Friday, February 27, 2015

The Powell Academy

If you visit the Powell website, there are many resources and links available.  There are sections you can explore that go well beyond product information.  You can find a dealer, schedule a repair, shop for Powell products, and much more.  One section of our website, the Powell Academy, is our educational portal.  It connects you not only to educational videos and articles by artists, but to the artists as well!  Imagine taking a lesson with your favorite Powell artist... It's possible through the Powell Academy!  On the Academy page, if you click the "View Master Teachers" heading on the left side menu, you'll be taken to a page with the teaching artist roster.  Once there, you'll be able to click on the artist's name to view their full profile.  (You can also mouse over the "Academy" heading in the top horizontal menu bar, and a drop-down menu with the Academy sections will appear.)  There are thirty-nine teaching artists who are located around the globe, and distance is no obstacle since you have the choice of a live or Skype lesson.  Click "Schedule a Private Lesson" on the left side menu (or from the dropdown menu at the top), and you'll access our online lesson request form, where you can select the artist of your choice and the date that works best for you.

Interested in having a Powell teaching artist come in for a masterclass?  You can also submit this request through the Powell Academy.  Click the "Host an Event" heading (left or top menu), and you'll be taken to the online request form.

We hope you'll enjoy visiting the Powell Academy page.  The side and top menu bars should make it easy to navigate.  If you enjoy reading posts here on Teach Flute, you might notice that one of the sections in the Powell Academy menu will take you here!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jane Rutter on Performance

By Daniel Sharp - Interview with Powell Artist Jane Rutter

You’ve spent a lot of time in front of the camera and have a great YouTube Channel. What advice would you give to an artist looking to begin a performing presence online or in front of the video camera?

I feel at ease in front of the camera because I’ve spent so much time in front of an audience! And I find a camera even easier in some ways…You should treat the camera as if you are talking to you best friend. Be natural; include the audience in your world.

There are two main approaches to keep in mind for YouTube (both of which I have incorporated in my YouTube channel): One approach is to be as real as possible and have as much live (fun and 'warts and all') content. The upside being that this can endear you to your viewers: they are able to see your authenticity. The other approach is to treat your YouTube channel as your own TV channel and mainly post very high-resolution, broadcast-quality material. I skate between these two points of view, because I think the world is interested in the real aspects of the performer. It is interesting to see an 'unedited' version of you in concert, talking about how you feel, playing outside, rehearsing, giving teaching tips, having fun in concert, dealing with diverse performance situations. But it's also important for your viewers to see and hear you at your most professional and very best.

Remember your YouTube channel is your channel so you should have it truly represent you and who you are as a flute-player, teacher and personality….

What kinds of performers interest or inspire you?

I believe that fine music touches us on four levels: Emotional, Physical, Intellectual, and Spiritual. Many different types of performers inspire me, especially if they connect these four levels at once. Alain Marion used to say 'make me cry with your flute playing- if you don’t give the audience goose-bumps its not really music…' and so I seek this in other performers: flutists, singers, dancers, violinists, actors. I'm impressed, of course, by fast fingers and a nice big sound, but when a performer really moves me, they remind me of the best of what it is to be human. Jean-Pierre Rampal had such great humanity in his sound (as did Alain Marion). It could make you swoon! Favourites also are Joan Sutherland, Ella Fitzgerald, etoile dancer Sylvie Guillem & many others. Jean-Pierre adored Fred Astaire- as I do. I love it when a performer can 'traverser la barriere' –i.e. cross the barrier and metaphorically 'embrace' the audience through what ever the medium. In playing and performance, I love musical elegance, combined with emotional honesty. It's about connecting with a fundamental truth that comes from the true heart-centre of the performer, and speaks to the listener. It's not about how loud or how fast (I find many younger players 'shout' through their flutes in a misguided sort of earnestness.) If you make a true, beautiful statement (of course you must have the technique with which to do so), then you will win the listener over for life. How incredible it is to have someone say to you 'I played your CD in the labour ward. Your flute was the first sound my baby heard when he was born!' To me that is a real validation of one's artistry…

When Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion played to an audience, not only was it beautiful flute playing, but every person in the auditorium felt embraced.

The declaration of their flutes was a sensual, passionate statement: ‘Come with me! You belong now – you are with me for this musical journey! Come with me, we are together, be reassured! I love and include you…’it is divine when a musical instrument becomes a fully expressive voice in this way. Both Jean-Pierre and Alain used to pick up their flutes in a lesson and play a piece – that they must have played a thousand times before – with all the wonderment of a child watching a flower open for the first time, with the sensuality of a first kiss. Rampal once said: ‘For me, the flute is really the sound of humanity, the sound of man flowing, completely free from his body almost without an intermediary… Playing the flute is not as direct as singing, but it’s nearly the same.'

Follow these links for Jane Rutter's YouTube Channel and website.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Free and Open Sound

By Cynthia Ellis

Having a beautiful tone is a goal for everybody who plays flute. But, the definition of unique depending on the musical context, and the player...and truly, beauty varies from performance to  performance. Here are three ideas that are basic to creating an open, focused tone: 1. Make sure that your flute is lined up exactly as you wish. Most professionals use a mark made with nail polish to line up the headjoint and body so there is 100% consistency from day to day. Also, double check the footjoint. A millimeter can feel like a chasm if it is in the wrong spot, creating a different angle. 2. Support is a moving air column: Since the tone is made with air, not the lips, it is critical to have a good solid support concept in place. Breathing and blowing are basic to creating tone 3. Embouchure: Tone is focused with the lips, made with the air. Make sure that the aperture is the appropriate size/shape for the octave you are playing in. Keep some space between the top lip and the top teeth: likewise, keep an open oral cavity (experiment with different vowel shapes) and keep height to the aperture: never press the top lip down toward the bottom lip. Remembering always to project the tone to the back seat in the hall is a good metaphor for projection: likewise, setting the air around you in motion is another helpful mental image. Enjoy your long tones!

*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.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Finger Gym 2 with Paul Edmund-Davies

Powell artist Paul Edmund-Davies has a 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 second post of the series, he discusses slow, legato practice and the corresponding technique of having your fingers respond "in a legato way."  He advises that one should focus on the feel of the finger motion as much as the actual "physical/mechanical technique."  The distance one lifts his/her fingers off the keys is also addressed.

For this installment of the "Finger Gym," Mr. Edmund-Davies presents one basic exercise in eight major keys: G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Cb, and D.  He suggests "continuing up the register of the flute, as this exercise becomes highly useful for those awkward top octave fingerings."  He also gives a few suggested fingerings for flute exercises and etudes in general.  Follow this link to read the complete Finger Gym #2 post on his blog.  It has a terrific tip at the very end!

Snapshot of the second Finger Gym exercise.