This season, I'm giving myself the gift of self-care and intentional improvements each day in December. What's a more festive way to do that than with a Flute Advent Calendar?!
Here's the guide:
- Each day is filled with one exercise from Taffanel and Gaubert or an exercise in self-care or inspiration.
- If you're going away at some point during the holidays and not bringing an instrument with you, fill in those days with mental practice! Listening to or watching inspiring performances is important, it can fuel your excitement to return to your instrument, rather than fueling the guilt and dread. It's easy and only takes a few minutes!
- If you're feeling "too busy to have a real practice session" on any of the days, here's permission to approach each task without warming up or fully completing it before your timer goes off. (You choose how many minutes!)
Put perfection aside: the goal is to set an intention, practice the task around the intention, and improve one small thing in a specific way each day.
^ (Click on the above image to download a PDF Version)
Self-Care + Inspirational Resources:
- Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for Musicians
- Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for the Feet
- Crushing Classical by Tracy Friedlander on Apple Podcasts
- Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for Anxiety and Stress
- Meditation Links:
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I'm relatively organized when it comes to keeping my sheet music collection in order. I have everything separated by type into labeled magazine boxes and keep them in alphabetical order.
That's not to say that half my bookshelf doesn't end up in scattered piles each and every week.
But at least everything has a place!
Some of my most-used, most-cherished items, however, live in their own, disorganized pile.
- Handouts and exercises given to me by teachers during lessons, workshops, or master classes.
- Exercises that have been generously shared online by their authors, such as those by the Self-Inspired Flutist.
- My own hand-written notes on exercises that have been passed along through word-of-mouth by various teachers.
They are so special and so loved because of the memories and associations attached to them.
For this reason, I decided to compile them all into one, protected packet.
I can easily have them with me in my bag or on my stand with no worries of losing one of the sheets or wrinkling the pages.
What's in my Holy Grail Packet?
- My favorite warm-up by Dr. Terri Sanchez.
- An incredible, completely hand-written packet from Judy Mendenhall from ARIA 2010, containing tone and technique exercises and breathing scales.
- Handouts from Peggy Vagts, my undergraduate professor, with her beautiful hand-written notes on Taffanel & Gaubert exercises, double-tonguing, and more.
- Two more favorite handouts from the Self-Inspired Flutist: Virtuoso Vocals and Haunting Harmonics.
- Hand-written notes on Moyse's Etudes et Exercices Techniques and the Bach Studies from inspiring lessons with my grad school professor, Eva Amsler.
- Handouts and exercises from Body Mapping lessons with Vanessa Breault Mulvey.
- Samuel Baron's Low Register Exercises and Arpeggio Vocalise from Amy Porter at ARIA.
Do you have a collection of treasured handouts? Are there exercises that live in your head that you'd like to have on paper?
Compile your handouts, write or type out notes, and transcribe exercises that aren't yet on paper. You may wish to scan and re-print handouts onto a new sheet of paper.
Write or type them out in order on the Contents sheet. You can even number the pages or add tabs to make it easier to find what you're looking for.
Use a standard binder with a three-hole punch or page protectors, or have your packet spiral bound with a protective cover and backing.
4. SHARE & enjoy!
Share on Instagram using #PracticeRoomRevelations and tag @joleneflute!
1. Air Stream and Support (0:20)
Without the instrument, get to know the feeling of support in the body. Use air sounds through the teeth to listen, and feel the natural response and engagement in the body.
2. Add Syllables to Your Air Sounds (1:09)
We often spend time practicing the double tonguing syllables away from the flute, however, using the through-the-teeth airstream exercise, we can multi-task. Airstream and double tonguing syllables should go hand-in-hand!
Try the exercise of going from closed teeth and air sounds to a relaxed jaw and increased space in the mouth, and consciously keep the air speed fast. (1:24)
3. Breath Accents (2:12)
Improve single tongue articulations by prioritizing air speed and quality with breath accents. Once the attack feels clean and consistent, add in the T and the K syllables on top. This especially helps us understand the feeling of air when using the more difficult back-of-the-tongue syllables.
4. Double Tonguing Syllables: T-K vs. D-G (4:16)
Rather than sticking with just one or the other, I find it useful to understand the difference between both T-K-T-K and D-G-D-G, and practice them both. T-K tends to be more staccato and pointed, while D-G tends to be more smooth and legato. Having both under your belt gives you greater options in the context of a piece!
5. High Maintenance Notes: Low and Middle Register (5:07)
The low register and right hand middle notes tend to be the most prone to cracking if space in the mouth is not abundant. When we play a resonant long tone without articulating, we may be thinking of an "aww" shape in the mouth. Utilize that same "aww" feeling while double tonguing ("daww-gaww") to help these high maintenance notes!
6. Practicing For Longer, Faster Lines (5:58)
In the exercise linked above, use a single note to build up from breath accents to a long, fast line of double-tonguing. Holding the first note (as we did in the initial breath support exercise using only air), reminds us to get the speed going, and keep it the moment the tongue first moves.
7. 3-Stage Chromatic Scale Exercise (Beginning to Add Finger Movement) (7:03)
Use the notes of the chromatic scale to begin translating the single note exercises up the range. With each repetition, begin decreasing the number of articulations per note as you begin coordinating finger movement with tongue movement.
8. Coordinating Finger and Tongue Movement (7:53)
Try saying or whispering the syllables while moving the fingers slowly and precisely to encourage better coordination. This provides a chance to isolate the tongue and fingers without producing a flute sound, so we can really focus and uncover difficulties. Even if you're relatively coordinated, I always find this exercise enhances the connection between movements!
9. The First Note Influences The Rest! (8:31)
Use an expressive tenuto to translate the resonance of the first note of a run into the double-tongued notes that follow. Begin with a held note, and practice making the first note shorter and shorter without losing the sound quality.
10. 2-Octave Major Scales: Slur and Double-Tongue Back-to-Back (9:00)
Break up your 2 octave scales into one octave at a time, first slurred with a singing quality, then translating the feeling to double-tonguing. Try 2 articulations per note, and think of a smooth, legato sound that resembles your singing slurred sound.
11. Singing and Playing (10:56)
Using the first notes of Exercise No. 1 from Taffanel and Gaubert's Daily Exercises, sing and play, slur, and double-tongue in one breath to reap the benefits of a relaxed throat and naturally supported airstream!
"What's On Your Flute?"
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