Playing Flute During a Pandemic

by Andrea McKerlie Luke

Flute with toilet paper and alcohol wipes.
Seriously, though, alcohol wipes are great for cleaning your lip plate and tone hole on a REGULAR basis, not just during a pandemic.

If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling a little frustrated right now. Things are really weird. All my rehearsals are cancelled, my studio is running online lessons only, the store where I normally work is closed indefinitely, and I can’t even hang out with my friends! It’s like all the worst parts of a snow closure…without the fun of snow to play in. Just pollen.

BUT! That doesn’t mean you have to pack up your flute indefinitely. Yes, it is fun to play in a group. Yes, it is probably easier to motivate yourself to practice if you can GO to a studio or a lesson. Some of our RAFA members have begun compiling a list of resources to help you keep on fluting, even in quarantine or physical social distancing. Included are online lesson tools, articles, videos, and sources of music – just a limited number of what is available out there.

Do you have something that keeps you motivated to play? Or a favorite video you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment below, or contact us at!

Online Lessons, Videos, and Practicing

My Flutorials: One of RAFA’s sponsors, Catherine LeGrand, of Campbell University, has a pretty neat online library of tutorials. Her site includes great recordings, tutorials on all kinds of topics – starting at $1.99 per video – and access to high-caliber practice guides and resources. You can even request a tutorial video on a topic of your choice (if she hasn’t made it already)!

The Flute Practice: Tatiana Thaele is a flute teacher from Cape Town, who writes articles, teaches online, and has an extensive YouTube channel of flute technique lessons. Whether you are just beginning, learning extended techniques, or trying to polish your tone, she has a lot of knowledge to share.

Articles, Resources, and Tools

Jennifer Cluff: Principal Flute of The Vancouver Island Symphony (1995-2006), she has a network of articles, downloadable sheet music, and performances on her informative website. From fingering charts to proper care and cleaning of the instrument, she has written articles on just about everything. She also offers an exhaustive list of online masterclass recordings, practice resources, and repertoire!

The Bulletproof Musician: Dr. Noa Kageyama is a violinist and performance psychologist at Julliard School, and has years of experience both playing as well as learning how it is that musicians learn. His site covers all kinds of topics related to practicing and performing, with categories including anxiety, confidence, focus, and resilience. He also offers an online course called “Beyond Practicing” (which does cost an admission fee) which is meant to “show you exactly how to develop the ability to overcome nerves, the critic in your head, memory slips, distractions of all kinds, and play your best when the pressure is on.”

auditionhacker: Rob Knopper is a percussionist for the Met Orchestra, and has developed courses in improving the audition process specifically. He offers a free mini-course (3-part video series), as well as a more in-depth paid class, but also offers a lot of enlightening blog posts and articles about practicing for auditions, how auditions are judged, and more. One of his more recent blog posts is called how to get motivated and set practice goals (during coronapause). I think “coronapause” is my favorite term for the current state of things, and I know I could use help setting some practice goals!

Sheet Music The two flutists that started FluteTunes wanted, simply, to compile a free source of sheet music for other flutists. To that end, they compose a new tune every day, as well as posting thousands of public-domain tunes, along with MIDI demonstration tracks and accompaniments. It’s a great place to browse for new and interesting sightreading, and also includes a sheet music printer, scale sheets, tuner, and metronome right through the site. They also provide links to numerous other blogs and websites we have not been able to list, so it’s a great jumping-off point for new inspiration!

IMSLP: The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) / Petrucci Music Library has, at time of post publishing: 156,507 works by 18,593 composers; recorded by 535 performers in 60,139 recordings; spanning 507,799 scores on 10,334,735+ pages! It is a massive database of sheet music, archival manuscripts, public domain music for free download, and a source of high-quality recordings. There are often arrangements and transcriptions of significant works, so you might just find a solo or duet version of your favorite classical piece here if you’re willing to dig for it. I like to call this the “Wikipedia” of classical music; just make sure to check your copyright rules before downloading. Luckily, the site makes this very clear and usually alerts you to what is public domain.

And just for fun…

Any Major Flute: This guy is awesome. He compiles playlists organized by genre, and has at least 5 volumes of pop music that have “a cool flute moment.” His lists are meant to generate interest in the artists and he encourages you to purchase your own music and let the artists be paid for their work, but it’s a really cool place to start if you like hearing flute in a more modern context – or want someone else to suggest when people ask you about Jethro Tull. He also has a timely list called Any Major Pandemic, a cheeky collection of songs like Minutemen’s “Corona” (1984), the Ramones’ “You Sound Like You’re Sick” (1981), Crowded House’s “Isolation” (2010)… You get the idea.

What have you been doing to pass the time? What songs are you playing? What videos are you watching? Are you taking online lessons? Let us know!

More posts like this will probably be coming your way soon. Stay well, wash your hands – disinfect your lip plates please! – and keep on fluting.



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