January 10 to 16, 2000
I bought my first flute (Conn, plateau model, C-foot @$100) when I was nine years old. I had studied piano for about four years, so my mother saw nothing wrong about sending me to summer band camp at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX that summer. However, I knew nothing about playing the flute--in fact I hadn't even tried to make a sound on it when I arrived at camp. Luckily a wonderful flutist--a Mr. Doche who was principal flute of the San Antonio Symphony--took me under his wing. At 9 AM, I participated in his beginning flute class, at 10 AM, the intermediate and at 11 AM, the advanced and at 12 each day he gave me a 15 minute private lesson. What a way to begin the study of the flute! Well, it worked for me. At the end of the six week session I had completed the Wagner "Foundation of Flute Playing" book and was ready for the fall of the fifth grade where I joined the school orchestra. How different it was to be in an orchestra right from the beginning. As I recall we had orchestra three days a week alternating with Physical Education on the other two days. My next teacher was a William Kincaid student--Sterling Hanson--who was playing principal flute in the Amarillo Symphony. Unfortunately for me, Mr. Hanson was drafted and the next years were spent with teachers who didn't play the flute but were good musicians. Those teachers included David Kaplan (Clarinet professor at West Texas University), Charles Emmons (Director of Bands at Amarillo High and then at the University of Missouri) and A. Clyde Roller (Conductor of the Amarillo Symphony and a legend at Interlochen). Each of these fabulous musicians gave me their best and I thank them for it. By the time I was 12 I had begun to teach flute lessons on Saturday mornings. It seemed I always knew "how" to teach and I think it was partly because of my mother, who though not a musician, was a fantastic public school teacher. Two things that she said have stayed with me over the years. They are the following: 1. You haven't taught until the student learns! 2. You can teach anybody anything if you break if down into small enough parts. What great advice!
Growing up in the music system of the Amarillo Public Schools provided such opportunities. At the time it was one of the finest music programs in the country. Each summer a huge percentage of our band and orchestra students would attend the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. I received a scholarship and was off to Interlochen. This is where I began study with Frances Blaisdell. She realized that I had talent but hadn't really had a "flute" teacher in years. So, for two summers she helped me for an hour each day at no extra charge to my parents (She said I would do it for someone else one day. Little did she know!) The time spent with her was amazing. She taught me flute fundamentals, so much about music in general and really how "to hear." I will be indebted to her forever. By this time my parents had bought me a Haynes French model flute, with a B foot.
During this time I performed with the Amarillo Symphony as second flute. This was a marvelous opportunity to be able to play with professional musicians and give concerts about every three weeks with some of the leading soloists of the day. I surely learned a lot of orchestral repertoire during those three years!
In 1960 I entered the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York as a scholarship student to begin study with Joseph Mariano. I earned the Bachelor of Music Degree (Applied Flute), the Performer's Certificate in Flute, and the Master of Music Degree in Performance and Musical Practice. I studied music history with Charles Warren Fox and Ruth Watanabe, orchestra with Howard Hanson/Frederick Fennell and wind ensemble with Fennell /Hunsberger. Summers were spent in Maine with William Kincaid. The quality of teachers I had still impresses me today. After another Haynes (one of Mariano's special high wall ones), I bought one of Mariano's personal Powell flutes which I still have. A couple of years ago I purchased another Powell because I really needed two outstanding flutes.
During my studies at Eastman I was hired to teach flute in the Preparatory Department. John Thomas, former piccolo of the Rochester Philharmonic, was in charge of the flute department and spent many hours helping me fine tune my teaching. One year while I was in grad school, I had over 60 students a week! What an opportunity for a teacher. I would try one idea--if it worked I would keep it--if not, then I would try something else. This "laboratory" setting was crucial in the development of my teaching skills and I am thankful that I had this time for experimentation.
After graduation, I continued to teach in the Preparatory Department while taking orchestral auditions and free lancing. I won two principal flute auditions in second tiered orchestras, but against my professors' advice, I turned them down to marry. This is a choice I have never regretted. We spent the late 60s in Washington, D.C. where my husband, Thom Ritter George, was the composer/arranger for the U. S. Navy Band. D. C. was a great place to live in those years. We attended the National Symphony concerts, the Juilliard String Quartet's weekly concerts at the Library of Congress and presented many chamber music concerts of our own. The military bands were full of conservatory students at that time, so we had great musicians to perform with. Besides giving concerts I taught at Music and Arts, Inc. and was a performing member of the Friday Morning Music Club and active in the SAI Chapter for Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
From 1970 until 1983 I lived in Quincy, Illinois. Here I had a large private studio and performed recitals with Austrian pianist Leonore Suppan Gehrich. Over the years we had several grants from the Illinois Arts Council so we performed in most of the towns and cities in the region and presented masterclasses for the flute and piano students. In 1983 we moved to Pocatello, Idaho where we have lived since. I teach at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho (the largest junior college in the U.S. with over 8,400 students and over 1500 in the music department!) and at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. During the summers I teach at the Sewanee Summer Music Center at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN and direct Pocatello Flute Week.
Pocatello Flute Week has been one of the joys of my life. It actually began as Quincy Flute Week many years ago. I wanted a format where I could spend a week with my students really studying and performing. I began the first masterclass program there and continued it for eleven years. When I moved to Pocatello, I changed the name to Pocatello Flute Week and enlarged the concept to include guest artists. Flutists who have shared their talents are Erich Graf (Utah Symphony Principal Flutist), Philip Swanson (NAU Professor), Adah Toland Mosello (former student of mine and Professor at Southwest Texas State University), Michel Debost (gifted French flutist and Professor at Oberlin) and Jeff Weissman (master craftsman and flutist). This summer will be my 26th year of providing a weeklong summer masterclass program. It will be held June 14 - 17 and the emphasis will be on orchestral excerpts and chamber music.
Here in Pocatello I perform with the Idaho State Civic Symphony (the oldest orchestra in Idaho) as Principal Flute. I also write program notes and give the "Prelude to the Symphony" pre-concert lecture. For the last several years I have been chairman of the Summer Strings music camp for the public school string program. This project is funded by the Idaho State Civic Symphony and the Idaho Commission for the Arts. I sometimes review concerts and have published articles in the Idaho Music Educator Notes, the NFA Journal, Flute Talk, and Chamber Music America.
I love to play chamber music and perform with the Trio Terra Nova (flute, bassoon and piano). We have performed at the last two International Double Reed Society conventions and are in the process of making two CDs. We have commissioned several new works and are hoping to increase the repertoire for this medium.
While I love performing, I also really love to teach. The time flies for me when I am teaching. A few years ago I read a really interesting book by the English Psychology of Music specialist--Sloboda. His experiments with eye movement in music reading expanded the way I teach. Chunking technics have become integral in my curriculum. I am also very interested in movement and incorporate movement with the teaching of phrasing technics. I am in the process of writing a book about these concepts and hopefully the millennium will be kind to me and I will get the book finished.
Now that my children are older I am able to travel-- performing, judging and presenting masterclasses. I really enjoy meeting flutists of all ages and levels of expertise.
Sending my best to you,