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PicMonkey CollageThis summer I am coordinating a course for CSU Summer Arts entitled “The Complete 21st Century Flutist.” Flutists John Barcellona, Ian Clarke, Robert Dick, Ali Ryerson, Carol Wincenc and myself, along with pianists Bryan Pezzone and Wendy Caldwell, and Ali’s rhythm section mates bassist John Wiitala, and drummer Akira Tana will come together to present a two week course at CSU Monterey Bay. I know, right? Off the charts. This group of artists is serious business.
Two weeks of flute magic in a gorgeous place.
Sounds great, right? But what’s so special about that, aside from the obvious?

Let me tell you my CSU Summer Arts story…

Once upon a time, back in the early 90’s, when flannel shirts were fashionable the first time around and I was a grad student at CSULB, my flute professor came to me part way through my first year and told me he wanted me to attend a summer flute course that he was coordinating. The course would be two weeks long, take place at CSU Humboldt, and the guest artists were Michel Debost and Julius Baker. I can’t recall exactly what I said in that moment, but I’m pretty sure I replied with a very enthusiastic “yes!” before he even finished his sentence. I, along with another CSULB flute student, and a CSULB alumni clarinet student who would attend a chamber music course with the Alexander String Quartet, would all be a part of this awesome summer event. Having only lived in California for just over a year, the road trip alone took my breath away. Three of us made the long 700 mile trek north, and the further we traveled the more beautiful it got. CSU Humboldt is a gorgeous campus, and spending two weeks in this funky (in a good way), green, lush, coastal town, among the giant redwood trees, where the air was clean and crisp and the stars were so bright at night you could reach out and touch them was kind of unbelievable for this Detroit girl, to say the least.
The course was intense. Our days were long, and were made longer by our late night trips to the practice rooms to reinforce what we had learned that day. We didn’t sleep much. I also had the extra responsibility of being John’s assistant, which was an honor, to be sure. None of that seemed to affect me, or anyone else for that matter because we all were fueled by our enthusiasm and the immense creativity that surrounded us. See, while we were doing all things flute, there were all of these other courses taking place, from a variety of genres; theater, dance, visual art, as well as our fellow musician pals who were a part of the chamber music course. We all ate our meals together, most notably with Mr. Baker and Mr. Debost, and listened with rapt attention to their meal time banter. One free afternoon, my professor John invited me over to the coast with the local CSU Humboldt flute professor Betsy, as well as Mr. Baker and Mr. Debost. Are you kidding? I get to hang out with the cool kids? I’ll never forget that afternoon, or the first time I got to see the magnificent Northern California coastal views up close. Then there were the afternoons that my best friend Rachel and I walked Mr. Baker back to his apartment on campus, made him tea, and watched TV with him. Mr. Baker was getting over Lyme’s disease and he appreciated the help and the company. We couldn’t get enough of his stories.
The course was amazing in every way you might imagine. Until that summer, I couldn’t recall a time that I was more inspired. I forged many new friendships with my fellow flute classmates, several of which are not only dear friends to this day but professional colleagues as well.

Two years later, John offered me the same sweet deal to return to Summer Arts. This time, his guest artists were a former teacher of mine and a former DSO colleague of my Dad’s, Ervin Monroe, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Seriously? 100% yes. Sadly, Mr. Rampal had to cancel because he needed emergency hip surgery, but fortunately, Mr. Baker was available to return a second time. Two more weeks of inspiration and creativity at this beautiful campus once again. Unlike ’93,  several of us CSULB flute students attended in ’95, and we had a ball together. To this day, when I get together with my Summer Arts friends, we reminisce about our time at CSU Humboldt. The bonds we formed are strong and have truly stood the test of time. At both the ’93 and ’95 courses, I felt fortunate to be chosen as a featured student soloist and play chamber music with other flutists who shared my love and enthusiasm for music and learning from these extraordinary musicians. The rich musical experiences and life lessons I gained those two summers at Summer Arts were invaluable, and they helped shape me into a far more creative musician and artist than I was before.

When John approached me 5 years ago and asked me to be a guest artist for another CSU Summer Arts flute course, you can probably guess my reply.
Our course was fantastic. Although I was now a guest artist, part of me felt like a student. We all learned from one another and those two weeks in July 2013 were just as inspirational and musically fulfilling as the summers I spent as a student back in the 90’s. I blogged about that incredible two week course, which you can read here. Suffice to say, I thought my life had truly come full circle… until I was asked to present a course of my own this summer.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m downright giddy over my course this summer. If I were a student, I would totally attend this course. Why? Because it’s filled with everything a flutist needs to develop, refine, and create the player they need to be to be successful in today’s music world. Oh, wait. I am attending! Yes!

So, what will we do this time around?
Well, there will be traditional masterclasses covering the standard repertoire for flute and piano, as well as unaccompanied flute, led primarily by Carol Wincenc and Ian Clarke.
Each flute guest artist will share their personal warm-up routines, including their favorite tone and technical studies.
There will be workshops on jazz style, interpretation, and improvisation led by Ali Ryerson, who will also lead everyone in rehearsals with her Jazz Flute Big Band, which will culminate in a final performance at the end of the two weeks.
There will be workshops on extended techniques, led by Ian Clarke and Robert Dick, for all levels, not only the players for whom this is standard practice, but also for the players who are new to contemporary and avant garde music.
John Barcellona, “The Flute Doctor” will teach you how to teach yourselves and your students with his workshops on flute pedagogy.
Having a strong musician wellness component is more vital than ever these days. Over the course of our two weeks together, I will present the full Body Mapping course “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body.”
Other workshops and classes will include a cadenza writing workshop, a panel discussion on the various careers in music and tips for how to create or improve yours, masterclasses on Baroque style – both on Traverso and modern flute, piccolo masterclasses, orchestral excerpt classes and tips on how to prepare a professional orchestral audition, chamber music coached by all of the guest artists … and more!

Most nights there are special guest artist events which we’ll all attend.
These events will vary in genre and include art exhibits, speakers, dance performances, and stage combat.  All of these remarkable presentations are open to the public but are free to Summer Arts students. There will be one day off to explore all that Monterey Bay has to offer, and I recommend getting out there and taking it all in. There are so many things to do and see in the area. Rent a bicycle and take a ride along the foot path that takes you around the bay. The fresh air, exercise, and flute-free time will invigorate you! Take advantage of this time. And yes, students, you’ll also get to sit down in the dining hall with these remarkable guest artists and listen to their stories and meal time banter.


Walking path along Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove. Taken last week before heading to rehearsal.


Sounds great, right? But you might still be wondering what makes Summer Arts so unique? I’ve heard people say “Wow. Sounds like a great class, but I can’t go this year. I’ll come next time.”
There won’t be a next time. This course is truly a moment in time. This collection of guest artists, and these students, at this campus, with the other courses taking place at this same time, is not something we can duplicate again. Sure, we’ll have another flute class again, but it will likely be different artists, and it will definitely be at a different CSU campus with different students and different courses taking place simultaneously. With all that is available to you, and all the information and opportunities you have access to via the internet as well as other summer flute courses all over the globe, how do you know this one is for you? How do you know this is what you need to do with your summer?
Remember early 90’s Rena, the one who could barely wait to let her professor finish his sentence before jumping up and down saying “YES! I want to go to this class!”?
I just knew. Some little voice inside me or feeling in my gut told me that course had my name written all over it. And it did.
It was life changing.
I just read an interesting and timely article online in Psychology Today entitled “You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self.” In it, the author says a number of things that resonated with me, among them, and perhaps the most applicable to this blog of mine are:
“If you want to be productive, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Who do I want to be? Another question is: Where do I want to go?”
“… if you want to be a writer, you have to spend time writing.”
“…you need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts.”

Spending two weeks, immersed in your art, surrounded by other artists and feeding off of their brilliant creativity – not only flutists, but visual artists, dancers, actors, writers – you will learn and understand more about yourself and your craft than ever before. Sometimes you need that quiet creative space to sit in so you can just absorb it. You’ll begin to learn that the same hurdles and creative struggles you face are not unique to you or music. We all share them as artists. And so, we collaborate. We create. We experiment. We open ourselves up to learning something brand new, and we grow. How many times in your life do you imagine that you’ll be able to hit the pause button and escape to a beautiful place where you can focus exclusively on your music?

If you’ve never been to the Monterey Bay area, I have to tell you, it’s spectacular. About once per orchestral season, I have the opportunity to join my friends in the Monterey Symphony and play a week with them in this beautiful place. Being a photography buff, I always take my camera and shoot as much as possible. At least once per season, I make the time to take Highway 1 home to So. Cal, driving through Big Sur, which is A. more beautiful then words can express and B. only about 1 hour south of Monterey Bay. (Side note: remember the part about getting out there and exploring on your free day, this short road trip qualifies for the top of your list!)  It’s usually on these escapades with my camera that I learn something new: being out in nature, taking the time to soak it all in and then bringing it back to my practice room. People from all over the world travel to this magnificent place, and YOU will get to spend TWO WEEKS here, studying, learning, refining, creating, and being.
So, long story short, that’s the big deal.

Don’t you think it’s time you joined us at Summer Arts?