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Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

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Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

Postby swestey » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:03 am

Hi...Just a quick question about tonguing quarter notes (or any note for that matter) that does not have a slur, accent mark, marcato, etc. I'm an adult and play in a community band. I played in high school. I've been playing again about 5 years...since I retired. When I learned flute in junior high and high school, my flute instructor taught me that the flute was supposed to sound delicate, smooth, and the music should flow along. Naturally, there are exceptions...like staccato marks, accents, etc. I was taught to tongue quarter notes with a distinct, but soft attack...unless there was notation for a hard attack. A person who recently joined our band really attacks every note without a slur with a very hard attack. She said she was taught to really tongue hard. Another gal in our section slurs practically everything. With my playing, I am distinct about tonguing and slurs, but I do not use a hard attack unless it is so noted. It is annoying sitting next to the person who plays the hard attack on everything as you can hear a "tuh" sound along with each note. It kind of ruins the sound of the flute section when we play soli. My position will change soon, as I am moving up to play first flute, so I won't be sitting near her much longer. I'm just wondering what kind of attack you use when you play. Maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Thanks for your input!

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Re: Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

Postby pied_piper » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:31 pm

Basically, I agree with your assessment of interpreting the music. The performer should always strive to play the music as written unless the music director instructs a different interpretation. In ensemble playing with any group, it is important to follow the section leader and the director. The interpretation of performance should be harmonious in all aspects unless the composer is attempting to evoke chaos in the music . :D

If one observes a symphony orchestra, the concertmaster is the leader of the violin section and will instruct the section on phrasing and bowing. That's why all the violin section bows are moving in the same direction at the same time. Similarly, I would say the leader of the flute section should provide guidance to the entire section on the phrasing elements such as hard or soft tonguing, where to breathe (if not indicated by the composer), the relative volume, a bright tone or mellow tone, etc. If the flute section leader is not doing that, then the music director should be.

I have experienced similar situations where the section leader was not strong enough to herd the cats. :D With those circumstances, I would suggest asking the director for guidance. Perhaps before or after a rehearsal, talk to the director (or section leader) about the inconsistencies. You could even raise your hand during a rehearsal to ask for guidance with the director's desired interpretation. Without pointing fingers at any particular players, simply point out that you notice there seems to be a variety of interpretations on how this should be performed and ask if s/he would suggest how the flute SECTION should phrase the music. That may or may not help, but with a (I assume non-audition) community group, that is probably the best you can hope for.
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Re: Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

Postby swestey » Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:40 pm

Thank you for your advice, pied_piper. I very much appreciate it. Yes, you are correct that this is a non-audition community band. We have lots of very experienced people who were music majors in college, former band directors, and everything in between that and people who are almost beginners. The gal who I am referring to as doing the very hard tonguing pretty much a beginner, who also likes to play as loudly as possible in spite of the dynamics. I like your suggestion of talking privately to the section leader. I feel like I should not be the one to give this gal advice, but the section leader should be the one. She sits so far from this particular gal that I'm sure she is not aware of how she plays. Occasionally, we try to mix the real pros in with the less experienced players just for this purpose...but our section leader doesn't want to relinquish her spot even for one night. I know that I appreciated having a more experienced player give me advice when I first got back to playing the flute, and I'm still learning. Thanks so much again. This is an awesome forum!

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Re: Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

Postby SylvreKat » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:13 pm

As the lead cat in my Civic Band, I'll tell you that you're absolutely correct that your section leader could very well have no clue how the end of the row plays. When my two friends and I were trying to think of a fourth to make a flute quartet, I asked about a gal from the "other end." Both friends' eyes widened and they shook their heads very quickly. She apparently is not the best player and "fakes" when she can't play a part. I had no idea, since I don't hear her.

What's the point of your band? If it's to be as professional as possible, then techniques should be corrected. Rather like pied said. However, if it's to provide a Band outlet for non-professionals post-school (and a more relaxing experience for pros), then someone (including yourself, since you sound to be the "more experienced" player in that area) can just sort of casually say "I've noticed your technique is more aggressive than the rest of the section. You do realize we need to blend so we're a section rather than individual players." Something along those lines. If she's as new as you think, she could very well have no idea how to play as a part of an entire section.

Btb pied, your comment about herding cats is exactly how I describe our flute section. I figure as long as nobody out and complains about someone, and nobody stands out to my end, then the point of our Band is having fun while improving our skills. We don't get paid, we do this for love of playing. And having had a section leader when I first joined who felt the Power of Leadership (yes, in caps even), and seeing how all the ladies relaxed and had more fun once she quit, I'm going to continue to let the cats wander...as long as none wander off too far or too wildly. :D :D :D And I'm not planning on moving around to play next to everyone--I have never had any section leader do that in any band I've ever played in. Never had a teacher suggest it. Can't imagine what "my" ladies (and newest token male 8) ) would do if I did that. I'm afraid I'd freak them out and they'd feel judged and quit. Which is completely against the point of our Band. Although I do make it clear if anyone has troubles with any part, they're very welcome to ask for help. And I think they do--from the "more experienced" players closest to them. The cats do seem to do a pretty decent job herding themselves, most times.

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Re: Tonguing Quarter Notes - No slur or Accent

Postby swestey » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:20 pm

<t>We don't make things feel "threatening" in our band when we have the first flutes move in among the seconds. We only do that if someone specifically asks for help. When I first got back into flute playing six years ago, I had the first flute sit to my left a few times so that I could hear her rhythm skills. I was having a challenge with certain rhythms. Since then, I've had her sit to my right a few times so that she could hear how I was doing. It's unbelievable how much I have learned from her compared to what I learned in high school...but she has a degree in flute performance. A couple of the other gals have requested similar help a few times. It has helped me so much that I have been requested to move up from playing second to playing first...literally jumping over two other seconds. I don't really think they mind, as they are very intimidated about playing alone. Even though I will be playing first, I still consider the other first flutes my mentors...and I don't want to ever stop learning. When we have concerts, everyone sits where they belong in the section. It's just a nice tip that one of our seasonal players (snow birds) told me that they do in their Wind Chamber Band in Chicago.</t>

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