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An Extra Hour

Wendy Webb Kumer | November 2017

What would you practice with one extra hour per day for three months?

    First, I would splurge and finally purchase the hardcover 1958 edition of the Methode Complete de Flute by Taffanel and Gaubert. I would do bits and bites of this each day, followed by some Marcel Moyse: 24 Little Studies with Variations, 25 Melodic Etudes, De la Sonorite, Studies and Technical Exercises, etc. I would choose this regimen to improve my coordination, intonation, breathing, tone, flexibility, and technique: no deadlines, no final exams, just for the pure joy of maintaining and improving my playing. I would spend about 20 minutes in this area.
    Next, I would treat myself to some etudes: Andersen Opus 15 and 63, with chasers of Berbiguier and Altes. I would renew my acquaintance with Jeanjean and Casterede and throw in some Piazzolla and Mike Mower to mix it up a bit. Etudes are a lovely way to play soaring melodies, find hidden inner parts, emphasize bass lines, and practice playing arpeggios, scales, and large intervals. My fondness for etudes began when I studied with Bernard Goldberg who was a student of Marcel Moyse. He taught me how to look for the melodies and to color my sound to make the phrases sing. He showed me how to come to a peak in the precise place, move the line through time, and make the player and the listener one with the music by respecting the composer’s wishes. Etude playing with him was never reduced to the “higher, louder, faster” category. They were to be savored and cherished. The player was to seek myriad colors and expression and bring out the inherent melodies and harmonies. This segment of my extra hour would encompass an additional 20 minutes.
    Finally, for the remaining 20 minutes in my dream extra hour, I would indulge and luxuriate in playing what I consider the world’s most glorious flute music: Poulenc, Faure, Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Prokofiev, Taktakishvili (2nd mvt), Martinu, Handel, Telemann, Flute Music by French Composers, Burton, Reinecke, Hanson, Widor, Mouquet, Rutter, and more. I also would pamper myself by playing great melodies from all genres, especially Beatles’ tunes (Yesterday, Hey Jude, Eleanor Rigby, Michele, and If I Fell), old Rolling Stones (Ruby Tuesday, As Tears Go By), Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul, and Mary,  Mamas and Papas, and so forth. Moyse’s Tone Development Through Interpretation opera melodies also would show up regularly.
    I would end each session with the random tunes that stuck in my brain. These include Windmills of Your Mind, I’ll Never Find Another You, Theme from A Summer Place, Ralph Manuel’s Alleluia, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, What a Wonderful World, Young at Heart, Moon River, and King of the Road, plus songs from old Broadway Musicals including Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, West Side Story, and The Music Man. This list is without end. . .
    This was a lot of fun. I encourage everyone to try this. After all of this dreaming and contemplating, I now am considering getting up an hour earlier each day!