Advice on attending NFA

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Angus
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Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:46 pm

Advice on attending NFA

Post by Angus »

Greetings all. I will be taking my daughter to the NFA Convention this year in Charlotte NC. I would appreciate any advice as to how to make best use of the time you have while at the convention. She will be a high school junior in the fall, and intends to major in flute performance in college. Aside from college visits and sample lessons, is the NFA convention a good or proper environment to meet potential teachers from colleges? If so, how can one find out who would be in attendance and how to engage some teachers for a lesson while there. At this time she has a good sized list of schools that she intends to research further / eventually apply to, audition at etc. and we were hoping that through the convention she could meet people that she may have the opportunity to work with in the future.
Thank you for any help or advice you can provide.

fluteguy18
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by fluteguy18 »

It's easy to be swallowed by the NFA experience. It's way to easy to lose yourself in the showroom or to run yourself ragged trying to go to all of the classes (which is simply IMPOSSIBLE).

Your best bet for tracking down teachers that will be there is to simply contact the teachers that your child is interested in and ask them. A lot of big name teachers always attend while other big names never attend (or only attend sporadically). So you just have to ask. I would definitely be asking by the beginning of summer because a lot of 'important' teachers tend to fill up their schedules early if they will be attending.

If she will be in the market for a new instrument there isn't a better place to try out TONS of instruments than the NFA convention. It is important however to keep in mind that while the show room will easily have $10million+ in flutes and merchandise it will also be too noisy to do important and close comparisons.

Budgeting is important (both time and money). It can be an expensive convention when you take into account travel, food, and hotel. If she will be taking lessons with prospective teachers that can EASILY approach $1000 alone if she plays for several people (many 'big name' teachers charge 150-200+ per hour!). I don't think I've walked away from an NFA convention without spending less than $800-900. For the convention in Anaheim I spent close to $1500 total (but I flew across the country as well). I only bought two pieces of music and no instruments/accessories. It is possible to cut costs by getting the 'early bird' rate for the hotel through NFA and getting people to split the room with (if you know anyone going).

The schedule for NFA is published on their website about 2-3 weeks before the event. I usually go through that and schedule my trip so that way I can figure out where I want to go and what I want to do. That way I'm not scrambling about to get organized and risking missing something good!

You will also spend a lot of time on your feet and you will walk a lot. Plan for that.

Angus
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Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:46 pm

Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by Angus »

Thank you very much for your insight. This is exactly what we needed to understand.
Regards

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cflutist
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by cflutist »

FG18,

I plan on attending in Las Vegas next year.
What are your thoughts on bringing one's flute with them?
Are there playing opportunities?
Or is it more trouble worrying about the safety of one's instrument?

fluteguy18
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Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by fluteguy18 »

I've always brought mine. Most people tend to bring their flutes. It's really what you make of it. There are playing opportunities, and there are things that don't allow you to play. Most people tend to keep their flutes on them at all times if they happened to bring it though. You never know when you'll need it, and you never REALLY know if the 'secure' area to check your flute is actually secure. I'm sure they are, but I never trust my instrument to anyone other than my tech.

fluttiegurl
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by fluttiegurl »

I took mine the one time I got to go and was happy I did. I also kept it on my person at all times.

Angus
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Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:46 pm

Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by Angus »

Thanks for all the information. The next questions we would appreciate an opinion on are:

How to address all the potential teachers that my d would like to make contact with at the NFA
(i.e. Should all individuals be addressed as Dear Professor Jones, or Ms / Mr Jones) I realize this could be seen as a silly question but we're just trying to work on this in the most appropriate manner.

D's teacher states that most college teachers go to NFA to have an enjoyable time and requesting a sample lesson is
not a good idea. My feeling is that if we are going to travel over a thousand miles for a college visit in the next 15 months or so that at least getting to spend a short time with a potential teacher is worth trying for. Opinion?

If you were writing the note - how would you present it? "Hey the school you teach at is not around the block and my Dad says that if I don't meet you at NFA, I'll never get the chance!" (just kidding...)

My gut feeling is that if she can not meet a few teachers from the school list at NFA that are geographically further away that other schools we can get to easily then why spend the time and money for the trip?

thanks

fluttiegurl
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by fluttiegurl »

While there are some college professors who will be available for a lesson or two, many of them take advantage of the time to learn, play and relax. Many of the bigger names will have some time scheduled for lessons, but be prepared to pay. They do not come cheap (I think fluteguy said this earlier). You may have a better chance to simply hang out and get to know someone than have a formal lesson. Also keep in mind that this event is not exactly a college showcase.

I personally don't think it is a good idea to ask the typical college professor for lessons at the convention. It is more of an opportunity to listen and learn, kind of a professional development of sorts. Also keep in mind that there will be players who a far more advanced there (no offense), and this may not be the time for her to shine like she would if she actually visited the school itself. Unfortunately, unless she is an absolutely amazing performer (which she very well may be), some teachers may not even remember her after returning home.

As for whether or not it is worth it, I have never heard a flute player regret attending. This is the one chance for students, teachers and professionals to come together with one common interest. There will be many opportunities for her to learn from attending master classes and concerts. These opportunities, in many ways, are far more important than a single lesson or even from her regular lessons at home. It also lets her see how some of these professors interact with others (once you find out who they are) and in some cases, see them perform. That can sometimes give you a pretty good idea of who to request lessons with later on and who not to ask. Also, depending on where she is auditioning, just adding the fact that she attending will receive some credit with professors. This is a highly regarded organization and a chance of a lifetime for any student who is serious about playing.

Also, just FYI, find out whether or not a potential teacher holds a PhD and address them simply as Dr. ______. Some of them make a big deal of this and addressing them otherwise can be offensive. I learned that the hard way as an undergrad.

Angus
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Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:46 pm

Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by Angus »

Thank you for your thoughts and advice flutiegurl. The time you took to respond is greatly appreciated. I'm glad that I asked the question and started this thread.

I hope others can benefit from this information too.

fluteguy18
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by fluteguy18 »

I agree with fluttiegurl. If they're relatively 'normal' teachers, don't approach them about a lesson. If they're a big name in the industry, almost all of them are at the convention to see friends and to do networking with potential students and performance partners.

As for addressing them (titles etc. ) I would say that if they are a 'normal' professor, using the 'Dr.' is a good idea. Some of the big names would even prefer it I think. Some big names though would prefer to be addressed as "Mr/Mrs./Ms. XXX" because they may or may not have a doctorate, and their level of fame and achievement is beyond a degree level. I have had the odd experience however of being on a first name basis with most of my flute teachers. It's not a respect thing with me, it's just been... a level of comfort I guess. I don't know why that is though. I have no problem saying 'Hi Jim!' or 'Hey Jana!.' Only my actual flute professor do I address as "Dr. XXXX." For her it is an acknowledgement of her achievement because I remember when she got her Doctorate and she was really proud of it. I have always sort of gauged it as to how they conduct themselves with me. If they are more formal, then I'll use a title. If they're really informal, then I skip that.

But to be on the safe side I would always use a title when meeting someone for the first time. I've just had an odd experience in this department. I know that I personally prefer it when my students address me by my first name. ::shrug::

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cflutist
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by cflutist »

Anybody going this year? I just made my reservations at Ceasars Palace. Will fly in a day early and leave a day later (trying to avoid the crowds at the airport). My hubby will cruise the strip while I attend. Have never attended in the past so this will be quite exciting for me.

I understand that I have to join the NFA and pre-register for the Convention before arriving in Las Vegas?

Some of you said that I should bring my flute, but do I need to bring a music stand too?

Any other advice so that this will be a good experience for me (I'm an adult amateur but do play principal flute
in the DVC Philharmonic Orchestra).

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pied_piper
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by pied_piper »

I'd like to, but it's a bit early for me to commit. It will depend upon my work schedule in August and won't know that for a while yet. I did go to Charlotte last year and very much enjoyed it.

Yes, to register and attend, you must be an NFA member.

You definitely should bring your flute. There are a number of opportunities to play. In Charlotte, I played in the flute orchestra that opened the convention (~150 flutes including altos, basses, contrabasses, and one subcontrabass). Wow, what a sound! For that, a stand was required. For most other events, the convention center supplied stands. Many of the presentations are participatory. For example, Patricia George gave a presentation on practice techniques and everyone in the audience was invited to participate. Other opportunities to play included amateur master classes, flute choir reading sessions, a flute big band reading session, and the like. After hours there are a few play along events. I sat in on an evening of Irish session tunes. The convention closes with a concert and a final piece where the entire audience is asked to join in and play along on a closing song.

Like you, I'm an adult amateur and I found LOTS of sessions of interest and benefit to me. In addition to daytime recitals, there are several evening concerts, all featuring some really great flutists. I got to hear Maria Piccinini, Christina Jennings, Carol Wincenc, Jim Walker (he performed with the flute orchestra), Trevor Wye (fun and entertaining), and others. There were presentations on every aspect of flute playing that you can think of including, practice techniques, teaching techniques, interpretation, styles, health issues, masterclasses, competitions, and many other topics. I attended a most nteresting session by Cady Coleman (the astronaut flutist). She described much of her experience playing her flute in the space station. Afterward, there was a meet & greet where she signed autographs and posed for photos with anyone who wanted. Her flute was a Powell and they made two headjoints for her. One to play in space and another to keep. Powell was displaying the headjoint she played in space and even allowed visitors to try it, so I can honestly say I've played a headjoint that orbited the Earth hundreds of times. That experience was "out of this world". :roll: There's something for everyone regardless of their ability. My only criticism is that many sessions are presented at one time only and I had to chose between some events that were at the same time or overlapped another session.

The vendor exhibition hall is well worth visiting. Wall to wall flutes and music. Every major flute maker and vendor is there. Bring a list of music and accessories that you want to buy. The big vendors like Fluteworld and Carolyn Nussbaum offer convention discounts on sheet music. Be sure to bring your credit card! :shock: J.L.Smith and Muramatsu had flute repair techs there to check over your flute if you wanted. I met Joe Butky at the Pearl flute booth and we had a nice talk about repairs and Pearl flutes. He showed me his Frankenflute where every key has a different type of pad. I tried a lot of flutes and piccolos just to see how they compared to my Muramatsu flute and Yamaha picc. So many flutes, so little time...

It's definitely worth it and I'll be in Las Vegas if I can arrange for time off that week. I'll be sure to let you know if I go so that we can finally meet.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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cflutist
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by cflutist »

pp, thank you so much for the in depth summary. Now I have something to look forwards to in my retirement from 32 years in IT (and you would think I should play my new Brannen flute more).

When I made the hotel reservation, they took just one night's deposit. I can cancel 72 hours prior and get a refund.
The NFA suggested that I do that soon since it will be their 40th Anniversary and they are anticipating a larger attendance than normal.

Southwest doesn't have their schedule out yet, but for the week prior it was only $65 RT from SF Bay Area to Las Vegas (cheaper than driving). I guess I'm not fully committed until I 1 - join the NFA and 2 - make the airline reservations.

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pied_piper
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by pied_piper »

I assume that when you booked the hotel you asked for the convention rate.

You are right about the airfare - $65 is certainly cheaper than driving. I just checked to see what the airfare would be for me coming from the east coast (VA). Fares range from about $250 to $700 depending upon the carrier and route. There are no direct flights from my area, so layovers and total travel time are often more of a consideration for me than the absolute lowest fare. I just hate having to sit in an airport for more than an hour or two and most of the lower fares seem to have long layovers...
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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cflutist
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Re: Advice on attending NFA

Post by cflutist »

Yes, the convention rate is $159 for a single starting on 8/4 running through 8/13 although the convention itself is 8/9 - 8/12.

http://www.nfaonline.org/Annual-Convention/

Yeah, I hate layovers too which is why we're paying extra to fly from Vancouver back to SFO in May.
Many cruise goers take a bus from Vancouver to Seattle (a 4 hour trip, usually delays at the border crossing) just to save a bit of money.

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