Recently I received an email from a college friend of mine.Â Her path has taken her away from music for a bit and while she is having marvelous adventures, she doesn’t want to see a decline in her playing level, even with having fewer playing opportunities.Â She sent me this message below:
“So, you know that I’m playing with a couple community groups around the area, but with my job and other things I have going on, I don’t have the time to dedicate to taking lessons and I don’t practice as much anymore y question is, I was wondering if you had suggestions on some etudes or exercises that I could play around on to keep my fingers and technique at least where it is.
Basically, I was wondering if you had suggestions on things I can do to keep up my technique. I can tell I’m not at the level I was at in college anymore… but I don’t want to keep declining. I have a few scale exercises from college, but I just thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts or suggestions or words of wisdom?”
I have no doubt her question actually resonates with a large percentage of the population.Â Maybe you started out in music, maybe even got a music degree and for whatever reason, life took you away from being able to play and now here you find yourself all this time later, not as good as you once were but no idea how to get back into it.
These are my suggestions to her:
Hi L! Good to hear from you!Â Sure, I’ve got some suggestions.
There are lots of fun etudes that are challenging as well, my favorites are the Piazzola Tango Etudes and there is also a book of Flamenco etudes that are fun as well. I JUST bought the Trevor Wye Omnibus edition (books 1-5) to use with his piccolo practice book and wondered why I didn’t know about it sooner! it’s like you’re taking lessons with him when you go through the books. I would DEFINITELY go get that one. You can get it here:
Trevor Wye has an Omnibus edition, which is books 1-5 of his lesson books and it covers tone, technique, intonation, articulation, vibrato, you name it.Â He has another book after that, book 6 which is his Advanced Practice Book.Â I highly recommend these
Trevor Wye’s Practice Books for the Flute
(Omnibus Edition Books 1-5). For Flute (Flute). Music Sales America. Classical. Softcover. 200 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120851. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036445)
Book 6: the Advanced Practice book – it incororates a lot of things from the first 5 books:
Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Flute
(Volume 6 – Advanced Practice). For Flute. Music Sales America. Softcover. 36 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120591. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036443)
Etudes, as you know, are a great way to incorporate everything that you have been working on in detail (tone, technique, etc.) into a tuneful studey. I’m much more of a fan of etudes that have an ethnical flair to them. The Piazzola Tango Etudes are nice enough that you can even play them in concert if you have the opportunity. Here’s the Piazzola;
Tango-Etudes pour Flute seule (for Flute Solo)
By Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). Arranged by Pierre Andre Valade. For flute solo (or violin solo). Latin, Argentina and 20th Century. Difficulty: difficult. Flute solo book. Standard notation. Composed 1987. 11 pages. Published by Editions Henry Lemoine (LM.24897)
The Flamenco Studies are a lot of fun too – they are technically challenging but for me, much more fun as they can really help you work on your rubato and phrasing:
3 Virtuoso Flamenco Studies
By Krystof Zgraja. Schott. 15 pages. Schott Music #ED8425. Published by Schott Music (HL.49007999)
An additional book I’ve found immensely helpful in practicing piccolo (since I haven’t had piccolo lessons in a long time, it’s a nice way to have a refresher course) is Trevor Wye’s Practice Book for Piccolo.Â What’s great about this is that you can use it in tandem with the Omnibus edition, but even if not, there’s excellent information in it, like you are getting a piccolo lesson from Trevor himself.Â After discussing a particular practice method he puts them into practice by including a massive amount of orchestral excerpts, immensely helpful in my opinion. No piccoloist should be without it.
Practice Book for the Piccolo
For Piccolo. Music Sales America. Softcover. 214 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120658. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036416)
There is a vast amount of literature when it comes to practicing flute and getting back into it after a hiatus, however long, can be a bit daunting.Â I’m sure others will chime in with what they like and have used, such as the Taffanel and Gaubert studies, Reichert Daily Exercises and multitudes of exercises by Moyse, but these are my suggestions as a starting point for basics to get into it, as just about all of the above is covered in some way in these tomes.
I invite you to leave your comments below on what has worked for you, what you use with your students, etc.
For a more complete listing of the books, methods and musical products I use and recommend, check out my Amazon store: