Greetings, Flutists, Flute Students, and Flute Parents,
We are on day 41 of the grand shut-down in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As we are located in New Jersey, which has been one of the first hot zones for cases in the US, it's been difficult. There has been more than our share of bad news and sadness. We cheer for the brave health care workers and vital business employees who risk their lives every day to protect the public, and we hope our scientists and public health experts can find a treatment and a vaccine quickly. As musicians, Still, we persevere, we teach, we learn, we make music.
To improve the quality of teaching here at The Global Flute Studio, and to provide a creative outlet, we have added some new features to our online services. First, we are now set-up for Zoom meetings. This means we now offer online lessons over Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger.
Second, we have launched a studio YouTube channel! Most of the videos on our YouTube channel will be duet play-alongs, warm-ups, and tutorials, but there are also blog posts and performances. Instructional videos are unlisted and only viewable with a link from me. The fun stuff is public and can be viewed right on our channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpxsArTsQOsVwltWQ-PEX-w
Today is March 15th, 2020, and six days ago, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency in the face of the spread of "the corona virus," officially knows as "COVID-19." Future generations can look into the history of this, but in the meantime, what does it mean for us today?
It means that schools and most businesses are closed, and we have all been asked to practice "social distancing," which means avoid gathering in groups or getting together with people outside of your household unnecessarily. The hope is that, if we stay away from each other, we will curb the spread of the virus (which seems to be deadly for the elderly, very young children, and people with compromised immune systems or underlying respiratory conditions). Hopefully, if everyone cooperates, this crisis will only last a few weeks rather than several months or a year. Time will tell.
Although I am often a luddite when it comes to the notion of modern technology in the case of real social interaction, today I say, thank goodness for the internet! If this had happened 15 years ago, a lot of routine life would have come to a halt. But because we have sophisticated technological systems of connectivity, a lot of things can continue on line -- school, office work, and music lessons!
As of today, I have officially moved all of my Global Flute Studio students online. A few online lessons have already taken place, and, thanks to helpful advice from colleagues who have been teaching online for a long time, everything is going smoothly. If you are taking or interested in taking online lessons with me, here is a checklist of what you will need to make it work:
A high-speed internet connection (DSL, cable, Verizon, or a Wi-Fi hotspot) at home.
A quiet place with good light and a music stand.
A device (phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer) over which you can have a video call.
A platform for video calling. I can accommodate Skype (best choice; high quality audio and video transmission), Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or WhatsApp. Sorry, Apple people, I don't have any Apple products, so I can't do FaceTime. Download one of those other apps. They're all free.
A WIRED pair of headphones or earbuds (no Air Pods or Bluetooth; they create delay and a weird clicking sound).
Your own metronome. It should not be on the same device you are using for the call. Generally, you can't use the metronome while you have a video call open, and vice versa.
Despite my new position with Youth Orchestras of Essex County, I was able to continue my position as a teaching artist with the Nikhil Badlani Foundation. The Nikhil Badlani Foundation is a memorial foundation that advocates for traffic safety, and provides subsidized group music lessons for students at in West Orange Public Schools. This year, my three West Orange High School flute students performed trio arrangements of one of Bach's 3 part inventions (the first one), the "Pastoral" from Handel's Messiah, and "Danse des petits cygnes" from Swan Lake. We added that little something extra by inviting three ballet students from New Jersey Ballet's intensive program in their ballet school to danse the role of the three Little Swans. It was an extra special success!
It's been a long time since I've posted any news here! It was a very busy year; I took a job that expanded my contact with young musicians, but reduced the size of my studio. In October of 2018, I was promoted to the position of Executive Director at Youth Orchestras of Essex County, a program where I had been a sectional instructor for the previous 5 years. It's been a very exciting year, sitting in the big chair, but a full-time position meant I had less time to do things like write in this blog, and my own private studio had to be smaller. Some policy changes left me with a very select list of marvelous young people, all very intelligent and accomplished, and passionate about music.
Now that the school year is over, I get to show them off at our year-end studio recital. This is the beginning of a new partnership with Finlay and Gage Musical Instruments in Maplewood, in their performance space. I first learned of this venue when my daughters' violin/viola instructor held her studio recital there last spring. Since then, I established a partnership with them for Youth Orchestras of Essex County, and we now host our master classes there. Holding the Global Flute Studio year-end recital there seemed like a natural next-step!
The recital is this evening from 6:30 to 7:30, and it's open to GFS students, and their families.
I made the transition from band kid to conservatory hopeful when I was just about to start 10th grade. My parents had taken me to hear Jean Pierre Rampal play with Robert Veyron Lacroix at Montclair High School (where my oldest daughter is now a student -- great auditiorium!), and that was it. I was hooked. They found me a private teacher who, fortunately, did not charge a lot, and the serious work began. Soon after, when I was in the high school regional concert band and started meeting other serious young musicians from other towns, I found out that they did all kinds of supplementary things in addition to private lessons: music camp, master classes, workshop weekends...all of which were EXPENSIVE. These opportunities for development were not open to me, my parents made that clear. In college, I quickly learned that the same thing was true, but on a larger scale. In the summer, my friends would go off to perform at Graz, Tanglewood, Aspen, Chautauqua, and other festivals, but I stayed in New York City to work -- usually multiple jobs -- so that I could return to school in the fall. I was keenly aware of what kind of development opportunities I was missing. Musical success seemed to be the demesne of the well-off.
As a professional, an educator, and a parent, I have always hoped to change that state of affairs in my own little realm. It is my wish that the opportunity to study and grow as a musician is not only open to students and parents with disposable income. Many of you know that I offer a variety of free master classes and workshops throughout the year, and guests are often welcome. I have also been teaching for The Nikhil Badlani Foundation, which offers free, after-school group lessons to qualified students in West Orange Public Schools. Beginning this month, I am able to offer something new. I have recently registered to partner with The Music Link Foundation. The Music Link Foundation makes it possible for aspiring music students to study privately with local teachers for half-price or less by providing compensation in kind to music teachers. Because of this association, I am able to offer lessons at 50% of my normal rates to 2 deserving scholarship students at any given time. Qualification is based on need, which is evaluated by The Music Link Foundation. The hardship standard for qualification is the same as the federal free or reduced lunch application. Continuance in the program is based on merit and achievement: practice habits, attendance at lessons, and achievements of certain benchmarks are monitored and evaluated by me regularly.
If you think that you or someone you know may qualify for this program, please visit The Music Link Foundation website. Potential flute students can complete the application and if they qualify, can select me as your teacher if you are in the region.
Through The Music Link Foundation, like-minded colleagues and I hope to make musical success possible for every student with the desire and commitment, regardless of their ability to pay.