28th June 2016
#pifr2016 Day 3
Lorna McGhee’s Technique class and repertoire class with Gabriella-Minnes Brandes, Wibb’s 24 Studies workshop and repertoire class and Heather Campbell’s workshop on empathy – a wonderful day of inspiring classes.
Empathy workshop with Heather Campbell
To start the day, we had a workshop given by Heather Campbell, the self-healing facilitator. Today’s class centered around empathy and how to interact in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Heather talked about each of us having our own frequency or energy that we present to others. She mentioned how the most powerful state is one that is neutral- since it is a place from where we can step into another emotional state or frequency. We learnt through asking our partner a series of questions how to empathize with them, by extending our frequency to another and inviting them to return that. This drew parallels with rehearsals and differing points of view with another musician. We can accept and appreciate another’s point of view without allowing ourselves to get into a heightened state. If we keep in a neutral state by working on grounding ourselves, we can empathize with that person and find common ground (not the same as compromising).
Wibb’s 24 Studies class and repertoire class
Alex and I played no.s 1 and 2 from Moyse’s 24 Studies. Wibb’s knowledge and first-hand experience of learning these with Moyse, as well as his own unique ideas led to a fascinating class – something I never get bored of hearing. Wibb is full of stories and it was particularly interesting to contrast the first two studies. We worked on colours (“happy tone”), repeated notes (“You’re drunk again!”), appogiaturas (“I love you”, legato (“Put your fingers down slowly!”), character (“Take me to Heav-en”..”but don’t be religious about it!”), expressive articulation (“When I do something in my body- the flute- it reacts! (Moyse)”). He also taught about soft attack and finding the sound and how Moyse said how easy it is for a sound to disappear or appear- “The flute is like a fish- it gets away!”.
Take me to Heav-en … but don’t be religious about it!
In the repertoire class, Wibb focused on the importance of stress and rhythm. The two pieces were the Schulhoff Sonata played by Chris, who was told to “put some sparkle dust on it” and the 1st movement from Bach’s B minor sonata played by Peter (“I’m Pe-ter, terribly Pe-ter”- the opening theme!). We learnt to find how our bodies resonate by singing an arpeggio and feeling how the resonance point moves up as we sing higher. In the Bach, Wibb taught how we can use Moyse Sonority (triplet exercise) to get an expressive soft high register.
Lorna’s technique class
This class was not your usual technique class. One might expect an hour of Taffanel & Gaubert exercises or Moyse scales, but Lorna explained how “technique”was artistry. It takes a great deal of generosity of spirit to take the trouble of getting a good technique that you share with the audience. Technique is not simply finger co-ordination, it involves taking care of your body, listening, refusing to compromise and being self-reliant, among other things.
We worked on the technique of sound and used Alexander Technique procedures to help. We did some work lying on the floor in semi-supine, humming to find resonance (much like Wibb did in his class with singing an arpeggio). We learnt about opposing forces in our bodies- one pulling us up and the other yielding our feet into the ground (vertical), as well as how our chest and hips can expand horizontally to create space and build resonance. We also did long tones and pitch bends to find a sound that sat right in the middle of our resonance and focus.
Lorna and Gaby’s class – repertoire
Strictly, this wasn’t a repertoire class- it was more of a “how to improve your sound dramatically” class! Gaby and Lorna worked together in a very unique approach, drawing from Alexander Technique and Lorna’s own approach to flute sound. It was quite astonishing how everyone improved in just 30 minutes. This was probably the most inspiring part of the day and reminded me of my amazing studies with Lorna a few years ago and why I decided to come to this flute retreat.
Some quotes from the class:
“Play like your life depended on it!”
“Breathe as if forte, even in piano“.
“Find where the note resonates and make friends with it!”
“Keep the bow moving.”
“In a diminuendo, come to rest, but don’t drop the ball!”
“Trust you have enough breath. Don’t live in poverty, but in abundance!”
Lorna demonstrated beautifully how a sound can be so enjoyable to listen to when our bodies are free from undue tension, which “puts a lid on the piano” or “puts a mute on the sound”.
I really can’t put into words how inspiring this class and day was. You need to experience it for yourself! So, see you next year everyone!
Thanks for reading and Happy Fluting!