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I had thought I could use my alto as a "backup" but 2 problems with that: 1) the alto is too different and 2) if I really need a backup for a performance, the alto is in the wrong key so I couldn't use it, anyway!

After intensive play-testing of 2 potential flutes, I decided to buy the little Trevor James 10XE student model from Judi. It was rented by a prospective student who gave it up after just 3 months.

Pros:
  • My headjoint will fit on it - loosely, but we can probably wrap some teflon tape on it to snug it up if needed.
  • Smooth key mechanism.
  • Split E mechanism = easier to play said note
  • Basically brand new
  • A good brand that will keep resale value
  • Great sound for this level of flute
  • I wouldn't feel bad if I didn't play it very often
  • I wouldn't feel bad playing it in cold weather, or taking it on trips where it might get damaged, lost, or stolen
Cons:
  • Since it is so new, it's more than I'd prefer to spend on a backup flute
  • Might be mean of me to buy it when there's a student somewhere who would like to have a great starter flute at a great price
  • It has an offset G, which my flute doesn't have (although switching back and forth should be fine no more than I'm going to be playing it)

The other flute I looked at was an Amadeus 700, solid silver w/ open holed keys; just too nice for a backup. It was much beloved by a very talented, serious flute student of my teacher for many years. However, her mother found an Altus 1207 on Craigslist that was apparently a STEAL, so she has had to part with this one.
 
Pros:
  • It was a lovely flute!
  • The cut is somewhat similar to my headjoint (closer than the TJ, anyway)
  • My headjoint fits the body of the Amadeus like it was made for it
  • There's a possibility I could use it as a cheap upgrade for my flute since it's solid silver and mine isn't
Cons:
  • I wouldn't play it enough to really do it justice.
  • Older instrument
  • Higher price; I could put that $1000 toward a true upgraded body for my current flute instead
  • I wouldn't want to take it out in the cold any more than I would my own flute
  • It would definitely be rotten of me to buy it as a backup when it's an excellent quality, reasonably-priced step-up flute that some high school student might really be grateful for the chance to buy and play...
 
I could've kept shopping around, but I really cottoned to the TJ, and I like to have decisions made, so there you have it. Not to mention I like and trust Judi. If she says it'll play like new after sitting in a case for ?? months/years, she'd be the one to know. It makes me feel a little fuzzy inside that she approves of how I care for my instruments, too! <3
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The alto workshop was AMAZING. I have photos, I have videos, I have lots of new music, and I have gained a tremendous dose of knowledge!

Highlights include:
1. I can and should use the straight head on my alto! This is HUGE and wonderful and makes me SO HAPPY. I did have to kind of start over since I've been working hard on the curved head. :/
2. My alto is a particularly fine instrument! Despite being a base model, it has a fabulous sound that repeatedly impressed folks at the workshop! I lucked out BIG TIME.
3. I've been doing the harmonics exercises All Wrong. I now know how to do them right!

I have been working on long tones/breathing exercises this past week or two - every other day I'm going through a series of exercises from the Alto Method book. My times are improving a little.I am seeing definite improvement in my ability to "taper" notes, and I'm wasting less air by starting phrases more softly.

I have begun working on 2 of the audition pieces for the alto contest. BLECH. Today was one of those "I suck at everything forever and will never make progress" days. I know that is not true, but we all have those days... I need to pick up the 3rd piece. I keep forgetting to order it, no idea why.

In less happy but important news: I learned not to take my instruments to Dr. Note. He used GLUE to put in my cork on Mercedes (C flute)! Poor baby! Plus, he didn't use the right cork (which probably explains why he needed glue to keep it in place). And he did something untoward with Caroline (my alto), sanding the headjoint or something? Ugh. Thankfully, Judi was able to fix everything and get me back up to snuff.

For Caroline, she did a few adjustments that seem like magic to me... she adjusted my footjoint keys that makes rolling to low C more smooth/comfortable. Fixed a slight leak in a G/F key? And did something to the embouchure hole that improved my ability to get a sound out, too. For whatever reason, the curved head embouchure plays more clearly and easily than the straight head; slight differences in the hand-cut, I believe. And she suggested a lafreQue sound bridge for Caroline that demonstrably improved playability (responsiveness/clarity of tone), so I picked up a set (silver plated red brass). Very Nice.

I'm auditioning flutes to find a back up flute - any locals with a spare flute hit me up! At present, I might be buying a used Trevor James student flute from Judi... plays easily and is being offered at a nice discount.

Out of time!! more later!
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Since the KCFC performance season has ended and my alto workshop is a few weeks off, I took my flutes into Dr. Note for a look-over. Word on the street is he's good for minor repairs/basic maintenance things, where as for work requiring more expertise (intricate work, flute overhauls, etc) Judy is the place to go. The cork in my C flute needed replaced, and the B key on my alto needed adjustment. Just under $50 for both. Nice!

I'll be spending most of my summer focusing on alto flute, starting with the Alto/Bass Flute Retreat in June! Looking forward to that! Already have my music, and working to set up my lesson the day before. I had a long lesson with Gina this past Wednesday. We made more progress on my balance issues. I wish I could just use the straight head, darn it.

A friend encouraged me to go to the International Low Flutes Convention next year, and to enter the competition. Don't know how I feel about that right now. Part of me is all GO FOR IT!!! while the other part is hesitant. Like I need another thing to do, y'know? We'll see how this first workshop turns out. :)

For now, I'm going to log a little bit of practice time w/ my newly cleaned & adjusted alto!
gracegrey: (sculpture)
Wow, I haven't practiced in 2 weeks, really closer to a whole month. In part due to a finger injury. Mostly due to a headache that will not stop. 3 weeks solid. I've had chiro appts, massages, seen my optometrist, tried several painkillers, ice, heat, it's been relentless!

Monday, I was prescribed a painkiller that actually helped a little! YEAY! Today, I saw my GP, who laid the blame squarely at the feet of muscles-skeleton-tension stuff. I'm badly inflamed. She prescribed an anti-inflammatory, which I am to rotate with the painkiller. Ice, stretching, continued massage/chiropractic.

So, good news: not likely anything terrifying like a tumor or some new sinus-related-horror.

Bad news: I'm soooooo not practiced up for rehearsal Sunday, or our upcoming performances.

I did take the opportunity to have a music theory lesson instead of a playing-the-flute lesson with my flute teacher this week! I learned about stacked chords, what the hell a "minor third" and "diminished fifth" is... VERY COOL! I want to learn more about why music works so I can understand playing better (and playing in an ensemble - now I know what it means when "2nds have the root, basses have the fifth, altos have the 3rd").

Less positive flute choir stuff )
gracegrey: d20 kittens (d20)
Just a couple of notes from the flute master class... 6 students were selected to perform; 4 showed up.

1. To open up the sound, open the body! Root feet firmly, let jaw hang loose (think like a skeleton dangling) and form an embouchure with that looseness and space in the back of the jaw. Blow more air inbetween notes to help with intonation. Practice playing one note and open-close-open-close the jaw while playing.

2. Support the sound past the end of the note. Like when a runner runs past the finish line; don't stop until after the note is done. When playing intervals, think of a teeter-totter or seesaw. Give enough support on the low notes to "flip" up to the high notes. If pitch drops, it is an air thing, not an instrument thing.

3. Move flute in the direction you want a line or phrase to go. Vibrato should be rounded, with equal (or more soun) below and above the pitch. Feel or imagine vibrato coming from the chest instead of the back of the throat. Count out a measure or two before beginning a piece to set the tempo and clearly show where to start.

4. Sing and play at the same time to open and relax the throat. Use faster air, not a smaller embouchure - use the diaphragm, imagine a glissando. Squat and raise (plie) to aid in learning how it feels to blow air from the solar plexus.

Openness seems to be a common flute theme. And oh-so-difficult to master! As performer #3, I represented the Flute Choir well. I'm glad. <3

There are a ton of flute workshops, retreats, and master classes this year. I don't know if there's more than usual; probably just me seeing them now. One of my fellow KC Flute Choir members is strongly considering attending one in Ponoco, Tennessee. It sounds wonderful, but I'm not sure I want to do 2 week-long flute workshops in the same year... Not to mention spending all my vacation time on them.
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I have finally succumbed to a head cold severe enough to keep me from work for 3 days. BOO, HISS. Flute practice is out till breathing comes back.

Which is a bummer because I was accepted to perform in the Master Class this weekend! Now i'll be super out of practice. DAMN.

In happier news, our name change has gone through! We are us for real now, IDs and all! [cue endless mountains of paperwork]
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Tonight's brief practice was on an arrangement of the above for flute choir. I'm on alto flute, and this is very, very hard. I was struggling with some rhythms around measure 78, so I looked it up on YouTube and listened a few times, then played along.

I've got a long ways to go with building up the hand strength to support the weight of an alto flute while moving my fingers really, really fast!

No miracles will happen on this piece; I will have to drill diligently to develop muscle memory.

I do see where my part fits in the piece now, and I understand the "string style." It seems to me like flutes are always being pushed to mimic strings. I find this tedious. I hope as I am exposed to more repertoire I will find some pieces where a flute can be a flute instead of a violin.
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