breath-flute

05

Nov

2012

Supplementing The Suzuki Flute Repertoire
Written by Sasha Garver   

A few years ago, I began teaching Suzuki Piano as well as Suzuki flute. After a few years, I had students who studied both flute and piano with me. This trend has continued, and I have noted a distinct pattern in the learning of students who study Suzuki Piano and Suzuki Flute Volume One simultaneously.

Although we have a great deal of shared repertoire between Suzuki Flute Volume One and Suzuki Piano Volume One, there are a number of pieces that are unique to each instrument. Students are listening to both their flute and piano recordings on a daily basis, and I was very surprised that students do not differentiate the repertoire of the two instruments - so they will very quickly begin picking out their flute songs on the piano and vice versa. Hot Cross Buns (on BAG and B-flat) and the two preparatory warm-ups (sometimes called Many Rats) before Mary Had A Little Lamb in Flute Volume One are popular pieces to play at the piano. I also teach Fireflies with a simplified left-hand accompaniment/ostinato of A2-E3 (quarter notes) for piano students to play. This piece is a great preparation for Chant Arabe in Piano Vol. 1, as it has an unceasing quarter-note left- hand with an independent rhythm in the right-hand. It is also very easy to teach piano students to transpose Mary Had A little Lamb to F Major and recruit them to accompany group class and their siblings!1 Of course many songs are in the same keys, between the two instruments, which makes for easy collaboration at group class and workshops.

Mr. Takahashi suggests that some students will need additional repertoire in Suzuki Flute Volume One around Long, Long Ago through Moon Over the Ruined Castle in preparation for the Bach Minuets. This plateau level is important as students master crossing the finger break, adding slurs, playing in the second octave and developing sustained breath control. He suggests using Sakura and other Japanese folk melodies. I have discovered that many of my students naturally supplement extra pieces as they are learning Long, Long Ago, and that they copy the legato and staccato articulations heard on their piano recordings. The other surprising factor is that students naturally transpose their piano pieces from the original C Major to F Major, which is slightly easier to play, since they do not have to cross into the dreaded C-D-E area! This trend of "borrowing" literature is not isolated to my studio - recently, I taught at the Cedros-Pan American University Suzuki Institute in Mexico City, where a flute and piano student played Christmas Day Secrets quite beautifully for his flute masterclass.

Here is a chart of pieces that are "borrowed" from the Suzuki Piano Vol. 1 and their order of preferred keys, as played by many of my students:

 Piece  Original Key   Key(s) played on flute
 Little Playmates  C Major  F Major and C Major
 Chant Arabe  a minor  a minor
 Allegretto 1  C Major  C Major and F Major
 Good-bye to Winter    g minor  g minor
 Allegretto 2  C Major  F Major and C Major (with slurs) 
 Christmas-Day Secrets   C Major  C Major (excellent supplemented after Long, Long Ago) 
 Musette   d minor  d minor (good preview for c-sharp in Minuet 14, use slurs) 

Piano Volume 2 Pieces:

 Piece   Original Key   Key(s) played on flute
 A Short Story   C Major   C Major 
 The Happy Farmer   F Major 
 F Major (excellent as a way to get piano students to isolate  
 right-hand chords while flutes play left-hand melody)  

I hope that this chart gives you some ideas for pieces that flute or piano students might enjoy sharing, and please contact me at my website if you have any additional ideas of borrowed Suzuki repertoire!

Note:
1. Young students of varying Suzuki instruments will often try playing together the same pieces united by rhythm, but not by key. It is important to demonstrate to students that although the Charles Ives style of playing the same piece in two keys is great, it perhaps sounds more pleasing to play in the same key, with one person transposing!

Sasha Garver, piccoloDr. Sasha Garver has just returned to the U.S. from two years as second flute/solo piccolo of the Macau Orchestra, SAR China. Dr. Garver holds her Doctorate in Flute Performance, has a degree in voice performance and is active as an opera and choral singer, and is on the music faculty at Northern New Mexico College and teaches Suzuki flute at Santa Fe Talent Education.