August 2005 Convention
San Diego, CA

Piccolo Tips for Amateurs

Thursday, August 11

Barbara Ogar presented this piccolo workshop in honor of her teacher Clement Barone, former piccoloist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Barbara’s warm, gracious manner immediately connected heart-to-heart with her large audience through numerous tidbits of advice and touching personal stories from her beloved former teacher.

Even though the workshop was geared toward amateur players, many professionals and teachers were in the room. Reminding her audience that the piccolo is merely an extension of the flute, Ogar encouraged us to play the piccolo with confidence (“be assertive, heroic!”), using basic flute repertoire to practice, particularly the slow movements of Bach and Handel sonatas. We should always strive for an open, singing tone in all registers and aim to be musicians, not technicians.

Some important differences exist, however, between flute and piccolo playing. With piccolo, the aperture is smaller, breath support and airspeed are greater (although the amount of air used is actually less), vibrato needs to be faster in upper octave and slower in lower register, and placement of the instrument on the lip is usually a bit higher. Pitch tendencies are also different, since the piccolo upper register tends to be flat.

Ogar included suggested repertoire, such as Vivaldi’s Concertos, Persichetti’s Parable, Liebermann’s Concerto for Piccolo, Jeffery Zook’s Polkas for Piccolo, Balleron’s Noisy Birds, Pettigrew’s Piccolo Suite, Johnson’s Wind in the Pines, Michal’s Four Dances, Christensen’s Piccolo Espanol, and Popp’s Nightingale Serenade. Plenty of music to keep us busy!!

—Rosene Rohrer