Often the most energetic students in the band, flutists respond to challenges with enthusiasm and creativity, so consider these tips to expand and energize the flute section beyond regular rehearsals for concerts and competitions. Choose standard flute ensemble music (trios, quartets, etc.), learning notes and rhythms in section rehearsals, then expand the music in the following way:
- Add utility instruments such as piccolo, alto flute or bass flute to the original score to add texture, variety, and dynamic color. Piccolo and/or bass flute are non-transposing instruments, sounding an octave higher or lower, and will expand the ensemble sound with the additional range and colors. Alto flute sounds a 4th lower than the printed score, and with computer programs designed to transpose easily, the task is simple to add the alto color in the middle of the ensemble. Rotate players on the various instruments to provide opportunities for every section member to experiment with the utility instruments.
- Add percussion such as keyboard instruments (marimba, xylophone or vibraphone) or latin percussion instruments (congas, maracas or bongos) to add audience appeal and energize the section for concerts or festival appearances. Many scores are easy to modify and/or expand, particularly Bach Chorales printed in score form, or simple latin folk/popular music readily available for flute ensembles.
- Experiment with amplification to add excitement in performance. Most high school programs use amplification on the marching field for solo features or other special effects, so experiment with bringing the sound equipment indoors to enhance and add texture to the flute section for performances in large, open spaces such as the foyer of an auditorium, in a gymnasium, or at a local shopping mall at holiday time.
Performance opportunities for the expanded flute section include pre-concerts, senior centers, festivals or during recruiting season as a demonstration group for students and parents considering joining your band program. The possibilities are endless, so be creative!
Regents Professor of Flute at the University of North Texas, Mary Karen Clardy appears as soloist and chamber artist throughout the world with numerous performances for the National Flute Association and British Flute Society. Renowned as a teacher, she regularly presents master classes at home and abroad, and her students are consistent winners of international and national competitions, holding prestigious orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. An established author, Ms. Clardy’s award-winning publications are in multiple reprint. Learn more about Ms. Clardy and her recodings here.
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