Whether you’re a parent searching for a student flute, upgrading to a new flute, pursuing high education, looking for a backup flute or just want to make a nice lamp, how do you really find a quality instrument?Look at the bottom of the post for curved flutes for young flutists!
In the video, Gina shows off both the wave flute and the curved flute as well as provides specific models from the Flute Center of NY for young flute families to look into.
Small flutists will want to play an instrument that allows them to:
Keep their arms closer to their body – prevent injury, tension and promote good posture
Support the weight of the flute (again easier to balance when closer to the body)
Like a regular flute it is ILL-ADVISED to shop on Amazon for any flute. Even if you are purchasing one for a young child, you risk loosing money if the instrument is damaged and needs repair. Whereas rented or purchased (new or preowned) flutes from a reputable seller will have warranties and Amazon’s variety of flutes is a much lower quality – and repair technicians can not work with the vast majority of them because of this fault (meaning you would have to buy another flute from Amazon OR buy from a reputable vendor).
For information on the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, and the general overview of the entire flute sonata (Op. 94) you should check out my analysis of the first movement before reading through the analysis of this movement. Understanding the background – including the conditions – Prokofiev was writing under will help inform the analysis of this movement:
III. Andante (♩=50)
This movement is significantly shorter than the other movements in this work, it is just under 4 minutes in long while the other movements average 6 minutes. The organization of this movement is less clear than the preceding movements. Similar to movements I and II this movement has a general ternary (ABA’) form. For context, movement 1 is in Sonata form and movement 2 is in ternary form – both can be fit under the umbrella of “ternary” form where an idea is presented, contrasted, and then reappears with some variations. In this post I’ll be arguing that the 3rd movement more closely resembles Sonata form; senza any repeats.
Patterns: There are two large motives within the 3rd movement – the lyrical eighth notes (A) and the restless triplet sixteenths (B).
Ambiguity: A running theme throughout this analysis will be the speculation of the new tonal areas. It is given that the “home key” is F Major this is reinforced by the pedal Fs in the piano during the first theme, however, the introduction of the first F# in m. 8. is where the tonal structure becomes less stable. I will be providing both the context of the flute and piano scores to assert my speculated tonal areas outside of the home key.
To review Sonata form there must be an exposition (including first theme in the home key and a secondary theme which begins to explore a new tonal area); a development is in that new key and starts out relatively stable followed by different techniques such as sequences or fragmenting to ‘develop’ the a new idea; the recapitulation begins and ends in the home key for both the first and secondary themes.
The exposition of the third movement lasts from m. 1-33. The first theme is stated with the flute entering before the piano on three eighths in an inverted triad (in this case G-C-E) which moves to a down beat F. The beat hierarchy (in this case the meter is 2/4 making 1 the emphasized beat and the rest less weighted) is of note because Prokofiev places the already unstable inversion of the dominant triad (CM) and resolves to the tonic (F) on the downbeat to begin the process of tonicizing F Major. Throughout the first 7 measures the note F is sustained between the flute and piano parts – the flute holding it through m. 2-3 while the piano oscillates between the 3rd and 5th (A-C); and then the piano dovetails that F in m.3-7 while the flute moves around the diatonic scale… until measure 8 when F# is introduced.
Context is important, remember Prokofiev was still living in and composing in the Soviet Union which was largely scrutinizing his output; and the relationship when it comes to modulations has ‘Classical’ rules that Prokofiev would have been expected to follow.
For example, it is common to see parallel M to m – for instance if we saw F Major modulate to 4 flats, f minor that could be a valid option. Or the Dominant, if F Major modulated to C Major.
What is unusual is to modulate a semitone (aka a half step) above the tonic. This may have been more acceptable within Romantic music, but remember context, the Socialist Realism within the Soviet Union was decades behind and the preference was for ‘Classical’ traditions NOT Romantic traditions from the latter half of the 19th century.
I find this modulation of particular interest for two reasons (1) it is that m2 interval from the home key (2) it is a tritone away from the dominant, which Prokofiev so strongly reinforced. Both are dissonant intervals, both suggesting a rebellious effort on Prokofiev’s part to explore tonalization whilst concealing it from government. When listening to the piece the transition from F Major to F# is skillfully blended, Prokofiev keeps the familiar intervallic patterns to instill nostalgia to the listener to deter them from looking closer at the slight adjustment in pitch.
Of course this is unusual for Sonata form – the key relation, changing within the first theme, is not expected especially when compared to the 1st movement of the Sonata. However the same can be said for the 2nd movement and ternary form, Prokofiev’s navigation of the keys is unusual on paper. I would identify this section m. 8-17 as the transitional theme between the first and second movements.
By m. 18-26 we are in the secondary theme; this is differentiated from the opening theme by the piano having the entrance before the flute, and take careful notice of which notes Prokofiev puts on the downbeats in m. 20-22 “C-E-G”… not F, which is the supposed home key. And by the closing theme m. 27-33, one could argue that Prokofiev is not ending with a half cadence in F, but a PAC in C Major. I argue the latter given the closer resemblance to Sonata form (which would need this transition away from the home key) as well as the underhanded ways Prokofiev reinforces a new key while burying it on paper with NCTs and accidentals galore.
The development takes up a significant portion of this movement lasting m. 34-73. The most obvious separation between A and B when looking at the movement on paper is Prokofiev’s use of rhythm. Nearly the entire development is triplet sixteenth notes.
Strengthening my assertion that the closing theme of the exposition ended in C Major, the development starts in C the pedal C’s in the piano m. 35-36 as well as 39-40; and using the 5th (G) to establish that tonic-dominant relationship.
By m. 43, Prokofiev begins to transition out of this new key into the 7th, another unusual choice, but given his previous modulation from F to F#, this new transition creates an odd tonal symmetry. Instead of going up another semitone, this time his goes DOWN from CM to b minor. As mentioned, this is not ‘Classical’ tradition and is a sneaky way to exploring tonality that Prokofiev blends in so the listener is none the wiser.
By measure 47 the new key of b minor is fully embraced – seen by the pedal B natural in the piano m. 47-50 as well as the inverted arpeggio echoing in the pick up to m. 48. Prokofiev employs the use of semitones again in m. 51 as he transitions away from b minor – notice how the LH of the piano moves from B-A# and F to F#; this is masked by the flute in m. 52 when Prokofiev gives the flute a B natural on the downbeat before the stark contrast in m. 53 when the flute’s A is played against a G and C in the piano, as Prokofiev returns to the CM idea explored at the beginning of the development.
For the most part the next bit (m. 53-63) is still in CM, with that semitone embellishment that Prokofiev has been entertaining throughout the movement. By m. 64-65 Prokofiev is playing with semitones in a sequential manner – he is highlighting them with the triplet sixteenth figure, the prolonged descending chromatic pattern, and the rest in the piano. These two measures are a sequence of first inversion arpeggios starting Db6 – C6 – Cb6 – Bb6- A6 – Ab6 – A6 – Bb6.
And then… key change, from one flat to six. Again this choice is somehow symmetrical. Recall the initial key of the development C Major, and how Prokofiev took his time alternating CM – G to emphasize the tonic-dominant relationship. And after a brief deviation, Prokofiev returned to the tonal area of C only to abruptly interject with the chromatic sequence. And now Gb is introduced, again a semitone lower than the dominant (G) of C Major. It is another calculated decision of Prokofiev’s part to mask his tonal exploration by delaying it by two measures.
And one could even argue that this section ends with a PAC in Gb, m. 73 where the G is presented in both flute and piano on the downbeat followed by the 5th (Db) in the piano LH.
Somehow, despite all detours, Prokofiev has come full circle and beautifully manages to connect Gb to it’s enharmonic equivalent F#.
A brief transition m. 74-81, where the flute resembles the A section while the piano is wrapping up the B section, sets up for a PAC in F Major in measure 81.
What is interesting is that ever since the transition in m. 74 the piano LH never plays another ‘F#’ for the duration of the piece, pedaling an F m. 82-88 while the flute will occasional play F#s to recount the brief exploration of F# during the transitional theme in the exposition.
The piece ends with a PAC in F Major. From a subjective view, I must admit that it always feels odd transition from measures 82-91 to the last three measures. Something about the juxtaposition between the flute (bringing out the NCTs and F# in particular) while the piano’s LH is fairly stable during m. 82-91 and then m. 92-94 suddenly that hand switches to descending chromaticism.
What are your thoughts on the 3rd movement of Prokofiev’s op. 94?
As we enter the Spring 2021 semester many students are resuming their aural and theory courses. These classes can be taxing under neutral circumstances, but given the continued changing instruction modalities (remote, hybrid, etc) there are extra barriers and challenges that can make these courses even more anxiety-inducing.
Apps and Programs designed for Ear Training/Theory
Aside from prep for the AP Music Theory exam, this book provides a condensed overview of basic-advanced Western music theory during the Common Core period.
CD with listening exercises; as well as self-assessment sections.
Practicing tools/tips for Ear Training
Start simple: when listening ask yourself is the pitch higher or lower? The move on to steps or skips?
When playing your own music think about these same concepts (make the context more directly applicable to you!). Listen to something simple without any visual music and try to play it back on your instrument.
Constant and consistent ear training; and be aware of out of tune pianos the intonation issues be confuse your brain, tricking it by a half/whole step depending on how severely out of tune it is.
Consistent labeling of pitches, find a system that works the best for you.
Examples: Solfege Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do
Numbers 1-12 (12 chromatic notes in a scale)
Ie. a C Major scale would be 1-3-5-6-8-10-12-1
Neutral; ie. la, du, ta
Note names: C, D, E, F, G, A, B
[More advanced] Identify which type of solfege is more comfortable:
Typically associated with perfect pitch, tonal memory of specific pitches.
C is always Do, D always Re, E always Mi, etc.
Do doesn’t have to always be C like Fixed Do. For example in F Major, F is the new Do and by going up the scale C becomes Sol. Or in G Major, G is the new Do and C becomes La.
Practice exercises with a drone
It’s a good habit to practice with a reference pitch to help develop an ear for the “home” or tonic note in a key.
A building block for harmonic function/context.
Music Theory Tips
Find a good tutor/mentor
A bad theory teacher or unclear instruction can destroy motivation, especially since theory on its own is so dense; a big part of comprehension is how it is presented
Everyone can understand music theory, you just need to find a way to think/process it that makes sense.
Break down scary concepts into steps
Roman Numeral analysis, most people. dread hearing that type of assignment…
Break it down, keep it simple:
What is the chord function? Just think Tonic/ Subdominant/Dominant?
Then figure out how to label each chord.
Tonics can only be I and sometimes vi.
Subdominant is ii, IV, and vi
Dominant is V and viio
And forget about iii (I’m kidding… only a little bit)
Do you like puzzles? Make it a game of finding the same or finding opposite.
If you don’t you’ll need to figure out another way to process/recognize similarities and differences in rhythm/pitch.
“Common facts” sheet
There are solid rules in Western theory (these rules have exceptions, of course) by writing down the fundamentals it will help keep track and act as a physical checklist of what is ‘allowed’ and what is ‘rule breaking’.
It can be mentally taxing. Take breaks while also keeping on top of the material.
I spent the first two years of my undergraduate program not realizing I had been hearing all my melodic dictation exercises in fixed-do (relative to C). It was only by the time I got to atonal music that one of my professors noticed the stark contrast in my performance on dictation exams and I FINALLY was able to get a grasp on melodic dictation. I hope some of these resources are helpful! Share your favorites in the comments.
In this post we’ll be looking at exercises that can be used for the individual flute student – particularly useful during remote/hybrid instruction. The levels of student have been split into 3 sub sections; since this is directed towards students enrolled in traditional band programs there is a standard of Western musical literacy that is expected:
Beginning: Minimal musical literacy and/or minimal or developing flute sound production and technique.
Advanced: Established musical literacy (full range, all basic music reading, articulations, dynamics, etc.) and/or developing flute tone, vibrato, musicianship, technique, etc.
These are just generalized levels – not necessary for students in a specific grade level; supplementing materials for material to be more age appropriate such as having a beginning high school student may be necessary…
Drone – Matching just ONE pitch. Whether that be a B (Bb) A or G.
Provide directed questions to optimize student achievement: Is that note higher or lower than the drone? [Reset] Play your note in 3 different spots in your room/house, which would sounded the best?
Listening/Rhythm – Depending on the level of musical literacy of the student there may be more set up on your end for them to be successful.
Either create or find rhythm cells [isolated patterns] for whichever level the student is at; one example is this Talking Rhythm: Counting 101. If the student is developing musical literacy you could provide them with a sample of the rhythm to read alongside the recording.
If the student is young or struggling to grasp certain patterns; varying instruction such as providing words for rhythms/telling stories with a set of familiar rhythms; or making a game out of rhythm call and response could successful.
Air/Breathing – Air direction is just as important as breathing well, especially for beginners.
A very “Suzuki Flute” concept is spitting rice this is invaluable because it achieves many skills: routine, tongue position, air direction, and air volume/force. Likewise it requires less explaining and more letting the student figure out how to do, definitely worth looking into for long term success.
A simple game you could have beginning flute student’s do is have them figure out “how old they are in flute years”. This can be done on the head joint or on any one pitch; basically, the student will time (either count or have someone count for them) how long they can hold a pitch and see if they can match/exceed their current age.
Drone – Depending on the student you could have them match anywhere from a Perfect 5th or a full octave (you could also break this up into several weeks on the first tetrachord and second tetrachord).
You can use the same directed questions from the Beginner drone warmup. You could also ask which notes against the drone sounded better/worse; if any of the intervals reminded them of songs they know. Try to engage them in active listening, extending to connecting music they know to the music they play.
Listening – Building student’s ear training you can provide them short excerpts (2-4 measures) to learn by ear.
There are books (ie. Funky Flute series) that include CDs that has a limited range that would be suitable for chunking, combined with range and simple rhythms for beginning-intermediate students. [Optionally, you could record a short excerpt on a keyboard for all instrument groups to work on by ear].
Rhythm/Musical Literacy – Both without and with the flute – it’s important for the students to be able to reproduce the rhythms/read away from the instrument so they can have an easier time transferring knowledge that is most likely very foreign to them.
Building upon common rhythm patterns; adding in rests would be the next step. Again recording rhythm cells/using words to represent rhythms/movements to go along with rhythms students can engage with music in a multiple ways.
Air/Breathing – Reviewing and maintaining solid breathing is the foundation to air support and developing a good tone.
You can continue to build on the beginning flute warmups such as the “How Old Are You In Flute Years?”. While also encouraging a more refined, focused tone. Listening should be incorporated in tone production – by presenting the students with a clear model to emulate they are less likely to get that airy/wide sound.
For fast passages – or passages that require a lot of articulation – your first spot to check may be the fingers. HOWEVER having the students turn their head joint upside down (still in playing position) so that the student’s air gets caught in the lip plate and creates a snake/hissing sound; when students are having issues with their air they can actually HEAR the difference between achieving or not achieving the hissing sound.
Drone – Expanding the intermediate warmup, you can have the students practice scales or pieces with a drone of the tonic.
The important thing is active engagement/listening. Having the students close their eyes – taking away one of their senses to focus on listening – can be useful early on as a way to get student feedback. The students can play a scale against the drone and have them only move to the next note after getting the one before it in tune with the drone.
Advanced students can also work on vibrato width against a drone. John Wion‘s website is fantastic because it has examples of famous flute player’s vibrato in notable works at tempo as well as slowed down.
Listening – Some advanced students will continue to struggle with ear training so keeping them on the chunked excerpts from intermediate warmups is not doing a disservice to them.
However, for students with a more keen ear you can provide extensions for them with either longer excerpts – even better if it’s a piece they have interest in learning on their own. You can have them compile a list of performers/recordings to reference and work on learning the piece by ear.
Rhythm/Musical Literacy – Again, it is still important to build this skill with and without the flute.
More advanced students can develop their literacy in music theory. Reviewing the Circle of Fifths and looking at chords and their functions.
The rhythm cells can still be useful for advanced students for reviewing learned rhythms as well as learning more complex ones as well as polyrhythms.
Air/Breathing – Reviewing and maintaining solid breathing is the foundation to air support and developing a good tone.
You can continue that fast and/or articulated passage practice strategy with the flipped head joint.
Also, at this point the students will be developing their independence in self assessment/student direction so standard flute tone exercises such as the famous Marcel Moyse long tone exercise from De La Sonorite can be used routinely.
What type of warmups have you been utilizing with your flute students? Do you use any of these? Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!