North Bridge Flute Academy


GRADE 5

Fauré – Berceuse
Oginski – Polonaise
Fauré – Sicilienne
Telemann – Sonata in F
Marais – Le Basque
Quantz – Sonata in E minor – Vivace
Delibes – Morceau de Concours

GRADE 6

Telemann - Air L'italiene
Donjon – Pan
Fauré – Morceau de Concours
Hoffmeister – Sonata in G – 1st Mvt, Allegro Assai
Gaubert – Madrigal
Rabboni - Sonata (No. 3) in E
CPE Bach – Sonata in E minor Mvt 2, Allegro
Rabboni – Sonata (No. 8) in C
Gossec – Tambourin

GRADE 7

Rabboni – Sonata (No. 7) in F
Roussel – Mr. de la Pejaudie

GRADE 8

Roussel – Pan



 


GRADE 5, Lesson #2
Performance Video: Oginski - Polonaise


         
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GRADE 5, Lesson #2
Teaching Notes Video: Oginski - Polonaise

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About OGINSKI – POLONAISE

This beautiful melody is in A minor in this version. A minor can be quite a deliciously melancholic key, but it is also a potentially treacherous one for the flute and we need to be super focused on intonation. To have a good understanding of our intonation, we should have a clear idea as to the pitch idiosyncrasies of the flute or flutes we are playing on.

Yes, Oginski’s Polonaise is a very elegant melody (and it comes back several times), but it really is full of intonation traps, that unless we are very careful, will play to the natural intonation weaknesses of each and every flute. We have to have an acute sense of exactly where the pitch of any given note, in any key, actually should be. We should be aware of this well in advance of allowing these notes into the atmosphere. This is particularly true in a slow melody.

No flute on the planet is in tune and even if there were to be such an instrument available, the human condition and all we bring to the flute playing party, ensures that constant, perfect intonation is almost as likely as the discovery of the Holy Grail!

However, we have to do our best to play in tune and if we apply logic, along with a healthy portion of air speed/direction and a clear understanding of intervals in this key, we should be capable of getting close.

To sustain such a long slow melody, our lips need to be in shape from the word go. This is quite a long haul piece, so lip stamina is also required.

A good warm up exercise for the lips could be from my book, A Consequence of Sequences Book 1, Breathing and Phrasing 1.

In A minor, the 5th (E) needs to be slightly higher than we imagine. It is very easy to start this work under pitch. A middle E is one of the more uncomfortable notes on the flute. It is not only easy to split, but it is also demanding to play in tune. It is naturally flat on pretty much every flute, so this middle E really should come with a warning triangle!

If in the end you really can’t get a good result on this opening E, you could try a well-known trick of ever so slightly opening the second (further away along the flute) trill key. Again, this has to be practiced, as too much will lead to a wildly sharp note. It is always worth remembering that any alternative fingering should never be used until it feels like a conventional fingering. When this alternative fingering is engaged and the E is in tune, it has a very different texture, as the venting of the trill key cuts out the fundamental lower E.

This in turn highlights the fact that we need to be well prepared before setting off. If we try to align energy to the first sound we make, rather than before it, any first note of a performance will be flat and uninteresting. We should be almost like coiled springs of anticipation before the first sound is created.

To help with this, think of a French ‘U’ as in ‘DU’. This brings the bottom lip slightly forward and this will help to lift the pitch of that first E. For a note like this, I think of physically ‘lifting’ my air up into the flute.

Still on BAR 1, we see that the whole of the first bar consists of 1st harmonics. We know that for an ‘alive’ quality, we should provide a slightly quicker air speed along with a raised air stream. That air stream needs to be ‘driven’ into the flute, so that there is something creative happening between the notes, as well as at the start of each and every note.

BAR 3. In order for the upper A to be in tune on the second beat, we need to make sure that our air ‘surges’ through the flute in the first beat. Even though we are approaching the A from below, I would use the development of the E as a spring board, giving an energy to make it seem as though we are landing on the A from above.

BAR 4. The chromatics should be very connected. Fingers should be very, very legato and remain close to the keys.

BAR 5. The D at the end of the bar might have a leaning towards being slightly sharp and the E at the start of BAR 6 has an opposite tendency, potentially leading to an interval between the two notes that is compressed or too narrow. Make sure that you really do play a whole tone!

BARS 7 and 9. Be careful not to push the semi-quavers (16th notes).

BARS 27 and 28. There are 7 repeated E’s before the recapitulation. They can be stronger in BAR 27, but try to change their colour or presence in BAR 28.

BARS 49, 50, 51 and 52. The articulation in these bars should be very legato. A good exercise for this would be from my book, A Consequence of Sequences, Book 1, Articulation 1.





 
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