2017 Highlights + The Year's Top 5 Most Popular Posts

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2017 was a pretty great year! I got married, practiced a lot, learned more ways to stay inspired, and had the opportunity to inspire others!


Here are a few of my highlights, in addition to the top five most popular blog posts this year.


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The top post of the year is truly representative of the biggest lesson I learned this past year - that letting go of perfectionism in favor of "Improving a Little Bit Each Day" is truly the way to face weaknesses and seek improvement.

I learned to put self-judgement aside and let curiosity lead, and I feel that I finally climbed out of my post-graduation rut this year. I'm believing in my own ability to improve, and I'm feeling inspired by all that is possible!

Thank you for all the support and inspiration this past year! I'm looking forward to plenty of inspiration and breakthroughs in 2018!

Happy New Year!

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Instagram FAQ: Cameras, LefreQue, and Playing Fast!

One of my favorite things is connecting with other musicians via Instagram! In honor of hitting 10K followers this month, I decided to round up my most frequently asked questions and answer them all in one post!

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  • What camera do you use for photos and videos, and how do you get your photos to look like that?
    • I use a Canon EOS M3 with a Rode microphone attached.
    • I recently had the honor of talking about creating images for the blog and Instagram in an interview with The Flute Examiner! Click here to read it!


  • What kind of flute and piccolo do you play on?
    • I play on an Altus 1507 with a David Williams-Gary Schocker Headjoint, and a Burkart Professional piccolo.


  • What are your thoughts on fill-in-the-blank-flute-brand?
    • I don't have a strong preference for or against any brand of flute, and I believe that choosing an instrument is highly personal because everyone is unique. My best advice if you're in the market for a new instrument is to take your time and try as many brands and models as possible - don't rule anything out until you've experienced it for yourself!


  • Where did you get your baroque flute?
    • I purchased my Simon Polak baroque flute from his booth at the National Flute Association Convention. You can find out about his instruments and see which conventions he'll be visiting at his website: www.earlyflute.com.


  • What is that thing on between the headjoint and body of your flute?
    • It's a LefreQue sound bridge! Find out all about what it is and how it works on www.LefreQue.com.


  • What are your thoughts on the LefreQue?
    • I took advantage of the free trial offered by many distributors, and tried a Silver, Yellow Gold Silver Plated, and Rose Gold Silver Plated in 41mm.
    • During the trial, I rotated through each option for two days. With the silver, I noticed no change at all. With both gold options, I noticed an added resonance to the sound, and also a subtle sense of "forgiveness" from cracking notes. I ultimately went with the Rose Gold option because it was a bit warmer than the Yellow Gold, which seemed a bit more harsh.
    • The difference is very subtle. If you're expecting a complete change in tone, note that it's an enhancement that's attached on the outside of the flute - it won't have the same impact as a new headjoint!
    • From my experience, it really varies from instrument to instrument, and the metal you choose can make the most difference, as well. (I had a friend try my LefreQue on her silver flute with a gold headjoint, and it seemed to stifle the resonance of her instrument.) I can't say if it will work for you, so I highly recommend taking advantage of a trial to test each of the metals and decide how well it works for your instrument. 


  • What app are you using when playing off an iPad?
    • I've actually never tried a music-reading app! I often pull pieces up right on IMSLP or flutetunes.com using Chrome or Safari. 


  • Why do you have a skeleton?
    • Because of Body Mapping! Learning to play and teach based on anatomical reality has transformed my approach to playing. Having a full-sized, three-dimensional skeleton as a reference is extremely helpful for observing and applying information about the body while practicing and teaching. www.bodymap.org





  • Do lessons via Skype really work?

    • The self-awareness techniques that guide my lessons are uniquely and perfectly suited for lessons via Skype! Lessons involve questioning, guided experimentation, and discussion to identify habitual barriers to uncover greater freedom. The verbal and visual feedback that occur during experimentation mean that breakthrough moments are more than possible via Skype! I have a great amount of experience listening and watching students carefully to detect and address subtleties in all areas playing.

See what current Skype students have to say!

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Thank you all for following along on Instagram, and for the opportunity to support you in your own journeys as much as you support me in mine!



Customize Your Warm-Up: Two Ways To Get More Out of Exercises

When I first learned about the four-part formula for a practice session (Tone, then Technique, then Etudes, then Repertoire), I committed to it completely. However, I found myself spending a lot of time on tone and technique exercises, often running out of time or energy before making it all the way through repertoire. In addition, my fundamental work was very often exactly the same each day. I implemented the same pretty good ideas over and over again each day, but rarely had a new a-ha moment from them. Does this sound familiar to you?

Here are two ways to freshen up your warm-up and fundamentals and make your warm-ups work for you and your repertoire.

Bring Context To Your Exercises

When you’re doing your exercises, warm-ups, scales, long tones, harmonics, etc., place whatever repertoire you’re working on in front of you. Choose a section and consider the mood, character, type of air stream needed, the articulation patterns, dynamics, phrase lengths and breath marks.

Now, apply some of these musical ideas to your exercises. For example, if you're working on Moyse's De La Sonorite, play what's on the page, but in the style of the opening to the Dutilleux Sonatine. Now try it like Jolivet, C.P.E. Bach, or the Firebird excerpt! Each one feels different, right? Bringing specific musical contexts to your every day exercises will bring a fresh perspective, and ensure that you're thinking musically while observing. The warm-up should prepare you to play, and you're now ensuring that your warm-up is specifically warming you up for the repertoire ahead. Playing a complete exercise in all keys in the specific styles needed for a piece will give you lots of opportunities to refine your set-up, too.

"Bringing specific musical contexts to your every day exercises will bring a fresh perspective, and ensure that you're thinking musically while observing."


Okay, now let's try the opposite. Put the actual notes from your repertoire into your exercise. This can be very simple, such as choosing several notable intervals to sneak into your De La Sonorite. Or, add the broken chords from Mozart's G Major Concerto into your arpeggio exercises in Moyse's Gammes et Arpèges or Taffanel and Gaubert exercises. You can even take a note from Robert Dick's Tone Development Through Extended Techniques, and turn a Bach Sonata into a Throat Tuning exercise.

Altering repertoire to learn and improve is something that you're probably already doing! The difference, however, is that now we are borrowing the notes and applying them specifically to familiar exercises.

Here's My Breakthrough:

During a recent warm-up on long tones, I found myself working towards a set-up that was conducive to playing luscious high notes at a soft dynamic. I found myself playing notes from the Daphnis et Chloe excerpt, and realized I was playing them more freely than usual! Normally, I look at Daphnis and start panicking about rhythms, the opening run, changing colors, etc. Taking only key notes while I was in sound-exploration mode helped me understand what kind of mind-set and airsteam I'll need for that excerpt. Once I felt that I was producing those sounds naturally, I played the excerpt in full and had a very different experience.


Where do you spend more time luxuriating and observing a small collection of notes? During warm-up / fundamental practice, or while practicing a piece? When I’m on actual exercises, I’m super focused on improving. When I'm at the repertoire stage of practice, more factors come into play. It can be easier to feel distracted and start jumping around too quickly before solving a problem. 

One of the greatest benefits, however, is injecting actual musical context into fundamentals. If you need a fresh idea for which character you'd like your Taffanel and Gaubert scales in, look no further than your repertoire!