August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

Pedagogy: A Method to your Madness

August 10, 2006

Panelists for “A Method to Your Madness? Developing a Progressive Curriculum for Every Level Using Methods and Daily Studies” stressed to an audience of about 200 the need for regular practice of etudes and daily studies to build technique and make performing repertoire easier. All provided lists of their personal favorites, and encouraged the use of the NFA publication Selected Flute Studies: A Graded Guide of Etudes, Daily Studies, and Method Books.George Pope set the tone for the discussion with his philosophy: “The elements of good tone, good technique, and musicality are inter-related at the most basic level (DNA). Likewise, clear concepts of breathing, resonance, and release of tension form the bedrock for a complete musician, and guide us in making decisions about body position and balance. These concepts can be achieved most efficiently and thoroughly through the study of methods, melodies, and etudes.” He emphasized the use of Moyse’s 24 Melodious Studies with Variations as a way of learning to control each element of flute playing, and as a means of giving the student and teacher a common language. Troy Etter recollected how his teachers worked on etudes in detail with him, thus preparing him to work out repertoire on his own. He still allots a large portion of his own practice time to studies, and he emphasized that teaching students how to create their own studies from passages found in repertoire is also teaching them how to practice. Chris Potter also advocated a balanced diet of tone, technique, and tunes in both lesson and practice time. She described her use of “tone tunes,” personal collections of favorite melodies that students choose for themselves. Rebecca Hovan relayed her fondness for Taffanel and Gaubert studies and shared a flexible practice plan for various levels of students. Moderator Jennifer Clippert kept the discussion moving at a lively pace, and an enthusiastic audience asked many questions.

—Cynthia C. Stevens (reported by Holly Clemans, Jennifer Clippert, Rebecca Hovan, and Amy Zuback)