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A Decade to Celebrate

Victoria Jicha | April 2011

   I am so lucky to have grown up in a time when English teachers still taught how to diagram sentences and identify modifying clauses. (Do they still teach this in schools today? If not, they should.) That and a sprinkling of Latin has given me the tools to bring interesting articles to you that were written by musicians with superior pedagogical skills, creative solutions for challenging problems, and innovative learning methods based upon the latest research.
   The day the publisher called to hire me over ten years ago, I had just returned from the out-patient ward of the hospital after having a knee scoped. I was sitting in a lounger with my leg elevated and feeling no pain; the pills I had been given were doing their job. I explained to him that I was in no condition to make a decision about future employment, but he just wouldn’t take no for an answer. The general tenor of his message was that, if I took the job as editor of Flute Talk, I would have the opportunity to teach thousands of students every month. Ultimately, I said yes, and he was right. Every issue for the past decade has been planned and prepared with as much care and concern for presenting accurate information as possible.
   After being in the job a few months, I remember telling my husband, Andy, that I felt smarter. When we both stopped laughing, I explained that the requirements of the job were making me learn to think in a more critical way than I had in the past. Brain researchers might say that I was using a part of my brain not previously accessed – by me anyway.
   I have also been very fortunate to be the editor of Flute Talk during a time of great technological change. In just 10 short years editors have gone from working with paper and pencils to total digital color production. Flute Talk was mainly a black and white publication with only covers and a few pages in color when I started in 2001. I take no credit for the  developments, but mention them merely because the computer age has led to far greater creative possibilities than we ever imagined before. Readers have seen the magazine change graphically in a significant way as a result of these technologies.
   A year or two after being hired, Andy had the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder, but it meant a move to Wisconsin. Once again, technology came to the rescue. With computers, the internet, and email, I was able to remain in my position at Flute Talk while working from a home office that was four hours away.
   In what I refer to as Flute Talk North, I could work in my pajamas if I wanted. The disadvantage, however, was the close proximity of the refrigerator. I have gained a few pounds I’m afraid, but not having to fight Chicago rush-hour traffic has made every ounce worth it.
   Technology, in the form of digital photography, has also had a huge influence on me and on Flute Talk. A good digital camera makes almost anyone a decent photographer, particularly if they take those pictures outdoors. Now a complete amateur, such as myself, can do a photo shoot with an interview subject and produce the cover of a magazine. (If you take enough shots, two or three are liable to be good enough for publication.)
   Some of the most enjoyable parts of my job have been the interactions with all of you – readers, authors, publishers, and interview subjects. I list the subscribers first because without you there would not be a magazine. You have consistently let me know that I was on the right track with what you wanted to read, and you have sent interesting letters with comments that we have taken to heart and acted upon. Thank you to each and every one of you.
   The authors who write the articles you enjoy also deserve special recognition. They are usually flutists who have had what educators refer to as an “A-Ha” moment – an experience in which a particular clarity and understanding about a specific teaching or performance problem occurs. They write their story and send it to the magazine, because those moments are valuable for all of us. The sharing of ideas is what continues to improve the quality of every flute teacher’s studio.
   Some of the authors write every month or at least on a regular basis. This is no small task. It is hard to come up with an interesting and practical topic ten times each year. Michel Debost, Bradley Garner, Cynthia Ellis, and Patricia George have been doing this for years because they care about the state of performance and pedagogy. Thank you.
   The interviews are also an important part of the magazine’s content. People magazine first came out in 1974 to great success, mainly because people wanted to know what made their favorite stars tick. Flute Talk interviews  share the successes, challenges, and ideas of the best performers and teachers.
   The first interview I did was with Jim Walker. I remember putting off calling him to request an interview for several days. I was afraid to ask and couldn’t imagine that he would want to talk to me. Of course, he agreed to the interview immediately and talked openly about his life with the flute. Like him, many other wonderful flutists have crossed my path over the years, and if I have learned anything about flutists it is that, by and large, the flute community is made up of good folks – from the high and mighty to the lowly and meek.
   By now you are probably getting the idea that this is a Swan Song of sorts; you would be correct in that assumption. By the time you read this, I will have retired, leaving Flute Talk in the capable hands of its new editor, Patricia George. Don’t worry; she will continue to write her monthly column, as well as steer a creative course for the magazine. I am looking forward to a more leisurely life style without deadlines, but with time to practice, workout at the Y, and visit with my grandchildren.