Student of the Week – Term One Week Nine

CoAlyssa Collinsngratulations to Week Nine Student of the Week – Alyssa Collins.  11 year old Alyssa has worked hard over the last few weeks to improve her scales in preparation for her Grade Two exam at the end of the year.  Alyssa has also been working this term on a quite difficult piece – one that she thought she would never have a chance of being able to play.  This is Vivaldi’s Spring from The Four Seasons which Alyssa really loves.  With consistent work and attention to all the details, it is well on the way to sounding like the real thing.  There are some fast high note runs that turned out to be just the top octave of F Major scale, although they looked much scarier on the page!  Suddenly practising scales seemed to have a purpose!  Alyssa has even practised these runs using harmonics, an advanced technique.  Alyssa seems to like Baroque music as she has now chosen some more Vivaldi pieces to learn for her exam.  I’m impressed by Alyssa’s perseverance and the way she is able to articulate to me what she likes about the music she chooses to learn.  I’m looking forward to an interesting musical journey with you over the next few years, Alyssa!  Well done!            

Student of the Week – Term One Week Eight

Student of the Week Award fAdhav ManoJ Pillaior Week Eight goes to 9 year old Adhav Manoj Pillai.  Adhav impressed me this week by showing how much a student can improve their playing in the space of one week!  Adhav has been learning flute and playing in the school band for one year, but over the Christmas holidays forgot a lot of the fingerings he had learned last year, and has been struggling trying to remember them again this term.  This week Adhav took my advice and checked fingerings he was not sure about in his tutor book when practising, resulting in much better playing in his lesson.  Adhav is also working hard to take better care of his flute so that it does not get so many knocks and dents, and to make sure that he washes his hands before playing, so that his flute does not get so sticky.  Well done Adhav!  

Student of the Week – Term One Week Seven

I am pHannah Smithleased to announce that Student of the Week for Week Seven is Hannah Smith.  Hannah is just about to sit her Year 12 half-yearly exams but even so is continuing to have fortnightly Flute lessons, and work on her Theory.  Hannah passed her Grade Six Flute exam with Credit in 2015, but has to pass the additional requirement of Grade Two Theory in order to receive her Grade Six certificate.  We work on the basis of a little bit every day is better than nothing at all!  So Hannah spends a few minutes completing just one page in her Theory book each day, which adds up to 14 pages in a fortnight!  As well, just a small amount of flute practice focusing on tone, technique, one solo piece and one duet, means that Hannah can continue to enjoy her flute playing without feeling overwhelmed by preparing for an exam. Year 12 is a big year for all students, and Hannah is proving that having music as an enjoyable, extra-curricular activity can help with the stress of getting through it all.  I’m proud of you Hannah for managing to keep all the balls in the air!      

Student of the Week – Term One Week Six

Caitlin PowerStudent of the Week for Week Six is Caitlin Power – a fine example of someone who works quietly and consistently, playing the flute for her own enjoyment and sense of achievement.  Caitlin began lessons with me when she was 8 years old and in Year 2 at school, and has completed exams as far as Grade 7 Flute and Grade 3 Theory.  Now 23 and a full-time member of the workforce, Caitlin attends lessons fortnightly and continues to work on refining her tone, technique and rhythm.  Caitlin takes on challenging repertoire, including a project to work through the entire book of Boehm studies, as well as advanced level pieces and duets.  We are looking forward to her performing the Gaubert Romance and a Mercadante duet at the next Top Notes Music Studio Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Concert.

Student of the Week – Term One Week Five

Anish JosephStudent of the Week for Week Five is Anish Joseph.  I have selected Anish this week because he has shown a commitment to incrementally improving and refining his flute playing technique over the last year.  Over the last few weeks Anish has mastered the technique of detache (a French word which simply means ‘detached’)  This will enable him to play with a lighter, bouncier sound that comes from using more diaphragm support, and in turn helps to reduce tension in the arms and fingers.  Working on technique requires discipline and intelligent, focused use of practice time.  This is essential to Anish, because in addition to his flute lessons he is also preparing for his Grade 7 Piano exam in May, and his Grade 5 Theory exam.  Anish is a Year 8 student who has a significant commute to and from school each day, and also plays a lot of sport, so he has  a very busy schedule.  Anish is also hoping to compete in an Eisteddfod or two later on in the year with his flute.  Keep up the good work Anish!

Flute Music for International Women’s Day

Hi Everyone,IMG_0648

I am honoured to have been invited by Rachel Valler and Michelle Urquhart to join them in what is going to be a wonderful celebration of the creative output of women composers from around the world, to mark International Women’s Day 2016.

We would love you to join us.  Seating is limited and I am told it fills up quickly, so don’t be late! 

The program includes Anne Boyd’s Bali Moods No 1, Cecile Chaminade’s famous Concertino and Anna Bon’s classical Sonata in G Minor, for flute and piano, as well as lots of other lovely music for various combinations of flute, violin, viola and piano.

When:  Sunday 13th March at 2.30pm

Where:  Waverley Library Theatrette, 32-48 Denison Street, BONDI JUNCTION

Tickets:  No booking required.  Tickets at the door $10 ($8 concession) CASH ONLY

For more information click here.





Student of the Week – Term One Week Four

StudeCaitlin Handelnt of the Week for Week Four is awarded to Year 8 student, Caitlin Handel.  Caitlin attends a performing arts high school and is one of three flute players in a flute ensemble at school.  At her second lesson this year she brought along an arrangement of the famous Hallelujah Chorus, by her namesake Georg Frederic Handel.  Caitlin had been given the First Flute part which is quite challenging, requiring a lot of reading of notes up to four leger lines above the stave – and remembering all the fingerings!  No mean feat for a student who has only just completed Grade Two.  Caitlin has impressed me with the amount of effort she has put into learning her part over the last two weeks.  She is now able to play it quite fluently, and also to identify where there are uncertainties in the ensemble at school.  Last lesson we worked on a difficult spot, with myself and another student playing the second and third parts, and Caitlin’s Mum recorded it on her iPad for Caitlin to practise with at home.  What a great team effort by all concerned!

Student of the Week – Term One Week Two

Emma Wilkinson

Student of the Week for Week Two is awarded to Emma Wilkinson.  Emma is in Year 8 and has been learning flute since she was in Year 3.  Emma started private lessons at Top Notes Music Studio 18 months ago.  In 2015 Emma did both Grade 1 and Grade 2 Flute exams, and passed both with Honours.  She is now preparing for Grade 3 in May 2016.

 Emma is a very organised and conscientious student and comes to every lesson with her assigned work completed.  She has markers in all her books so she knows exactly what she is supposed to be working on.  But what is most impressive about Emma is that she remembers to work on those difficult technique issues that require constant awareness when practising.  Emma has made great strides improving her hand positions, and working on a more relaxed embouchure with the result that she is now discovering a fantastic big sound she never knew she had!  I am very excited by the possibilities that will now open up for Emma in her playing.  Congratulations Emma!

Student of the Week – Term One Week One

Anika PandeyI am pleased to announce Student of the Week for Term One, Week One is 8 year old Anika Pandey, pictured here playing her fife at the 2015 End of Year Student Concert.

Students come back to lessons in various ‘states of repair’ after the summer holidays.  Some have holes where things that were learned and mastered before the holiday have been totally forgotten and have to be re-learned.  Some are a bit rusty and just need to play a bit to get back to where they were and some have been maintained in perfect condition, and pick up exactly where they left off. But it is rare to find a student that has actually made progress and improved over the holidays.

Anika is such a student.  Anika downloaded the backing tracks to her tutor book over the holidays and played all her beginner tunes along with the backing tracks.  What a great holiday fun thing to do!  Not only has she learned two new and quite difficult songs by herself but all her playing is now so much more confident and fluent!  Anika is looking forward to progressing on to her new ‘proper’ flute this term.  Well done, Anika!

Best flute brands for beginners

I am frequently asked, “What is the best brand of flute to buy for a beginning student?”  Personally I think the Yamaha flutes are the most reliable.  They seem to give years of trouble-free service and don’t seem to go out of adjustment as quickly as some of the other brands.  What do you think?  Tell us about your flute, what brand it is and how you have found it.  What level of student would you recommend it for?