Simply Flute meets Etude of the Week
Meet two of the most important flute platforms of the internet in this unique cooperation that will be streamed worldwide!
Join Paul Edmund-Davies (founder of Simply Flute) and Katy Wherry (founder of Étude of the Week) in a workshop on the Four Pillars of flute technique, namely: 1) Breathing and Phrasing, encompassing Sonority, 2) Finger Work, 3) Articulation and 4) Intervals.
Guided by Katy and Paul, in an entirely original presentation, by taking transcribed studies of Jacques-François Gallay (a 19th Century French Horn virtuoso and composer), participants will be given a truly unique experience. With appropriately selected studies, they will be able play, explore and work on the similar issues and challenges surrounding sound production and general technique, that all woodwind and/or brass players are required to overcome and conquer.
You can find more information about both platforms here:
Katy and I will be combining forces for the ninety minute class taking place from 15.15 to 16.45 (European Time) on Saturday 22nd April, which will be broadcast live on Facebook for the benefit of those who cannot actually be there at the venue itself. Pasha will be the man behind three broadcast quality cameras and the person in charge of the connection of the event to the whole of the outside world. No pressure there then!
We will be on hand to discuss numerous flute related topics (and quite possibly a few others that aren’t) and as and when requested, to answer questions and provide comments and advice.
This event though is primarily about you, the audience and participants, having a chance to appear and play in a more public arena. At the same time it will provide an opportunity to witness and explore how others tackle those technical problems that we are all plagued with at various stages of our flute playing lives. In short, it will be a flute players’ melting pot!
When the idea was put forward for this collaboration, thinking caps were rapidly donned. Furtive explorations of a wide variety of possibilities took place, to see if we could jointly come up with a concept that would be engaging, interesting, educational and great fun in the process.
After much email toing and froing across The Atlantic, I believe that between us, we have now pieced together an idea for the class that really does tick all of the above boxes and provides compelling reasons for these two online flute groups to come together for what will be an unusual and quite unique event.
When Simply Flute was born almost eight years ago, our initial focus was on producing the Köhler Study Programme. We created an edition of the fifteen studies that make up Opus. 33, Book 1, provided practice notes, a performance video and I wrote a series of exercises tackling the more problematical areas of each and every study. We even advertised Simply Flute at this stage as A Study of Studies. Since then, further ‘chapters’ of studies by other composers have gradually been added.
Katy Wherry set up Etude of The Week to explore…you guessed it… the world of studies or études!
Founded by Katy Wherry, Etude of the Week is an online community for flutists to share their interpretations of specific etudes and studies. Each week an etude is chosen and members upload their recordings to receive comments and suggestions. It is a group that is safe and open, encouraging flutists of all ages and levels to share their music with others.
When a joint collaboration was suggested, with both of our respective histories, it seemed that the most logical path would be to continue in the study or étude direction.
But how? What could we piece together that would be both new and groundbreaking?
As a student, I vividly remember working on studies arranged for flute by Paganini, Chopin, Kreutzer and Wieniawski. Whilst they invariably contained demanding and at times complex elements to work on, lurking at the back of my mind throughout the hours spent digesting these studies was the indisputable fact that whatever I did, or however committed I was, there was one fundamental and inescapable drawback. They all, ultimately and without question, sounded infinitely better on the instruments that they were written for.
Yes, it was occasionally fun to imagine that I could conjure up the power of a piano, or to pretend that I could soar around the top end of the instrument with consummate ease, as though a violin, but the nagging truth was never far away. The fact that these transcribed studies worked so much more convincingly on their originally intended instruments, was always going to come back to haunt me, in the process shattering the delusion of such a warm, fuzzy and unrealistic dream.
Although all musicians need to explore the art of breathing, to reflect and enhance the music we are playing, controlling the intake of air to support sound and get to the end of a long phrase, is a skill that neither a violinist nor a pianist has to overly concern themselves with. Equally, knowing how much pressure to apply to the tongue and exactly where within the mouth to place it for an attack, are also techniques of zero interest to the skill sets of those fortunate string players and pianists!
However, if flute players start to look around at the study (étude) repertoire for other instruments, where air is the source of sound, rather than a finger or a bow, they soon discover that there are numerous shared technical problems, which are by no means exclusive to the instrument that they were intended for.
We can discover many interesting similarities about breathing, finger work, articulation and intervals from studies written for other woodwind and brass instruments. Invariably it is the same message, but transmitted in a different way.
Surely, this is something that should be of great interest to us and ultimately more beneficial than working on material that is suited better for string or piano players?
After all, other woodwind/brass players and authors would have been as equally passionate about investigating and solving solutions to the various problems presented on their instruments, as writers such as Altès and Köhler were for those to be found with the flute.
There is an abundance of written assistance available with regards to flute playing technical problems. Perhaps though, we can understand and learn more swiftly by taking a closer look at how other instruments that involve air and lungs tackle similar issues. The only very minor drawback so far is that in order for a flute player to benefit from a study written for a bassoon or a French horn, pitch will need to be altered to a higher and more flute friendly register and quite possibly a different key. With a music software programme such as Dorico, this is easily achieved.
I am very pleased to announce that over a four week period, starting on Sunday 26th March and in the run up to the main event at Adams on 22nd April, Simply Flute and Etude of The Week will be exploring and guiding you through four very different studies by the French horn virtuoso, teacher and composer, Jacques-François Gallay (1795 – 1864). With these studies, we will be able to work on the Four Pillars of Technique: Breathing and Phrasing, Finger Work, Articulation and Intervals.
All of the material will be entirely free, including the highly extensive pdf brochure, which will be available on the day (22nd April), for the main event and for all to keep ad infinitum, work on and use as a reference point, just a click or two away on their computer, iPad or tablet.
Each week, we will be releasing one Gallay study (four in total). All studies will appear in a small selection of different keys to help those of you who would like to brush up on sight-reading. Once the study is in your head in the first key, it should be far easier to hear it and then work on it in other keys, thus reducing the potential for note errors.
In addition to the studies, each week we will be releasing the following:
Study practice notes.
An introduction/instruction video.
A performance video.
At least two original exercises in multiple keys (with specific practice notes), to work on the more demanding aspects of each study.
An introduction/performance video of the exercises.
In other words, there will be a specific and dedicated study programme being sent out every week over the period of one month.
This encapsulates a vast quantity of written and video material that will all be easily accessible to download and view. For this one-off project I hasten to add that all of the material provided will be absolutely FREE!
Those participating could think of this as a one month warm up to the grand finale at the Adams European Flute Festival!
For the event on 22nd April, as well as performances from those attending the event ‘live’, we will be inviting flute players to send in their own recordings of one or more of the studies to Etude of The Week. Time allowing, a selection of these pre-recorded studies will be aired globally on the day and Katy and myself will be providing helpful practice advice and performance tips. More about that in the coming weeks.
The first study (Gallay, Opus 13, No. 6) and all extras will be released next week, via a combination of various media that include this newsletter and Facebook.
Please do inform all of your flute friends of this project. It would be wonderful to have as large a flute army as possible involved!