I recently attended a masterclass led by Alberto Almarza. It was during The Flute Summit here at FSU. Our Flute Summit was about health and healing through the flute. We had many concerts by people who play Native American flutes, and Alberto Almarza who played modern Boehm, and Baroque flute. The weekend was severely energy-depleting. We had requirements of how may things we had to go to, and that kept us busy the entire weekend.
During the masterclass, we heard some the Graduate students play pieces of Northern or Southern American influence. We heard pieces like - Sonata Latino (which Alberto said he has asked Mike Mower to change the title in the next edition to the correct "Sonata Latina"), Poemeto, Kokopeli, and some Tango Etudes by Piazzola. They all received the music the week before!!!
He had different things to say about each player. He mentioned how when the line or phrase is leading to a certain note...the most important note is not the high point in the phrase. It happens to be the one right before it because that note will determine how the line is moving, and how intense it is.
Tone/Tonal Colours: He said a very remarkable thing about using different tonal colors and how to achieve them. I thought this was very cool insight. He said to use the spanish vowels to form your mouth and throat openness. A (ah), E (ay), I (ee), O (oh), U (oo). You go from being REALLY open and free sounding (A), to kind of hollow and eerie sounding (U). He likes to use the I color to make a distant sounding entrance. If you are supposed to start very soft and get louder, you shouldn't have to compromise that with fuzz in your sound. This was what he was talking about with the Poemeto. If anyone knows this piece you now that is starts soft with an A2 D3 C2 ornamentation. He also used the spoon tongue technique.
For the spoon tongue technique you practice your notes starting mf and reduce the volume until you start to lose the integrity. Then you jam the tongue behind your teeth to cut off the airflow. The trick is to keep the setup you have, and not change anything. Then you release the tongue and get a clear soft sound (with the I vowel).
Posture was important. We probably all know about this. His main thing was to let your bones do what they were made for...supporting your body. If anything isn't lined up your body will have to compensate by using extra muscles to keep your body from succumbing to gravity. This will negatively change your sound and embouchure.
Most of all he said that flexibility of embouchure is important for tone and changing colors. I was completely blown away by a piece he played at an evening concert in which he was playing A3/Bb3 literally ppppp and not succumbing to whistle tones (those were done later in the piece).
I would love to go to Mr. Almarza's school for my Master's Degree, however, he teaches at Carnegie-Mellon, and that school is $47K per year. Of course everyone who gets in pretty much gets scholarships for most all of it, but since there are only 15 flutists in their entire studio, I can safely assume that when I audition I will not get in. LOL I hope this provided some insight to others, too. I need to find out about getting a lesson with him.
>.I would love to go to Mr. Almarza's school for my Master's Degree, however, he teaches at Carnegie-Mellon, and that school is $47K per year. Of course everyone who gets in pretty much gets scholarships for most all of it, but since there are only 15 flutists in their entire studio, I can safely assume that when I audition I will not get in. <<
Eh, that depends on you, your porfolio/application, and where you are 3-1/2 years from now. You might surprise yourself. You also don't have to go straight to grad school, *if you can work in your field and build up your resume/CV.
My sister got her MFA from CMU in their theater department, on a full scholarship. She did theater design, though, for smaller regional theaters, for a few years after college, so she had a fairly thick portfolio of both academic and professional work.
More money for if I have to teach because I suck so bad that I can't find a job other than in an orchestra. LOL I don't want to ever play in an orchestra, but if it came down to it I would to pay the bills. Then if I couldn't find a job in an orchestra I would teach probably Theory or something along those lines in college. Plus I get to keep taking lessons and working on harder and harder repertoire when doing graduate school.
Re: Masterclass with Alberto Almarza 22:05 on Sunday, October 22, 2006
Account Closed (3248 points)
I can see your point on that, though I am opposite of you because I absolutely love playing in an orchestra.
Do you ever play your clarinet or sax anymore? I only ask because I was just listening to your CD and you play both so beautifully. It would be a shame to waste that talent. I am sure you are busy enough with flute though. I just can't get over that that is you playing Forever in Love piece. That is so beautiful and my all time favorite sax piece. It is really moving.
I decided to give that Copland piece another look and I am glad I did. It is a very pretty piece minus the 6 flats in that one part. :O
I miss you! Might down for a visit one of these days.
Yeah I was wondering why in the world he just popped in with that key signature. I like the piece, but it's not a favorite of mine. Please come visit soon!!! LOL I will need to relax after this semester. I can't believe how swamped school and I have made myself.
Re: Masterclass with Alberto Almarza 22:41 on Sunday, October 22, 2006
Account Closed (3248 points)
I will have to get on the ball and sell a few more flutes. I am so broke after the house renovations. I guess that platinum flute of mine will have to wait. lol! I have another trip coming up to see my niece perform on here flute in December, but after that... who knows.
Kara, I don't have a masters, though I did a good deal of intense private study after undergrad, I would only have gone to get my masters to continue partying and chasing undergrad cuties, so that was not enough of a reason, plus I am not interested in academia.
I am not really that interested in academics. Just want to make sure I am fluently learned on the flute. I don't party, and for the most part don't chase undergrad cuties. LOL I do stalk a couple people on facebook now and again, though. HAHAH! I have been out of school for 8 years, and right now want to continue with as much as I can. I am sure my opinion will change before I graduate with my bachelor's. However, if I am unable to do performance I will MAKE myself do a Master's in performance just because those that are not in performance at my school tend to be forgotten. They don't get the attention that they require to be as good as they can be.
as long as you study and grow and keep learning, you are on the right track, go to lots of voice master classes while you are in school, other instruments as well, that is where you will learn as much about breathing and phrasing as you would from a flute prof.
OMG Disney is SO overrated!! I will take you to Universal Studios or Busch Gardens...but they are more fun when you are sweating your @$$ off in the summer heat and then go get splashed by lots of water!