Category Archives: Music Recommendations

In Need of A Different Approach This Term? Try A New Tutor Book!

As all flute teachers know, there is no such thing as the perfect tutor book. We all tend to stick to our favourites and usually work round their problems as we come to them. However, some of the less familiar books on offer can present at least a solution to those difficulties and often bring a welcome change of scene.

Amanda Oosthuizen’s series of books ‘Let’s Play Flute’ is great if you are in need of extra material at the very early stages. Here a few notes are made to work very hard, with Book One covering just F to C. There’s plenty to do though:  games reinforce elements such as rhythm and composing, and information pages and progress tests pad out the playing still further. The Introduction is very informative and although this would appear to be expensive for the content, in some situations it’s worth its weight in gold!


Play-it-again! by Hilary Taggart is great value, with over 100 tunes to work on. Tutors usually start with illustrations of some kind and here the line drawings are very clear. The pace is quite sedate, with quavers not being introduced until after middle D has been mastered. The explanation of how to produce the middle register is excellent and the material is kept very manageable. There’s even a short exercise for octaves. The extra supplement includes accompaniment and duet parts, and the book also works very well alone.


If you are after a book that includes a CD to aid with practice, the series Look, Listen and Learn edited by Philip Sparke is definitely worth a look. Again the illustrations are very good, with Doctor Checkup helping throughout. There’s plenty of aural activity included – clapping exercises, completing the tune, echo exercises and improvising all add an extra dimension to the learning process. The CD is useful!


Robert Winn is another highly regarded flute teacher, and his book AMA Flute 2000 is excellent material. The tunes are sometimes a little conventional (the section headed ‘modern’ includes ‘Oh When the Saints’!) but the progress is fast and, as you would expect from Robert Winn, the grounding is thorough. The photos are in full colour and I really like the Daily Breathing Exercises, illustrated by cartoon-like figures. Again the CD is excellent.


For the increasing numbers of us who are teaching in groups, there are some specialist options available. Explorations by Duckett and Price is not strictly a tutor book, but it is an invaluable book for anyone following the guidelines of the National Curriculum. It is an activity resource book and covers topics such as listen and copy, listen and answer, memorising, jazz on 3 notes, rounds etc. The CD contains playalong accompaniments, examples of different styles and backings for improvisation. There is also a section to help you plan various 6-week study programmes. This book can give every teacher more ideas to expand your teaching skills, whatever situation you work in.


Class Act by the impressive Sarah Watts also uses the CD as a central part of the learning process to encourage listening and improvisation skills within the group. Only one note is introduced at a time, there is a tie-in with Razzamajazz and there are some easy ensemble pieces to test progress. Also linked to the National Curriculum, this is more of a specialist book for flute players with the second volume progressing fairly swiftly.


Do beginner adults need specialist repertoire? Heather Hammond’s Play Flute! A Course for Adult Beginners thinks you do. This is a book for someone starting out with little or no prior knowledge of reading music and it manages to introduce the basics with a minimum of fuss. The information is clearly laid out, with some reading activities and listening exercises using the two accompanying CDs. The material in each of the nine stages is covered thoroughly and middle D is the last note to be learned. This is a ‘no-nonsense’ approach to learning the flute and might be appropriate for some non-adults as well!


I Used to Play Flute by Larry Clark is not an adult beginner’s book as such, but it caters for those who have let their technique slip a little. The first section is called ‘Music Theory Review’, there is a section with scales and technical exercises, followed by tunes in a variety of styles. The CD uses a rhythm section to accompany the flute and includes printable PDF files of the piano parts.


The above books are just a few of the flute tutor books available from Just Flutes – if you’re looking for some fresh inspiration, browse our website now!

Original Flute Trio Music for Younger Players

There is some interesting repertoire available for less experienced trio players – it isn’t always necessary to play arrangements! In this article I’ll round up some of my personal favourites.

More Fun For Flutes by Bart BakkerI’ve found that Fun for Flutes and More Fun for Flutes by Bart Bakker are very appealling to younger players. There are 6 playalong trios in each book, both of which contain CDs with good-quality backing tracks. The rhythmic writing is not always in unison, but the parts are not difficult and the CD will help confidence by holding it all together. Titles such as ‘Pacific Sunrise’ and ‘Shuffle Salad’ clearly illustrate what’s on offer here.

More Fun for Flutes - 6 Playalong Trios

 

Eine Kleine TiersuiteAt the other end of the spectrum you might like to try Kinder Trios Books 1 and 2 by Freidgund Gottsche-Niessner. At first glance, the short trios in Book 1 (“A Small Animal Suite”) seem quite straightforward – and indeed they are, unless you wish to add in the extended techniques. Different ways of blowing, simple multiphonics, glissandi and trills are used to great effect to portray animals as varied as fish, elephants and birds. Book 2 (“Musical Short Stories”) is more of a rhythmic workout, and the techniques are extended still further. It’s all very enjoyable and reasonably priced.

 

Eine Kleine Tiersuite From Kindertrios Book 1

MultiflutesMultiflutes by Gerard Méunier is another interesting collection for younger players. A part of the ‘Young Ensemble’ series, each piece increases in difficulty from the simplicity of ‘L’ancienne’, through the more rhythmic ‘Petite Fugue A Trois’ and ending with the decidedly tricky ‘Bonjour, M. Haydn’. The style is approachable whilst not exactly familiar – Méunier’s music is always interesting, and Multiflutes is no exception.

Multiflutes by Meunier

If it’s something more conventional that you’re looking for why not try Alexander Tcherepnin’s Trio. The four lovely pieces that make up this work start with the tuneful ‘Prelude’, a gentle F major Allegretto. The 2nd movement Scherzo zips along in D major and contrasts well with the ensuing Reverie which is in an atmospheric C minor. The final Dance zips along in an F minor 6/8. None of the pieces is very long and all are very appealing.

Scherzo from Trio - Tcherepnin

 

Sonata in D Major by QuantzIf what you would really like to play is some Baroque music though, one of the best on offer is the Quantz Sonata in D major. The opening Vivace is a real joy, and this together with the Largo, Rigaudon, Allegro and Menuet that make up the rest of the sonata have all been skilfully arranged by Pierre Paubon. This would be a great start to a concert!

 

Sonata in D Major by Quantz - Score

What are your favourite trios for younger players? Let us know in the comments below.

Building a Flute Library: Unusual Flute Music for Three Advanced Flutes

Right now there is great deal of exciting music available for three flutes, so if you are lucky enough to belong to a good trio there is plenty to keep you interested.

Suite Pastorale by Jean-Michel Damase is a great place to start. Enigmatic harmonies underpin approachable rhythms, the Pastorale of the title being evident throughout. The second movement Pastourelle flows gently as if dreaming, the finale Rondeau is a lovely jaunt, but the first movement, Carillons, is just beautiful:


If you prefer your lyricism a little more grounded you could try any of the trios by Caspar Kummer. Trio Op.53 is wonderfully Romantic in style – pure flute music. Written in a conventional fast/slow/fast movement format, his melodies weave their magic throughout. This is a true delight.


Perhaps one of the most esoteric pieces for this combination is Morton Feldman’s Trio, written in 1972. On paper, it seems that there is little to this – just 2 pages of score containing nothing faster than a quaver or higher than a middle register G flat. The interest is in all the harmonies that clash and resolve constantly throughout:


Another compelling work which relies on texture is Celtic Knotwork by Edward McGuire. The “knotwork” effect can be easily heard by the close interweaving of all three parts. The opening Lento evokes misty mornings with bagpipes in the distance and this is followed by the more lively Slip Jig. The cadenza in canon is really effective, and the work ends as it began.


The little known trio Three Pieces for Three Flutes by Pal Rozsa is worth a look. Each of the three movements is well-constructed with a good balance of writing between the parts. The harmonies are sometimes deliberately quite bare, allowing the timbre of the flutes to prevail. Tune and accompaniment this isn’t, but it’s very appealing all the same:


Trois Pastorales by Henri Tomasi also uses some more unusual harmonies. Tomasi really knew how to write for flutes and this is full of challenges for each player. The beguiling melody in Bolivienne is passed around effectively, whilst the atmospheric Cretoise fluctuates in mood. The Sicilienne Saltorello will especially wow an audience! If you haven’t tried Tomasi before, do give this a try – even if it is at the higher price end.


Currently active composers are also taking to write for this combination, which is great news. Try Elkido Suite by Lars Floee if you like a more straightforward variety of contemporary music. Each movement here is ‘inspired by a different culture’ with Szitakoto (Bartok’s Hungary) and the Japanese Sakura both being very approachable. Balkanski Mish-Mash is more difficult, and the changing time signatures at speed will test an ensemble. Granada is a whirlwind of notes to bring the work to an exciting climax.


Last but not least, Niederau by Gary Carpenter is not for the faint-hearted! The three movements here will need some work as there is little in the way of melody or rhythmic unity to help. It’s a great piece though and will really pay dividends in the end!


This is just a small selection of repertoire available, but I hope it gives you a good starting point to explore more of the great repertoire for this combination.

The Wedding Flutist

Building A Flute Library: Music for Weddings

Spring has sprung and the temperature is rising, so it won’t be long before someone asks you to play at their wedding. There is an astonishing amount of repertoire suitable for both the church and the reception, so depending on your forces the choice is yours. Books of arrangements are really handy in this situation – you never know what might happen on The Big Day!

The most obvious combination is for flute and organ, and Sacred Solos Volume 1 arranged by Gilliam and MacCaskill will provide you with plenty of choice. Contents include Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze, Pachelbel’s Canon and the Meditation from Thais so you should be covered for all eventualities. The accompaniments work equally well for piano, and there is the added bonus of a CD that could be used to help the couple decide what music they might like.

Wedding Music for Flute and HarpWedding Music for Flute and Harp is for you if you are a part of that classic wedding combination. Compiled by Meinir Heulyn and Katey Thomas, who have a great deal of hands on experience in this genre, the books include performance directions and advice on when you might play each piece. This is really useful again if the couple are uncertain as to exactly what music would be suitable for their occasion. As well as the usual repertoire they have included the Intermezzo from Cavalieri Rusticana, Dance of the Blessed Spirits and the Pearl Fisher’s Duet, so again there is plenty of choice.

The Wedding FlutistIf you’re playing by yourself, look no further than Ricky Lombardo’s The Wedding Flutist, where he conveniently divides the repertoire up into Preludes, including Elgar Salut d’Amour and MacDowell To a Wild Rose, Processionals (Pachelbel Canon, Wagner Bridal Chorus (Lohengrin) and Clarke Trumpet Voluntary), Ceremony (Bach Air from Suite in D and Gounod Ave Maria) and Recessionals where you can play them out to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Lombardo is a really good arranger and these pieces all work, given the scale of the reduction.

Sacred Duet CollectionLombardo also has another good book to offer you – Sacred Duet Collection is ideal for 2 flutes. Not everything here is suitable for the wedding but All Glory, Laud and Honour and Holy, Holy, Holy will add a suitably stately feel to your contribution. For the reception you might like to try Double Act by Marian Hellen. Subitlted ‘Popular Melodies’, there’s everthing here from Blow the Wind Southerly to Rule Britannia. This is very straightforward music, so there is plenty of scope for improvisation and repeats. You could also try them as written with a glass or two of champagne!

Single pieces that might work well at the reception if you have more than just 2 flutes would be the inevitable My Heart Will Go On in the excellent version for flute trio by Eric Hovi and Jamaica Sunrise for 4 flutes by Kate Cuzner. This will really add some sunshine on a rainy day with its lilting Caribbean rhythms and catchy melody. 8 flutes could play Jubilate Deo by Giovanni Gabrielli at the church where the antiphonal writing would be very effective.

If you are lucky enough to have a flute quartet at your disposal, Bill Holcombe is your man once you have finished playing Mozart Quartets. Music for Weddings has 2 volumes (Vol 1, Vol 2)and includes Ich Liebe Dich by Greig and Oh Perfect Love by Barnby as well as the usual mix of Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn. He has also arranged similar combinations of pieces for flute choir, wind trio and wind quintet, all of which will complement any standard music that you might have chosen.

Playing at weddings can be great fun as long as you are prepared, so sort out your music, don your wedding finery and get ready to party!

Hidden Gems: Christmas Music for Flute Choir

There is now so much choice of Christmas music available for flute choirs that it’s difficult to know where to start. In this post I’ve selected some of my favourites which I can really recommend.

Carol settings abound and the choice can be alarming. The best policy is to pick your carol, and then stick to those arrangers that are proven or whose pieces you have previously enjoyed. My personal favourites are Amy Rice Young, Ann Cameron Pearce and Ricky Lombardo, and all of them have contributed music to which you can return year after year.

In The Bleak MidwinterFor example, the Pearce version of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ atmospherically shares the tune, accompaniment and descant evenly between the parts and uses the lower instruments to great effect. This is also true of her arrangement of the ‘Wexford’ carol.

‘Wassailing’ by Rice-Young has dances from Somerset and Gloucestershire as well as the traditional one from Yorkshire – this is a simple arrangement, even if it is in A major. Her ‘First Nowell’ (sic) is bright and breezy as is the pairing of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Sing We Now of Christmas’.

Lombardo’s ‘Trilogy of Carols’ utilises the versatile expandable format. It only takes four players to perform this, but there are actually 8 parts, including alto and bass flute options plus parts for string bass and percussion.

You might also like to investigate the ‘Peace Collection’ by Paul Horn. The textures here are simpler, making them ideal for the less experienced group. I particularly like the ‘Carol of the Bells’ from Volume 3 for the way in which it builds and subsides – most effective.

Foreign carols can often provide a good programme contrast. Take the ‘French Nativity Suite’, 3 carols set by Kelly Via. ‘Il est Ne’ is well-known and surprisingly has some swing-rhythm in the accompaniment, but the less familiar 14th century carol from Provence ‘Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella’ is handled simply. Pat-A-Pan is more of a challenge – upbeat with a 5/8 central section and complex ensemble writing which is as enjoyable to play as it is to listen to. Meanwhile, the ‘Scandinavian Suites’, again put together sensitively by Rice-Young are just lovely tunes which completely illustrate the countries from which they originate. ‘Two Preludes for December’ by Claudia Bissett will also delight audiences. Scheidt and Praetorius provide the music here and she arranges for double flute choir skilfully.

Sample Music from Two Preludes for December

You could take the humorous option. Merging Christmas songs with traditional carols is a favoured route with surprisingly good results! ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ (Rice-Young again!), punctuates the main theme with carol snippets. Great fun could be had here with some audience participation. Darlene Dugan’s ‘A Patchwork Christmas’ stitches together various carols to give us ‘Noel in a Manger’, O Song of Joy (Jesu, Joy and O Tannebaum) and ‘Joy on Deck’. On a slightly different tack, Lombardo’s ‘Santa’s Symphony’ (again in the expandable format) combines carols with popular classics. Watch out for Eine Kleine, 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker and even some Brahms! This is such fun and perfect for most Christmas occasions – a real winner. Jingle Bell Prism, another gem from Ann Cameron Pearce, is a classic. Here she gives this song the real treatment – 7 different styles from a 16th century Venetian Madrigal to Boogie-Woogie and Beach Rock. It works
perfectly well with C flutes only but will take a bit of practice. Oh so worth it though!

And finally – what about a Christmas piece that is completely original? Kathleen Mayne’s ‘Christmas Overture’ tells the story of the Nativity. The beautiful opening melody in F minor sets the scene of the ‘Cold, Still Bethlehem Night’ before the music becomes more rhythmic for ‘The Visit from the Magi’. Playful music depicts ‘The Curious Stable Animals’ before the lilting ‘Mother Mary’s Lullaby’ builds to an eventual grandioso conclusion. Lasting 6 minutes this is a substantial piece that will reward the work needed to perform it well and enhance any Christmas concert.

Cecilia McDowall

Composer Profile: Cecilia McDowall

Cecilia McDowall

Cecilia McDowall

It is very unlikely that you will not know at least one piece by Cecilia McDowall – even if it is the very popular Comic Song from the ABRSM grade 4 book! She isn’t a flute player, but her father, Harold Clarke, was. He was principal flute at the Royal Opera House, and professor of flute at Trinity College of Music. So it is inevitable that Cecilia would write music for us, and write it well. She is completely woven into the flute fabric in the UK, with works on exam lists and commissions ranging from contemporary solo pieces to music for large flute ensembles.

Cecilia McDowall - Six Pastiches for Flute and PianoThe Comic Song actually comes from one of my favourite of her albums for emerging students. Six Pastiches for flute and piano is a book of little gems, each one having a quirky take on their individual title. For example, there is a disjointed “Hornpipe”, in which the tune appears almost but not quite as you would expect; the minor key “Comic Song” full of clown-like pathos; and a truly slapstick “Music Hall.” Easily accessible but full of scope for the imaginative pupil to explore the unusual, these are invaluable as both teaching and performing resources.

Three Concert Studies develops technique by the back-door – the “Chromatic Waltz” for chromatic scales, “Tongue in Cheek” for articulation patterns and “Spaces” for intervals. In a popular harmonic language, these are all very appealing. Soundtracks, another album of intermediate pieces, is worth having for the sumptuous Russian Encounter alone. The wonderful melody and off-beat accompaniment make this a winner!

The Moon Dances by Cecilia McDowallAt the other end of the spectrum, The Moon Dances, commissioned by Susan Milan, represents a serious challenge. Here McDowall uses contemporary techniques to evoke the colors with which to illustrate the “intense imagery of the Spanish poetry” – the inspiration behind these contrasting dances. The whole of the second movement, “Black with Shadows and Wolves”, involves the flute being played into the piano, resulting in a pervading veil of ghostly harmonics. Rhythmic complexity and drive characterize the outer movements “Paper Sea” and “Silver Coins and The Red Star Trembles”.

McDowall is greatly influenced by her Scottish background. Piper’s Dream draws inspiration from Celtic folk music, with the flute at times reflecting the sound of the bagpipes! Essentially a fantasy, the improvisatory style of writing creates a dream-like quality that eventually fades away into the mist.

Eleven by Cecilia McDowallAnother of her important works for flute and piano is Eleven, illustrating her ability to create a sound world distinctly foreign to the instruments used. It was written at the time of the troubles in Kosovo. She writes: “I became obsessed with what happens to a culture when it is dispersed due to war. ‘Eleven’ means ‘alive’ in Hungarian, and I dedicated it to all those in danger of losing their cultural identity, in the hope that they can keep their cultural ‘voice’ alive.” The mesmerising nature of the indigenous religious music of the region is graphically illustrated here, and the depiction of suffering is intense. The piano part is written to reinforce the sound of the cimbalom, and the improvisatory nature of the folk song writing for the flute adds to the passion. I think that this is one of her best pieces and is impossible not to be moved by the strength and depth of feeling underlying every nuance.

Her latest project is Crossing the Bridge, an exciting new work for flute orchestra, commissioned by Margaret Lowe for the National Flute Orchestra. A whole array of flutes feature – piccolo, 4 flutes in C, 2 alto flutes, bass flute and optional contra alto and contra bass flute. As she explains:

“The structure of the work is like that of a bridge. The short middle movement, ‘London Bridge’, spans the divide by taking the last phrase of ‘Mostar’ as its opening, exploring the darker tones of the lower instruments, and the first bar of ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ as its close. In this middle movement I took the old English song, London Bridge Is Falling Down, and played around with it, sharing it between the instruments, until it ‘falls down’. The opening movement, ‘Mostar’, refers to the old single arch stone bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which became such a symbol of peace and hope in the late 1990s. In the outer sections of this movement the flutes explore the characteristic ‘fall’ at the end of the phrase which is quite a feature of some middle European music. The central section is lively and has a whirling, folk-dance feel to it. At the time Brooklyn Bridge was built (1883) it was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It connects Manhattan with Brooklyn across the East River, always busy with traffic, and has a powerful presence on the New York skyline. The third movement of Crossing the Bridge is one of perpetual motion, opening with a bright, staccato texture, and is in the shape of a palindrome or arch. (Appropriate, I hope, for a piece about bridges!) It is restless and energetic, driving full speed to its final cut off.”

If you add to all of this Seven Impressions for piccolo and piano, and Winter Music for wind quintet, you start to understand how important the flute is in the life of Cecilia McDowall. Her father has a lot to answer for and we are in his debt!

Building A Flute Library: Baroque Sonatas

One of the most bewildering parts of the Just Flutes catalogue is the Baroque section. All the titles seem to be the same, there are a great many composers who wrote a great many sonatas, and there are just so many editions to choose from! No wonder it’s confusing! This is a golden age of flute writing though and some of our most wonderful music comes from this period.

JS Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

So, everyone needs Baroque music in their library, and there is no better place to start than with JS Bach. There’s one small problem – just how many sonatas did he actually write? The authentic ones – in B minor, E minor and E major – are essential repertoire for any flute player, but the E flat major and G minor sonatas which are now attributed to his son CPE Bach should also be on your shelf. The other ‘must-haves’ from this period are 11 Sonatas Op 1 by Handel, which are wonderfully varied and approachable, not to mention difficult!

These are great works so it is important that you choose the right edition to play from. Composers from this period did not write any performance directions (dynamics, slurs or ornaments) into their music, so editors add markings of their own – and you might not necessarily like what you see on the page. Fashions change – for example the Rampal editions of the 1960s were wonderful when they were done, but now they seem too complicated and fussy. The best editions are those called “urtext” which means unedited, and the catalogue usually recommends Barenreiter. Although more expensive, everything is as authentic as possible and for core repertoire such as Bach and Handel it really does pay to spend the extra money if you can. There are no unnecessary markings in these books, so you can become your own editor which is much more fun!

Choosing what to put on your shelf from the other composers is a matter of personal taste and can be an exciting voyage of discovery. Here are some of my favourites to start you off, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

CPE Bach actually wrote many more flute sonatas than his father. The G major Sonata Wq 133 Hamburger Sonata is one of the nicest. It is unusual as it has only two movements but the charm of the Allegretto contrasts beautifully with the hectic Rondo. The short link passage is a great place to try out your ornamentation skills too.

GP Telemann

Georg Philipp Telemann

GF Telemann is another composer who is central to this period. He was prolific so there is a great deal of choice. The volume of Sonatas TWV 41 from “Der Getreue Musickmeister” published by Hortus Musicus contains 4 contrasting works, which will delight and entertain both you and your audience. The brooding F minor Sonata is the most difficult with its dark emotional undercurrent but the most famous is the bright and cheery F major Sonata, which also works very well on the piccolo.

The French composer Michel Blavet is one of my favourites from this period. He was a flute player himself and his writing shows a great sympathy for our instrument. His 6 Sonatas Op 2 (Volume 1, Volume 2) are the best-known and for good reason. Blavet had a gift for melody and his tunes are quite often breathtakingly beautiful. The faster movements have an appealing vitality and can be deceptively tricky. All 6 sonatas are good but if I had to choose one, it would be No 4 in G minor “La Lumagne”, which pairs 2 of the most lovely slow movements with three elegant dances.

Another wonderful French Sonata is Jean-Marie Leclair’s Sonata in G major Op 2 No 5. This is such a sunny work and it would certainly light up the start of any recital. It has four movements, opening with an elegant Andante, followed by a sparkling Allegro, then an almost jazzy Gavotte and ending with a vibrant Allegro assai. This is a really exciting flute-playing challenge!

John Stanley

John Stanley

More tuneful music comes from the English composer John Stanley, especially in his Six Solos for a German Flute Op 4. At the opposite end of the spectrum from Leclair, these are short and sweet, simple and uncomplicated – Stanley writes real 18th Century ‘easy-listening’! The first Solo in A minor epitomises his style, a lyrical Siciliana, a rhythmic Allegro and a major key Minuet are all quite delightful.

Representing Italy is Vivaldi with his 6 sonatas entitled “Il Pastor Fido” Op 13. These have lost popularity in recent years and it is true that they are straightforward works that lack the real vibrancy of his concertos. However, I find them all quite tuneful – they are by Vivaldi after all!

No round-up of this period would be complete without mentioning Quantz, and Rachel Brown’s recent edition of the 12 Sonatas written for Frederick the Great (Volume 1, Volume 2) is another ‘must have’. This is a great example of music really well edited. The wealth of information covered in her performance notes applies not only to these works but also to the performing of Baroque music in general so it’s a really valuable resource as well as lovely music. Every flute player should have a copy!

Composer Profile: Amanda Jane Fox

Amanda Jane FoxI absolutely love the music of Amanda Fox. She is a wonderful combination of classically trained flute player and natural jazz pianist. She has an amazing way of performing her own music, her rhythmic understanding being instinctively different from the ordinary musician. She once described to me an astonishing list of styles that she has drawn from. These included Bach, Rachmaninoff, Elton John, Carol King, Debussy, Chaminade and several jazz musicians – very much a mixed bag. She is also quite a character! She never stops talking, and is infectiously enthusiastic about all she does.

Amanda’s writing for the flute is impressive. Take “Infinity” for example. This is a big work and a great test of stamina for all those not blessed with her natural capacity for long phrases! She has an undoubted talent for melody, and all her flute music has gorgeous tunes. The opening of “Infinity” is stunningly beautiful – the kind of tune that you could sing walking down the street and feel happier for having done so. She also has a formidable flute technique, so plenty of notes woven around the jazz-influenced cross-rhythms add to the challenge. It’s a real crowd pleaser!

If you want something a little quieter, “In the Clouds” is my favorite of Amanda’s slower pieces. Dedicated to her father and composed shortly after his death, it’s a very moving piece with an abundance of yet-more–beautiful melodic themes accompanied by strong romantic harmonies. Or you could try “Reflections,” with its tranquil melodies and subtle, gentle colouring.

Her most recent piece is “Levitation,” which was written for me to play at last year’s NFA Convention in California. It starts with another one of her sensual melodies, and her special blend of harmony and rhythm conjures up all kinds of swirling emotions. If you look closely, you can certainly see influences of Gaubert and Poulenc, but it is really her natural jazz/funky style that shines through. Frequent changes of both key and tempo take place as, section by section, it all seamlessly flows like a journey to end triumphantly on a high. “Levitation” is an uplifting piece celebrating Amanda’s fight to recover from her constant battle with ME.

Amanda can play and sing all her own music, and a visit to her website will unearth gems of popular songs that she performs in her own inimitable way. Her latest mp3 download available there is “Destiny”, yet another example of wonderful writing for the flute. The tune is so lovely that you just don’t want to end!

So if you hadn’t heard of Amanda Fox before, perhaps now is the time to discover her, and indulge yourself in beautiful music!

Amanda Jane Fox’s music is available at Just Flutes: Infinity | Reflections | In The Clouds | Levitation.