August 2016 Convention
San Diego, CA

Masterclass Skills 101

This masterclass, presented by the NFA Pedagogy Committee, was standing room only. Tadeu Coelho, Amy Porter, and Jim Walker provided feedback to mock job candidates Mary Matthews, Angela Heck Mueller, and Elizabeth Robinson. Each candidate was assigned a student flutist, who performed a chosen work unaccompanied, and then each had approximately 10 minutes to demonstrate her masterclass style. After each mini-masterclass, the guest pedagogues took turns addressing candidates with feedback on teaching style and with ideas on improving technique when giving a masterclass as part of an audition for a college or university teaching position.

Common themes included setting specific goals for what you want to demonstrate during your time in front of the panel and bringing relevant points together at the beginning and end of your session; including the audience and panel as you speak to the student; discussing elements (such as rhythm or intonation) that your committee members can relate to regardless of their instrument; making sure you cover more points with the student than you would in a private lesson—and faster; making sure the student does indeed sound better after you work with her; playing your flute for the student; and “fact checking”: explaining how and why to play a certain way, which also validates your educational credibility.

This session really resonated with audience members, providing a lot of useful information relevant to all levels of teachers and flutists in a short period of time. There was clearly a strong desire for more masterclass sessions of this nature at future conventions.

—Emily Nagelbach