Galway Masterclass 2005
on March 2005 Galway Masterclass, Vancouver
First, Sir James is using a video-camera
and camera person who projects his image up on a larger
screen at the back of the stage, andis able to zoom in on
embouchure, hand-position and other pointers.
He also uses an overhead projector to demonstrate the way
a study is written, or a warmup exercise (the ones that
are online) is done.
That was an EXCELLENT addition, because many of us need
to see these things really close up to understand.
He began with a demonstration that you need to see
"live" in order to
It's a headjoint only exercise that he was taught by his
first professional teacher:See video of Galway presenting this exercise. And/or See drawings above.
First: You fold your bottom lip up over
your top lip, place the flute (or a
finger) in the crease of the chin, and then bring the
lower lip loosely down and blow the open-headjoint.
Then while you continue to blow you move the center of
your lips forward to change the embouchure to allow you
to blow up the octave.
He said that even though he was playing Chaminade at the
time, his first important teacher had him do this simple
headjoint, lower lip up and down exercise for about 10
minutes to create flexibility and practice the
"frown" type of lose lips; he warned against
the "smile" embouchure, which, of course, is
death to flexible lips.
In the group warmups on the overhead he mentioned that's
that you change the embouchure to focus, tune and hone in
on every note of the flute.
If it's an arpeggio going down from A# to F# to C# (open
tube) then the C# is definitely going to need a flexing
of the lips to hone in on it.
After warmups Galway then went on to describe how he came
to do the Moyse Sonorite longtones, and how much like a
singer we should be when we start with these each day.
He made us laugh by playing them just like we hear bored
students play them; all wimpy and unmusically, with no
singing sound, and no actual air moving from the upper
chest in the singing style.
Then he played the longtones full, rich and involving the
"singing and projecting upper chest and throat
area", the same support used to sing in full voice,
and it was really inspiring to witness this live, the
body holds itself differently and the tone opens up, just
like an opera singer.
He then put the Moyse scales (up to high B and down to
low C each one---from Exercises Journaliers) on the
over-head and said: "How boring to play scales this
way. No wonder not even *I* want to do it", and then
invited an audience member to play scales up on stage
with him (the audience all had their flutes out from the
warmup exercises at the beginning).
They played back and forth doing five-note patterns, and
low-end-only, and high-end-only, to iron out tone and
They then did short-long, long-short (dotted-rhythms) and
all the other tongued methods of changing rhythms to even
out fingers.All the above were done on ONE chosen scale.
He mentioned that the good scales are played fast (the
ones you find
easy) and the hard ones played slow with changing rhythms
and patterns created to overcome problems with finger
It was great.
Sir James demonstrated a zillion bits of scales found in
all sorts of repertoire and admonished the audience:
"Don't give your students repertoire that is too
hard for them!!!!!!
No!!! Give them SCALES!!!"
We all admitted that the interesting self-teaching and
self-exploring, self-solving patterns that the individual
creates to solve his own problems are WAY more engaging
and interesting than just printed scales from
tonic-to-tonic, or even extended up to a given high and
low note. They just don't stir the imagination when
they're formulaic, and non-interactive.
Next he had a volunteer come up and 'sight-read' (I think
the student KNEW them) a few lines of the Taff/Gaubert
etudes in the big T&G book ,which Sir James really
He said "Yes, these look sightreadable...but they
contain infinite difficulties that can be worked on in
myriad ways".....I'm not quoting exactly, but that
was the point.
Sure the first one is in C major, and you can sightread
it, but are you singing it? Are you playing it in a
musical way regarding phrasing, etc.?
After this there were some fun stories about various
aspects of teaching and rehearsing, and his recording
engineer of the past 30 years and some 50 albums came up
and answered questions about micing the flute, and
recording sound quality.
The answers were all about using live acoustics, rooms
with good balanced, ringing flute sound, and placing the
mics where the human
ear tells him that the best sound is reached (not always
in front of the flutist, but often to the flutist's right
side.). Sometimes, the engineer advised, you place
But NEVER does he use a dead space, and then add reverb
etc. when re-mixing.
They always used live rooms with WOODEN floors to get
real flute sound.
Then the students, one at a time, performed for Sir James
(I only could stay for the first student who played
Demersseman.) Sir James taught her how to make each
phrase more "opera-singer" like and less
You seriously must sing each phrase, not in a little,
(barely audible with no breath support) but like
Pavarotti, with full diaphragm support, in order to hear
how to phrase it.
Sir James stopped and sang all kinds of phrases, and
indeed, it's the singer's style he uses to decide what to
do with the flute line.
We should never just play "staccato" like a
flute, when we can play longer staccatos like a great
singer. We should never put the emphasis in the wrong
place (easy for a flute) because a singer wouldn't
emphasize a phrase opening like that...etc. etc.
Oh yes, and one more important point Jim the big Sir
He said that flute teachers are doing their students a
HUGE disservice by not playing their etudes and pieces
FOR them, during lessons.
He really believes we all need to model our playing on
famous players, great recordings, and great teachers who
demonstrate constantly in lessons.
He believes that pianists, violinists and other
instrumental teachers demonstrate constantly.
What foolishness is stopping the flute players?
He doesn't believe it will create copy-cats
slavishly imitating the greats...he believes that that is
NOT what is going to happen. "You say that all the
little monkeys will then play the same? Well, no. Every
monkey is different". he says.
Lots of other good sensible points were made.
I had a blast!!!
Hope this helps.
Lots of what was said is online at [404 Not Found]/vanclass/ubcclass.htm
Listening to various topics he speaks
about, esp. the warmups and the description of Sir James'
background in singing will surely be helpful.
to Jen's homepage