard Medical School, and a dedicated physician and surgeon. Howard was also an accomplished flutist whose love of music began when he first picked up a flute as a young boy. During the last six weeks of his life, the flute became everything to Howard, and he dropped all other professional work and consumed himself in the research, purchase, and study of the flute. His widow Betty told me “I don't know how to say how important that flute was to him in the months of his illness.  It was an expression of his continuing hope -- his continuing insistence on making sense - of creating challenge for himself -- in the face of that terrible diagnosis.”

The spirits of Mrs. Hurd and Dr. Blume are alive in these wonderful instruments I am privileged to play.
*To learn more about Christina Jennings, click here to visit her website and here for her Powell Artist Profile Page.