Finding and using my childhood flute books
I was in my basement looking for stuff and happened to find three of my childhood flute books:
- Belwin Band Builder part 1
- Rubank Intermediate Method: Flute or Piccolo
- Marcel Frank’s 95 Classical Tunes For The Flute
Here are my memories of my usage of these books and how I might use them now, three decades later.
Belwin Band Builder
The Belwin Band Builder is a completely trivial and boring beginning band method that I used when learning flute in the 5th grade under Mr. Peters. The amusing thing is the “home practice record” at the back of the book, which still has my father’s signatures, as you can see from the photo.
As you can see, my memory in my blog post about starting flute up again of being delinquent with practice has been completely validated! There are a lot of “0 minutes” written down, on days when I didn’t even touch the flute and couldn’t even get myself to write down an exaggerated number of minutes of practice.
Notice that only the first six weeks were graded by Mr. Peters, and in the first week, I had gotten a B- that I had tried to erase. At some point, Mr. Peters’ health problems got bad, I think, and he stopped paying attention to our practice record. My father did keep on signing, for sixteen weeks, and I put down three final weeks that I didn’t even have him sign, because Mr. Peters wasn’t checking anything any more anyway.
Rubank Intermediate Method
If I recall correctly, Mr. Peters started teaching 6th grade band when he suddenly got so ill he had to retire, and our subsitute Mr. McLaughlin became permanent band director (I had him for the rest of 6th grade band and in intermediate band after that).
Before Mr. Peters left, he gave me a list of two flute method books he recommended, and I dutifully gave the list to my father, who ordered them.
It turned out that I never used them. I may have glanced at them, and fooled around a few minutes with them, but I never used them!
The Rubank Intermediate Method was one of these books. Despite the physical age of my copy, the only evidence that I ever touched it is my name crudely written in marker on the front cover. I just started using the method and had to bend back on stapled binding so that the book would open flat for my music stand! The method looks useful to me now, with lots of technical exercises for all keys, interspersed with some musical excerpts such as gavottes and minuets, but back when I was eleven years old and not a classical music fan, this book must have seemed to me
At that age, I was mostly interested in playing
- syncopated rock
- big band swing
Marcel Frank’s 95 Classical Tunes For The Flute
This is all classical stuff. Enough said: my eleven-year-old self did not find much of this music interesting. There are exceptions, however! Flipping through this book, I recognize some excerpts as music I definitely tried playing at the time. Some examples:
- A Song of India
- Sleeping Beauty
- Roses from the South
- Radetzky March
My explanation is quite simple:
- I loved marches of any kind (hence my later joining marching band).
- I loved fast waltzes, through exposure to them from TV cartoons such as “Tom and Jerry”.
- There were pieces I recognized as having heard (such as “A Song of India”) because of random “Greatest Classical Masterpieces” types of LP records (and there were many varieties of this kind of material) that my mother sometimes bought at garage sales and flea markets and brought home. Being familiar with a tune (and liking it) definitely was a motivation to at least try playing it.
Unfortunately, I do not particularly like the selections or length (each just a single page) in this compilation. So I don’t expect to use this book much. I have other flute music already I have been enjoying practicing, especially the music that comes with a good accompaniment CD (this makes such a big difference).
It’s funny to me that even now, thirty years later, my mind still operates in a similar way. I still like marches. I still like fast waltzes (and even originally took up ballroom dance specifically because I wanted to eventually dance the Viennese waltz. I still am more motivated to play something new if I’ve heard it before and like it.
But I’m also more mature now, more open. I’ve listened to a whole lot more and whole lot more variety of music since I was a child. And I’m willing to try listening to or playing any kind of music now. In fact, just last year, most of the music I’ve played on any instrument has been completely new to me, as a listener or performer. And that’s great. It’s part of the whole fun of living, experiencing more and different music.
It was amusing rediscovering my old flute books. The intermediate method looks like a good one to use for practice. It’s never too late to continue where I left off as a child, with a different mindset and more mature self-discipline!comments powered by Disqus