Professional flutist shares secrets with aspiring student musicians

Willamette University flute students recently had the opportunity to learn tips from a professional musician that went far beyond playing — including breathing techniques and even yoga.

Flutist Jill Felber, a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and principal flute with Opera Santa Barbara, visited Willamette to lead a day-long seminar for students, followed by an evening concert with pianist Dianne Frazer for the community. The Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series and the Greater Portland Flute Society co-sponsored her visit.

Felber’s seminar, called WHOLE FLUTES, guided the musicians through several hours of workshops focusing on various aspects of performance. She led a master class and technique lessons, along with exercises that engaged the entire body, including guided meditation, breathing and yoga classes for performers.

“To have an entire day to address, in-depth, the performer’s mind, body and relationship to the music was extraordinary,” says Sarah Tiedemann, Willamette instructor of flute.

Tiedemann says the event was an important experience for her students, and she has encouraged the continuation of Felber’s methods in daily practice routines.

“We often address only the very obvious aspects of a player’s technique: the hand position, the lips, whether he or she is playing musically and observing the details of what’s written in the sheet music,” she says. “The idea behind Jill's WHOLE FLUTES seminar is that we reach our potential through a combination of diligent practicing and eliminating the physical and mental ‘noise’ that interferes with our playing.”

The next event from the Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series is a Feb. 15–16 visit by prize-winning pianist Ilya Itin, which will include master classes and a performance. Learn more