Friday, March 14, 2014

Doriot Swyer Interview - Part III

We have come to the third and final segment of the ICA Classics interview with Powell player, Doriot Anthony Dwyer, former Principal Flutist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra -- and the first female to hold a principal chair in a major symphony orchestra. Click here to view the first segment and here to see the second segment.

In this clip, we learn much more about Ms. Dwyer's lesson experiences and how she addressed challenges as an orchestral player in the day and age of being in the minority as a female player.  She briefly discussed one of her sisters, who was a very talented pianist, but who Doriot recalled used to break down and cry quite often.  Ms. Dwyer felt that that was definitely not a route she would take as a musician, stating that she would tell herself, "I can be brave.  I'm not going to try to get anything with tears -- I'm just not going to do that."  She continued, "And it was difficult with conductors, because in some ways they are so gentlemanly to women, and in other ways they are so awful -- for the very same reason -- they don't know what to do about these women."  Of course, "these women" are the female orchestral players.

As the interview progresses, Ms. Dwyer touches on her strategies for working through difficult tempi and the fear of making mistakes.  She discusses having one teacher who told her, "You don't know how to play fast.  You don't know how to control yourself when you play fast."  She said at that point she decided, "I was going to practice them until I got them right!"  She then offers more stories from her high school days and lessons in Evanston, Illinois with Ernest Liegl, former Principal Flutist with the Chicago Symphony.  Recalling their lessons, she remembered him saying, "Let's hear how you play it, and don't worry about mistakes.  Just don't worry about it.  Maybe we don't have to do anything about it.  So, do the best that you can, and let's see what you did with it."  She continues with a discussion of how important it is to practice difficult repertoire with fast tempi slowly, stating, "It doesn't stay difficult if you stay slow and get everything just right, and then take it a little bit faster, and a little bit faster, until you go, 'I never had any difficulty with any technical thing'."

Toward the end of the interview, it is quite clear that Ms. Dwyer built herself a strong foundation for becoming a professional orchestral musician through perseverance, courage, and a level-headed approach to the meeting any musical challenge.  She concludes with a final note on Mr. Liegel's teaching style, which she appreciated for its objectivity.  She says, "He never said anything just to cheer me up.  He would say 'fine' and 'very fine' -- and that was about it!"

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