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Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

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collie
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Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby collie » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:03 am

Hi...another newbie to this bulletin board, but not a newbie to the flute. I play first flute flute and piccolo in a wind band in our area. A few months ago, we had a new flutist join the band. The principal flutist decides what part you will play in our band. This new gal wanted to play first. The principal flutist gave her first music and said she would decide later what part she would play permanently. At our recent concert (the first for the new flutist), the principal flutist told the other first flutes not to come in until the fifth measure on a few different parts so that she could see and hear if the new gal was on the ball and able to play the parts. I thought this was a dirty trick, but didn't want her to take out her wrath on me, so I followed directions. The new gal turned to me and whispered, "What's going on? Why am I the only one playing?" The principal flutist used to do this to me in rehearsals when I first moved up to first part, but never during a concert. Is this an audition trick? What would you have done? Any tips on how to handle this would be appreciated. Oh, and I can't say anything to the conductor because they are related. Thank you!

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pied_piper
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Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby pied_piper » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:53 pm

Yeah, that's pretty low. It's one thing in a rehearsal, but to do that in a concert was really risky. Of course, if the new player had really fouled up in the concert, there would be no one to blame but the principal. To check out a new player, the better thing for the principal to do would be to have the new player try playing a solo part in rehearsal. If it is played well, great. If not, then the principal would know that the new player is not ready to play exposed parts alone.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

SylvreKat
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Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:56 am
Location: KC metro

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby SylvreKat » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:38 pm

I agree that's pretty dirty cricket.

And it makes me even gladder about my Civic Band. Everyone pretty much picks the part they're comfortable with. And I trust if someone's struggling, they'll either come to me or talk with their neighbors. Or a neighbor will talk with me. After all, I've no idea how those gals on the far other end of our row are doing. :wink: Then again, we're a truly open Band, no auditions no fees to play, no charges for concerts. That's why we have three oboes, three bass clarinets, a dozen (yes, a freakin' DOZEN!!) Frenchies! Works out great 'cause most of the time not everyone is there, which results in a perfect-sized concert band.

I do agree about having the new gal play a solo in rehearsal for assessment. I asked our newest picc player if she wanted to give it a try, and gosh did she impress. Beautiful tone and gorgeous softs! Immediately put any concerns about her abilities to rest!

(No, I'm not kidding. There are now officially twelve Frenchies on the roster. I think six or seven tubas. Those three bass clarinets! We are SO spoiled! Although we could use more euphoniums--anyone know any euph's in the KC area needing a concert band to join?)

>'Kat
Flutes:1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel;1982 Armstrong 80;2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P;1982 Gemeinhardt 4S;1980s? Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199
Treble:2009 Guo New Voice

+ many flute-cousins

SylvreKat
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:56 am
Location: KC metro

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby SylvreKat » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:47 pm

Oh--as for how I'd have handled it, I would've told the principal I wasn't willing to risk the band sounding like crap in case new gal wasn't up to it, or if she freaked 'cause she came in but nobody else did, so quit playing. And would've played anyways.

My first couple of years in the Civic Band, we had Jean sitting first chair. Jean would dictate who was allowed what. Took two concerts for me to catch on she was choosing the plum parts for herself, picc or flute. I got tired of the attitude the second year when she told me, "I'll let you play these songs." Wouldn't have been bad if she hadn't been SO condescending about it. My reply--"Really? Are you sure I can handle them? There aren't any solos or anything are there since you obviously need to keep all of those for yourself? No fun parts to them, nothing good like that?" And I turned on that attitude every time she acted up haughty. She dropped out my third year, and it was amazing how everyone's--not just me but all the other flutists--attitudes and morale improved immediately. It was just a way more fun group.

Probably why I'm so hands-off as first chair. I don't want to step on any toes, and I figure we're all adults so we should each have a good idea of our level of playing. And quite honestly, there's enough of us that if someone can't manage a phrase, she can sit out with nobody in the audience noticing.

>'Kat
Flutes:1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel;1982 Armstrong 80;2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P;1982 Gemeinhardt 4S;1980s? Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199
Treble:2009 Guo New Voice

+ many flute-cousins

collie
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:43 am

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby collie » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:19 am

Thank you so much for your responses. I'm happy that I'm not the only one who thinks that was a rotten trick. I think our principal flutist was hoping to make the new flutist look bad - but she hung in there. As for assigning parts to play, nobody gets to play a solo except the principal flutist...not even a stinkin' little three measure phrase. I think she just has to prove to herself and the conductor that she is the only one worthy of a solo. She has a master's in music performance. Sure, nobody else is going to play as well as her, but that doesn't mean we can't do a nice job on a part. I notice in all the other sections, the firsts take turns playing the prime parts. Our principal flutists takes a lot of the joy out of playing due to her selfishness and big ego.

SylvreKat
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Location: KC metro

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby SylvreKat » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:40 pm

Her name isn't Jean, is it?

Seriously, having someone like that in charge of the section really does make it lots less fun for everyone else. Not that the rest of us were really yenning for solos or anything, but having the option to say yes or no is always nice.

You'll laugh at this--there have been a few concerts through the years where we're trying to figure out who's playing the solo literally right before the director steps up to his stand! A more ego-less bunch of flutists you've yet to encounter. I've read boards about attitudes and all that parc. And then I think of the Band's flute section, and I can't think of one player who acts like they're any that much better than the rest. Zero drama, zero ego. I wish you could either get rid of your Jean, or at least her attitude, so that you can see what a flute section really should be like rather than the stereotype.

I know you said your conductor is her relative. But maybe if all or a bunch of you approach him, maybe he'll help tone down your Jean? That's assuming your band is volunteer and open, rather than audition and professional. Pro is a totally different cake. If we were getting paid and there was the expectation of near-perfection, then yes I'd pay more attention to how the gals are doing. But we're not, and there isn't. Yes, we strive to be the best we can. But that's also with the understanding that almost all of us have full-time jobs, and the Band rehearses once a week for 90 minutes through the summer. So if your band is amateur, then talk with your conductor about sharing the solos. Point out that while the rest of you might not have a masters in flute performance, that doesn't mean you suck and are incapable of playing. Heck, it doesn't even mean you're not as good as your Jean--you just had a different goal in college (like, maybe actually making money with your degree? Oo I'm so naughty!) I learned that from a gal who used to be in band and was a music teacher and performer--she once told me I was one of the best picc-players she'd ever heard. I denied it, saying I just play for fun. She said that doesn't mean anything about a player's skills. Remind your conductor of that. If he's any good, he'll listen to his section rather than only back his relative. If not, then try to have what fun you can. And refuse to take attitude from your Jean. If she tries, remind yourself that her master's degree doesn't mean anything about your skills!

>'Kat
Flutes:1975 Gemeinhardt M2 in chrome nickel;1982 Armstrong 80;2006 Yamaha 584

Piccs:1978 Artley piece of crap 15 P;1982 Gemeinhardt 4S;1980s? Armstrong all wood (no model)

Bass:2006 Jupiter di Medici G0199
Treble:2009 Guo New Voice

+ many flute-cousins

collie
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:43 am

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby collie » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:56 pm

Sylvrekat ... Oh, how I chuckled over your post!! Thank you! Now, when I look at her, I'll think "Jean." Our band is non-audition, but the "Principal" gets to decide on the part you play. Every summer our "Jean" gets featured doing a solo with the band backing her up. That's in addition to all the other solo parts she has within other pieces. Whatever.... :roll:

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pied_piper
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Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby pied_piper » Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:28 pm

Your principal thinks she is a prima donna and seems not a very nice person. I also play in a community band and all the sections share solos with any player who feels they are up to the task. Of course the really good players do get featured solos, but again it's not just one player...

Most flutists with a master's in flute performance are busy getting paid to play in pro symphonies, wind ensembles, etc. If she's lowered herself to playing for free in a community band (with a relative who is the director), maybe she's not quite the artiste she claims...

I have a music ed degree and I'm the section leader, but I willingly offer to share solos with other players at both rehearsal and performance. I know I'm a very good player, but I don't have to prove it by hogging the limelight all the time.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

collie
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:43 am

Re: Principal Flutists -- Would You Do This?

Postby collie » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:04 am

Pied Piper, thank you...my feelings exactly. I know I'll never attain the performance level she has, but I'm certainly able to play a few measures solo in whatever composition we are playing. I'd like to think of her as a mentor, but she snickers at other players when asked a question. I wish we had another band nearby. I'd join it in a NY minute. Anyway, I appreciate everyone's input.


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