August 2014 Convention
Chicago, IL

Open Masterclass with Bradley Garner

I express my appreciation to the NFA convention program chairs for including open masterclasses such as was done this each year; they provide wonderful opportunities for student or amateur flutists to learn from the very best teachers. This year was no exception, as four teenagers eagerly accepted Bradley Garner’s challenge to “come on up—I promise to make you sound better!”

Garner quickly honed in on a few areas to improve each performer’s playing, offering pearls of wisdom from his many years of teaching. Here are a few of his pithy sayings.

  • Tune by playing an A against the piano’s Gm9 chord.
  • When tonguing faster notes, aim air deeper into the flute (60 percent of air into flute).
  • Breathe from 3 inches below the belly button.
  • Use “ti-ki” (as in “ticket”) when double tonguing to minimize tongue movement.
  • Visualize and mimic a roller coaster when playing a cadenza, gathering speed as you go downhill.
  • Add interest and variety to your playing by telling a story; then tell it again, but in a different way.
  • Exaggerate what’s on the page, as a Broadway actor must exaggerate enunciation.
  • Change sound on one note by changing oral cavity with different vowels.
  • Use lower lip to make aperture smaller for greater ease in upper register.
  • Vibrato is a natural accent; be careful how and where you use it.
  • Avoid vibrato on the final note.

Garner concluded the class with the admonition he gives all musicians: “Use a metronome, use a tuner, and find a teacher!”

—Rosene Rohrer