Monday, March 12, 2018

Ibert Concerto Tremelo Fingerings by Herszbaum

Dear Flute Lovers,

Nestor Herszbaum has generously offered a free pdf with the fingerings for the Ibert Concerto Tremelos! What a lovely gift to everyone in the flute world all at once! I wish everyone were this kind and generous! Help yourself at his download page:

Ibert Fingerings for Tremelos pdf.

Best, Jen

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Flutist Paul Dunkel interview

Dear Flute lovers,
A no-holds-barred interview with flutist Paul Dunkel (who passed away in Jan 2018). I watched the whole thing, fascinated! Many people talk about studying with Kincaid, Julius Baker, and Sam Baron, but hearing intricate details from someone who studied with all three, is super interesting. (video)

Note: Dunkel mentions the Maquarre Daily Exercises as a personal favourite. They are melodious!

Listen to Paul Dunkel play Debussy: (video)

Can anyone guess which flute was used for the Debussy? I hear Powell. Best guess; as I once played a Powell headjoint for two years. Use the comment button if you want to chime in on this, or any of these recordings. Some of the below are fairly rough, and some astoundingly not what you expect. I guess that's the randomness of youtube's flute fans and their LP collections; thank heavens they share them, though!

Listen to historic flute teachers mentioned in the interview:

William Kincaid (audio from youtube)

Samuel Baron (audio from youtube)

Julius Baker (audio from youtube)

Tom Nyfenger (audio from youtube)

Joseph Mariano (audio from youtube)

Paul's favourite 21st century symphony player:
 Elizabeth Rowe of Boston Symphony - listen to her play Mozart Flute & Harp (excerpt)
Boston Symphony Facebook Video

Finger Exercises; my take on "Finger Twisters":

 I personally don't play "finger twisters" because I have an injured left arm. If any of my students want to see what they look like, I have pages of them, collected from over the years. But I'd like to share my caution that if you tend to be tense in the arms at this point in your playing, then these types of "twisters" may not be great for you. It all depends on what stage of playing you are at.

  If you can already play the Maquarre Daily Exercises smoothly with low, curved fingers, and no key noise, and gentle relaxed arms,  and you do not have the habit of  adding arm and hand/shoulder tension when you play difficult sequences, then sure; check out some "finger twisters" but with care.

In general, the secret of accurate and fast flute fingers is to release excess tension, with every gentle repetition, and to become more and more released in every muscle group, as you discover the best ergonomics of motion. This can often mean actually putting the flute on your shoulder and boldly looking at your fingers to find out which finger is doing what. Which are moving in tandem together? Which are moving in opposite directions? (teeter totter).
When you look at them are they low and curved? Are you building a new sense of ease as you co-ordinate the up-down combinations?

For novices and intermediates, I prefer "birdcalls" of two and three notes taken from the etude or piece, with varying rhythms and freedom to change the rhythm, to finger "drills". With only two notes, I am much more likely to discover which finger is "holding" too hard and learn to let go easily when I am releasing all expectations and improvising throughout the birdcalls or through short-long and long-short and triplet rhythms. So do start there if you're interested.

Meanwhile the above Dunkel interview is about the New York Symphony scene and the super-humanly HIGH LEVEL of flute playing, where you can expect to be asked to sight-read Ballet, Opera or New Music finger twisters for two to four hours without making a mistake, (if, for example you receive a last minute gig substituting in a concert you have never rehearsed, or for which there is only one rehearsal and the music is hugely complex). For that level of super human flute playing, you need to pre-train by pouring through books of all kinds of finger twisters so that no combination of notes ever sounds more difficult than any other combination of notes. Some of those books are by Moyse and have names like: 480 Scales and Arpeggios.
Just thought I'd clarify all this. Comments welcome. :>)

Jen :>)

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Slowing the tempo of accompaniment tracks

Dear Flute-Lovers,
 Recently I've been slowing down accompaniment CD tracks for my flute students, so that they don't have to take such blistering prestos and allegros until they're comfortable doing so.
I promised them that I'd write a blog post showing them how I change the tempo using a free program called Audacity, and in the way that a dinosaur born in the 1960s does it (that would be me! ) :>)

Click on the comment button at the end of this post if you can help bring us all into the 21st century, for example, if you know of apps/free programs that will also slow down tempo on an mp3. Thanks. (BURP!*** ooops, sorry....Ate a pterodactyl egg and it didn't go down right.)

Note to the wise:
Plucked Accompaniment works best:
The sound quality of the new slower tempo backing track will be pretty excellent providing the recording is originally a plucked instrument: a guitar, a harp or a harpsichord (sometimes piano) only.
Any other instruments, full orchestra, string quartet, flutes, or any other wind/brass/string with vibrato simply sounds too weird when slowed down. Stick with the plucked instruments. Trust me.

Here's my method:

1. Download Audacity (free recording manipulating program for Mac or Windows)

2. Download the "Lame Encoder plug in" (only separate because of copyright) that you will need in order to make mp3s which take up less file space than .wav files, and are sendable as attachments.

Here is the information from Audacity on the Lame Encoder along with the download if you need to read about it.

Important note: This whole Lame thing only takes a minute, and you only have to do it once and it is a safe thing to download, like Audacity. You will find it useful if remember which folder you saved the Lame Encoder plug-in into, so that later, when you're inside Audacity, about to save a file as an mp3, you know where to look when Audacity asks you: "Where did you put the Lame Encoder?". You will remember, you will point to it with your mouse, and you will never have to deal with it ever again; c'est fini!

Otherwise if you're thinking "who knows where the Lame goes?" find it here once you've downloaded it:
Default location for Lame  in Windows is c:\program files\LAME For Audacity\
For MAC OS the plugin is found in /usr/local/lib/audacity/

More Lame encoder info; You use it to change a sound file from wav to mp3

And finally to change tempo of any sound file, here's how: Video

3. How to change the tempo using Audacity. (super easy)

I used the above method for several Music-Minus-One and Paul Edmund-Davies playalong Bach Sonatas (books 1-2-3) and Audacity is a fantastic tool.

You can burn a whole new CD of your backing tracks saved as mp3s, with all your own tempos for the fast movements to perform with for "at home" concerts with CD.
There are Tango Flute and Guitar MMO books/cds, as well as piano accomp CDs that work this way.

And, once you're using Audacity, if you ever need to change the pitch of any kind of a recording (to make it A-440 so you can play right over top of the recording) see my previous post: Altering the pitch of a flute playalong.

Enjoy your newly fashioned backing tracks and please do comment with other free/easy MODERN methods of slowing tempo that work for more tech-savvy dudes, among whom I do not often number. :>)

Best, Jen

NEW  Classical behind-the-scenes audio podcast:

I've been listening to a great new classical music podcast:
Stand Partners for Life.

These two violinists are members of the LA Phil.
I particularly enjoyed these two episodes:

Audition Advice for my younger self (listen to audio)

What we love and loathe about young conductors (listen to audio)

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy 2018! Resmini Interview

Dear Flute Lovers,
A Happy New Year to all!
Over the holidays I've been enjoying the Paul Edmund-Davies 24 free sequences (prior post).
A great deal of thought has gone into them; highly recommended! And a reminder, they will no longer be free after the holidays, as they will be published in printed form. So visit those free pages early!

I also really enjoyed the Emma Resmini interview at the Flute Examiner this week:

There are great videos of Emma's performances as well:

Hope everyone is well and happy!
Best, for 2018.
Jen Cluff

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Davies' sequences - B-flat fingerings for flute

Dear Flute-lovers,

Earlier this year, Paul Edmund-Davies uploaded free warmups and exercises that he called his "Sequences". They are musical, fun and engaging. I really enjoy adding them to my library.
I wrote about his video demonstrations and linked his first nine sequences here.

Update April 2018: No longer free. Paul has uploaded his 24 practice sequences with demonstration videos. They are now published for purchase at his website:

And beginners and novices, do scroll down to read The Three Fingerings for B-flat information, which is the second item, below.

Best, Jen

Note about B-flats/A-sharps from Jen:

The Three Fingerings for B-flat on the flute

Dear Flute-beginners,

I received an email this week from a student who didn't know about there being three B-flat fingerings and so was confused when they saw a fingering chart that showed all three alternates.

If you are in the same boat, and only know one B-flat fingering, here's a fingering diagram:

(click to enlarge - use backbutton to return.)

And here's a complete diagram that shows all the parts of the flute, including the two thumb keys and side key for B-flat:

The best idea is to consult your private flute teacher about learning to use the various B-flat fingerings if you're a beginner or novice player. Usually you stay with the standard fingering for the first few years, to make it feel "easy".
Later, as an intermediate, you will make more and more use of the Thumb-key-B-flat, and still later, when you're quite advanced, you'll find uses for the B-flat side key.
**Notice that above, Paul Edmund-Davies suggests using the standard ("Long" "1 and 1" ) B-flat fingering for his sequences. It is the fingering that needs the most practice.

The need to continue to practice the standard B-flat fingering is covered in these articles for more advanced players:

All three B-flat fingerings are needed:
Part 1/Part 2:

Best, Jen

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ornaments: Grace Notes, Appogiaturas, Trills, Grupetti

Like a map in the lid of a chocolate box.
Dear Flute-lovers,

I previously wrote a post on Flute Trills and how to read and play them for flute students just starting trills.
Since then, I've had several requests for sources for flute baroque/classical ornamentation that goes into a little more depth. Of course there is the historically researched resource of music theory online.

But perhaps the best, most concise resource I have found is this one;

Ornaments by Arthur Brooke (download a 2.7 mb free pdf of all ornaments for flute explained.)

Please help yourself to the above ( taken from the IMSLP public domain method book).
 I just extracted all the pertinent pages, if you don't want to search through the whole book.
I hope this helps everyone to have a basic source from which to know "the rules" before artistically bending and breaking them. I'm all for creativity rather than "correctness" but we all need to have a bit of history on what all the symbols meant and what previous players did when interpreting them.

And, of course, just remember that printed music is also full of strange editions and mis-prints where the ornaments are written wrongly. I suggest simply writing in the ornament in your own short-hand once you've decided how to execute it by experimentation.

Listening to recordings can really help in the case of uncertainty to what sounds best in a piece of sheetmusic that has symbols that could be misrepresented.

With trills, and starting on the upper note, I like Brooke's suggestion for writing IN an upper auxiliary once you've decided that your early Classical or Baroque piece should have some of the trills beginning on the note above (at important cadence points especially.)

Grace Notes:

Grace notes at a glance: the long and short.


(click on jpg to enlarge, then use back button to return).
See more at:



(click on jpg to enlarge)

See more at:
 Hope this helps.

More concise pdf flute ornament handouts; very few pages to print; previous posts:

1. How to read flute trills and tremelos (free pdf)

2. How to read and rhythmically calculate the performance of Grupetti/Grupettos (free pdf)

Today's addition: Larger file free pdf from Jen:
All flute ornaments explained with examples (Arthur Brooke Vol.1 extracts - pdf)
Read from your computer as a pdf for scrolling through instead of printing.

Comments welcome. :>)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Flute Composer's historical timeline

Dear Flute-lovers,

Some of my students were looking up their composers, and I mentioned "Timeline at a Glance" for flutists. From an old 1950s music history book, I took a foldout two page timeline that had all kinds of historical events and composers and placed some of the standard flute repertoire composers alongside them so you could view how all the European composers overlapped. Because there were no recordings, the only way they could learn of eachother was by visiting, listening to concerts, and sharing scores. So note the influences due to commonly travelled routes in Europe!

Here is my latest composer's timeline at a glance as an image. I've added Kohler, Doppler, Marais, Berbiguier etc. so you can see why and when they wrote as they did.

(click on the above image to enlarge your view, or right-click to save as a jpg.)

Since the original chart didn't venture very far into the 20th century, one would have to add another page to place all the contemporary composers. But this was "at a glance", so it helps for quick reference.

Also, when researching composers, do check out Flute Ark!

Need to distinguish between one W.F. Bach and another, or one Loeillet (from London or Ghent?) and their cousin? Well then use the very fabulously concise "Flute Ark" composer information site by Trevor Wye and friends:

Very useful for quick information about the historical period of your repertoire and to establish who wrote what in the standard flute repertoire.

Hope this helps,
Best, Jen