FLUTE Member Of The Week
July 3 to 9, 2000
I started on the flute later than most people, I was about sixteen years old and my previous experience with music had been with the saxophone when I was around ten. Although I was quite good on the saxophone it only lasted a few years. By chance I attended Illinois States University (ISU) in Normal, Illinois to major in music performance. With only a few years of playing and that under insufficient instruction I arrived at ISU without a previous audition or a clue as to what to expect. So in 1973 as an undergraduate freshman I played for Max Schoenfeld, the flute professor at ISU, who was kind enough to let me study with his graduate assistant. Compared to all of the other flutists there I was the worst. I changed that all around by committing myself to the flute. My life at ISU was wonderful and my relationship with Max Schoenfeld grew into a strong friendship that bonded us for life. Max passed on in October 1999 at the age of 66.
Voice for Solo Flutist by Toru Takemitsu

I really was fortunate to fall under Max's guidance, after two years of school I decided to postpone my degree and study with Max privately, which he did not charge me for. I practiced and practiced and practiced, usually six to eight hours every day. Max laid down a solid foundation for me. We studied Moyse, Anderson, Taffanel & Gaubert and all the basic repertoire. Most importantly I felt that I was always receiving the best instruction at all times. Max brought me to Moyse's master classes in Vermont in the summer time, as well as to many NFA conventions, I really felt privileged to be his student. In the summer of 1975 Max organized the first of his trips to study with the masters of Europe. One of the highlights of that trip was when we went to a small Italian village to study with William Bennett. We all stayed at a beautiful villa.

In the 1970's it was common to have to wait around 3-4 years for a professional handmade flute. At that time Max was playing on a Powell and was always looking for that perfect instrument. In 1975 he had just received a new handmade silver drawn tone hole Powell, #4276 with a C foot. He decided that it was not for him and let me buy it. I was ecstatic to be able to play on a great instrument. Max helped me get a loan from a bank and that is the instrument I play to this day. I bought a B foot shortly after and in 1997 I added a wonderful Burkart headjoint.

I finally graduated from ISU in 1979 and moved back to Chicago. I took a few lessons with Donald Peck and was an alternate flutist for the Chicago Civic Orchestra. I also had a part time job, which turned into a good full time job and over the years more opportunities opened up for me in the business world than in the flute world. So the flute went to the wayside. My careers included being a manager in corporate business, a chef and a baker, and a wonderer in Mexico. I now help run a small family fire protection business. In 1996 I decided to return to the flute and felt that the best way would be to pursue a graduate degree in music performance. I chose to go the Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University, which is in downtown Chicago. At Roosevelt I had the good fortune to study with Jean Berkenstock, principal flutist of the Chicago Lyric Opera. From Jean Berkenstock I learned to deeply understand phrasing and making the most of the printed page. Jean and I often talked about the joy of her work. Being able to listen to and play with so many fine singers day after day reinforces great interpretation of music. Jean always listened to me with great detail and conveyed her thoughts through imagery and metaphors. So from her I bring with me the ability to always have direction in the phrase and not let anything be mediocre.

Currently I am in Flutes Ltd., the top choir of Flutes Unlimited. There are about 16 to 20 members in this choir every season and we perform often throughout the year. In July 1999 I purchased a Lillian Burkart custom made piccolo and have become obsessed with this instrument. It is really wonderful to play and I have been concentrating on it this last year. As time goes on, I have discovered more and more opportunities to play piccolo in place of the flute. I also keep busy freelancing for religious services.

In 1991 I married a wonderful woman, Leticia whom I met during my adventures in Mexico. We have three small children, Camila (7), Jessica (5) and Jeremy (3). We live in Blue Island, Illinois, a small suburb of Chicago. Feel free to contact me if you are in the area. Amongst all that I have done thus far, it is my family that brings me the most joy in life.

So to all you returning flutists out there, know that it can be done. No doubt about it, it was hard taking graduate classes, working full time and tending to my family. I really had to negotiate my practice time. To all you students out there, appreciate the opportunity to practice as much as you want. This FLUTE LIST has aided in my continuing education of the flute and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for you generous time and talent that you give so freely.

Michael Sublewski


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