Jeanne Baxtresser gives a session at the 2012 conference

Jeanne Baxtresser

The 2012 SAA Conference was an amazing four days for the flute teachers. We had twenty-eight teachers from nine US states and two Canadian provinces, as well as fourteen students ages 9–19 from six states and Argentina. Our session topics were varied and well-attended.

The highlight of our weekend was the time spent with our guest clinician, Jeanne Baxtresser. She conducted a two-hour master class with four students: Amber Epstein (Nevada), Nadira Novruzov (New York), Juan Martin Cappi (Argentina), and Ashley Fleming (Utah). Jeanne was gracious, warm, intuitive and a delight to observe. Her knowledge as a performer and teacher were passed to these students as she approached various practice techniques, stage etiquette, vibrato, phrasing and interpretation.

On Saturday afternoon, Jeanne met with teachers of all instruments as she discussed “The Transition Years”—preparing our students for college/conservatory auditions, repertoire, practice skills and life skills. During her second hour with the teachers, she shared many personal and professional moments to encourage us to “Nurture Yourself!—The Importance of Taking Time for Your Artistic Life.” Jeanne’s enthusiasm and sincere belief in the importance of our taking care of ourselves was encouraging and inspiring. From daily practice to getting enough sleep, she covered topics that we all needed to hear. Thank you, Jeanne, for such a memorable day!

Our 2012 session topics were:

“Levels of Learning,” presented by Laura Larson (MI) and Deborah Kemper (VA)

Based on Toshio Takahashi’s Levels of Learning, which discussed the four stages of learning a piece. In this non-instrument specific session, our presenters helped us to re-focus our goals for our students and gave us great guidelines for when it is time to move on to the next piece.

“Sample Lessons—How to get the most out of the least amount of time,” presented by Nancy Toone, David Gerry and Valerie Holmes

Each presenter worked with a different student in a fifteen-minute lesson. It was fascinating to see how quickly these three wonderful teachers could accomplish goals in such a limited time.

“Flute Choir Reading,” presented by Vicki Blechta

A conference favorite, teachers brought in their own arrangements of both Suzuki and non-Suzuki repertoire. Students and teachers alike joined in to play these clever pieces.

“Play With Your Heart, Using Your Head!” presented by Wendy Stern, Nancy Maloney and Valerie Holmes

Presenters introduced many different pieces and games to use with headjoints only. Teachers and students enjoyed exploring tones and repertoire for headjoint playing.

“Guido’s Hand, Candy Land Cards and a Life-Size Staff,” presented by Wendy Stern

Wendy had us jumping, singing, laughing and exploring new ways to help students begin the transition to note reading.

“Benson, The Suzuki Flute Bear,” presented by Noelle Perrin

Noelle brought Benson, balloons and scrapbooks of his travels. She detailed how we can arrange (through her, his travel agent) to come visit our studios and institutes. You can Facebook Benson to keep track of his many journeys.

“Teaching Individual Lessons Using Skype,” presented by Laurel Ann Maurer

Laurel explained the basic set-up and process of teaching students via Skype, a great way to keep in touch with students while traveling or housebound due to mother nature. In addition to this information, she taught a lesson to a student in an adjoining room—teachers were able to go between the two rooms to watch the lesson.

“Vocal Pedagogy and Suzuki Flute Pedagogy,” presented by Dr. Sasha Garver

Sasha opened our ears and eyes to the similarities of sound production between voice and flute. A great PowerPoint presentation and videos were included.

“Forty Little Pieces—Forty Little Flutists,” presented by Rebecca Paluzzi

Rebecca led us in exploring the phrasing, musicality and tone development points of Louis Moyse’s famous 1950 compilation. It was a wonderful session that showed the bridge between the French Flute School and the Suzuki Flute Method.

“Flute Teachers Luncheon”

Cynthia Man hosted our luncheon at the Dakota Jazz Club. It was a great time to eat, visit, share ideas (as well as view a plastic flute!) in an informal setting. Packets were at each place setting that contained concert, practice and lesson ideas from various teachers who had sent in their ideas prior to the conference.

The Flute Performing Ensemble gives an impromptu performance on the balcony

The Flute Performing Ensemble gives an impromptu performance on the balcony

Our Flute Performing Ensemble members were an integral part of the conference. On Sunday they presented three selections at the final concert in the Convention Center: “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel/Varelas, “Dryades” from Arcadie by Berthomieu, and “Zig Zag Zoo” by Ian Clarke. Earlier in the day there was a flute flash mob as they appeared on the mezzanine balcony and entertained the Hilton guests with “Jazz Pizzicato” by Andersen! I would like to send a big thank you to Kelly Williamson for being our liaison and representative to the South American students. She encouraged Tatiana, Adrian and Juan Martin to audition and join us in celebrating Dr. Suzuki’s vision. Special thanks, as well, to the Minneapolis area families who hosted and interpreted for these three young people. It certainly does ‘take a village’!

For those of you who joined us for the 40th Anniversary of the SAA, thank you for your participation. I thank everyone for their assistance and encouragement these past two years and wish Vicki Blechta, our 2014 Flute Coordinator, all the best as she begins planning our next time together.