August 2014 Convention
Chicago, IL

Sir James Galway Masterclass

Sir James Galway

Sir James Galway taught the third and final masterclass featuring winners of the Masterclass Performers Competition. He began the class with a discussion and demonstration of recommended warm-up exercises. He presented ideas included in his publication, First Flute, in which there is a heavy emphasis on scales and the basics. He also emphasized exercises from Moyse’s legendary book, De La Sonorite, for developing tone, for learning to play piano and forte, and for developing embouchure flexibility.

The first exercise in Moyse’s book should not be done too fast—connect the tone on note changes. Galway recommends a later exercise in the book, involving low whole notes in groups of four, for learning piano and forte. In this exercise, he suggests beginning piano, crescendo to forte by the third whole note, then decrescendo to piano by the end of the fourth whole note—all on one breath. Another great embouchure flexibility exercise is the first exercise from Moyse’s book 20 Exercises and Studies in long slurs, trills, pauses, etc. for the Flute. This exercise involves large, slurred leaps across all three octaves, and the goal is to play with evenness of tone throughout all three registers. Galway also highly recommends exercise #5, which is simply arpeggios from low to third octave, beginning forte with a decrescendo to pianissimo fermata. During his discussion of embouchure flexibility, he stressed that “flexible embouchure is very important.” You should not have a “smiley” embouchure.

Following the opening warm-up session, Lindsay Bryden, Min Hee Kim, and Brooke Harris performed with Colette Valentine on piano. The alternate for this class was Samuel Hood. Repertoire included the third and fourth movements of the Prokofiev Sonata, Grand Air Varie, by Jules Demersseman, and the first movement of Widor’s Suite. Common themes discussed included phrasing, tempo, playing with more sound and more sonority, and minimizing movement while playing. Particularly in the Prokofiev, Galway encouraged quicker tempos in both movements to create much more energy and excitement. In general, he cautioned against playing too softly—“be sure there is enough sonority to carry to the people in the back.” He also cautioned against moving while playing, saying that it “wastes energy and uses breath needed to make long phrases. Don’t use the body to express the music.” Rather, he believes that you should use how you play it to express the music.

Sir James Galway, Colette Valentine (piano), Lindsay Bryden

—Rebecca Hovan

photos by Brian Covington