August 2016 Convention
San Diego, CA

High School Masterclass with Tadeu Coelho

Tadeu Coelho, professor of flute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, gave an informative masterclass for a diverse audience featuring three excellent high schoolers. Jodie Chiou, an award-winning flutist from New Jersey, played the finale of Jacques Ibert’s Concerto with élan. Coelho zoomed in on details to make her performance even livelier. His comments highlighted air use, showing how overly aggressive tonguing obstructs airflow, keeping notes from speaking. Pushing the lips forward while articulating similarly gets in the way. Coelho also shared his “spiriting” technique, where the head joint is turned upside down to blow into the underside of the lip plate. When Chiou tried this, gaps in the airstream revealed where she was not supporting, allowing her to make improvements. Coelho ended with a “secret” fingering for a soft C3: F1 without the thumb key.

Tadeu Coelho

photo by Brian Covington

Next was Hanbin Koo, a North Carolina teenager described as “a child prodigy” by her piano teacher. Her flute playing was equally impressive in the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto in G Major. Here, Coelho discussed intonation, encouraging Koo to use drones while practicing, setting the drone to the tonic of the current key. He also addressed physicality, advocating the “iPhone 6+ method,” in which a cell phone (or something of similar thickness) is placed between a player’s chin and collarbone. Keeping the object secure ensures that the head and neck stay stable, which makes the airstream, pitch, and sound consistent. Coelho finished with his “Three Steps to Glory,” an outline for learning anything on the flute:

1) Sing-say the melody with accurate rhythms, dynamics, articulations, etc.
2) Solfege the melody. (Using letter names is also fine.)
3) Play it!

Finally, Ilana Shapiro, a wonderful player from southern California, gave a fiery performance of Henri Dutilleux’s Sonatine. Afterward, Coelho cautioned her not to edit Dutilleux by slowing down on the final gesture or glossing over articulation markings. He also suggested a harmonic exercise to increase flexibility. Finally, he asked questions about the character of the music, encouraging Shapiro to create a narrative for the work, which is helpful in making expressive choices that connect to the audience.

Last but most certainly not least, pianist Wendy Caldwell was a first-rate collaborator for the performers, going a long way to making Coelho’s insightful class possible.

—Ronda Benson Ford and Timothy Hagen