Flutewise Club and reviews

Last week we had our first Flutewise Club here in not very sunny Portslade. It was quite a small affair as I hadn’t really advertised it, but it was extremely pleasant. The cake and biscuits were particularly good :) No, seriously, so was the flute playing.

After a scale warm up game everyone had a go on playing the alto and bass flute and the piccolos as well as my black grenadite flute made by Guo.  To get a feel for these flutes we played through an arrangement of Greensleeves several times. 

We had a go at some yoga breathing exercises that are illustrated on Practice Room Yoga. The videos on that site are worth checking out.

SmartMusic is something else we had a look at. If you don’t know this product I urge you to have a look. It is extremely popular it the US but although it has been around for years, it has never really taken off in the UK. I’d love to know why. It’s an excellent practice tool.

I often get sent music for review and I thought this was an excellent opportunity to do this from a different angle - get young flute players to tell us what they think of new publications. You can see their responses at the end of this post.

We finished the session by having a go at Pink Panther and then some rounds from Eight Rounds by Johow, published by De Haske. They are excellent.

I’ll be announcing new dates for 2019. Maybe you would like to join us. We had one girl planning to come all the way from Bulgaria but unfortunately her parents couldn’t arrange suitable flights. I think she’ll be coming along sometime soon and local families have offered to do some social activities with her, so if you have a little way to travel we can include you!

Reviews

Thanks to all of our young reviewers, they got to take the music home forever. Photos of the covers of the books mentioned and others can be found at the bottom of the post.

Curtain Up! Buhne Frei Duos 2 Magic Flute on Stage Series 
Published by Universal Edition

I like it because:

  • There are lots of good songs in one book

  • We found it easy to get into the music

  • The 2nd part is interesting as well as the first

Flute Rocks by Theo Richens

Published by Con Moto Publications, Spartan Press

I like it because:

  • Fun songs

  • Very catchy

  • Good printing

  • Using lots of ties and quavers so more interesting to read.

It would be nice to have an accompaniment CD or download

Twenty Four Five Flute Studies by Lynne Williams

Published by Forton Music

I like it because:

  • Lots of short and interesting songs

  • Really clear target

  • Different time signatures

Play It Again Flute Duet by Liz Sharma

Published by Forton Music

I like it because 

• Composer’s first name

I’m not sure about:

  • All songs are a bit dull

  • Why a student part and teachers? Student should be able to play as well or student part is not as good as teachers.

Flutewise at Whigift

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To have a parent email me to say her daughter had said the our event at Whigift School was ‘The best day of her life” makes all the effort that goes into Flutewise worthwhile.

Enormous thanks to everyone one who made it possible, Fiona Myall from Whigift, Abbie Burrows, Gareth McLearnon, Carolyn Kelly and Tomoko Watson, but more importantly all the lovely young flute players.

Click on the link below to see the photos.

Flutewise Croatia 2018

 After our final concert in Kastel Vitturi, August 2018

After our final concert in Kastel Vitturi, August 2018

I've just come back from another really wonderful course in Croatia. This year we had 10 British flute players who came along with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. With the Croatian flute players and friends added in there were more people this year than ever! It was so much fun and a totally magical experience for everyone to perform in the beautiful Kastel Vitturi.

We started the course on the Wednesday morning and we were due to have classes for the rest of the week, go to the island of Brac on Sunday, have 2 more days of classes and then have the final concert on Tuesday evening. Often things don't go to plan in Croatia ... which is fine! This time it was the weather forecast for the Sunday. Really big storms were promised. So we decided to change plans and got to Brac on Friday. This meant a change in plan over what we would perform for a concert there. 

I've been doing a course in this part of Croatia for 15 years (I've been doing courses in Croatia for even longer than that, which makes me feel very old!). My friend Najda, who was one of the key people who started the course in Kastela for local children, came along with her grandson, Luka! It seemed like only last year Luka's mum and uncle were involved as children. Luka was our only beginner this year and everyone enjoyed and loved him. He did so well and having him there was a great excuse for teenagers to get involved with songs and clapping games. We all just loved coming up with new rhymes for "There's a spider on ..." 

We worked quite hard each day and achieved a great deal.

On the first evening of the course we had a Flutewise pizza party and concert for all the British people. This was an opportunity for everyone to meet and get to know each other and for the flute players to perform in an informal setting if they wanted to. It was lovely.

 

 Pizza concert at Villa Soulavy

Pizza concert at Villa Soulavy

On Friday morning we left for Brac, travelling by taxi, ferry then coach. We explored the park and said hello to all of the animals, the parrots and mad ostrich being very popular. Our lunch followed and then we rehearsed our concert in the amphitheatre which we were really impressed with the improvement since last year. It was hot. Very hot! One of the locals told me it was 55 degrees in the sun! We waited until it was cooler before our concert which consisted of Max, Sophie and Tomoko playing some trios, Cecilia and Thea playing a duet and everyone playing three pieces with backing tracks. I had recently bought myself a Ultimate Ears Megaboom blue tooth speaker. It was intended for listening to music indoors, but I thought I'd give it a try outdoors as we hadn't much time to prepare the concert. It was amazing! It totally filled the outdoor amphitheatre with sound. It's a tradition in Croatia for us always to finish any concert with Ian Clarke's Walk Like This. Everyone loves it.

 

 Getting ready for the concert - in a bit of shade

Getting ready for the concert - in a bit of shade

The next day we had off so British families had the opportunity to do a full day of sight seeing. It was back to work in the Ballet School on Sunday.

Time went quickly and what seemed like no time at all we were in Kastel Vitturi. It is a truly magical place to perform a concert. We were very lucky to have the wonderful flute player Marko Zupan there at the same time as us and he joined us for our concert. Another Marko, the brother of one of our course members also joined us as a guest to play a solo on his recorder. He is a Grade 8 player and he plays very well.

We'd been working on an 'animal' theme for the course and tried to make the music fit, I'm not sure if we did. Our programme was:

  • Close Every Door To Me - Andrew Lloyd Webber - everyone
  • Purple Cow with C Jam Blues - Duke Ellington - everyone
  • Methodical Sonata - Telemann (I can't remember which one) Marko Blanusa Recorder
  • Skye Cat - Lotus Talk - Colin Evans - everyone
  • Memory from Cats - Andrew Lloyd Webber - everyone
  • Butterflies - Chris Barron - everyone with solos from Paola Vrdoljak and Roko Juric
  • My Dog Pooh - Michael Isaacson - everyone with solo from Paola Vrdoljak
  • Marko Zupan - animals! You must watch the videos when I put them up
  • Walk Like This - Ian Clarke - everyone

We had a great audience who seems to really appreciate our work. Certificates and medals were given out at the end and then we all went back to the terrace at Villa Soulavy for another Flutewise Pizza Party.

 

 Hannah receiving her certificate with Liz and Marko Zupan 

Hannah receiving her certificate with Liz and Marko Zupan 

I'm really grateful to all of the British families who came all the way to Croatia to experience this extraordinary course with me. I'm also grateful to the Croatian flute players and everyone else who made it possible - in no particular order thanks to Damira and Boris, Mark, Marko Zupan, Ana, Helena, Jadranka, Roko, Paola, Ivan, the people at Park Prirode Sutivan and all the lovely local people and anyone else I've forgotten! Thanks. Let's hope it can continue for many years to come.

Click on the links below for photos and videos - there are more to come

ABRSM Ensemble exam

"I enjoyed it enormously"

- now that's a comment we like to see from an examiner! 

I'm an extremely proud and satisfied flute teacher as I've just received the mark sheet and certificates for an ABRSM ensemble exam. Have you heard of this exam? I hadn't until I stumbled across it on the ABRSM website and I'm so pleased I did, it is excellent! I was looking for something for a group of students to do to slow down the 'grade exam race'. All music teachers come across the situation where youngsters and their parents want to take the next exam as soon as possible. It really isn't a good idea just to go from grade to grade as so much technical and musical development can be missed. This exam really addresses this situation.

The exam is offered on 3 levels

  • Primary (Grades 4-5)
  • Intermediate (Grades 6-7)
  • Advanced (Grade 8 and above)

It is for 2 to 10 players without conductor and you can choose your own programme.

Max, Sophie and Tomoko entered the Primary level. They could play a programme lasting for 12 minutes and they chose:

It helped enormously as they were able to work as a family and supported each other so well. I absolutely love group teaching, I can't understand why it isn't just the norm for music education. Everyone learns so much more and so much more efficiently working as a group. This group improved so much this term, their progress has been outstanding. Very aspect of their playing has come on leaps and bounds; I've been especially pleased with their dynamic development - the one thing the examiner didn't mention in his report, but his comments were very inspirational.

Max, Sophie and Tomoko were invited back to the venue where they took the exam, Under the Bridge Music Studios in Brighton, to perform in a charity concert last Saturday afternoon. It proved to be a perfect way to celebrate gaining an A mark and distinction in their exam. Many congratulations to them and thanks to the ABRSM. I'm looking forward to using this exam again.

 

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Flutewise at Woldingham 2018 and CAKE!

I'm just recovering from another great Flutewise course at Woldingham. As always we had wonderful course members, house staff and visiting staff and everything about our stay at Woldingham School was really good. My highlight has to be the CAKE!

 

 This beautiful cake was so generously provided by my friend Tomoko and family. Thank you so much

This beautiful cake was so generously provided by my friend Tomoko and family. Thank you so much

It's hard to believe I set up Flutewise 30 years ago. That was even before many of the members of staff on our course were born. I hope I can manage another 30 years! I love the cake has a flute on the top, but more importantly I love the photos around the edge, showing events from Flutewise past. More photos below.

We had so much fun on the course. It was a slightly different one to normal with visiting staff each day. This meant our ensemble pieces and warm ups weren't as intense as normal. There are only so many hours in a day and we really did fill them. The house staff included Simon Williams, Lorna Brown, Joleigh Saunders, Abbie Burrows and Carrie Hensel. On Wednesday we were joined by pianist and ABRSM examiner, Chris Baxter, he stayed with us for the rest of the week. Carolyn Kelly also joined us on Wednesday as did Pasha from Just Flutes - he talked about flute care and brought us goody bags (a huge thank you Pasha and Just Flutes). We had a very special guest for the afternoon and evening, Philippe Barnes who performed for us and taught us loads about Irish Flute playing.

On Wednesday morning we had an 'Ensemble Competition'. It was an 'unfair' competition as 2 of the ensembles had already been rehearsed before the course. It was really good to see and hear people really working hard and focusing, trying to win. Each group even had to design and make a programme. The performances were all great and, in true Flutewise fashion, everyone won - equally. The prizes were very well received - a cabbage, a swede, a cucumber, a bag of carrots! What more could anyone want?! I’ve got video recordings which I will sort out soon.

Thursday was dedicated to everyone working on their own solo with piano accompaniment with Abbie and Chris. Later in the day we had a student concert. I was really impressed with the difference in playing from the morning to the final performances. Every single person took on board what they should do to improve their piece. Again, they were recorded and I’ll sort them out as soon as I can.

Gareth McLearnon was with us on Thursday and as well as working on The Flutewise Theme which he composed, he also brought his enormous collection of flutes for a ‘show and tell’ session and he worked with the more advanced players on technique.

We had 2 girls training as Flutewise Apprentices, Jess and Pippa. I’m so very pleased they are on board. As part of their training they had a to run a workshop creating a piece using a poem. The results were lovely. Again there is video to come.

I was very much looking forward to Friday as we had Rachel Brown come along and share lots of information about playing Baroque music. Rachel is such an expert and so very good at making it all easy to understand.

There were lost of other things happening during the course - workshops on circular breathing, piccolo playing, vibrato, we had a ceilidh (that’s a bit of Scottish dancing) and every night we had a relaxing bedtime concert.

There are photos below but there will be lots more soon. Also there is an email from the mum of one of our course members, she is happy I share it with you. 

Hi Liz

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for Flutewise at Woldingham, Layla had a fantastic time.

It's always a bit of an unknown quantity sending a child on a course - most of the time they can only give you a vague account of what they ate, who they met and that's about it. But in the case of Flutewise, Layla spent the journey home (for a good couple of hours due to the M25 being a bit busy) giving us a detailed account of what she learnt about playing high notes on her flute and piccolo, what she learnt about looking after her flute, the technical exercises she did, the pieces she enjoyed playing, how great the teachers were, how she was inspired by the apprentices, how much she enjoyed the ensemble competition, how good the evening concerts were, and how much she loved her medal and gifts.

So I can wholeheartedly say that Flutewise is worth every penny, is a fantastic opportunity for a child, and that we'll definitely be back. THANK YOU!

Many thanks again, Tina

One of our course members, Lizzie, also wrote this:

I loved every aspect about Flutewise: the solos, the ensemble competition, the choir, the staff, and the food! However, most importantly, I made new friends and had a fantastic time!! 

 

 

Click on the photos to see all of them

Flutewise in Tonbridge - we did it!

Over 30 years of Flutewise I've faced all sorts of challenges with events. Our day at Tonbridge gave me a new one - snow! We were due to have the event on 4 March, but the school closed the venue because of the snow. Luckily we managed to reschedule the vent for the 18 March feeling very confident the weather would be fine by then. We had a few days of lovely spring weather and then more snow! It wasn't quite as bad this time so we could go ahead.

The event was held at the Schools at Somerhill in Tonbridge, a lovely venue. It's with a big thanks to Pat Daniels for making this happen every year. The morning was a BFS workshop for adults with Abbie Burrows and Gareth McLearnon. Patrick Onn also came along with his travelling flute shop. In the afternoon it was a fun filled packed Flutewise event. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves and learn so many new things about the flute. As well as warming up exercises, flute choir playing, seeing Abbie and Gareth's growing collection of amazing flutes, everyone really enjoyed being extremely creative in the Scale Game.

As it is Flutewise's 30th anniversary we had cake! Yummy. 

The day ended with a very short performance to parents. It was really lovely, hearing the music and watching the snow out of the window. 

Many thanks to everyone who made the day so special. Looking forward to the next one.

 

Flutewise Newsletter March 2018

I've just sent out a newsletter to people on our list. If you haven't singed up already, why don't you do it now and you can receive them straight to your inbox? I don't send them very often, but you don't want to miss out on an event. Sign up here

Flutewise News March 2018

Hello

Flutewise in Tonbridge

It’s spring, thank goodness. For the first time ever in our 30 year history, an event had to be rescheduled because of snow. We were due to go to the Schools at Somerhill in Tonbridge on 4 March, but the school decided to close the venue due to the weather. The good news is that we were able to rescheduled this event for Sunday 18 March - next Sunday, so if you haven’t already booked, there is still time. The morning event is for adult players and the afternoon for people aged 8 to 18. You can read more about it here

Flutewise at Woldingham

Not long after that we have our Spring Residential course at Woldingham, Caterham, Surrey. It is from 3 - 6 April and there are a few places left. As part of it, we are also offering a one day course on Wednesday 4 April from 10.00 am until 8.00 pm. As part of this we will be celebrating 30 years of Flutewise (so there might be cake!) As well as the great Flutewise residential staff team, we will also be having special guests Gareth McLearnon and Philippe Barnes. It will be a fantastic day in the wonderful venue. Book soon though as places are limited.  Day course Residential course

Flutewise in Jersey

If you follow our news, you will know we had an extremely successful event in Jerry during February.  I’m delighted to say we have been invited back for a 3 day course in October/November, during the half term holiday. There is the opportunity to stay at Chateau Vermont where the course is held. Jersey is an excellent place for a family holiday and I’m sure it will appeal to families with young flute players. We might also be able to arrange for young players who want to come on their own or with a friend to travel from Gatwick with Flutewise staff or with families going. If you are interested, you can complete a form on our website.

Summer in Croatia

For many, many years I’ve been running a summer school in Kastela, Croatia. I’ve always been thrilled at the number of British families who have come to join in the course and enjoy a holiday and this year is promising to be no exception. The course is during the 2nd two weeks of August this year. Let me know if you want to come. It’s a great experience to work and play with Croatian flute playing friends.

Dr Flautus Advice Page

One of our dedicated Flutewise supporters has offered to offer any help and advice. 

Dr Flautus' Problem Page.

Do you ever have a problem with your flute playing and just don't know where to turn? The internet is telling you a thousand different things and you don't know what advice to take?

Look no further!

Dr Flautus is here to help! Whatever the issue with your fluting you will get clear and straightforward help. Whether it's trouble with a tricky bar or general problems with Time signatures or breathing. Dr Flautus will know exactly what to do!

With regular advice and suggestions Dr Flautus is the best person to ask!

Do you have a question? Please ask!

I’m busy working on more events and I should have some to announce soon. I hope to see you soon.

Happy flute playing

Liz

 If you have a question please use the form below - it will come direct to Flutewise and your full name and email address will not appear on our website.

If you have a question please use the form below - it will come direct to Flutewise and your full name and email address will not appear on our website.

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Name

Gareth Davies Competition Winners

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We are delighted to announce the winners of these 2 competitions. Thanks and well done to everyone who entered.

COMPETITION 1 - TO WIN A CD RECORDING UNFINISHED EARTH

Gareth Davies is Principal Flute in the LSO. What does LSO stand for?  

a) Luscious Slovenian Octet

b) London Street Operational 

c) London Saxophone Organisation

d) London Symphony Orchestra

 

The answer was D London Symphony Orchestra.

The winner of this competition is Jonathan Orr from Londonderry, N Ireland. Jonathan’s prize will be sent direct form the composer, Douglas Knehans.

 

COMPETITION 2 - TO WIN A COPY OF THE MUSIC ‘TEMPEST’ BY DOUGLAS KNEHANS

1. The LSO is 113 years old. Gareth has been Principal flute since 2000. Daniel Wood was the 1st ever principal flute. What number do you think Gareth is?

3rd, 9th or 20th?

2. In an average year, how many concerts does the LSO perform around the world?

25, 99 or 140

The answers are:
1. Gareth is the 9th principal flute of the LSO

2. In an average year the LSO performs 140 concerts

The winner of this competition is Amy-Jayne Milton from Malton, Yorkshire. Amy-Jayne’s prize will be sent direct form the composer, Douglas Knehans.

 

Many thanks to Douglas Knehans and Gareth Davies for making this possible. 

 

Flutewise Jersey Weekend

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Leaving home at 3.00 am on a Saturday morning at the beginning of February was not a particular pleasant experience, but it was so worth it! Mike Mower, Cathy Hare and I were invited to Jersey to deliver a weekend of Flutewise activities. Claire Harvey had planned it all along with her flute player/teacher husbands, Andy and pianist Chris George was also involved. Lots of planning had gone on before hand - Mike and Chris had even tried to rehearse on Skype (it didn’t work!).

The venue was/is amazing. The Jersey Academy of Music is housed in Chateau Vermont in St Saviour, Jersey. Mike, Cathy and I were sleeping there and I’m not going to tell you what our bedrooms were like because you would be soooo jealous!

We had a lovely group of young flute players come along to take part and we did all the usual Flutewise activities - warm up, ensemble playing, creative music making, Mike taught us improvisation, Cathy worked on tone. Mike wrote a few extra parts to his excellent Township Time from his Junior Musical Postcards book and this went down a storm. 

While Mike and Cathy rehearsed in the afternoon with Chris for the evening concert, I taught everyone with extended techniques needed for Ian Clarke’s Walk Like This and then we rehearsed the piece. The young flute players did so well and loved it. As they were enjoying it so much we decided not to use it for the evening concert but to keep it for the concert on Sunday so we could enjoy it for longer.

 

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The concert was wonderful on Saturday evening, we had a great audience.

Sunday morning dawned and it was off to work again. It was lovely doing a second day as everyone knew each other and bonded well. One of the highlights was working on The Purple Cow. If you’ve been to a Flutewise event before you might have experienced this - it’s a poem, with a simple round which we use to create a performance. Every performance turns out differently and everyone works very hard and really enjoys it.

Something else the young players really loved over the weekend was Erik’s Game or ‘piccolo’. Now if you haven’t played that yet, you really need to. Get to the next Flutewise event.

Over the weekend we had lots of fun, heard sublime and exhilarating playing from Mike and Cathy, learnt lots of new techniques (including a bit of beatboxing) and thoroughly enjoyed exploring Mike’s music and learning a bit about improvisation. 

A big thank you to everyone who came along - including Ava and Mabel who came from London - and thank you to Mike and Cathy and to the people who made it possible, Claire, Andy and Chris.

Mike and I were last in Jersey for a Flutewise event in 1998! Flutewise has plans to go back during October half term for a 3 day course - watch the website for details!

 

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