Flute Solo Music

Music and more for the flute

More Thoughts on Practice

I have written before about various ideas and styles of practice, including what I call “imaginary” practicing…that is to “play” an invisible instrument. It can also be a “stand-in” instrument, for instance, I like to use my glasses case. It’s a hard case, and I can place my hands on it like I was holding a flute.

This morning I ran across another blog on practice, that I feel is a good complement to my current series on practice.

So pop over to Flutelife Blog and check it out!


Happy fluting!

TwtrSymphony Presents: The Hawk Goes Hunting!

Here’s the first movement of our Symphony! Take a look at what musicians around the world, recording independently, can create with the help of a talented composer (Chip Michael) and a few tech-wise engineers!


TwtrSymphony Presents: The Hawk Goes Hunting!

UPDATE: The second movement will be out Aug. 15, 2012!


The first movement is complete! What a wonderful triumph for all the musicians, Chip Michael–composer and Maestro–and our engineers! Please take a few minutes to view the YouTube Video of the Hawk Goes Hunting.

I wonder how many of you reading this blog catch the significance of TwtrSymphony? Here is how I would summarize it, in no particular order of importance:


  • Musicians: professionals and amateurs, scattered all over the world. Our only connection to each other is Twitter.
  • Music that is delivered electronically..for the first movement, we had only our own part, so no concept of what the whole movement would sound like.
  • For some of us–learning how to record ourselves, using only a click track, and a computer recording of our part as our guide.
  • Also for some–learning how to use DropBox to transmit and receive our files.
  • Spending hours on this project, with no expectation of pay–just a love of music
  • The technical people: sound techs to sync all these files together. Support techs to keep communication running.
  • Chip Michael: Composer, script supervisor, blogger, moving force to keep the concept alive
  • Multiple tracks of music, multiple video recordings, differences in background sounds and acoustics…all coming together to create a unified musical recording.
  • Coping with dogs barking, gardeners gardening, vehicles roaring and all manner of distractions to spoil a recording.
Yes, this is an incredible accomplishment! Please listen to the music, and appreciate this new and incredible thing: TwtrSymphony.


Aurora Borealis: A Trio of Solos for Flute or Piccolo


PLEASE NOTE: TO ORDER MUSIC, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO FLUTESOLOMUSIC@GMAIL.COM  There is a problem with the link below. I am working on getting it fixed as quickly as possible! 

Piccolo and flute lovers, are you looking for something fresh and new? Do you like to have music that does not need an accompaniment to sound complete? If you answered yes to either question, then click here: “Aurora Borealis”

Collection or Sheet Music

Kaleidoscope $3.50

Floating Through the Sky $3.50

Pirouette $3.50

 “Aurora Borealis..” is three unique pieces of music written to showcase the unique character of a piccolo or flute, demonstrating the things that make them stand out among the woodwinds. Each piece can be played by itself, or play all three as a suite. There are no accompaniments, as part of the concept behind the music was to create something that would stand on its own without any other instrumentation.

The first piece, “Kaleidoscope” shows all the different colors that our instruments can create. It has ever-changing keys and meters so there is a sense of contant movement and change throughout the piece. This movement is all about the color and tone of the instrument. Play “Kaleidoscope” to impress and fascinate your listeners.

Next comes “Floating Through the Sky.”  I wrote it with the idea of the way a flute or piccolo floats out over all the other instruments in the orchestra. I see is gliding and soaring like a seagull riding the air currents over the ocean. The music soars and floats like a butterfly, a bird, or as the young soloist it was written for says: “a teddy bear with wings.” As you play your listeners will fly peacefully along with you.

Once you come back to earth, enter the world of rhythm and dance for Pirouette.” This is a quick moving dance written in 8/8, following the patterns of dancers on a stage as they move according to the syncopation of eight-count patterns. It twists and turns and spins along. 

“Aurora Borealis: a trio of solos for piccolo or flute” is available as individual sheet music, or as a collection. I recommend the collection!



Practicing to Perfection, Part Three

It has been a while for me to continue my series on practicing! I have been having a bit of technical problems. So onward we go:

As I continue to struggle with managing to work on multiple pieces all at once, my practice technique continues to evolve. There are so many different ways to practice, and the technique that works for one person, is not always the best for another.

My current project: four pieces of music that fill one hour when played at tempo, from the four eras of music:

Baroque: Handel Sonata in G Major, 5 movements

Classical: Mercadante Concerto in D Major, 3 movements

Romantic: Gaubert Suite for Piano and Flute, 4 movements

Ferroud: Jade, the middle movement of Trois Pieces per Flute

If you count each movement as a piece, that’s 13 pieces to work on at once!

I have explored several different ways to cope with this mountain of work! And remember, I am not a professional flutist, so I have to fit my practice into everything else that life demands. I have tried several different tacks, and here’s the one that is working at the moment:

First I took a sheet of graph paper, wrote the movements across the top. Then I got colored felt pens for the 7 days of the week. I fill in a square each time I practice one of the movements. This way I can see that I am covering everything evenly.

Next I went through every piece, with metronome, and figured out at what tempo I could play through each piece, and how many minutes involved. Now for warm-up, I chose 10 minutes-worth and just play the music..no working, just a run-through. That way I can enjoy making music.

The next step is to select one movement, and WORK on it. I out the effort into fingerings, rhythm, dynamics, breathing .. whatever is needed. As I fill in the colored squares on my graph paper, I put a “W” for work, a dot for warm-up. Now I can see at a glance what I worked on the last time I practiced, and keep moving forward.

Practicing to Perfection: Part Two

Practicing to Perfection: Part Two, Some Real Tips

I have read a number of articles about practice. Most of what I have to say is nothing new. I almost wonder if the world needs yet another article on the subject. I considered just giving you a list of links to those other articles. Then I decided that perhaps I could offer a quick, easy-to-skim list. So here it is:

 1. Claim your space.
Set aside a space that is your practice space, and fill it with all the tools you need. Pencils, erasers, staff and note paper, etc. even if you live alone, and have your home to yourself, this is a very important step. It does not have to be a separate room. But having a space where you keep all that you need helps to focus your attention on practice.

2. Organize your music.
Your music may be in a pile, a backpack, a book bag, on a shelf or table, or on the piano.  But that doesn’t mean it is organized. Part of my preparation for my recital is to take each of the pieces I am going to play and put them in a 3-ring binder with dividers. I use paper clips in my étude books so that I can easily find my place.

3. Set goals, and write them down.
It’s easy to say you want to do something, learn a certain piece, or master a tricky fingering, but writing down a goal makes it more concrete. There are many studies that show written goals are more often accomplished.

4. Have a practice plan which moves you toward your goals.
Be flexible, but focused. This means that your plan may change from day to day, but it must always be moving you forward. For example, if you are working on a tricky spot, and you play it day after day at the same pace, and never get any better, then your practice is NOT moving you forward. So you need to change your approach. Here’s a good article on quality practice, from a blog I have found engaging and helpful: Beyond the Notes.

5. Shut out distractions. 
Turn off the phone, put the dogs out, close the curtains, whatever it takes. 

6. You must have some way to be accountable. 
This is often a built-in factor. A child has his/her parent, the student has a teacher, the professional musician has an employer. In each case there is an automatic consequence if you do or practice.  If you do not fall in any of these categories, then you must find some other way to build accountability.

7. Put in the time.
We all know that if you don’t spend time practicing, you won’t improve. It’s as simple as that. How much time? There is no hard and fast rule. The experts all have their own opinion on this one. Click HERE for an article on time. It’s fairly long, and pretty technical, but it also includes more links for articles on practicing.


So there you have it; Seven easy steps toward better practice. Try them out, and see if you can start yourself on the path for better practice habits.

Up next: Part Three: Balancing Many Pieces at One Time

Practicing to Perfection: Part One

The Background, or Why I Wanted to Write About Practicing.

I am faced with a new challenge as a musician. This challenge has started me thinking about practicing in a different way. When I sat down to write this article, I realized that I needed first to explain where I am coming from. So if you are not interested in the story, and just want the tips, thoughts and links, that will be in Part Two, which will be along in a day or two.

There are advantages to learning an instrument as a child or teen. Children have time. They have someone to push them to practice. There are, (or used to be!), opportunities to be involved in an orchestra or band at school. When the parents are able to, there are, (from the students point of view), free private lessons. By the time the concerns of adult life kick in, you have six or more years of practicing as your background. That’s a lot of muscle memory! 

It’s different when you start your music career as an adult. You have to fit in practice around the mundane: dishes, laundry, errands, yard work, spouse, a day job, family and more. That means making the most of your time.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, because a few weeks ago my teacher said to me, “I think you should consider giving a full recital.”  This probably won’t sound quite the same to many of you. If you had the privilege of studying your instrument as a college student you knew that you would have to give a recital. You could count on an audience of peers and family to come. You had a free hall to use, and most most of all, time to practice with practice rooms to work in. You also knew that this recital would be part of reaching your goal of a degree..so a big reward was waiting for you.

Don’t get me wrong! I am sympathetic to the fact you may be carrying, (or did carry), a full academic load, with other homework demands. You may have to work to support yourself, or add to the assistance from scholarships or family. You also most likely have an active social life. So you also have to manage your time to get in the practice. 

I don’t have that kind of support. I’m older, and have less energy than I did 35 years ago. My hands ache often, and it takes me longer to learn than it did when I was college age. I have people around me who depend on me to keep the household running. Cooking, cleaning, errands, yardwork all take my limited time and energy.

My friends have busy lives, jobs and children. Even though they support me and enjoy when I perform at church, they aren’t likely to give up their precious free time to come sit for an hour of flute music. And this could get expensive! I will have to find a suitable hall, and likely pay for the rental. I will be paying an accompanist.

I am actually excited about the challenge..to play for an hour, learn the music, be the “star” of the show. I have given myself a year to prepare. And in spite of their busy lives, there are people I can count on to come. If it’s small enough, I can hold it in my own home. 

So that’s the background. I am an adult student, with arthritis in my hands, and a busy life. I’ve been working at playing the flute for 8 years. I am going to pull this thing off, and along the way I am sure I will find other thoughts to share.

Practice is the foundation of being a good musician, and now I must find a way to work on many more pieces at one time. Up until now, it has been a single song, or a single movement of a larger work. I now have what amounts to 13 pieces to work on at the same time. This is in addition to a new song every 3 months for church, and my parts for TwtrSymphony.

That is what has led me to write about practicing. How am I going to do this? How can I keep track of it all? How can I use my limited time effectively? Those are the things to be addressed in Part Two.

Expanding My Horizons

I am honored to be a small part of something new and exciting: TwtrSymphony! It all started when a composer, Chip Michael, and a group of musicians were talking about collaboration. Chip has been the motivator behind the project and now we are all off and running.

TwtrSymphony is composed of musicians from all over the world who will be performing together and yet alone. Each of us must master our part without hearing the rest of the symphony. We must become skilled at recording ourselves, which for some of us is a new process! The better we can record, the better the final result.

We also must work with a click track..a kind of specialized metronome. Here’s how it works:

  1. We receive our part and two audio tracks; one with music and the clicks, and the other just the clicks.
  2. We listen to the recording to get the feel of the music, which is filled with variable beats
  3. Practice, practice, practice!!
  4. We record our part, using the click track on headphones so that our music will fit in with the rest of the symphony, and send it back to Chip.
  5. As all the parts are collected, they are trimmed and fit together to create the complete sound, which will then be published.
I am now doubly grateful for all those hours spent with the hated/loved metronome! My most difficult hurdle with the click track is being able to hear the clicks which often are masked by being in the same frequency range as my flute. 

                 Follow us on Twitter @TwtrSymphony                And follow me, too! @janetbxyz
Click on the links in the article to learn more about Chip Michael and to follow the TwtrSymphony blog.


Metronome: Monster or Friend?

I find myself in the midst of a diverse group of musicians who are active on twitter. We are composers and performers, students and teachers, amateurs and pros. Recently a conversation about metronomes caught my attention, which led to this collaboration of blogs on the subject.

I fall in the category of amateur. I am also a student and a composer. For this reason, I will tackle the emotional end of metronome use and leave the technical aspects of metronome use to the teachers and pro’s to talk about.

My metronome is a source of love and hate; a tool that helps, or a beast to appease. I have been playing flute now for eight years, and was in my 50′s when I started so it’s quite a different experience than the child student.

My metronome is a merciless taskmaster, tick-tick-ticking and never missing a beat. One little falter of my fingers and I am off the beat–out of sync. And still it just goes on ticking. Pushing me to keep up and in doing so I tense, and miss all the more.

It took my teacher about two years to get me to stop complaining and resisting this beast-tool….and probably four or five years to get me to use it without being told to do so on any kind of a consistent basis. It is only in the last two years that I have come to see the good side, to actually begin to like it.

My current focus is the balanced placement of 4 notes fitting into a single beat. It is invaluable as a tool to make sure I hold a rest long enough. And don’t forget those tricky places where the note is on the half-beat! I have found placing a note between the beats ever so much harder that it seems.

Speaking of beats, did you know that every beat has a beginning, a middle and an end? Even those really fast, close-together beats? Oh yes! If you lead the beat and your duet partner hits the tail of the beat, you will be out of sync, even though both of you are technically “on” the beat!

Another challenge, which may only apply to flutists, is the tone in which the metronome ticks. I find it almost impossible to hear over the flute, because the tone/tick is in the same frequency level at the flute range. I think the general tone of a flute contributes to this masking problem.

Here’s what I think is happening: Back in “the good old days” of mechanical metronomes, the sound was created by the resonance of the wood casing. Today it is generated by electronics.

I have two metronomes: a Korg MA-30 and an app on my iPad, “Metronome Plus.” The Korg is accurate, easy to tote around, has a visual representation of the swinging lever of a mechanical metronome. It has plenty of options for split beats, leading beats, and an earphone input. The iPad app has all of that, plus an option to change the tone of the beats. Even with several tones to choose from, I find it hard to hear. I am waiting for developers to give me a nice bass tone that I can distinguish from my flute!

Nevertheless, this beast-tool is an invaluable resource for anyone who desires to play an instrument. It is the only means to proper note placement. As a composer, when I put music into notation, I have a reason for every beat and portion of a beat. I don’t want the performer to change my rhythmic choices. So I try to perform other composers work with as much accuracy as I can possibly manage.

Bottom line: if you chose to play an instrument, proper note placement is just as important as your tone, air, bowing technique, or fingerings. Yes, the metronome is an unfeeling, relentless little beast. Embrace it, love it, and get beyond the tension. It is your friend.

Read more on metronomes: I will be adding here over the next several days links to the other collaborators on this project. So check back for links! First up:

  • Erica Sipes Click on her name to go to her blog site: “Beyond the Notes”

Please note: links for the metronome and iPad app are offered for your convenience, not as a means to generate income for me.

My Process as a Composer

I have started to write a new Flute Solo! I am always excited at the beginning of a project, and this one is no different from any other. The excitement is the same. There is inspiration, and there is just plain work. I seem to compose in bits and pieces, first rushing along as the music seems to fall into place; and then getting stuck and having to work very hard just to put a couple notes on the page.

This piece is developing in a new way, which I suppose, is why I felt compelled to write about it and share. Here’s a list of what is different from before:

  • It has a name already! “Butterfly Dreams” This is unusual because until now, the title has been suggested by the music, but this time it has a name at the beginning. So that means I am loooking for ways to suggest butterflies in musical terms.
  • The first inspirational melody was the longest I have ever set down at one time: 25 bars in 3/4 time.
  • It started with a bass line for the piano instead of a melody for the flute.
  • For the first time, I started the score on my iPad, using an app called “Notion”
  • After the first bit of inspiration, I sat down at the piano, and then put the treble line down all at once, too.
  • I have been studying music notation, and for the first time I recognize the chords I am using. This makes it a good deal easier, because I don’t need to sit at the piano and pick it out by ear.

What is not different is the way it is moving after the initial inspiration. I seem to rush forward, then drag along for a while before I rush forard again. Here are the things I have done so far:

  • I decided the initial 25 bars of teble line obscured the bass melody I began with. So those have been set aside, hopefully to pop up later in the work.
  • I moved the original bass line into the treble and then wrote a new bass line to go along with it.
  • Now I am adding the flute line, being careful not to lose my original melody.
  • The next step is to figure out whether the original melody line can be fit into the piece.
  • I am emotionally attached to every little phrase, and want to keep them all!

So here I am..50 bars of music, but I don’t know if it is two different pieces of music, or two parts of one piece. As often hits at this point, I have no idea what to do next. I have to just play what is here, listen to it being played by my computer and wait to see where it will go next.

Click here: “Butterfly Dreams” to visit my YouTube Channel and hear the work in progress – played by my trusty computer via Sibelius Music Notation

Update: 1/2013: I have abandoned this project for now. One thing I am learning as a composer: sometimes you want to set a project aside. You may or may not return to it in the future. For now, I have no plans to develop this work.