It is always fun to get a new solo. I love when an order comes from Flute World or Sheet Music Plus. I like to take the music out of the package and feel the newness of the pages. New music smells differently too. These sensory feelings are all part of the pleasure of getting new music.

Sometimes though, mixed in with pleasure is a little bit of fear. It’s truly daunting to look at all those notes and figure out where to begin. This mixture of emotions is heightened when you have ordered the music for a recital and there are 5 pieces on that stand – all of which need to be learned for a fixed date in the future.

Lines of sharps and flats – oh my!

The good news is you are not alone. Everyone feels this way when the new music shows up. It’s exciting to look through it piece by piece. The other feelings show up when you pick up the flute and after a great warm-up begin to tackle the first solo.

How does one begin?

How do you get over that fear?

What is the approach?

One of the first things to do is listen to your pieces. Most solos that you will be working on have already been performed and can easily be found online. So, listening to them with the score is a great way to get started. It is inspirational and informative. You are inspired by the performer and excited to begin the piece. Informative because it can show you where to begin. When you are listening, take your pencil and mark sections that will need extra attention, difficult runs, extended techniques, rhythms, etc.

After you listen with the score, it is time to pick the flute up and begin practicing.

At this point I like to play through the piece. This is revealing on a couple fronts. It gives you a feeling of the piece in general. Which is different than when listening. You will find other places that will need special attention. Places that didn’t sound so bad when listening, but when reading through are really rather difficult. It may even show you that something you thought would be really difficult is not as bad as you thought.

Once the preliminaries are done, you are ready for solid practice.

At this point both the fear and excitement are down to a dull roar and you can actually get some work done. Begin with the sections that you have marked. Just pick a few and get down to business. Each day you begin tackling a new marked area. From time to time play larger sections so you begin to hear these areas in context.

I hope this helps you approach a piece with new vigor. I’ve got some new music on my stand and this is what I’m doing. How about you?

Happy Practicing,

Doctor Flute