ANU Flute Day strikes the right Chord

The first ANU Flute Day, held by the ANU School of Music, drew participants from far and wide for an afternoon of bonding, learning and playing.

More than 80 flautists attended on 16 March, ranging from 6 to 80 years of age and varying experience levels. They travelled from as far afield as Newcastle, Wagga Wagga and the South Coast.

Organiser Sally Walker, Lecturer at the School in Classical Performance (Woodwind), said she was proud to have brought so many people together from such a wide demographic, connecting flute players who might only have played with their teacher.

“As evidenced from our final concert, you still have a straight line from the highest level to where you first began,” she says. “So we started the day with everyone doing the most fundamental of exercises together: breathing.”

“We were driven by the belief that the youngest students also deserve the greatest teaching, to form good habits early and to develop a deep love of the craft.”

In addition to flautists, Ms Walker reported that a fair number of people registered just to be observers.

“I think watching a master teacher in any subject allows you to transfer something to your own discipline,” she says.

Headlining the day was internationally acclaimed neurologist Professor Eckart Altenmüller from the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine in Germany. Professor Altenmüller, who is also a flautist, gave a talk on the history of the flute from the prehistoric bone flutes found in Southern Germany to the modern instrument as well as delivering a masterclass with Ms Walker. Over a flute teachers’ brunch, in which the teachers were encouraged to share problems they commonly experience in their work, Professor Altenmüller provided his expert advice on topics such as how to plan lessons to help students best learn.

Seven flute teachers including Ms Walker and Professor Altenmüller led ensembles and musical games. The programme closed with a concert featuring all attendees. Audiences were treated to a composition/story using extended techniques created by the youngest students that day, and a historical instrument duo performance. ANU Bachelor of Music student Joel Dreezer performed a jazz flute/technology solo, ANU Flute teacher Kiri Sollis performed a solo for piccolo and alarm clock, and Ms Walker performed on the modern flute a work originally written for the Japanese shakuhachi by Head of School Associate Professor Kim Cunio.

“We were thrilled with the response of how many were able to come together to share the music that they love and I was grateful for the enormous, selfless support from the ANU Music professional staff,” says Ms Walker.

“We would like to make this an annual event.”