A Consequence of Sequences, Book One
Composed by Paul Edmund-Davies
As flute players, we are encouraged from the earliest stages to focus on our scales and arpeggios and, as we become more proficient, on our studies (études). Sadly, for young players, this can feel more like some form of punishment rather than a path to musical enjoyment and mastery. Heaven forbid that we should actually enjoy playing our instruments!
The benefits of regular practice in the above disciplines only really become apparent as we mature and gradually grasp the idea that they are musical activities, through which we can learn to sculpt our flute sound and personality. Even then, the connection between scales, arpeggios and studies is not necessarily an obvious one.
A Consequence of Sequences aims to bridge that gap. By blending certain characteristics of scales and arpeggios into the more enticingly melodious and harmonic structures of studies, this book of sequences (covering Breathing and Phrasing, Fingers, Articulation and Intervals) aims to provide an opportunity to work on demanding technical issues, in bite-sized and manageable segments.
Section One: Breathing and Phrasing
Section Two: Fingers
Section Three: Articulation:
Section Four: Intervals
There is a vast difference between playing a flute and mastering it. We all know this, but it is finding the path that leads us from one to the other that perhaps presents the most demanding challenge.
In the early days of our flute education and in particular if we are engaged with a graded exam system, such as ABRSM, scales and arpeggios hang over us like some form of incurable disease. We just want to play 'tunes' and the pain and agony that these elements of torture put us through to succeed (even though they are an essential part of our music making), can be highly demoralising and invariably lack any form of enjoyment or satisfaction. There can be a cruel austerity attached to this particular part of our learning.
Perhaps we learn from the above that technical challenges also need to be musically stimulating.
From scales and arpeggios, we move to studies (etudes) and then on to pieces. There are sadly no shortcuts, but A Consequence of Sequences, by providing musical content along with the technical demands of each exercise, aims to bridge the gap between scales, arpeggios and studies.
It follows that if we are encouraged and stimulated to engage in our practice sessions, then our technical prowess will steadily grow from strength to strength.
We all need to have a good knowledge of scales and arpeggios in order to play music, which primarily consists of both in various guises.
On the next rung of the ladder are studies (etudes), which we are encouraged to embrace in a similar way to taking vitimin supplements every day. If you play your studies and take your vitamins daily, all will be good! We are not necessarily encouraged to focus on their purpose.
I have always been of the opinion that the path between scales and arpeggios and studies is not an obvious one. Even though they each contain elements of the other, it can take quite a leap of imagination to realise that they are indeed very closely connected.
Whilst blending certain characteristics of scales and arpeggios into the more melodic and harmonic structures of studies, A Consequence of Sequences provides an opportunity for flautists to work on demanding technical issues, in more bite-sized and manageable blocks. Think of them as musical postcards.