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Re : [earlyflute] Re: Bart Kujken's "sucking-in-" technique

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  • Colin Saint-Martin
    Dear Jed et al, As our tudorship under Heer Kuijken coïncide quite closely in length and time frame, I can say that what you ve said regarding his teaching
    Message 1 of 35 , Jan 1, 2010
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      Dear Jed et al,
      As our tudorship under Heer Kuijken coïncide quite closely in length and time frame, I can say that what you've said regarding his teaching technique at that time rings true to me as well.  I was on the young side when I began studying with him (19 years of age) and found his style of "metaphorical" teaching quite exasperating!  I guess it's the naïve American in me, but I've always preferred the "slower/faster–louder/softer–shorter/longer" form of criticism over playing "blue notes" or "pulling colors from out of the air".  I feel that I learned far more from his playing (and continue to do so) than from what words he used.  Again, this is based on the experiences of a very callow and sheltered kid from suburban Washington, DC.  Though I can't say that I always agreed with Bart's approach to music-making, his uncompromising traverso-focused technique continues to inspire me.  I wish that more young players out there did not feel the need or cultural pressure to see the flute as a "politically-correct" construct (good-Boehm/good traverso) but more what they really love and feel connected to.  The latter being why I believe that Bart took me on as a student.  Ah well...if only we could see these these instruments as artistic tools of expression rather than sources of income????

      De : jed wentz <jedwentz@...>
      À : earlyflute@yahoogroups.com
      Envoyé le : Mer 23 Décembre 2009, 10 h 52 min 22 s
      Objet : Re: [earlyflute] Re: Bart Kujken's "sucking-in-" technique


      Dear Stephan,

      Oh, I am sorry that you didn't have a happy experience with your teacher, but the good news is that you found your own way. In the end the flute is the best teacher, in fact, the only one you can rely on. I could go on at length about the teacher/student relationship. ..but, in order to preserve my good mood, I'll save that for another day.

      I found the "sucking in" image very useful, and I still use it sometimes, but I have met people for whom it is destructive rather than helpful. We're all physically different and soft tissue is notoriously unstable- one day the lip is swollen, the next it's cracked and dry. But I agree that forks need to be kissed! After all, "sucking in" is rather like puckering up...

      Best Wishes,


      On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 1:38 PM, essjk09 <sounding-length@ aaahawk.com> wrote:

      Hello, Jed Wentz,

      It sounds like studying with Heer Kujken was a bit like an episode from "The Treasure of Sierra Madre," but we all know how that ended, eh?  The moral lesson perhaps is that the gold that one gets is the gold that one gives -- a practice that made grandpa Medici a very rich Florentine indeed.

      At least Tulou didn't withhold the secret of controlling the size, and therefore the shape, of the embouchure some 150 years ago in his Méthode.

      They're always talking in these parables aren't they, these mustard-seed prophets and one-hand-clapping Zen masters, these Polish flute teachers telling you "Keep pooshing down" when they want you to get the air up, these dancing masters telling you to think plié when you relevé.  As a sometimes theater director in a previous incarnation, I would, in the heat of the moment, use any image, metaphor, or simile that came to mind to get what I thought I wanted from the cast.  This worked for some, was barely tolerated by others, and completely rolled off the backs of most, who yearned for a simple stage direction such as "Walk stage left, slowly."  If you'd asked me a week later what wonderfully pregnant nugget I had minted to get him to look at her like that, I would have had no idea -- and likely neither would he.

      De gustibus non est disputandum.  For me, though, the "sucking" thing doesn't do it (that Polish flute teacher) and would distract me from what has become important: a tension in the trunk, a column of air in the front of a relaxed belly, and a palpable jet at the lips.  Still those unstable, forking prima donnas need something: perhaps kissing?


      --- In earlyflute@yahoogro ups.com, jed wentz <jedwentz@...> wrote:
      > Hi Beth,
      > Well, I have been pondering this. Thinking back, I suppose I may have put
      > more emphasis on the "sucking in" technique than Bart did...in those days
      > Bart was not very forthcoming about his technique, and his students were
      > very wary of each other: if you managed to pry a golden nugget of wisdom
      > loose from the master, you certainly didn't communicate it to your
      > colleagues! So, when I realized how important the size and shape of the hole
      > between the lips was for controlling the airspeed, I guess I assumed that
      > this was Bart's most unique and important technical discovery: whereas for
      > him it might have been just one aspect of the total range of techniques that
      > he was using...how very, very interesting, to look back at that long-ago
      > period with a new perspective!
      > Happy Holidays to All,
      > Jed
      > On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 10:23 PM, jed wentz jedwentz@... wrote:
      > > Hi Beth,
      > >
      > > Funny that Bart should say that! I wish I could claim the "breathing in" as
      > > my own idea, but I really learned it from him!
      > >
      > > And I think Rod has seen a photo of me in my kilt, he is very good natured
      > > and didn't waggle his finger at me for it :-)

      > > On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 6:58 PM, keithfre keith.freeman@ ... wrote:

      > >>
      > >> > Can you elaborate on this "sucking-in-techniqu e"?. I have not heard of
      > >> it before.
      > >> Jed just did! Messages 9955 and 9960.
      > >>
      > >> -Keith

    • Terry McGee
      Wow, thanks Barbara. Terry On Sat, 16 Jan 2010 03:45:23 +1100, Barbara Kallaur ... -- Terry McGee - flutes, flute research, restorations and
      Message 35 of 35 , Jan 15, 2010
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        Wow, thanks Barbara.


        On Sat, 16 Jan 2010 03:45:23 +1100, Barbara Kallaur <bkallaur@...> wrote:

        In the past week I have been working on a research project in a completely separate area from early flute, but to those of us disillusioned with the You Tube generation, here is something to cheer your soul.

        It is a piece from an US news magazine show, "60 minutes" about El Sistema in Venezuela. Enjoy!


        Barbara Kallaur
        Historical Flutes, Early Music Institute
        Indiana University Jacobs School of Music


        Terry McGee - flutes, flute research, restorations and repairs

        35 Bunderra Circuit, Malua Bay, NSW, 2536, Australia  
        Ph +61 (0)2 4471 3837 Email: terry@... 
        Web: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com

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