One of our granddaughters participated in an Instrumental Solo/Ensemble Contest at Ferrucci Junior High in Puyallup on a recent Saturday. I’m not sure how much of a contest it was, but Peg and I enjoyed the performances of ten young students. We sat in a classroom. There was a piano for the accompanist if required and the judge. Each solo or ensemble centered on the flute.
We not only enjoyed music, but we also really enjoyed the judge. At the end of each song, the judge would approach the musicians and encourage them. The judge carried her own flute to the front of the room and offered suggestions for phrasing, technique, fingering, or breathing. Then she usually played part of the piece with the students. For example, she suggested that one participant breathe more frequently. “No one keeps count of breaths taken.” Then the teacher and the student played a few bars. With that single suggestion the young girl was able to easily increase the air through the flute and improve the sound and tone. The judge didn’t berate, she simply showed how to improve the next performance for the student.
On a duet, the judge asked one of the students if she knew what the musical term “Gracioso” meant, which was a notation on the music. The judge then explained “gracefully.” When the student and the teacher played several bars together you could see and hear how much more grace was added to the piece. Gentle teachers like this are worth their weight in gold . . . or perhaps . . . a silver flute.