FLUTE Member Of The Week
July 17 to 23, 2000
I began flute in the fifth grade for the same reason many of us took up the flute--I could make a sound on it! In many ways, the instrument chose me, rather than the other way round. In the early 50's there were lots of boys playing flute, so I never experienced any gender discrimination. All through the Austin, Texas public schools I managed to play in band, orchestra, summer band in the park, and two years in the Texas All-State Orchestra. Both years in the All-State group, I became the piccolo player because the designated person couldn't play the part. Being principal flute, and playing piccolo is a bit of a challenge, but no one bothered to tell me that, so I really didn't know it.

While in high school, I also sang in a church choir (maybe not now the enriching experience it was then, but valuable to me), and took theory classes at The University of Texas. I was also in the theatre club, and actually considered going into theatre before music won the struggle. The most significant aspect of my early training was the support of my parents. They were both professional people who had grown up during the depression, were denied college work, and could very well have pointed out that "music is nice, but you should follow your father's profession and go into the trucking business." Rather they said, "music is nice: you'll never be rich, but if you like it, we'll support you."

It was while I was a junior in high school (1956) that I first heard Rampal perform. He played Prokofieff, and everyone in the audience was sure that no one in the world but Rampal could play that piece. It was a pivotal moment for me to hear such a player in person.

It never really occurred to me to major in anything but music education. And, because I had been in summer programs there, I naturally went to The University of Texas at Austin. While there, I played in band, orchestra, and sang in the choir. One unusual thing was that, even as a music education major, I was not required to be in the marching band. Politics--'nuff said. As a music education major, I was not expected to play a recital, but I found a way to do it anyway, and was accorded the Performer's Award for my program. I managed to win a chair as third flute and piccolo in the Austin Symphony (I am almost positive that it was because I owned a piccolo, and the competitor did not!). I played in the orchestra for seven years, moving up to second flute. I was also personnel manager and librarian for two years. We covered some grand literature, and I learned a lot about fundamental orchestra routine and professional expectations.

Upon graduation, and before signing a contract to be a high school band director, the music chair at Southwest Texas State College called wanting a woodwind teacher. I never had thought about teaching in college but the idea was compelling, to say the least. Once again, my profession chose me, rather than the other way around. For my first college job (with a bachelor degree in music education) I taught all the woodwinds, brass class, and percussion. Since that was part-time (!), I also enrolled at UT for master's work in music history. After three years, master's degree in hand, the Southwest Texas job became full-time and I became the director of bands (including marching band), as well as the woodwind teacher.

While in Austin, my flute instruction was begun by Carol Villerreal (Slocum). I had made a deal with my father: I could quit piano if I started flute lessons--such a deal! But, my dad was a prophet: he said I would regret quitting piano. He was right. (I think of that whenever I try to demonstrate cadences in theory class.) Carol was a senior in high school when I began to work with her. She played professionally in the Houston Symphony and has recently retired from the piccolo chair after many years of service. I can only imagine the patience Carol must have summoned up to work with me for three years. I am sure we both learned a lot.

My teachers at UT were Jervis Underwood, who has recently retired from Southern Illinois University, and John Hicks, who had been a member of the Boston Symphony, and was principal in the San Antonio Symphony when I studied with him. Jervis helped me locate the 1919 Haynes wood piccolo that I still play. He put me through volumes of Anderson and most of the standard flute literature (standard for 1960). I worked with Mr. Hicks (I am sure I could never call him "John") while doing my master's work-- more Anderson, standard concertos, Moyse, Taffanel-Gaubert. Basics are basics. During that time I got to play in an orchestra conducted by Robert Craft performing several works of Stravinsky during a symposium of Stravinsky's music. That was a very exciting and educational experience. To play for two legendary figures in the musical pantheon: Robert Craft and Igor Stravinsky--another life defining moment.

In 1965, after my wife Priscilla graduated from college, we went to Mt. Pleasant Michigan. It was quite a change, moving to rural Michigan from Austin, Texas. I taught flute, music appreciation and played in the faculty quintet. The three years at Central Michigan University were valuable because I had my first regular wind quintet performance experience. It also convinced me that I needed the advanced study in music that I would gain from doctoral work. So, on to The University of Michigan in 1970.

At Michigan, I studied with Nelson Hauenstein. He had been a student of Kincaid and helped refine my playing. He pointed me toward a lot more playing experiences in both orchestras and chamber music. Playing in the Contemporary Directions Ensemble in 1970 brought me into contact with William Bolcom, Bill Allbright, George Crumb, Ross Lee Finney, and Leslie Bassett. Finney and Bassett both wrote really wonderful works for flute and piano which I have played with very good results. The high point came in late 1971, when Mr. Hauenstein quietly pushed a new piece of music across the desk, saying "perhaps you'll be interested in this new work by Copland." As a student of Kincaid's, he had participated in the commission of the Copland Duo, and I had the honor of giving the first performance at Michigan in April of 1972. Very exciting.

In 1973, after a year at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia, we came back to Texas to teach at Texas Tech University. Shenandoah was a lovely place, with really nice people, but raising two daughters on scenery and history is not easy.

Teach and play flute: that was my job at Texas Tech University. Such a deal--very few of us get to have that opportunity--getting paid to do what we love to do. Sometimes I think that the word "play" gets us into some trouble--children play, but adults work. Perhaps if we say we "perform" we would get more respect. But I would not want to loose the child-like aspect of fun that comes with "playing."

Being professor of flute at Texas Tech gave me a solid base from which to expand my flute playing and teaching and also my research. I became interested in Northern Ireland flute bands after reading James Galway's Autobiography. My research into flute bands and their music led to my conducting the adult flute choir at the NFA convention in New Orleans in 1989.

For eleven years I served as chair of the Special Publications Committee of the National Flute Association. During that time the NFA published five significant works: De Lorenzo My Complete Story of the Flute, the Oxford Anthology of 20th Century Flute Music, Krell Kincaidiana, a compact disc of performances of William Kincaid, and The Flutist's Handbook: A Pedagogy Anthology. The teamwork that went into all of those books was very rewarding and I have to place that experience at the top of my list. People like Nancy Toff, Martha Rearick, John Solum, Gwen Powell, Kathy Jones, Susan Berdahl, Penny Fischer, Phyllis Pemberton, Madeline Neumann and many others, will always be among my most favorite people.

For the last two years I have served as president of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors which has been a very rich experience. Going to a convention where all the members are not flute players is really unusual.

In the 28 years I have been at Texas Tech, my job has evolved. From teaching flute and playing in the faculty quintet and the Lubbock Symphony (where I play piccolo), I gradually added a doctoral course in fine arts, and, when we added another flute teacher, a theory course. It began to dawn on me that while playing (performing) continues to be fun and rewarding, teaching ("once again, first finger up on D") was becoming less so. I became curious to see if there were some additional contributions I could make to the world of music other than teaching the flute.

And so, it has come to pass that I am now teaching two fine arts courses for art and theatre students in the very unique Doctoral program in Fine Arts here at Texas Tech. I have been promoted to Associate Director of the School of Music for Graduate Studies. I continue to play in the Lubbock Symphony (piccolo and flute, and I am personnel manager), The Devienne Trio (flute, bassoon, piano)--which has played at two NFA conventions, and is to play in Buenos Aires in August at the IDRS Conference--and chamber music on call.

I continue to be in music because it is fun, I like music, I like the people I get to work with, and there is always the continual challenge and opportunity to make it better. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Michael C. Stoune


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