What's on my stand? March 2021 edition
There was a trend on Instagram a few years ago (follow me! @casey.flute) where musicians would make a short video showing the world what was on their stand. I think the time is right for that trend to make a comeback.
Given the state of the world, many musicians don’t have a lot going on. Instead of showing the revolving door of symphonies and suites that I would normally be practicing at this time of the year, I think this is an excellent opportunity to show you all what I’m working on to stay in shape and motivated.
March is my birthday month, so I decided to treat myself to some new books last week. I picked up Trevor Wye’s Complete Daily Exercises for the Flute, which is a huge collection of his favourite tone and technical exercises, organized into categories and difficulty levels. There’s a little something in there for just about anyone. A word of warning: this book is a workout. It routinely spans the entire range of the instrument from B1 to D4, providing alternate fingerings for awkward intervals in the third and fourth octaves. There is quite a lot of borrowing and inspiration taken from other standard technique books, notably Taffanel and Gaubert, Reichert, Maquarre, and Moyse, which is great if you’re looking for new ways to work on the standards.
For myself, I’m finding this to be a really effective way to stay organized and on track in my technical practice into the fourth octave. Every week I intend to change up which exercises I do, making sure I stay within the categories he sets out: Tone/Warm-ups/Vocalises, Scales, Arpeggios, Chromatics, The Third Octave, and Daily Exercises.
If I were really busy with gigs and auditions, this is probably not the book I would turn to, as its thoroughness does not lend itself well to efficiency. But it is well laid out and, like most Trevor Wye books, provides helpful and insightful written directions and explanations.
The other book on my stand is Genzmer’s Modern Studies for Flute. If you’ve spent any amount of time on my social media, you’ll know I’m working my way through this book and recording all twelve studies. These studies are a perfect supplement and companion to the Hindemith Sonata, but even on their own,
they work well to improve one’s technique and ear. Tuning these bad boys is tough. Large leaps are hard to hear in real-time, especially if you’re the one playing, but combine that with tonal centres (rather than traditional major and minor keys) and you’ve got a new list of challenges. The last time I looked at this book was when I was a teenager, as some of the studies are graded between RCM grade 5 and 8, and I think I definitely took for granted just how difficult they really are. It goes beyond fingers, and I’m glad to have had the time to look at these properly over the last couple of months. I cannot recommend this book enough.
In addition to that, I took on some light reading with The Flute Book by Nancy Toff. I don’t know why I waited so long to pick this up, but I’m glad I finally have. Meticulously researched, it’s a fascinating look at the history and construction of the flute, all elements of playing, and the repertoire.
In a sense, I suppose I’ve gone back to basics this month. The pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity for all musicians to work on their craft, but with no end in sight, it’s hard to find the motivation to work on anything. As dull as some might find it to mostly just work on scales and arpeggios each day, it’s afforded me the chance to take an in-depth look at my playing. I fully intend to be a stronger player when the time comes that orchestras are allowed to perform live again, and this is one of the ways I’m going to achieve that goal.
What’s on your stand these days? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below or contact me using the form at the bottom of the page.