August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

Pedagogy Potpourri Sessions

August 13, 2006

About 100 early risers on Sunday morning were treated to three Pedagogy Potpourri sessions. In “From Eggplant to Sage: Thinking Outside the Tone Color Box,” Stacey Steele suggested we assume that a range of 1 to 5 describes the spectrum of tone colors available on the flute. She demonstrated how a simple exercise can expand a student’s tonal and verbal vocabulary. If levels 2 through 4 are our “everyday colors”, numbers 1 and 5 become the extremes.

Stacey Steele, Nancy Nourse, and Holly Clemans

Without assigning specific “colors” (such as yellow or purple) or adjectives (such as bright, dark, sunny, scary), she had two students demonstrate the extreme ranges while asking the audience to write down any description that best described their response. Because each person hears and learns differently, there are no wrong answers. Once a student has her or his perception of what the number represents, both the student and teacher establish a common language for describing tone colors to each other.

In “Developing Musicianship Through the Semi-Private Flute Lesson,” panelist Nancy Nourse suggested that several tools can help make semi-private lessons successful. By grouping together students who are socially and musically compatible, the teacher can focus on each student equally, balance individual and team musical responsibilities, and encourage team spirit without competitiveness. Note groupings (notes organized by musical idea, usually beginning with an upbeat) can turn any exercise into a shared study with equal responsibility. Such an exercise also encourages musicianship, because each student is responsible to play only a short grouping of notes and can usually focus better to play better.

In “Practice Techniques for Musical Expression,” Holly Clemans recommended beginning a practice session by dividing a 10-minute warm-up into the following categories: one minute on whistle tones, two minutes on high note flexibility, three minutes on harmonics and four minutes on appropriate tone studies (such as those taken from the Wye and Moyse tone books). Devising games such as “Link and Chain” and “Chase the Tail” provides solutions for working out difficult fingering passages while maintaining musical integrity. Other suggestions include breaking down the melody to find the “Skeleton in the Closet,” “Fruit n’ Flute” (using the names of fruits to remember rhythms), adding words to the melody to add emphasis to certain notes, and writing stories to go along with the music.

—Cynthia C. Stevens (reported by Jennifer Clippert)