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An Inside Look

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 9, 2009

The flute has always been a favorite choice among young students just starting out in music. Its ethereal and beautiful quality of sound, its compact size, the glint of its silver, and its ease of transport make it one of the most often chosen instruments. This month’s SBO UpClose focus on Lisa Preston provides insight into a teacher who has capitalized on her admiration for the flute and how she has incorporated it into her thriving music program at Normal Community West High School in Normal, Illinois.

The flute choir offers flautists (or flute players, as a famous musician once noted, “I’m not a flautist, because I don’t play the flaute!”) a great opportunity to be heard without being overpowered by the brass, percussion, and other woodwinds. Preston also takes advantage of the portability of the flute to bring her flute ensemble to a local cancer center and other hospitals where people can benefit from the dulcet tones of her group. Not only does she offer a flute choir and a clarinet choir, but her program has all students involved in numerous other small ensembles as she believes that “everyone should have some sort of chamber experience.”

Stepping onto the brass side of this edition of SBO, trumpeter Dan Gosling makes an important case for helping one maintain their brass chops while minimizing the chance for damage. He takes an in-depth look at the mechanics of the lips and embouchure, and how, just like an athlete, you need to listen to your muscles. Today’s athletes “alternate their workouts in a pattern of stress followed by recovery. If we don’t include recovery, …our bodies will force us to rest by breaking down.” This especially means learning to know when a musician should give their lips the rest that is needed so they don’t become overstressed and cause greater, or sometimes permanent damage.

This month’s edition of SBO also provides an insightful look into the synergistic relationship between a public school system’s music program, a state college, and the local arts community, and how these can work effectively to build a stronger music and arts education program. This story, A Profile of an Arts-Supporting Community: Richmond, Kentucky, shows an extraordinary effort between local government, high school administrators, and how they have interacted to help produce a vibrant educational, professional, and collegiate music community. I believe that you’ll find these intriguing articles a wonderful source of exciting ideas, so read on!

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