The End of the Season Crush

So many upcoming concerts, so little time. June is almost here, along with the end of the regular symphony season. However, there’s plenty of music happening before that.

Tomorrow morning, the education season continues with a Carnival of the Animals performance outside of Columbia, SC with the SC Phil. This is a wonderful show with collaborations from other art groups in the city.

The rest of the week is devoted to Holy Week. There are many services at Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Atlanta. The mix of ancient and new musical works help tell a story many people wish to hear.

Next week, the Greenville Symphony performs an exciting program of Debussy’s La Mer, Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, and Ravel’s La Valse. Lots of great piccolo parts to play!

The following week is devoted to chamber music. The Vista Ensemble performs their Circle of Bach program in Hilton Head on Saturday, April 14th at All Saints Episcopal. It’s wonderful to see our historical performance chamber group expand to cover all of South Carolina (we performed in Spartanburg last week for Bach’s birthday).

The next day, my colleagues from the Savannah Philharmonic and I play wind trios at Skidaway Island UMC. We will perform Madeline Dring’s Flute/oboe/piano trio, Katherine Hoover’s Summer Music, a Haydn London Trio (it will be fun to try this with flute, oboe, and horn instead of two flutes and cello or bassoon), and the Reinecke Trio for Oboe, horn, and piano.

April ends with more work in Greenville for their final chamber concert of the season. I’m always happy to play Respighi, and we will be playing his Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No.1.

It brings me great joy to see so many southern cities excited to bring classical music to their communities. I’m lucky to be a part of it.




Going Shopping for Ideas in Your Own Music Cabinet

While preparing for the Vivaldi a minor Piccolo Concerto, I wanted some nice warmups and melodies to play for staying in shape beyond preparing the concerto itself and other upcoming piccolo pieces. The Tulou Metodo Popolare, is, of course, an excellent resource, but I found the melodic examples needed some etude-like partners in crime.

As I sifted through my stack of etude books, I came across my old Drouet 25 Famous Studies for flute–one of my favorite books to use for middle school students when they need to practice sight-reading. I realized that the range and technique this book explores is perfect for the piccolo! As an added bonus, I still have markings from my teacher, Carl Hall, to encourage faster tempi and improved articulations.

We are lucky to have new books coming out, almost daily, with exercises specifically for the piccolo. However, it’s also fun to revisit old friends with a new approach. Adding Drouet to one’s piccolo practice is an excellent way to extract greater beauty and control from the instrument, as well as improving technique for pieces from the tonal world. What else can we find in our collections for piccolo for more practice-fun?

Exciting January Performances

The welcome solitude between the myriad of  joyful Holiday concerts and the rest of the symphony season creates a space for much-needed practice and planning. Both of these are necessary to have a successful beginning to 2018.

I look forward to the first concert of 2018 on January 13th with the South Carolina Philharmonic and their tribute to Leonard Bernstein (the first of many for this year as the musical world celebrates his centennial). The Symphonic Dances from West Side Story are always fun to play, and I’m glad to have another chance to work on Joseph Schwantner’s New Morning for the World. Challenging piccolo parts are always good for the soul.

The following week, I finally return to the Columbus (GA) Symphony for the first time this season to play Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Jan Jarvlepp’s Garbage Concerto for percussion and orchestra on January 20th. Two weeks in a row of new-ish orchestral music is an unusual treat. It will be great to see my Columbus colleagues and visit the Iron Bank Coffee Shop.

For Mozart’s 262nd birthday, and, more importantly, on my grandmother’s 85th on January 27th, I am the featured soloist with the Savannah Philharmonic. I am honored to perform the rarely programmed A Minor Piccolo Concerto of Antonio Vivaldi–a beautiful work.

And it doesn’t stop there! I end the month at the gorgeous Spivey Hall, on the campus of Clayton State (where I played my first piano lessons). Savannah Baroque will be performing works of Thomas Arne, Henry Purcell, Michel Blavet, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Tobias Hume, and George Frideric Handel for the students of Metro Atlanta for Spivey Hall’s Education series.

The pleasure of practice, score study, and listening time are the luxuries of this brief winter respite. Onward to 2018 and all its musical treasures.




Sight-Reading Tips

As we hurtle toward GMEA All-State auditions in December, I thought I would dig up an old handout I wrote for a workshop a few years back. I don’t have many students right now, so, if you find this helpful, please share with your own students.

Think about having to sight-read. What is your reaction?
To dispel any negative feelings you may have about sight-reading,
let’s think of all the things you already know how to do, put them in a coherent order of operation, and develop a new picture for the sight-reading requirement.

1. SOUND: Throughout the sight-reading process, a good sound is
your foundation. The most necessary aspect for a good showing
in the sight-reading portion of the audition is good support, lots
of air, and, subsequently, your great sound. If you play this way,
the confidence you exude will raise your score. Secondary to this
is awareness of articulation and dynamics marked in the sight-
reading example, which, like the note and rhythm markings,
will most likely have some kind of pattern.
2. KEY SIGNATURE: Part of this audition requires scales. Scales
teach you to associate and remember a certain pattern of notes
based on the key signature. Sight-reading requires you to use a
key signature as you encounter a slightly less familiar pattern of
FIND THE FAMILIAR: This unfamiliar group of notes before you
is likely to have many things you may recognize. Look for major
scale sections, a chromatic scale, or an arpeggio. These are all
things you have been working hard on for the audition. Having
them appear in the sight-reading should provide some level of comfort.
TIME SIGNATURE: Note the rhythmic division (quarter, eighth,
half, dotted quarter, etc.) as the judge provides you with a tempo.
Remember there is no rhythmic group (16th notes, 32nd notes,
quarter notes) harder than another–they are all simply a
rhythmic division in time.
RHYTHMIC PATTERNS: There will be rhythmic similarities from measure to measure. See them, and skip immediately to the deviations in rhythmic pattern that will most certainly be there. It is a common pitfall to relax into a fast rhythmic pattern that might end in two half notes and play them too fast.
KEEP GOING: No matter what, keep playing. The more correct your rhythm, the more likely the right notes will come out and fall into place. When we practice at home, we are in the habit of making mistakes and correcting them. Set aside time to play through things, ignoring the strong urge to correct. Moving forward rhythmically, without correcting, creates a better sight-reading performance than trying to show the judge you caught an error.