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IMG_4461Two weeks have passed since my course The Complete 21stCentury Flutist at CSU Summer Arts wrapped up and I’m still riding the wave of Summer Arts magic, miles away in Torino, Italy.

Just like Summer Arts, spending a month in Italy has become another wonderful way to invest in myself and my creativity, feed my soul, create friendships, and discover something new and beautiful. I return to regular life, still wrapped up in all this goodness, feeling rejuvenated and ready for the next adventure.

This summer’s flute course was special. To begin, I encouraged the flute students to make a short intro video of themselves and post it on our private Facebook group so that everyone could get to know a little about one another before arriving at CSU Fresno. It was lovely watching them arrive and connect with one another, like reuniting with an old friend who you haven’t seen in ages. I caught myself getting a little teary eyed a few times, looking around the dining hall on day one, seeing them all there together. You could totally feel their enthusiasm and energy. They bonded pretty quickly and almost immediately were like one, doing everything together – eating, walking, hanging out, watching The Bachelorette at night after classes ended. IMG_4389

rbV8OBy%S6anVk5QNDmehgOur days were full; some days our dance cards were filled from breakfast at 7:30 am until heading back to our dorm rooms at 10:30 pm. Most mornings began with Body Mapping, some with warm-up’s both for our bodies and sound, and continued on with masterclasses, workshops, small chamber ensembles, large flute ensemble, round table discussions, and attending events in the evening presented by the various guest artists from the other equally awesome courses taking place simultaneously. We covered so much ground; standard repertoire; Historical Informed Practice (HIP) or Baroque interpretation on modern flute; orchestral and opera excerpts for flute and piccolo; chamber music; ethnic flutes including Pan flutes, penny whistle, recorder, D’izi, and Bonsuri; musician wellness and injury prevention with Body Mapping; fundamentals such as tone, flexibility, color, technique, and etudes; piccolo workshops; extended techniques; exploring our Mozart concerti as a large group; composition … and the list goes on. My friends, who also just so happened to make up the world class team of guest artists, went above and beyond every minute of every day (thank you, all, you guys are the best!); John Barcellona, Ian Clarke, Marianne Gedigian, Stephen Kujala, Nicola Mazzanti, Carol Wincenc, an pianists Wendy Caldwell and Bryan Pezzone. A special shout out to my two teaching assistants, Matt Lopez and Katie Hirabayashi, and a student host, Jose Ledesma.  All great.t4pTIRSUTGWy4%H0w2b11g

MgPWj24bTBefalHavzHOAgOne morning during warm-up’s with Carol, we created a simple little video of Moyse’s first melody with variation from 24 Little Melodies, WITH PIANO! This was a first for everyone in the room, as these studies are unaccompanied. Everyone except for Ian, who brought the piano accompaniment which he got from Trevor Wye, with him. Our little video has now had nearly 7k views on Facebook, and counting. (Yay, team!) Tasked with creating a short, simple melody by Ian, I was blown away when I heard what the students came up with. Students I’ve known for some time, and never knew they had an inner composer tucked away inside of them, in addition to their gifts as a flutist. Wow. Watching students have their ‘Ah ha’ moments, breakthrough’s and epiphanies. What these students accomplish in two weeks at Summer Arts is nothing short of amazing.  As a teacher, this is an incredibly gratifying thing to witness. One of my favorite things was to just sit back at our enormous table in the dining hall, and watch them interacting with one another, laughing, chatting away, listening to our various guest artists tell stories, seeing them leave and then quickly return to the table with ‘cookies for the table.’ Another favorite SA moment was when we took over the cafeteria on July 4thwith a piccolo flash mob, playing Stars and Stripes for everyone. Fun!

Those moments will be forever etched into our minds. The new and special friendships forged. The memories created. All of it, special beyond words.


Then there were the collaborations and sparks of inspiration with the other students from art, dance, theater, creative writing; we all feed off of this inspiration from one another. All of us. The magic of Summer Arts is that we’re all feeling all the feels, they’re not just reserved for the participating students. All of us; the guest artists, course coordinators, staff, board, concert goers, everyone.

After the final Friday night flute student showcase, I was literally stopped by everyone who’s path I intersected with until leaving Sunday morning, telling me how much the flute class inspired their art. And, how they never knew the flute could sound like that. And, how it was the best showcase they’d ever seen in all their Summer Arts experiences. The Summer Arts office even received an email from a concert attendee, gushing about how much he enjoyed our guest artist concert the week before as well as the student showcase. Nicola said he had to keep reminding himself during the student showcase, that it was a student showcase and not a professional flute recital. The pride and happiness I feel for these extraordinary students is overwhelming.

The other part of Summer Arts that’s so great is that I get to hang out with people I really love for two weeks. We get to collaborate, create, inspire, share ideas, tell stories, stay up really late discussing life and teaching philosophies, drink espresso, eat bad cafeteria food, escape from bad cafeteria food and eat great Armenian food, play recitals together, and laugh – a lot.  We presented two phenomenal guest artist recitals, both of which were awesome, to say the least. z+dckS2FRdaTqshobpOdeA

I’ve happily sung the praises for my love of Summer Arts, here, here, here, and here.  It simply never gets old. If the world were a perfect place, I’d get to spend two weeks every summer, creating a special place for flutists, but I’ll be content with every other year. I’ve said this many times but it’s worth saying again; anyone who has ever experience the magic and beauty of Summer Arts, gets it. They wave their Summer Arts flag for all to see. I wave mine with an unparalleled enthusiasm, all the time.

To quote John, the love of my life and fellow Summer Arts course coordinator, “Summer Arts: where one day is like a week and two weeks is like a second.” We’re artists. We create. Sometimes in our day to day lives we forget this, I think, and get bogged down. It’s easy to lose the inspiration, the drive, the thinking outside the box kind of creativity and artistry we need to survive. Summer Arts is a refuge. A place where we can all retreat and be with our people, or in some cases, find our people. And make art. Create, inspire and transform ourselves.IMG_4576

Each Summer Arts experience is truly a unique, once in a life time opportunity. 2020 will be here before we know it, and we’ll embark on our next journey at The Complete 21stCentury Flutist, with a new team of guest artists and fresh crop of bright, hungry, enthusiastic, talented flutists and artists from all over. All eager to park themselves amongst an equally bright, hungry, enthusiastic, talented group of other visual and performing artists, and do what they do; take it all in, feel inspired and create themselves. For now, I’m going to sit back and relax here in Italy, with a second cup of tea, and let this magnificent landscape feed my soul and inspire me.