New Flute!

The flute trials are over. Recently, I bit the bullet and bought a silver handmade Powell flute, and I paired it with a Ruby Aurumite soloist cut headjoint.

Once I decided that I wanted a silver inline handmade Powell, I spent a lot of time trying out different headjoints. I found this to be a time-consuming process because there were aspects of each headjoint that I liked, so I had to be patient until I could get my hands on one that had each of those desirable qualities in the same headjoint. The soloist cut works best for me. Eventually, I narrowed my choices down to a silver, a 9k Aurumite, and the Ruby Aurumite. I played them in different rooms and on various repertoire over a period of time. I recorded myself playing each of them; besides listening to the recordings myself, I sent them to a friend for his opinion. The richness of the Ruby Aurumite sound was what finally won me over, and I decided on that one.

Shortly after making my decision, I performed at the Canadian Flute Convention, and I found that very little transition was necessary from my old flute to the new one. The scale seems to be slightly different, which will take some adjustment, but the mechanism is solid and the tone color potential with the headjoint is exciting.





Flute Trials, continued

I continue to look for a new flute. A colleague in the area has a very nice Burkart that she is not playing as much as she would like, so I tried it out for a while. It’s a beautiful instrument and has a gold headjoint. I don’t have the specifications available for this one, but it seems heavier than the flute I’m currently playing. In fact, I started to feel some strain on my wrists the further into the trial I got. It feels like a heavier wall, and it features an offset G, C-sharp trill, and a D-sharp roller. I enjoyed the C-sharp trill but am not sure if I will eventually buy a flute with it. I use the lever key next to it so often that I’m afraid I will catch the C-sharp trill too many times when I’m aiming for the lever. Overall, it’s a fantastic instrument but a little too heavy for me. The search continues…



Flute Trial #1

I find myself in the market for a new flute. I’m not in a hurry to purchase, and I plan to try out many different instruments before deciding what I want to go with. This week, I’ve been playing a wooden (grenadilla) flute made by Powell. The mechanism is sterling silver and it has a B foot joint, French cups, and offset G. It’s pitched at A=442. I’ve tried two different headjoints with it this week. My own personal grenadilla headjoint has a sterling silver tenon; I also tried a grenadilla headjoint with a 14k gold tenon. The instrument has a beautiful, warm sound. I did notice a difference in the sound between the two headjoints. However, they seem to be cut slightly differently, so the differences can’t be attributed to material (silver versus 14k gold) alone. It’s a comfortable instrument to play. It does take slightly longer to warm up than a metal instrument — and I only played it for short intervals, as it was only finished a couple of weeks ago — but once it’s warm, it has a lovely sound. This flute is definitely on the short list.


wooden powell
Grenadilla/silver headjoint.
head joints
Comparison of both headjoints.
Close up of grenadilla/silver headjoint.
lip plate
Close up of grenadilla/14k gold headjoint.
wooden powell2
Close up of sterling silver mechanism.
wooden powell14k
Grenadilla/14k gold headjoint.
Close up of offset G.


Glissando Headjoint

Flute and Composer Friends,

If you don’t yet know about the Glissando Headjoint, I am happy to introduce you to some of what it can do. It was invented by the flutist/composer/musician extraordinaire Robert Dick, and plenty of information about its conception and eventual construction can be found at other sources. Check out this link for a video demonstration by Robert.

Since buying one of these headjoints a couple of years ago, I am feeling more comfortable and adept at using it. I am happy to have met several people worldwide who also use it, and it has been especially rewarding to have some new pieces written which utilize the headjoint. It is possible to extend the range of the flute downwards, and it produces a true glissando, as opposed to one produced by quickly fingering a descending scale or using the head to bend the pitch downwards.

From the flutist’s perspective, it takes a while to learn the mechanics of the headjoint. It is cut somewhat differently compared to my standard headjoint. Despite the fact that it somewhat resembles a medieval torture device, it is actually quite comfortable to play. The steep learning curve is figuring out how far out the carrier tube has to be extended in order to get the note that is needed. I have found the best way to remember these specific positions is to write reminders in the margins (“Nearly halfway, Fully extended, Very close to home positions,” etc.). Granted, they aren’t precise but they help me remember generally how far the tube must be extended, and then I rely on muscle memory and my ears to tweak. On a side note, working with the glissando headjoint has been the best ear training teacher I’ve ever had. There is an established fingering chart and notation system in place.

Jay Batzner has written a beautiful work that calls for the glissando headjoint, and you can check it out here.

If you are a composer interested in working with me and writing for the glissando headjoint, please feel free to contact me at tammy.yonce at

With the carrier tube in “home” position. In this case, it plays exactly like a C flute. The two wings can be adjusted to fit each player’s face, and those are used to slide the tube.
With the carrier tube fully extended.

Etude Project Videos

In what seems to be a natural extension to last summer’s etude project, I’ve decided to record some of those that I found to be most useful for my university students, and in some cases, my younger ones. Here’s some Gariboldi, op. 132 and a Piazzolla tango etude thrown in for good measure.

Time Off

IMG_0988[1]This month, I did something I haven’t done in recent memory.

I took a vacation.

Now, to be fair, I have gone on vacation in the past five years. But it always included work. I brought a computer and flute along, and felt obligated to keep up with email, practicing, reading, writing, and idea generating. While I enjoyed myself, there was always that pressure to work underscoring everything.

This time, I didn’t bring my laptop along. My flute was in the repair shop but I brought a backup. I brought one work-related book. And of course I had my phone, which kept me tied to colleague-friends.  But most of the projects I have been working on, including my ever-expanding etude project, came to a grinding halt. I spent nearly four weeks away from work, visiting family and friends, and spending the last week on the beach. Living in the middle of the country for the past couple of years has made me realize how much I miss the coast, and it is always a restorative place to visit. There the days run into each other, and the passing of time is marked by afternoon thundershowers, amazing sunsets, and the changing tides. It took a while for me to decompress, but I am more relaxed than I have been in a very long time.

I practiced just a bit but it was when I truly felt like it, and it was for short periods of time. I read just a couple of chapters of my work-related book. I came up with a bunch of new ideas, but they were spontaneously generated. I made a note of them and will work on them later. Instead of the usual type of productivity, I picked blueberries and made a bunch of blueberry syrup. I visited parents, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and in-laws. My husband and I spent an epic whirlwind couple of days with Al Theisen in Asheville, North Carolina; we also had a great time with friends, including Michael Kallstrom, in Kentucky. I visited old high school friends who still live in my hometown. I ate well, including home cookin’ as well as meals at restaurants such as Hugh Acheson’s 5&10, Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, and Southern Soul BBQ in Saint Simons Island, GA. I spent time in Athens, GA and St. Louis. I drove through 10 different states. I bought a stack of new books from the excellent bookstore on Jekyll Island, GA. And I spent a glorious week at my favorite place: the Golden Isles of Georgia.

I made my semi-annual trip to the grocery store specifically to buy regional food that I can’t find in the upper midwest. Vidalia onions, honey, muscadine wine, White Lily flour, Cheerwine, Duke’s mayonnaise, pecan rice, cornmeal, and Southern Soul BBQ sauce now fill my pantry until my next trip home.

This post is a departure from the usual, but so was this month. And guess what? The world is still spinning, my career still seems to be intact, and I am refreshed and ready to jump back in. Maybe I’ll make this vacation-thing a regular occurrence.

Whole Musician retreats

I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Megan Lanz this week. Megan is a flutist based in Las Vegas, Nevada; she and I met over Twitter, where so many good connections are made. Megan and several friends have recently organized themselves in a group called Whole Musician and have just wrapped up hosting their first flute retreat. We chatted about their goals for the retreat, what makes it different from other masterclasses, and their future plans.

Some of the members of Whole Musician have known each other for a while and others have only recently been acquainted. While at the most recent Canadian flute convention, the future Whole Musician faculty — Meg Griffith, Megan Lanz, Christopher Lee, Rik Noyce, and Niall O’Riordan — quickly realized that they shared the same philosophy in regards to a holistic type of flute pedagogy.

Their first class was held in Big Bear, CA earlier this month. They wanted to avoid a “cookie cutter” type of experience. In addition to traditional instruction in flute, such as masterclasses, recitals, and orchestral excerpts, they also incorporated classes such as yoga, fitness, personal training, Feldenkrais, mindfulness, life coaching, and effective learning. These classes vary depending on the goals of the participant. Therefore, each retreat takes a slightly different shape and is entirely flexible. Participants indicate areas they would like to work on when they submit their applications, and the faculty customizes classes to ensure the participants’ challenges are addressed.

The faculty as well as the participants found the recent event to be quite a bonding experience. They feel that including classes which address musicians’ issues slightly differently cuts down on unhealthy competition. It is the hope of the faculty that attending this retreat will help flutists rediscover the reason they started playing flute in the first place.

Future plans for Whole Musician include an August retreat in London on the heels of the British Flute Society convention. Three of their faculty members — Niall, Meg, and Chris — will be teaching this time. For future workshops, they hope to be able to accommodate all musicians, not just flutists. They feel that their offerings address challenges common to all musicians, regardless of specialization. They have recently been named finalists in the National Flute Association‘s Arts Venture competition, which recognizes new thinking and viable, innovative ideas; winners will be announced at the upcoming NFA convention in Chicago in early August.

If you’re interested in a summer flute experience that goes beyond the traditional, this might be what you’re looking for. For more information about Whole Musician and their retreats, check out their website at


Product Review: Altissimo Flute Fingering and Trill Charts


Altissimo Flute Fingering and Trill Charts
Nestor Herszbaum and Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company

These charts, which accompany Herszbaum’s Alternative Fingerings for the Flute, are handy and convenient to use. One of the positive aspects of these is their size; they’re large enough to be clear and hold all of the necessary information but they’re small enough to tuck into a flute case. They are a sturdy, laminated plastic, so they will presumably hold up better than paper or cardboard. (I have kept them on my desk, so I can’t attest to their durability when carried around in a flute bag.)

The fingering chart is quite comprehensive, and the actual fingering diagrams are clear. It starts on low B for those flutists who use the B foot and extends all the way up to the fourth octave G. Some of those fourth octave fingerings also include the suggestion to use the gizmo key when advantageous. It’s helpful that alternate fingerings are described, along with their pitch tendencies. These tendencies are notated with arrows, so it keeps the chart clean; there isn’t a lot of text clutter.

The trill chart is realistic; it explains that the trill between low C and D-flat as well as the trill between low D-flat and E-flat are “impractical.” The trill chart also includes instructions to utilize the C-sharp trill key for flutists who have that available. The standard option is included for those players who don’t use the C-sharp trill. The range covers from low C to the fourth octave C-sharp to D.

I was surprised by just how many times I reached for these charts, especially when checking a trill fingering in the highest part of the flute’s range. It was much quicker than checking in a book or even searching for an online chart. For this reason, I think these would be a valuable addition to any flutist’s – beginner through professional – set of tools.

Find these at Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company,

Summer Etude Project

This summer, I plan to play through as many etudes as possible. The goal is to identify etudes that might be most suitable for my students next academic year, become more familiar with etudes that I have little experience with, revisit some that I have worked on in the past, and develop my technique. I’m aiming to play through as many as possible; I’m not shooting for technical perfection, although I will keep track of etudes that I have trouble with and work on those later this year. The main idea is to broaden my knowledge. I fully expect this project to progress unevenly; while it is summer and I’m not teaching classes, there is still other work to be done. However, I’m going to keep up with my progress here. I’d love to hear suggestions from fellow flutists: what are your favorite etudes? Which do you despise? Which ones do you prefer from a pedagogical standpoint? I’ve already received some excellent suggestions via Twitter, so keep them coming!

Also, a big thanks to the South Dakota State University Briggs Library, which supplied many of these through Interlibrary Loan.

15 May 2014
Boehm – Twenty-Four Studies, Op. 37 – these would be manageable for my students, although I think the key signatures would be a bit of a challenge!
Gariboldi – Fifteen Modern and Progressive Etudes – while these still have some heavily-sharp key signatures and would be less familiar to students, they seem to fall on the fingers a bit easier than the Boehm today. Fun to play.

16 May 2014
Demersseman – Fifty Melodic Studies, Op. 4 – I played through the first 25 of these. Rather simple but enjoyable. They would be excellent sight reading examples for juries.
Köhler – 25 Romantic Etudes, Op. 66 – Cute!

17 May 2014
Köhler – Virtuoso Etudes, Op. 75 – I made it through the first 10 of these. I could stand to work on these a bit.
Gariboldi – Twenty Etudes, Op. 132 – Nice for a younger student. Key signatures aren’t challenging, and they are comfortable on the fingers.

18 May 2014
Andersen – 24 Studies, Op. 21 – A mix of difficulty. Some are fairly simple and others sneaked up on me a bit. I will revisit some of them. Not a bad choice for some of my advanced students.

19 May 2014
Andersen – 26 Caprices, Op. 37 – These would be excellent for some of my students. I wasn’t familiar with these caprices, as I only have experience with his other etudes.
Hugues – 40 Studies, Op. 101 – I played through the first 26. Nice collection to work on slurred scale passages.

20 May 2014
Hugues – 40 Studies, Op. 101 – Finished these up.
Kummer – 24 Melodic Etudes, Op. 110 – I like the fact that these change keys in the middle of the etude. Requires a bit more flexibility than those that stay in the same key throughout.
Berbiguier – 18 Studies – My students spent a long time with these before I inherited them, so they have a lot of exposure to them. I like them a lot and will use them in the future, but my older students need something new.
Andersen – 24 Studies, Op. 15 – I played through the first 11 of these.

21 May 2014
Hoover – 9 Etudes – These are great. They are clearly modern, which is useful in the context of so many traditional etudes. Luckily, I attended a workshop with Ms. Hoover where she listed the errata. You’ll want to be sure to do a search for them before tackling these etudes.
Andersen – 24 Studies, Op. 15 – Finished these up today. My students have worked on these in the past. They aren’t my favorite Andersen etudes but they certainly work.

22 May 2014
Clardy – Flute Etudes Book – This showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep today courtesy of my sister-in-law.

28 May 2014
Clardy – Finished these up. This book includes 51 etudes by Andersen, Donjon, J.S. Bach, Boehm, Fürstenau, Karg-Elert, Köhler, and Schade. I like that this book generally includes multiple etudes for each key, which means you get really good exposure to how each key feels. Clardy writes a nice introduction to each etude. I think this would work well for a very advanced high school student, a college student who is working on etudes for the first time, or a college student who might like a little variety instead of working on the etudes of one composer for an extended period of time.
Andersen – 24 Exercises, Op. 30 – Good stuff.
Andersen – 18 Etudes, Op. 41 – Bite sized but very effective.
Andersen – 24 Etudes, Op. 63, Vol. 1 – I worked through 1 – 7. Some tricky accidentals in these so far.

29 May 2014
Andersen – 24 Etudes, Op. 63, Vol. 1 – I finished up this volume. These are generally more challenging than most of the other etudes on my list so far.
Andersen – 24 Etudes, Op. 63, Vol. 2 – I worked on part of the first one.

30 May 2014
Andersen – 24 Etudes, Op. 63, Vol. 2 – Finished up this volume. These are tricky and not conducive to sight reading. They’re quite long — some are five pages — and are challenging. These would be good to revisit at a later time.
Gariboldi – 15 Grand Exercises, Op. 139 – I played through the first 12.

31 May 2014
Gariboldi – Grand Exercises, Op. 139 – Finished these. Lots of repetitive patterns and alternation between two-note segments.
Altes – 26 Selected Studies – I first worked on these in high school, so I am trying to avoid falling back into the technical habits and tone of a 15 year-old! I played through 1 – 12.

1 June 2014
Altes – 13 – 23.

2 June 2014
Altes – Finished these up. These would work well for my more advanced students, as they are slightly long and get progressively longer later in the book.
Kummer – Etudes, Op. 129 – I played through the first 30.

3 June 2014
Kummer – Etudes, Op. 129 – Finished these up. These are short and sweet.
Casterede – 12 Studies – I really enjoyed these and look forward to spending more time with them.

4 June 2014
Bitsch – 12 Studies – I like that each etude is labelled with the specific goal (e.g., “finger evenness,” “double tonguing,” “lip flexibility”).

6 June 2014
Andersen, Op. 33 – These are nice. Not extremely long. Well-focused.
Fürstenau, Op. 107 – Preludes and etudes through G Major.

8 June 2014
Fürstenau, Op. 107 – Preludes and etudes through G-sharp minor.

9 June 2014
Fürstenau, Op. 107 – Finished these. I really love the contrast between the prelude and the following etude.
Hugues – 30 Studies, Op. 32 – These don’t seem as beneficial as some of the others I have played through. Not very difficult but they don’t seem to be as focused.

12 June 2014
J.S. Bach – Bach Studies – These are fantastic and are worth working on for years.
Jeanjean – Modern Etudes – Where have these been all my life? Really nice. I worked on the first six of these.

13 June 2014
Jeanjean – Modern Etudes – Finished these. Excellent. Looking forward to working on them thoroughly in the fall.
Wood – Studies for Facilitating the Execution of the Upper Notes of the Flute – Just like the title, these are a handful. I worked on the first three.
George/Louke – The Flute Scale Book: A Path to Artistry – I played through a large portion of this book. It’s dense and quite comprehensive. In fact, it deserves a blog post of its own, so stay tuned.

14 June 2014
Wood – Studies for … – Finished the rest of these. This is a great book for maintenance work.
Köhler – Virtuoso Etudes – 11 – 20.
George/Louke – Flute Scale Book – Worked on various exercises in this again today. Mainly thirds.

15 June 2014
Karg-Elert – 30 Studies, Op. 107.
George/Louke – Flute Scales Book – Dominant seventh chords; modal scales.

17 June 2014
Julius Baker – Daily Exercises for the Flute – The beginning of this book is very much like Taffanel & Gaubert. The second half differs; it includes exercises on slurring expanded intervals, excerpts from the literature to address staccato double tonguing, and duets.
Terschak – Daily Exercises, Op. 71 – These are nice. Enough of a challenge to be worthwhile for students but not too simple.
Reichert – 7 Daily Exercises, Op. 5 – I played through the first two.

18 June 2014
Reichert – Finished these. This is a manageable number of exercises for daily maintenance.
Schocker – 10 Etudes. I like these. They are challenging and seem to be a mix of difficulty levels. Some felt considerably more difficult than others but not in a progressive way. They are modern, and they absolutely – as described inside the front cover – “stretch the flutist’s technique.” This is another collection that I should spend more time with.
Drouet – 72 Studies. These are relatively short and are good for teaching phrasing and style.
Voxman – Selected Studies – Played through D Major.

9 June 2014
Voxman – Selected Studies – Finished these. Another collection of etudes taken from various composers, including Karg-Elert, Andersen, Köhler, and others. Also includes scales at the back: major, minor, arpeggios, whole tone, and scales in thirds.
Reichert – Six Etudes, Op. 6 – Lots of wide intervals. Good practice for slurring or double tonguing.
Paganini – Caprices – I played through the first two.

20 June 2014
Paganini – Caprices – Through 14.

21 June 2014
Paganini – Finished these. I had forgotten how much fun these are.
Shim – Scale Studies for Beginner and Intermediate Students – Through D-flat major.

22 June 2014
Shim – Finished these up.

23 June 2014
Boehm – 24 Studies, Op. 26

24 June 2014
Moyse – 48 Studies of Virtuosity, Book 1 – I played through the first 12.
Schade – 24 Caprices.

26 June 2014
Boehm – 12 Studies, Op. 15.

29 July 2014
Gariboldi – Etudes Mignonnes – I’ve really enjoyed all of the Gariboldi etudes. They are appealing and feel comfortable on the fingers.
Genzmer – Modern Studies, Book 1 – They do feature musical elements that tend to appear in “modern” works. Lots of focus on rhythm, especially.
Kohler – 35 Exercises, Op. 33 (Books 1 and 2) –

31 July 2014
Gariboldi – 30 Easy and Progressive Studies – Again, these Gariboldi are really enjoyable. These would work well for some of my students.
Dubois – 13 Studies Studies of Medium Difficulty – These are fascinating.

1 August 2014
Hugues – 40 New Studies, Op. 75 – I like these.
Dick – Flying Lessons – These take considerable study. The language is non-traditional, and it’s necessary to learn alternate fingerings, including multiphonics. These are classics, though, and deserve attention.

4 August 2014
Moyse – 24 Little Melodic Studies – Gold. Nice melodic etudes plus variations on each. Not too lengthy but excellent for teaching phrasing.
Genzmer – Modern Studies, Book 2 – These are more difficult than Book 1 and feature more complex time signatures and harmonics.
Briccialdi – 6 Grand Studies – These were long-winded. Each study is quite long. This collection would not be my first (or second) choice.

13 August 2014
Stallman – The Flutist’s Détaché Book – This is a substantial volume that includes 88 exercises to work specifically on articulation. It is organized in sections, including single tonguing, double tonguing, tremolando, triple tonguing, mixed articulation, dotted articulation, and then solos that incorporate these. Exercises are taken from the studies of Altes, Andersen, Donjon, Boehm, among other prominent flute etude composers. I played through the exercises today, though, to be fair, if I had played them previously this summer, I didn’t repeat them this time.

14 August 2014
Stallman – I finished up this book today, which included playing through the solos.
Bozza – Ten Studies in Karnatic Modes – I played through the first three of these.

15 August 2014
Bozza – Finished these. These are tricky and deserve more than just a quick play-through. I will be revisiting these.