Q: What is your favorite type of music to play?
A: I love to perform all types of music…from baroque to contemporary, from religious to folk, from classical to popular. I even enjoy playing etudes (“studies”) and scales. But, I have found that my favorite pieces to perform are the ones that really touch the audience, like “Amazing Grace,” and “Shenandoah,” and many of the other pieces from my recordings. The more emotive and captivating a melody is, the more I enjoy playing it, and the more the audience enjoys listening to it.
Q: What do you recommend to young flute students?
A: I recommend that students practice every day…preferably at the same time and for the same duration, just to make sure it is a part of the daily schedule. Every flutist benefits more from just a few minutes of efficient practicing than none at all. That’s because the quality of tone that a flutist produces is only as good as his/her embouchure, and the embouchure consists entirely of the muscles in the lips and around the mouth. Just like any other muscles in your body, the embouchure only develops strength with regular use. I also recommend that students practice when they’re away from their flute (e.g., when they’re on the bus, waiting in line, etc.) by thinking about tricky rhythmic passages, envisioning their performances, “hearing” the music in their mind, practicing their fingerings on a pencil, and even working on double- or triple-tonguing. Most of all, I encourage students to “be creative” about how they can use their musical talents.
Q: Do your lips get tired?
A: No, surprising not, probably as the result of years of practice. When I go on vacation, however, and don’t get to practice for a week or so, I notice that my lips tend to get tired quicker once I start practicing again. Within a few days, they are back to full strength.
Q: How do you keep your lipstick on during performances?
A: Good question. There are a number of great long-wearing lip products out there now that stay on through any entire performance, and then some. In fact, the hardest part is actually removing it after the performance is over. Max Factor Lipfinity, CoverGirl Outlast, and Avon Color Ink are the three brands that I would recommend.
Q: What do you recommend to adults who play the flute?
A: Find some nearby outlets for your musician talents. Many community colleges or branches have symphonic bands that are comprised mostly of adults who have day jobs. Many churches have “praise bands” and other musical groups. Look for a teacher in your area. Join up with a few other musicians just to play duets and trios together every few months. Create a “music club” where people can get together and just play. Contact local senior centers and nursing homes…they always appreciate having a musician perform. Contact the flute studios at universities in your area to see if they have a flute association you can join. Attend flute conferences and festivals. What you need to do is enjoy playing, so find the right music, performance opportunities, mentors, and fellow musicians to help you do that.
Q: How do I choose the right flute for me?
A: Wow, I could write a book about this, so there’s no way I can answer this question in the space allotted here. However, what I will tell you is that every flute is like a pair of jeans, for lack of a better analogy. What I mean is that, when I go into the store to buy jeans, it seems that I can try on 20 different pairs, and even if a few of them are the same size and style, they all fit differently. What looks terrible on me might look spectacular on the girl in the next fitting room. Flutes are the same way. In order to know what works for you, you’ve got to try as much as possible before making a decision. I recommend going to a convention or festival where there are vendors selling several different types of flutes. Or, if you can’t do that, order 3 or 4 different types of flutes from a reputable flute purveyor (many will let you have the flutes for a week and will only charge your credit card for the one that you keep). Whatever you do, don’t buy a specific brand just because that’s what someone else plays. And parents, please don’t just buy a flute for your child as a gift without letting them try a variety of brands first.
Please submit your question by emailing Dianne@diannewilliams.com.