Michelle Dunn

What to Expect at Flute Fair 2018

On Saturday, RAFA presents its annual Flute Fair at Highland United Methodist Church. Every year, many of our members gather to learn, play, and talk all things flute together! This year will feature guest artist Laurie Sokoloff, as well as many other fantastic flutists. The RAFA Board, consisting of veteran teachers, students of different skill levels and ages, and specialists in very different parts of the music world, have come together to present what we think will be the most useful assortment of workshops, performances, and classes for our diverse membership. Come and see us, meet each other, and bring all of your knowledge and questions!



What is a Flute Fair?

RAFA’s Flute Fair is our biggest annual event. It’s one of the only chances all of our members get to come talk about all things flute, visit with each other in a casual setting, listen to each others performances, network, and shop! There are exhibitors selling instruments (modern, Baroque, piccolos, low flutes, and headjoints), music (CDs and sheet music and sometimes even videos), tools (cleaners, swabs, screwdrivers, breath building tools), and other kinds of flute merch (like the RAFA T-shirt!).

If shopping isn’t your thing, come sit in on a workshop or performance! We have a range of performances from beginner and intermediate students in the Student Showcases from Review & Contest last weekend, professionals like Laurie Sokoloff and Krisztina Dér, and performers in between at our Artist Competition finals concert. Workshops are taught by RAFA member Dr. Kelly Nivison on Bach and Baroque flute playing, and on the other end of music history, Stacey Lee Russell on contemporary flute music and the “prepared flute” (come to the class to learn what that means – and, no, it’s not just practicing a lot).

Lunch is served for a $5 donation, and that is a great chance to sit and talk shop with friends old and new, or maybe talk to a potential teacher and set up a trial lesson. Maybe you just want to get to know each other and talk about your jobs/kids/pets (although I think most of us are cat people, so just know that you’re probably going to hear about our cats).


I’m not a flute teacher, or going to major in music. Why should I go to Flute Fair?

Flute Fair is for everyone! Whether you have just started to play, have several degrees in music, or have played for decades, you can always learn something new at Flute Fair – and not just from the guest artists! Many of our members are widespread across the state of North Carolina (and sometimes we have visitors from other states, as well), and know a lot about many different aspects of flute playing, as well as other parts of life.

I have spent many lunches at Flute Fair talking to longtime RAFA members about their non-musical jobs and learned so much about my own choir members, former teachers, and students that we wouldn’t have had time to discuss in a lesson. For example, I got a web design job from a parent I met at the Flute Fair lunch, because we talked about our non-musical hobbies: she learned that I worked on websites, I learned about the business she was trying to get set up, and it turned out to be a great match! I have also gotten opportunities to connect with my past teachers, talk to former classmates, and catch up with those people that I only see annually at this event!

There are always new pieces being composed and published for the flute, as well as rare gems in the classical repertoire you may not have heard. This is a great – and inexpensive – way to check them out. You also might hear works that you have heard or performed before, and you can learn from the way that someone else plays them! You don’t have to agree with their interpretation, but open yourself up to all the different possibilities. For those participants in our RAFA contests, you will be able to hear the semifinalists and finalists from the Artist Competition and the Review & Contest at the Finalists Concert and the Student Showcase concerts; don’t have hard feelings that you weren’t chosen to perform, but come listen to these fine players and see what it is that our judges enjoyed about their performances. That might just give you the edge in your next contest!


Is this Flute Fair all about the piccolo?

No – while Mrs. Sokoloff’s featured class focuses on piccolo excerpts and performance, there is a lot more to the Flute Fair than piccolo playing. Not all of our members play the piccolo, and that’s OK. You have choices of classes to attend, and you can always tiptoe out and duck into another room if you start a session and it doesn’t jive with you. And then there are student performances where students can listen to each other’s repertoire, teachers can listen to their featured students, parents can cry while their little babies take the big stage, or classmates can support each other and hear some new repertoire.

Piccolo, while very different from the flute, belongs to the same family, and if you are looking to make a living playing the flute, it’s a great skill to be able to add to your toolbox. (I got my first opportunity to perform in a Nutcracker show, but only because the 3rd flute and piccolo book was free! If I hadn’t been a strong picc player, I wouldn’t have been offered the job!) I recommend coming to listen to how well some of these experienced players perform, learn some tips, and see if that doesn’t change your mind about the piccolo, even if you don’t own one.

If none of that piques your interest, go visit the exhibit hall, because it’s open during the piccolo class! Try out some different instruments, pick up some new tunes to try, or get a start on holiday shopping for the musicians in your life. The Flute Treasures table is usually a place with really good deals on used music, materials, and various, well, treasures, loved by members but looking for new homes. Us teachers have a tendency to stockpile sheet music and Kokopelli knickknacks until our studios are too full for our students to fit inside, so a lot of us donate some of our extras here. Also, did I mention the nifty RAFA T-shirt?


Do I get to play if I’m not in a concert?

While a lot of the sessions at Flute Fair are masterclass-style or concerts, Mrs. Russell and Dr. Nivison’s classes are participatory: bring your instrument and come try some stuff! Mrs. Russell’s class introduces contemporary music and experimental sound-making in nontraditional ways. Dr. Nivison’s class explores Baroque and early music traditions and provides tips and tricks to mastering the art of the historically-informed performance, as well as how to make it your own on your own modern instrument.

Again, you can play in the exhibit hall! Sightread some new music. Try a piccolo, alto, or bass flute and see what it feels like to play that, compared to your C flute. Test-drive that new Altus/Burkart/Di Zhao/Muramatsu that you’ve had your eye on – and maybe even take it home! Try on a RAFA T-shirt. Play music with someone you’ve never met before, and maybe start a chamber ensemble. The world is your oyster, and RAFA is here to help you explore it!


Bonus Game – with prizes!

The following is a scavenger hunt that you can complete at this weekend’s Flute Fair! If you can respond with the correct answers about these people at Flute Fair, I’ll send you a prize! Use the rest of our website to help you find the right answers, and then see if you can identify them and introduce yourself at the event. (Try not to double-dip, because some of the answers can apply to the same person). Bonus prize if you send a picture of yourself wearing the RAFA T-shirt!

  1. Flute Fair’s featured guest artist
  2. someone who plays the piccolo
  3. a workshop teacher/session leader at the Flute Fair
  4. an exhibitor/volunteer in the Flute Fair exhibit hall
  5. the RAFA President
  6. a flutist who is younger than you
  7. a flutist who is older than you
The RAFA Flute Fair takes place on Saturday, November 10, at Highland United Methodist Church. Please see the event page for notes on parking and a full schedule of events.


Andrea McKerlie Luke is the RAFA Website Manager, the director of RAFA’s Silver Pipes flute choir, the contrabass player in the Raleigh Flute Choir, and a flute teacher at the Chapel Hill School of Musical Arts. She has been a member of RAFA since she was 12 and will not tell you her exact age, but will disclose that she plays the piccolo (hint, hint).

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