Treating Music Performance Anxiety

Do you suffer any level of performance anxiety?  Do your students?

Good news!!!!  It can be treated!!!!

 

Music Performance Anxiety (MPA) can occur immediately before a performance or be a build up of tension over weeks before the performance.

Symptoms can be very distressing and include sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, nausea, breathing problems, notational mistakes, robotic playing and catastrophizing that the audience are thinking negatively about the performance.

Many famous musicians have experienced it, among them Pablo Casals (frequently threw up back stage prior to performing), and Barbara Streisand (who did not perform for twenty years after a experiencing a memory lapse in a New York concert). It is estimated that up to 70 percent of musicians experience it at some stage of their careers.

Treatment programs have focussed on professionals or advanced students, however fifteen percent of adults, and twenty percent of school age Australians participate in music making. MPA is the most common reason for people to give up playing an instrument or singing.

Over several collaborative group sessions this program applies proven psychological treatments specially adapted for musicians. Negative thoughts about performance can lead to physical symptoms and errors in performance. The program aims to decrease anxiety and increase performance quality by examining negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours, while utilising the adrenalin release that often accompanies performance.

The researcher is a psychologist, musician, teacher and examiner (AMEB) currently completing a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) degree at Macquarie University. The program is free and open to any musician or singer. It is currently being delivered in venues across NSW (2013) and the UK (2014). The program can also be delivered at other locations provided there is a minimum of six musicians in the group.

All data collected is non-invasive and there is ongoing performance assessment throughout the program.

Please feel free to contact Naomi on 0409319985; or naomihallsstudio@gmail.com to enrol in a group, arrange treatment date if you have an interested group; or for further information.

 

Please feel free to post a comment or ask questions regarding this topic.

 

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

Memorising a work…

Once one takes the step of deciding to pursue music at a tertiary level, and then moving into the professional world, the expectations for assessment, competitions, eistedfodds and performances change.  One expectation, which can often be a very daunting and scary experience, is being asked to memorise a work.  If I were to ask you, no matter what instrument you played, to perform something like: Mary Had a Little Lamb; or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; from memory, you probably wouldn’t have a problem!  But it’s when we start getting into longer works, such as concertos or sonatas, the whole process can sometimes seem impossible, let alone actually performing the work for a concert in front of people!

Throughout my Undergraduate Degree, I didn’t memorise anything.  There was no requirement in my recitals, I was comfortable with my music in front of me, and so I didn’t push myself to do it.  There were parts of my pieces that I could in fact play from memory, but that’s a very different thing from actually memorising an entire work and performing it.  When moving into my Honours degree, memorisation (for at least some works in the performance) was suddenly a requirement.  I remember reading through my subject guidelines, and thinking – memorising a 20 minute work and performing it – not possible!  The first piece I memorised was the Mozart Flute Concerto in G Major.  Personally, I think works that are well structured (Exposition, Development and recapitulation, or Rondo forms), like many works by Mozart, are the easiest type of music to begin with when first memorising.

I think that the actual process when memorising is different for each person.  We all have different strengths with memory – some of us have a strong ‘eye’ memory or photographic memory, some of us have a strong aural memory and others strengths lie in our finger memory or muscle memory.  No matter which of these is your strength, we use a combination of these types of memory when memorising a work.

When I’m memorising a piece, my first step is to listen to it – A LOT!   Initially, I listen without the score to become familiar with the work aurally – this is where I learn about the shapes and contours of the melodies, the tempos and characteristics of sections, and how the piece flows together, and fits together as a whole work.  Once I’m satisfied with my aural familiarity, I then listen with the score in front of me – all before I even play through the work.  This gives me a visual idea of what is happening throughout the work, and in my opinion, starts to shape my photographic memory.

The piece I have been learning over the past few months is Reinecke’s Flute Concerto in D major – a wonderful piece, and thankfully, a very logically structured (for my brain!) work.  I had played this concerto before in second year university, so I had a basic understanding of its melody already, so I was already off to a good start aurally.

I remember at the beginning of this memory journey, I was feeling pretty stressed about memorising the entire concerto, and even though I knew logically how to go about it, it still seemed like such a huge amount of work! Once I felt I was familiar enough with the work as a whole aurally (combining my ‘ear’ and ‘eye’ memory), I broke each movement into their respective sections (Theme A, Theme B, Section A, Section B, etc), and then broke those sections into smaller bar groups. I was generally focussing on between 4-16 bars depending on the difficulty of the passage.  Some passages I was able to learn more quickly – generally anything that was slower and very melodic, while others required a little more work.  My process of physically learning those small sections, involved spending roughly 5 minutes on the passage, and then going away to a separate piece for another 5 minutes, before returning to my concerto and attempting to play that small section from memory.  This was my process throughout the entire concerto.  I would also always go back to the previous section and add on my new section several times, as well as starting from the beginning of the movement until I could play smoothly from the beginning to my memorised point.  I also made a point not to continue on in the piece, until I could play up to that point correctly – otherwise, I think it’s very possible to get lost or confused as to what material happens next.

I find that my visual and aural memory is mostly used within the slower sections and/or movements, and that my finger and aural memory are my strengths in more technical sections. Having said this, I can visualise how each section of the work starts – for the Reinecke Concerto, it opens the first movement on an F#, the first theme comes in on an A, the second theme a C# etc.  It’s also very important for me as a player, and I think anyone who is memorising a work, to feel comfortable starting from just about anywhere in the piece – if you can do this, you should feel pretty confident in how well you’ve memorised the work.

In many ways, memorising is not much different from learning to play a piece – a lot of it is practice, practice, practice – breaking the piece up into smaller sections, playing each section until you really know it, and then putting it all together, with some extra practice on the tricky bits.  Memorising is the same thing – starting with a small section and continuing adding sections until you reach the end.  Obviously, some people are faster than others at memorising – just as some people are faster at learning.  I think as long as you work through a piece slowly, understand it aurally, and are willing to put in the time and effort to really learn it, you’ll find memorising a work can be quite a rewarding experience.  And like many things, the more you do it, the less daunting it becomes!  Make sure to play it for family members, friends, peers, colleagues, and teachers in preparation for a performance so that you can become as comfortable as possible before performing it live.  Play along with as many different recordings as possible so that you are prepared for a number of tempos.  Don’t always start with the first movement of a work, or the beginning of piece, start with the second or third movement, or somewhere in the middle of a work – doing all of these things, should help you to feel as confident as possible.  Taking away that barrier of a music stand and connecting even more with your audience and your accompanist (orchestral, pianist or chamber) can be an exhilarating experience, so take the leap!

 

Please feel free to post a comment or ask questions regarding this topic.

 

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

The Yoga of Performance

The Yoga of Performance

– By James Kortum –

 

“sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara adara asevito drdhabhumih”

 

The opening quote written in sanskrit comes from one of the most significant texts on yoga, the Yogasutra of Pantanjali.  This is the 14th sutra of the first chapter and in a translation from the original Sanskrit by Frans Moors, in his book Liberating Isolation The Yoga sutra of Pantanjali, Moors interprets the essence of this sutra being:

 

Furthermore, this (practice) is firmly anchored when it is thoroughly nourished by regularity and endurance, perseverance, positive actions and intense enthusiasm.”

 

The practice as implied by Moors in this interpretation means the practice of yoga.  When most people think of yoga today, they think of the series of physical postures that are done in yoga schools around the world.  Interestingly, when studying the yogasutra, the 29th sutra in the second chapter tells us there are eight limbs to the study of yoga in which the practice of body exercises or asana is just one of the limbs.  The remaining seven limbs consist of; yama-our attitudes toward our environment; niyama-our attitude toward ourselves; pranayama-the practice of breathing exercises; pratyahara-the restraint of the senses; dharana-the ability to direct our minds; dhyana-the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand; Samadhi-complete integreation with the object to be understood.

 

For most that begin yoga, the first point of call is the study of asana or physical postures in which there is much to be gained.  The parallel with studying music and studying yoga as interpreted in sutra 1-14 and in fact with any endeavour one undertakes, highlights that to gain the benefit from the practice one must have those qualities of regularity, endurance, perseverance, positive actions and enthusiasm.

 

For the performing artist interested in yoga, the reasons for that initial visit to a yoga class can be to become more body aware, develop more flexibility, improve breath capacity and breathing or learn to relax more, especially when under the stress of performance.  All those points are valid and working at the level of the physical body is an important starting point.  To play, sing, dance or act well one has to be aware of how the body works and learn how to get the maximum desired result in the most efficient way.  For any performing artist who would often practice for hours at a time in one static position, the possibility of creating a bad postural or breath habit, unknowingly might create other habits requiring overcompensation to get that desired result.  Over time these habits could be debilitating resulting in not only possible injury to the body, but also affect the quality of performance and inner confidence to perform well.

 

When considering the yoga of performance, integrating the eight limbs can provide an overall sense of physical, mental and emotional well being in both performance and life.  For the performing artist there is a necessary focus on the physical, working with the body through postures, asana and the breath, regulated breathing exercises, pranayama.  Considering yama, attitudes to do with relationships and niyama, individual discipline, rarely to the performing musician is a performance done in complete isolation.  In both practice and performance, the essence of pratyahara, dharana and dhyana are essential.  Pratyahara is the mastery of the senses and in performance execution, awareness at the levels of the physical and aural are a must.  Dharana, or concentration and dhyana, meditation are points in practice and performance that eventually lead to peak performance.   Samadhi is being at one in performance, achieving that peak and creating a whole new experience from the flow off the yoga mat to the concert stage.

 

About James Kortum

James Kortum, flautist and yoga instructor, has had a rich and varied career as both performer and teacher.  As an orchestral flautist James has been Principal Flute with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Principal Flute with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and Second Flute with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  James has been Lecturer in Flute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.  In 2012 James gained the Advanced Diploma of Yoga Studies and Teacher Training from the Yoga Institute. He has taught yoga classes for musicians at SoundHub, Flute Tree, Australian Institute of Music and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  In 2013 James will also be giving classes at the 6th Summer Course for Young Flutists in Buonconvento, Italy and also at the Australian Flute Festival at the Australian National University School of Music, Canberra.    

 

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All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

HSC Performance Preparation

The most important thing to remember is that when preparing a student for HSC performance requirements it is a very different process of repertoire choice to an AMEB exam or Trinity exam where you are choosing from set lists of works.  Information regarding the HSC syllabus requirements is readily available and a trip to the Board of Studies website will provide you with everything you need to know.  There is, however, a lot of information to be waded through on this site and you would do well to get in contact with the classroom teacher and others who have taught HSC before if this is the first time you have taught the course.  In a nutshell, there are three Music Courses offered by the Board of Studies, each with different performance requirements:

  • Music Course 1, often chosen as a less rigorous option but nevertheless a course that you can choose to present quite a sophisticated program if you wish
  • Music Course 2, a course which would suit a student of around 6th or 7th Grade standard
  • Extension, should probably only attract students of around 7th Grade and above. The Extension Course is completed in conjunction with Music Course 2.

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Syllabus Performance Requirements

Music Course 1

Every student presenting for this course must present at least one performance as a Core requirement.  In addition to this they must do three Electives which can be chosen from any of the areas of performance, composition and/or musicology.  Thus, your Course One student will be preparing anything from one to four pieces depending on how they have chosen to spread their Electives.  Some of these may be ensemble pieces as long as the candidate’s part in the ensemble is ‘prominently displayed’.  Additionally, those pieces must come from any of the student’s three chosen areas of study.  Those areas of study are selected from set topics listed in the Board of Studies Syllabus.  For Course One students the choice is broad and repertoire choice can be quite wide ranging.  Some of the topics include:

  • An Instrument and it’s Repertoire
  • Australian Music
  • Baroque Music
  • Jazz
  • Medieval Music
  • Music of a Culture
  • Music of the 18th Century
  • Music of the 19th Century
  • Music of the 20th Century
  • Popular Music Theatre

and the list goes on…

but, as you can see, so long as the three pieces chosen for someone doing a performance major fit into three different areas of study, the performance criteria will be met.  However, there is one catch that all should be aware of, Candidates are supposed to focus on three different areas of study in Year 12 to those studied in the Year 11 preliminary course.  As a general rule, when performance assessments fall due in Year 11 take care not to use a piece or a topic that you are likely to want to use in Year 12.  For example, if you have a student fantastically gifted at Jazz, don’t use up this topic in Year 11.  Again, talk to the classroom teacher as they should understand the requirements fully.

In Summary:

A Course One Student will be required to perform at least 1 piece and as many as 4 pieces depending on their elective choices.  The choice of repertoire must reflect the 3 topics the student has chosen to study in Year 12.

 

Music Course 2

The performance requirements for this course are considerably more proscribed, with the candidate needing to choose their pieces from a narrower repertoire base.  Each student must perform one piece from their Mandatory Topic, Music of the Last 25 Years (Australian Focus).  This piece will be a maximum of 5 minutes in length.  If a performance Elective is chosen, an additional 2 pieces will be performed.  One of these pieces at least must come from an additional topic chosen for study by the candidate.  For Course Two students the list of additional topics is narrower than for Course One.

Course Two Additional Topics are:

  • Music of a Culture
  • Medieval Music
  • Renaissance Music
  • Baroque Music
  • Classical Music
  • 19th Century Music
  • Music from 1900 to 1945
  • Music from 1945 to 25 Years ago.

The Core Performance of the Mandatory Topic must be 5minutes or under.  The performance of the Elective pieces can total 10 minutes.

In Summary:

A Course Two Student will perform, at the very least, 1 piece reflecting the Mandatory Topic of Music of the Last 25 Years (Australian Focus) or 3 pieces (2 Additional topic pieces and one Mandatory or 2 Mandatory Topic pieces and one Additional).

 

Music Extension

Music Extensionis a Course undertaken in addition to Course 2 requirements.  The completion of an Extension Performance Major or Elective in Extension requires 3 contrasting pieces to be played, one of which must be an Ensemble piece.  The total performance time will not exceed 20 minutes.

In Summary:

An Extension Student will be required to play six pieces, one at least which must be an ensemble piece.  3 of those pieces will follow the Course 2 guidelines and three will be Extension pieces.

 

Important Points to Remember

  • DO take the time to fully digest the syllabus demands and remember to keep asking if anything is unclear.  Students will not necessarily understand the big picture and some may piece together their performance needs as the course unfolds.  This is not really satisfactory, especially as, at some schools, an assessment using all the required pieces may not happen until very late in the year.  Additionally, sometimes a classroom teacher may be teaching that course for the first time and may not have a complete handle on the requirements themselves, although it is to be hoped that this won’t be the case too frequently!
  • DO work with the classroom teacher.  Always strive to have a positive relationship with them.  Sometimes there are areas of conflict between classroom teacher and studio teachers regarding repertoire choices and these can escalate and become a source of great stress for the student and everyone concerned.  Keep lines of communication open and be prepared to listen to those who are at the coal face.  That said, there may be occasions when a teacher advises a Course of study that you consider inappropriate for your student.  You know their capabilities as a performer so it is essential that you communicate your concerns as soon as possible.
  • Keep abreast of assessment dates, even requesting to be copied into e mails regarding assessments.
  • Make sure the school knows that you are taking your part in the process seriously and that you all share the common goal of satisfactory outcomes for the student.

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When to begin choosing repertoire?

Ideally we should be thinking of HSC repertoire from the beginning of Year 11 so as not to make the mistake of throwing away a great Year 12 piece on a Year 11 assessment.  Your program should be pretty well in place by Term 4 Year 11, and the first performance assessment will take place in this Term.

However, if some pieces are not working you are free to change your choices at any time.  Keep some alternative pieces up your sleeve.  It is a common problem that repertoire can become stale, particularly if the same 3 pieces are concentrated on all year, so depending on the student, consider starting with a number of pieces and narrow down the choices as the exam approaches.

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What sort of pieces should be chosen?

This will depend on the student’s capabilities and the course they are undertaking.  Generally seek pieces that are appropriate to the standard they are at the end of Year 11.  Apart from the rare exception, Year 12 is not the year in which your student will want to be hyper extending themselves.  Pieces played comfortably, which accurately show the student’s strengths will be most appropriate.  More notes does not necessarily mean a better piece, especially if a student is struggling to cover them.

It is a powerful incentive to some Year 11 students to tell them that whatever standard they have reached by the need of Term 3 will determine the standard of repertoire they will present for their HSC!  Try to choose pieces from places other than the AMEB syllabus.  Something that may not have been heard before and something that is accessible and has easy appeal to the audience of examiners. (You may need to be firm with students and parents who think that the HSC will be about dazzling, virtuosic pieces and nothing else.)

Marking criteria for the bands of marks are also on the Board of Studies website if you want more insight into what the markers are looking for.  A variety of character, style and instrumentation is essential.  If you have a particularly capable student, an unaccompanied work will provide an excellent contrast in the program. (Beware of using these works for less natural performers as it take a good deal of musical confidence to make an impression with an unaccompanied piece).  An accompaniment provided by guitar , for example, or a string quartet will often enhance a performance so long as the accompanying musicians are of a high calibre.  A quirky, atmospheric or unusual piece will often grab the attention and be most effective.

Do give some regard to the stamina required to play the program you and your student choose.  An Extension performance exam can be both mentally and physically demanding and you should take time, in preparation, to perform the whole program without stopping many times before the day of the exam.  With this in mind think carefully of the order of the pieces.  Perhaps consider requesting that their sight singing happens in the middle of the program.  Make sensible decisions with careful consideration of your student’s needs and capabilities.

Perhaps one of the main pitfalls in repertoire choice is that of presenting works that are either too difficult or just too boring.  Try to present a program that is instantly engaging and displays the student’s strengths, not their limitations.  Above all choose those pieces which can most easily display the expressiveness of the student’s work.  Choose flute repertoire rather than transcriptions of other instruments works.

Take care that the pieces you choose fit strictly within the topic you have matched them to. Check the dates of compositions when in doubt.

Sources of repertoire are many and varied.  Look at other syllabus material such as Trinity College.  Go to concerts and Masterclasses and hear what others are playing.  Go to the Encore concert at the beginning of the year to hear what the State’s best students have used.  Or listen to them on the Board of Studies Encore site.

Talk to others who are experienced in teaching HSC repertoire.  The Australian Music Centre is a great resource for Australian Works and the staff there always helpful.  CDs such as Eat Chocolate And Cry (recorded under the Fluteworthy label) are a great resource for Australian pieces and a great way to inspire students into hearing the value of great Australian repertoire.  Fluteworthy’s web address is: www.fluteworthy.com.au

Ensemble pieces need to be chosen with a view to highlighting the candidate’s part in a leadership sense.  They should be seen to be directing the ensemble.  When deciding on ensemble repertoire make sure some account is taken of the financial situation of the candidate.  Paying for a string ensemble of quality players for example can be quite a costly operation.

Ensemble combinations might include:

  • 2 flutes and piano
  • Flute and guitar
  • Flute, clarinet and piano
  • Flute, violin and piano
  • Flute, violin and cello
  • Flute and strings
  • Flute quartet

Be creative but be mindful of your student’s role in the group.  It needs to make them look their best.  For this reason never use supporting musicians of lower ability than the candidate.

When you have chosen your repertoire, take care to think through the order in which it should be played in the exam, as this can also have an effect on how the program is received.

What about the student who comes to you late in the piece, e.g. At the beginning of Year 12?  There is little you can do in this situation except to choose repertoire that fits the student’s ability when you first encounter them.  Take time to assess not only their capabilities but also their own assessment of their abilities.  Assess their openness to your teaching, any changes that need to be made to technique may need to be put on hold.  You cannot gamble on the assumption that their playing will change in the few months preparation time you have.  Choose works that they can play comfortably and that will best demonstrate the musicians they are now not the musicians they might possibly be in 4 months time if everything works out well.  Their HSC Year is not a good time to make such a gamble.  There will come a point at which you will have to focus only on those things which can actually make a difference to the exam performance at the last minute such as communication and stage presence.

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Accompanists

If you’re lucky, you will work in a school or your student will attend a school where a good accompanist is readily available and is used regularly.  This is not always the case however, and it may be up to you to find the right person for the job.

Many accompanists are very busy at assessment time so make sure you have established your student working with an accompanist of your choice early in the process.  It may be expensive but it will inevitably make all the difference in the performance.  Be wary of the classroom teacher who says they will accompany their students, make sure you know the quality of their playing before you agree to this arrangement.  If your student is at a school where a few kids are needing accompanists, try clubbing together with the other students and asking an accompanist to play for all of their performances, making it well worth the accompanist’s while to stick with you all.

Finally,  find as many performance opportunities for your students as you can and watch them perform so you can have a clear insight into how they present as well as them having the experience of playing under pressure.  The HSC year goes all too quickly, but, given judicious choice of repertoire and attentive and encouraging teaching, most students should have a positive experience.

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About the Authors

Jocelyn Fazzone

Jocelyn Fazzone has a multi-faceted musical profile. She is a Sydney based flutist, pianist, educator and examiner, and has a passion for being able to combine these different roles in her work. In particular, working as associate artist (pianist) with flute players is one of her most rewarding areas of work.

Jocelyn teaches flute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Australian International Conservatorium and Wesley Institute, she is Woodwind Advisor and senior examiner with the AMEB NSW, and she is a member of Windfall Sextet. As a teacher, her students have achieved great success in auditions and competitions, and she has been awarded the AMEB NSW shields for achieving the highest exam results for 6 out of the last 9 years.

Jocelyn’s current work includes the creation & publication of resources for flute players and teachers under the Fluteworthy label. This has comprised the teaching reference book “Starting Out”, collection of studies “99 Solos & Studies”, CD “Eat Chocolate & Cry”, with several more projects due for publication imminently.

Jocelyn has worked as orchestral flutist with a number of major orchestras, including the SSO, AOBO, QSO & TSO; she continues to be an active performer of chamber music; she is a frequent guest masterclass presenter for student workshops and teachers’ sessions; she is current vice-president of the NSW Flute Society.

Her early flute studies were under the renowned masters Maxence Larrieu, Bob Willoughby, David Cubbin & Nancy Salas in Sydney, Canberra, Switzerland & the USA.

Kellie Grennan

Kellie commenced music studies at the age of 3 and went on to graduate from the Queensland Conservatorium of Muisc in 1995 with a Bachelor of Music (Honours), studying flute with Gerhardt Mallon and piano with Regis Danillon. Since then, she has undertaken further flute studies with James Kortum and David Leviston and has participated in lessons and master classes with several internationally renowned flautists including John Wion, Peter Lloyd, Alexa Still, Paul Edmund- Davies, William Bennett, Keith Underwood and Elena Duran.

From 2002 until 2008, Kellie was president of the Flute Society of NSW. She currently teaches flute and chamber music at The King’s School in Sydney, and for the University of NSW, in addition to her commitment to a large private teaching practice based in Summer Hill. Her passion for flute pedagogy and chamber music has led to her establishing several award-winning flute choirs and ensembles around Sydney, and she herself performs regularly with a variety of chamber ensembles.

Kellie is the director of Windworks Woodwind Specialists.

 

Jude Huxtable

Jude Huxtable began teaching flute at Abbotsleigh School in 1975. During a long teaching career working at various Sydney schools, as an adjudicator and AMEB examiner, she has amassed a wealth of practical experience in the practice of nurturing young flute players to reach their potential in their music making endeavours.  Along with Jocelyn Fazzone, she has recently co authored a book about teaching flute, which presents the authors’ collective tips and advice on setting novice players off on the right track in their playing journey.

In the course of many years continuing work at Abbotsleigh and in her private studio, Jude has taught countless HSC performance candidates in Course 1, Course 2 and Extension Music.  Her understanding of the Course requirements is bourne not only of years of teaching experience, but also of a close working relationship she has always maintained with the academic staff at the school.

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Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or other HSC performance preparation related questions, please contact us and we will be happy to either answer your questions or put you in contact with the authors as appropriate.

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All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

Gergely Ittzés’ “Flouble”

Flouble (rhymes with ‘double’), is a fantastic new tool for composers and performers working with multiphonics for the flute. Created by the virtuoso Hungarian flutist-composer Gergely Ittzés, Flouble is based on Ittzés’ Chart of Double-Stops, a ‘periodic table’ of two-note multiphonics. The software offers a much wider range of features than the original chart however and Ittzés has made effective use of the electronic format to create an innovative and useful resource.

The Flouble interface is easy to navigate and the most immediately apparent advantage of the electronic format is that the user is spared the tedious cross-referencing and page turning that is unavoidable in printed multiphonic catalogues. From a chromatic scale at the bottom of the screen (see the screen shot below), the user merely selects a lower note with the left mouse button and an upper note with the right, and this brings up a cell that shows the fingering for that multiphonic (in ‘acoustic’ fingering), and other information such as the difficulty level and intonation. In the full version of Floublethe user also has access to a graphic fingering diagram, displayed in the top right corner of the interface, that can be saved as an image file and added to a score. In addition to this, for each of the approximately five hundred double-stops listed, Ittzés has provided audio examples demonstrating how they will sound at different dynamics and at different lengths.

 Floublehas a slightly narrower scope than that of other multiphonic catalogues, such as those found in Thomas Howell’s The Avant-Garde Flutist or Robert Dick’s The Other Flute, in that it only includes two-note multiphonics. Ittzés explains the reasons behind this decision in Flouble’s user guide:

“I tried to find the format which is the easiest to use, which includes the most useful and the least superfluous information, and which is logical and easy to survey…  Since the spectrum of possible chords is infinitely rich, I had to narrow down the choices; thus this chart includes double sounds which can be played on the flute and result from pairing tones of the twelve-tone system at a range of two and a half octaves. So I avoided micro-intervals and multiphonics with more than two notes.”

Ittzés has also restricted the fingerings listed to those that he considers the most ideal for each pair of pitches. While this could be perceived as a limitation in the software, it does make Flouble a more personal multiphonic catalogue as each fingering has been selected by Ittzés based on his own experimentation and experiences as a flutist. Combined with the audio examples, this will help eliminate a lot of guess work for composers, especially those who don’t have access to a tame flutist. Ittzés explains the criteria he used to select between fingerings, in the cases where there were several options, in the user guide.

Another useful feature made possible by the electronic format is the filtering option. This allows users to sort the double-stops by difficulty, dynamic level, intonation, and more. For instance, the filters can be set so that only the easy double-stops playable on a closed-hole flute will be displayed. There are no filtering options for specific intervals though, so these have to be located manually. Fortunately, the logical organisation of the chart makes this fairly straightforward.

Flouble’s user guide is also an amazing resource. Far from being a simple instruction manual, the user guide is more like a treatise on multiphonic flute playing, offering a detailed explanation of what multiphonics are and how they are produced. Ittzés includes technical and practical advice for flutists and composers using the software.

Flouble 1.0 or Flouble Basic?

The most profound difference between the free version, Flouble Basic,and Flouble 1.0 is that Flouble Basic doesn’t include the full set of graphic fingering diagrams or audio files. Fingerings are available for every double-stop but they are written using a less well known ‘acoustic’ fingering notation system developed by István Matuz. While this notation is trickier to read at first, a detailed explanation is included with Flouble Basic and with a bit of work it doesn’t take too long to pick up. Ittzés uses this notation in his own compositions and while one of its benefits is that it takes up a lot less space in a score, it can look a little threatening to flutists who are unfamiliar with it. A comprehensive chart comparing the features of Flouble Basic and Flouble 1.0 can be found on the Flouble website.

The full version also comes with some great bonus material consisting of video interviews/discussions between Ittzés and Jean-Paul Wright, the scores to five different flute compositions by Hungarian composers and a video of Ittzés performing his own composition Mr Dick is Thinking in Terms of a Blues Pattern. The interviews include a fascinating demonstration lesson on reading acoustic notation and producing multiphonics, as well as a video on ‘special sounds’ in which Ittzés discusses some of the extended techniques that aren’t included in the Flouble software. One of the sounds featured is the so called ‘trumpet’ or ‘horn’ embouchure, a technique that is often neglected in other extended technique manuals.

Overall, Flouble works well as a quick and easy reference for finding multiphonics, with the added advantage of allowing the user to hear what the multiphonic will sound like and, if they wish, save the fingering. These features, combined with the user guide and extensive bonus material, make Flouble a great tool and a valuable addition to the literature on extended techniques and contemporary flute playing.

For more information, or to download Flouble, visit www.flouble.com

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