Continuing discussion: Obsession with tone and technique while ignoring musicianship and communication 

Throughout my career I have been struck by how much audiences and judges alike focus on how good a tone is and how fast and accurate is the technical output. For the young students we pedagogues need to teach the basics of how to achieve the best tone, how to change colors, instill the need to practice towards achieving a solid technical base via scales and pattern work. I ask the hive “When may we progress to the whole, to listening to the musician play with the wholeness of a performance, communicating the music as if speaking easily to an audience, as one example of overall success of a polished performance. I want to feel as if the music is bypassing the flute, the vessel of the communication, and going right from the expression of the player. 

Please comment as to what moves YOU. What transforms you as a listener into hearing the music’s intended feeling that transforms you you as you listen. Can you, can we, strive to bypass the urge to focus on, say, perfection of the notes or the perfection of the tone? My tone is what I simply play with as I perform but not to raise the awareness of the listener as to how great it is, for example. I practice passages to achieve the best ease and accuracy so as to play MUSICALLY those passages that are difficult. IF a piece is clearly meant to be a showpiece then, yes, work it!  These showpieces pieces titillate and inspire awe! So yes, go for all the elements of showing off! 

I feel fortunate to have reached a level and age that I am not being judged for how many right or wrong notes or whether my tone is the The Best. I like the tone I get, I do miss notes, I could practice more, but ultimately I enjoy playing for others, no matter what genre.


Define: The “mature” flute sound 

Excellent Flute Tone: What IS that and why are people, from lay audiences to professionals, fairly obsessed with the sound that is the either the capability of the player or the flute and certainly the combination of the two? Can we discuss this? I’ve been around for many a year and as a flutist and, happily, produce what most consider an extraordinary sound. My flute helps me for sure! But taking an important step back, let’s say it this way: Our tone helps us to communicate the music, the music itself. I’m bringing this conversation forward at this time because I have an advanced student who is exploring her sound, creating colors as well as a basic tone. She is younger than I was when I was developing My Best Tone, which really was guided by my teachers explaining how to work the embouchure. I became a very malleable created of different tones. I became enraptured with a darker, mature sound rather than a bright, edgy sound. Ah, but what IS the mature sound, how much of the bottom part of the sound, the full circle of harmonics, the upper part, makes it “mature”. I know what it means for me. I know what I’m listening to with my ears and eyes with my students and professionals. Label it, tho? Mm, not so easy. Wanna say your piece? Would love to hear! Comment in my blog!

adrianne's HAT OF THE MONTH

People do ask about my hats and why I wear them. I began wearing my mother’s hats that she left in the closet and only wore for klezmer concerts.  Around the same time I had a student who liked to wear hats just for her lessons, along with spiffing up her entire outfit. I decided to join in just for her lessons. I discovered I liked donning hats to complete my outfit!  They keep me aware of an era that I would have enjoyed - minus any wars - and has me thinking of family as well. I have about 100 or so, certainly enough to rotate. 

Still looking for a fine denim Levi brand hat with the right shape for me. Very tough! True Levi vintage cost upwards of $65 and still not the right shape for me. But I’m not giving up! Bonus is that often the hat will cure a bad hair day! 

Let me know if you enjoy hats too, especially if there’s a special event or family connection! 

Want to show me your hat? Do you wear one ever day or just for special occasions.  How about taking a photo of you in your favorite hat, post it on Instagram and tag me!  #adriannegreenbaum 

My wonderful mother left this navy blue felt hat in the hat box, found amongst a few other hats. It’s a great one for performing because it won’t dip down over my eyes if I need to see the music or the audience! Thanks, Mommy!