JPEG Alison Fierst - NPS - Class Photos

Alison Fierst

Associate Principal Flute,

New York Philharmonic


Thank you to the lovely Alison Fierst for walking us through the magic of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune in our first class of the Winter 2021 Session

With so many subtleties to capture and cherish in this excerpt, one can easily get lost in the details and feel discouraged when practicing. 

In this class, Ms. Fierst seamlessly aligned each performer's strengths with these subtleties and revealed deeper layers of expression and intention. She discussed opportunities for rubato and consequently, momentum that naturally emerge within the expressive process, how to use vibrato to heighten or soften the nuances of tone colors and using dynamics in a way that communicates the pure intention of the music as well as spotlights the hidden surprises within each phrase.  

Ms. Fierst's warmth and kindness extend into her beauty of sound and effortless artistry.  It was a joy to feature her in this series!

JPEG - Amal Gochenour - NPS - Class Phot

Amal Gochenour


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 


Thank you to Amal Gochenour for sharing her experience and expertise with us in her class on Rossini's Semiramide

With an excerpt as familiar as Semiramide, it's possible to become complacent in our interpretation and perception of the challenges in the music.  Sometimes we need a new way of looking at something, or as Ms. Gochenour suggests, "repackaging."  We can take a passage we've practiced hundreds of times and give it a new function, such as repackaging pick-up notes as a rushed gesture to three notes that are an extension of a former idea.  Ms. Gochenour also discussed shape through air energy. This helped performers create more definition in the contour and direction of the phrase.  

It was a refreshing mix of practical and inspiring information. We are so grateful to Amal for sharing her experiences with us and offering methods for practicing and performing on piccolo that make it more approachable!

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Helen Blackburn

Principal Flute, Dallas Opera Orchestra 


A special thanks to Helen Blackburn for an impassioned class on Bizet's, Carmen and for sharing endless gems of musical wisdom to take with us to the practice room and beyond.  

Ms. Blackburn's attention to detail transformed big ideas into small and manageable steps for application in practice and performance. She shared quick and simple exercises to target each musical component so they were immediately present in the music. Vibrato, for example, can be practiced  with speed and width in mind as they pertain to dynamic range and register; also the placement of vibrato on critical rhythmic and melodic notes to bring natural shape the phrase; and, the role of vibrato at the start/end of notes.  Again, each with its own unique exercise for ease of application in context. 


Ms. Blackburn's depth of musical understanding and infectious passion for teaching offered participants a thoroughly engaging and memorable class.  We will be referring to our notes from this class for a long time to come! ​

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Aaron Goldman 

Principal Flute, National Symphony Orchestra


It was an amazing class with Aaron Goldman!  From score study to an audition line-up, participants enjoyed the full orchestral audition experience! 

Mr. Goldman's depth of expertise shaped each performer's interpretation toward the hidden gems of Brahms' style:  vibrato as a highly expressive tool on specific notes and gestures; knowing how and when to exaggerate certain gestures over others; embodying the character through sound; and, building phrases around the nuances of the orchestral score.  


Mr. Goldman discussed ideas in flute terms and in musical terms through score study, composer background and genre placement.  

Participants now have specific entry points for informed and inspired practice!

JPEG - Lorna McGhee - NPS - Class Photos

Lorna McGhee 

Principal Flute, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra


A very special thank you to Lorna McGhee for helping us navigate the technical and musical landscapes of Beethoven's enchanting musical lines.

With a detailed focus on style, rhythmic inflection and shaping legato passages, participants enjoyed an exploration of Beethoven's musical language on numerous levels.  

Ms. McGhee noted that style is how we articulate and release the sound, how mindful we are of our phrase endings and to always strive for elegance and grace in these areas.  

Ms. McGhee's pedagogical approach was both warm and poetic and moved seamlessly between the mechanics of flute playing and numerous aspects of artistry.  It was a highly informative and refreshing class!

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Maxim Rubtsov

Principal Flute, Russian National Orchestra


We are so thankful to Maxim Rubtsov for sharing his passion for music and genuine positivity with the participants in our final class of the Winter 2021 Session.  

Mr. Rubtsov's "recipe" for joy in music is to let the character guide each musical decision; to refer every rhythmic variation, tone color, breath and stylistic nuance back to the subtleties of the musical character.  This in turn shapes your technique toward the expressive language of the music and away from the limitations of mechanics.  

Mr. Rubtsov's cheerfulness reminded us all to tap into the spirit of music that continues to bring to us happiness, despite circumstances or outcome. We are reminded to continue making music in a manner of resounding joy!