FLUTE Member Of The Week
March 6 to 12, 2000

Cantilene from Poulenc Sonata
I was born in 1950. I took up the flute in the fifth grade. My parents are both musucians,(pianists) and, after having failed to teach me anything about their chosen instrument, decided to give me one more chance, as the local Jr. high band director was recruiting, and I had expressed an interest. Flute was chosen for its relative affordability, size, and quietness. I took to it immediately, and it has been the focus of my life ever since.
In 1968, I joined the US Army Band at Ft. Myer, VA, right out of High School. Flute has been my profession ever since. I tried college for a couple of years,(Hartt College of Music). My teacher there was John Wummer. I was too busy practicing and performing to do well accademicaly though, and dropped out. I returned to the DC area in 1976, which is where I am now. In 1980, I married my wife, Sylvia. In that same year I began repairing flutes and Lagerquist Flute Service, Inc. was born. Please visit my web-site. In 1984 I won the Third Flute/Piccolo job with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. Now my life revolves around opera and ballet from mid September to April, and from April through August, I'm in my work shop full time. I'm a serious voice student as well, and find that the musical insights I've gained from singing have made my teaching,(and playing too, of course), much more effective. So, for me, it's all about flute. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love, and from every possible angle. My goal, as I procede into the second half of my life, is to help other budding performers learn to experience themselves as the source of their skill to communicate through music.

I am approaching this project from a vocal point of view. I place heavy, continuous stress on understanding the human hearing apparatus and the brain it is attatched to. Our ears respond to CHANGES in air pressure. No changing, no responce. Fortunately, the ear is so sensitive it will acknowledge the slightest difference. The good singer understands that his job is to generate the most change possible on a continuous basis. He takes each note and uses it for something. That something is not to be found or even hinted at in the composition and requires that the performer take a kind of time that is actually at odds with the time built into the piece. To do this something can only result from an individual CHOICE to look for possibilities beyond the score. How many times I've heard the complaint," I've worked and worked on this! I can play every note and every dynamic at the indicated tempo, but it still doesn't sound good." Between the score and the machine,(flute), there are so many distractions that one can only focus one's attention on sound for its own sake by consciously turning to it and away from correctnes. It is a fact that we do not have enough wiring to think both ways at once. I trust my students to get it right. That is a relatively easy thing to accomplish. As the student plays, I keep up a steady stream of vocal encouragement and reaction, sort of like a cheering section at a ball game. In this way the student hears me respond to something they did RIGHT WHEN THEY DID IT, rather than the typical play-and-critique-after-approach. After a while they realize that what I reacted to was a choice they made, one of thousands per second, that come from their brain and nowhere else! A couple of things to remember about sound: it is chaotic by nature, the frequency is never more than 12.5% of the total, and sound always consists of onset, peak, and decay, no matter how short. These are facts, not my opinion. Something to consider next time you're faced with an intonation or balance problem.

I welcome your remarks and promise to reply.

John Lagerquist


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