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Ready to Go

Patricia George | March 2016

   To work in today’s music world there are several items teachers, performers, and students should have ready to go with the tap of a keystroke. Preparing and collecting these things in advance makes you look like the professional you are or hope to become. Save these items on your computer for easy access and on your website for others to download. Then when an opportunity arises, you can take advantage of it quickly.

    High-quality photographs of yourself are helpful for a variety of situations. They are useful for concert programs, website design, job inquiries, press releases, author photos for publications and so on. Photos should be taken in high resolution (MB rather than kb file size) and saved in a standard format (TIF or JPEG). It is much easier to have a variety of photos available in advance rather than frantically scrambling to find one under pressure. Be aware that photos used online are usually uploaded at a substantially lower resolution than those needed for printing. Take all photos at a high resolution and save the original high-quality images for future use. In other words a photo pulled off of Facebook will look blurry when used as an artist photo in a printed program.
    It may be worthwhile to hire a professional photographer for a photoshoot. Good focus and photo quality are critical, and a variety of pictures with different outfits and backgrounds will give you more options. Take both horizontal and vertical pictures as well as posed headshots and pictures of you playing. It is a good idea to find an objective friend to help evaluate the pictures.
    Think about what is in the background of the image. If there is clutter, remove it. Don’t wear clothing that is the same color as the background. Be sure to align the flute as you would when you perform and check the photo for good posture, hand position, and embouchure. Other good photos to add to your file include pictures of you performing in a recital, in an orchestral flute section, teaching a student or masterclass etc. Take new pictures periodically to reflect what you are doing. Decades-old bio pictures might have fewer wrinkles, but they will not accurately depict your current professional appearance. If a photo credit is required, save that information in a way that is easy to locate.

Biographical Information
    Organize pertinent information into well-written bios. Different situations require bios of different lengths. Write a short 2-3 sentence bio with only the most critical facts. This might include degrees and schools and key professional experiences. You should also write one that includes more detailed background information for a concert program or website. Look at what others have done for ideas. The bio might include information about your career, professional achievements, and education. It also might include professional affiliations, career highlights, quotes from major reviews, current projects, and how you like to spend your time when not performing. Vary your sentence structure and avoid starting each sentence with your name. In general less is more. Ask someone with good writing skills to check it over for clarity and interest as well as grammar and spelling errors. For those with varied career paths, slightly different bios for each one may be helpful. For example, one might focus on teaching while another emphasizes performing experience. Save them in a file for easy access, and update several times a year.

    Most professionals have already compiled a CV or a resume. The important thing is to update it frequently. Just as with the bio, consider writing a CV or resume to reflect different aspects of your professional life. You might have one CV for teaching, another for auditioning for an orchestra, and another for conducting or coaching a flute choir.

    Your social media and general internet persona is extremely important. Assume that people will look you up online before hiring you or attending your performances. Make sure that your image is consistent and professional. Make it easy for people to learn who you are and the skills you have to offer. Be sure to update online information regularly. (“Relocating Your Studio”, Jan. 2016 offers some practical tips that can be applied to a performing career as well as a teaching studio.)

    Have a calendar that is used only for your professional life. Keep it close at hand so when you get a call to play a recital, sub in an orchestra, or teach a masterclass, you know immediately if you are available. For income tax purposes, jot on the calendar your payment as well as any transportation and meal costs and other deductible items.

Recital Repertoire
    In late spring I compile several recital programs for the next year. There may be a few pieces that will be on each program, but there are others that are different. This is a program I rehearse with my pianist so it is ready to go on a certain concert date but also prepared for performances that come up with little notice. Make sure that your selections are versatile and can be used for different occasions. For example, I include something that I could play at Rotary, at church, or at a funeral on an hour’s notice. The piece for Rotary might be an encore on the recital program, and the piece for church might be a slow movement from a sonata or a complete Baroque or Classic era piece. During the year, I may switch out a piece here and there so that by the end of the concert season, the first and last program are completely different. This type of program planning works well for chamber musicians as well.

Concerto Repertoire
    Every flutist should have a few concertos that are ready to play on short notice. For pieces in public domain I also own the accompaniment/orchestral parts and have my own bowings, articulation marks and dynamics notated. These include such concertos as the Bach Suite in B Minor, Bach Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 2, 4, 5, Vivaldi, Goldfinch Concerto, Mozart Concertos in G, K. 313 and D, K. 314, as well as works by my husband Thom Ritter George (Concerto for Flute and Piccolo, Legend for Flute and Orchestra, and transcriptions of the Chaminade Concertino and David Popper Hungarian Rhapsody).

Symphonic Repertoire
    The flute, piccolo, and alto flute parts to works in public domain may be downloaded from Several times in my career, I filled in for someone at the last moment and was happy that I had the orchestral part to review before the rehearsal or concert. The League of American Orchestras collects data from 62 professional orchestras. (See below for compositions performed by five or more orchestras during the 2010-2011 season.) These are the works to learn first to be prepared for the future. Notice how many of the pieces are either piano or violin concertos.
    Flutists seeking acceptance into a summer orchestral program, a conservatory or school of music may be asked to include recorded excerpts. Record-ing and then re-recording these on an ongoing basis should be a prime goal. (Check the sidebar below as many of the standard excerpts in the orchestral studies books are not included on the most performed list. For piccolo players learn the Sousa Stars and Stripes in both keys. This is a favorite encore for both bands and orchestras.)

   Be sure your flute, piccolo and alto flute are in excellent playing condition. Schedule a COA at least a couple of times a year. If you do not play piccolo regularly, practicing it every few days will make sure you are ready to accept a last minute job. Have appropriate clothing  – usually all black and with long sleeves – that is appropriate for the season. There is nothing like shivering in the winter and perspiring in the summer. Comfortable shoes that you can wear and walk in for long periods of time and that help with good posture are essential.

    If called at the last minute, make sure you have someone who can babysit, feed the cat, and walk the dog. In the busy seasons, have gas in the car and an up-to-date passport. With a little advance thought and preparation, you can be ready for almost any opportunity at a moment’s notice.    


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Most Frequently Performed Orchestral Works
    Each of these composition received five or more performances during the 2010-2011 season. (62 orchestras contributed to this list based on 1,247 performances. Information provided by the League of American Orchestras.)

Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19
Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Symphonies Nos. 3,5,7,8,
Violin Concerto, Egmont Overture
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14
Bizet: Carmen Suites Nos. 1, 2
Brahms: Academic Festival Overture, Piano Concertos No. 1, Violin Concerto, German Requiem, Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4.
Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Debussy: L’après-midi d’un faune
Dvorak: Carnival Overture, Cello Concerto, Symphonies Nos. 7,8,9
Elgar: Enigma Variations
Gershwin: Piano Concerto, Rhapsody in Blue
Glinka: Ruslan and Ludmilla
Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis
Holst: The Planets
Liszt: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2
Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, Symphony No. 41
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos No. 2, 3. Symphony No. 2
Ravel: Bolero
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Rapsodie Espagnole, Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade
Schumann: Symphony No. 4
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
Sibelius: Violin Concerto, Symphonies Nos. 2, 5
Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 1, Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6.
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries