How to Find Playing Opportunities

School is the easiest place to find opportunities to play music. Most schools have multiple ensembles open to students. The problem comes when you graduate. It can be hard to find playing opportunities outside of school.

Hannah B Flute | How to Find Playing Opportunities

I am lucky enough to live in a large metro area. The bigger the city, the more playing opportunities you will have. If you live in a smaller city or rural area, don’t worry. The internet has allowed musicians from all over to world to show their work.

In this post, we are going to talk about how musicians can find playing opportunities outside of school. Let’s get into it.

Church/Worship

If you belong to a church or other worship center, ask around about playing in a service. Many churches love having musicians play on Sunday. Even if you don’t attend service, you can contact local churches and offer to play for them.

Any place worth playing for will be accepting of guests. I have played for a couple of different churches, and it is always a treat to play music in that setting.

Whether you get to play at a regular service or at another special event, church is a great place to play music.

City/County Offices

Offices aren’t really a place to play but a place to find music ensembles. A lot of cities and counties have local music groups, like orchestras or bands. You can check online or go to your city or county hall.

If you live near other cities, check with those as well. One of the bordering cities where I live has a community orchestra each summer. I played with the group last summer and will play again this year.

Local offices may not play music, but they can lead you to groups that do. They are a great starting point for local ensembles. Whether you are returning to your hometown or moving somewhere new, city offices might be the easiest place to find a music group.

Your Teachers

If you live near your college town, ask your (former) professor if they know of any groups. Not all groups are affiliated with the cities where they operate. So you might need to look elsewhere.

At least in my state, the musicians know other musicians. And so they know the different groups in cities throughout the state.

Your teachers guided you through school, and they can still guide you after graduation. If you’ve left school, a simple email to your teacher is all it takes. Even if they don’t know of groups in your area, they can still help you find other opportunities to play.

The Internet

It may be obvious, but the internet is a great place to find places to play music. You can learn about local busking laws, if that interests you. You can also connect with other musicians, near and far.

With apps like Instagram and Acapella, you can collaborate with other musicians wherever you are. I have made a ton of online music friends through Instagram, and I just downloaded Acapella for myself and for collaborations.

Facebook groups are also great for connecting with other musicians. A lot of groups allow musicians to share links. This includes music camps and festivals.

Music Associations

I am a member of the National Flute Association (NFA), and that allows me to attend the annual NFA convention in rotating cities. This year’s convention is in Orlando, Florida, and there are a ton of opportunities to play flute.

You can find the entire convention schedule of events here. There’s an option to search for participatory events.

Other instruments also have associations of their own, like the International Clarinet Association and the International Double Reed Society.┬áIf you can’t go to these associations’ conventions, they can still help you find places to play your instrument.

One of the benefits of a membership with the NFA is a membership directory. You can use it to find local musicians who might want to play with you.

There are tons of other benefits that can further your development as a musician.

Your Own Self

If you are out of options, you can even make your own opportunities. Offer to play at senior centers, community events, and other places. Put up posters asking for musicians to play with you.

This route is definitely not for everyone, I don’t feel comfortable advertising myself around town. But if you are confident enough and willing to do a little work, this could be a great choice for you.

Just remember to be safe, don’t give out too much personal info, and screen people before you play with them. Especially if you are younger, don’t agree to meet just any random person. Be safe and smart about it.

So…

How have you found playing opportunities outside of school? Did you find them yourself or with the help of a teacher or friend? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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NFA: How to Save Money

Welcome to this month’s installment of the NFA series! Today, we are going to talk about how to save money, specifically for a big event like a convention.

Hannah B Flute | NFA: How to Save Money

I have spent the past few months saving up for my first trip to NFA, and I have a few tips to share with you. Some of these tips do work for other areas of life, like a new instrument. So even if you’re not going to any big convention this year, hopefully you can learn a little something.

Without further ado, here are my biggest tips for saving for a big trip or event.

Start Early

As soon as you know you want to attend a convention or go on a trip, start saving. The more time you have to save up, the easier it will be. If you have, say three months to save, you won’t have to be as strict as if you only had one month.

I knew last fall that I wanted to go to the 2018 NFA convention, so I upped my savings game. Since I don’t have a ton of expenses right now, I took the money I would have been spending and put it into a savings account.

Each time my paycheck comes in, I put the majority of it into savings and leave just enough in my checking. This keeps me from being tempted to go and spend that money, and my savings account earns interest, so I can save even more.

Research Expenses

Some things, like convention registration and membership fees, are fixed. But flights, hotels, and car rentals differ. Shop around to find the best deals on flight and hotel.

I personally wanted to stay at the convention hotel to cut down on ground transportation, but if you want to stay somewhere cheaper, do it.

Researching your various convention expenses will help you figure out how much the trip will cost you. Knowing the costs will also help you budget before and during the trip.

If you’re traveling to a higher cost city, like LA or NYC, plan to spend more on food and other accommodations. If you’re traveling to the Midwest, you can get away with spending less.

Know Your Deadlines

Some conventions will have early bird registration fees that come with a discount. If you register by a certain date, you can get your ticket for cheaper.

Some hotels will also fill up quickly, so if you want to stay where the convention is, book your room early. Same goes for flights. As you get closer to the trip, seats will be taken and ticket prices will rise.

If you plan to participate in any special events or competitions, be aware of those deadlines, too. Some events will accept participants at the convention, but others will require previous registration.

Plan Ahead

Plan on bringing snacks, an empty water bottle, and other necessities with you. Sure, it will seem like a lot of money, but you will save. A bottle of water at the airport can cost over $3. Snacks are also ridiculously expensive.

Bring your own toothpaste, toothbrush, and other toiletries. Those costs add up, too.

And because not all hotels have free breakfast, or your schedule won’t match up, have some breakfast bars in your bag. That way, you can eat in your room and not be tempted to order expensive room service.

Expect the Unexpected

When buying your convention ticket, don’t forget about any potential membership fees you’ll have to pay. If you plan to spend $300 on the convention itself but there’s a $70 membership fee, you can easily go over budget.

And for traveling? Flights can be delayed or cancelled, rental cars might not be available, there could be a ton of traffic, etc.

While you can’t expect everything, don’t be surprised if your plans get derailed. Know what you need to do in case something happens.

Know How to Transport and Store Your Instrument(s)

If you will be bringing an instrument, make sure you know how to transport it and store it during your journey. Know if you need to buy an extra plane ticket for your instrument.

Splurge a bit on insurance. It may sound like you’re not saving money, but a $200 insurance plan is a lot cheaper than replacing a $2000 flute.

And of course don’t let your instrument get checked. Don’t get on that plane without your instrument in hand. That’s the only way you can guarantee its safety.

So…

Have you even saved up for a big trip like a convention? What are your tips? Leave a comment below!

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How to Learn a Piece of Music

As a semi pro musician, I have to learn a lot of music in not much time. I have a day job; I have this website to maintain. So I don’t have hours upon hours to learn new pieces. I have to know how to learn a piece quickly and efficiently.

Hannah B Flute | How to Learn a Piece of Music

Over the past few months of being out of school, I have figured out my process for learning a piece of music. I have a full system, from reading a piece for the first time to maintaining a piece you have already learned.

Without further ado, here is how I learn a piece of music.

Stage 1: Sight Reading

The first thing I do when I start working on a new piece is sight read it. I usually try to do this without hearing the piece first. When I was still new to the flute, hearing either a recording or my teacher helped me figure out how the piece should sound.

Now that I am more advanced, I am able to use my sight reading skills to determine how a pieces sounds. I use my knowledge of music notation (rhythms and notes) to read the piece down. Sight reading without hearing the piece also allows me to form my own interpretation of the piece

When I sight read a piece, I try to get through it with as few stops as possible. I like to save stops and starts for when I am actually working on a piece. My goal for sight reading is to get the basics under my fingers and to figure out which parts will need more attention and which parts I can simply run through.

If you want to see my tips for successful sight reading, let me know in the comments!

Stage 2: Studying

After I have sight read a new piece, I will either move on to a different piece, or I will start working through the piece. When I start working on the piece, I start to really study it. I find at least one good recording, if not multiple, that I can listen to for inspiration.

This is also the stage where I start chunking the piece. I look for the more difficult parts and the easier parts. I will also mark in things like accidentals and difficult rhythms.

After I have worked through the easy parts, I can then focus on the more difficult ones. Yes, it’s hard to work on the tricky stuff, but that is what will make you a better flute player.

Score study is also very important at this stage. If there is a measure or phrase that I don’t fully understand, I can look at the score to see what the accompaniment is doing.

Studying the score also helps me when it comes to fast runs. The flute part may have no obvious harmonies, but it could be a simple chord or arpeggio. The accompaniment part is very helpful when it comes to finding the harmonies.

Related: The What & Why of Score Study

Stage 3: Performance

After I get really comfortable with a piece of music, I start to practice performing it. Even if I will never actually play it in front of others, performance practice has many benefits.

First, I get to practice my stamina. When you perform a piece, you can’t just stop in the middle of it. You might have a rest here or there, but you need to get through the whole piece without stopping.

Second, I can figure out what notes or phrases are still causing me issues. When I play a measure or phrase, it will often seem more polished than it really is. Putting the piece back together brings those problems to my attention.

I can then go back to the learning stage and work more on those problem areas.

Related: Get Rid of Performance Anxiety

Stage 4: Maintenance

After I have fully learned a piece and practiced performing it, I then move it into the maintenance stage. This is where I put pieces that I have already learned and performed but I don’t want to lose the work I put into them.

Now that I am preparing for graduate school auditions for next year, I have a couple of pieces and excerpts that are in maintenance mode. These are pieces that I have already studied, but I need to keep up with.

They are commonly asked for in graduate auditions, and I don’t want to have to relearn these pieces.

Also, as an aspiring flute teacher, I need to be able to demonstrate pieces and phrases for any future students. I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a piece that I am teaching to a student.

So…

How do you learn and study a piece? Do you listen to it first? Do you keep up with any old pieces? Let me know in the comments!

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Shopping on Amazon for Flutists

Amazon has become a haven for online shopping. You can purchase anything on there, from a new computer to a pair of socks. That also means that you can purchase music related items from Amazon.

Since you can find just about anything on Amazon, you have to be smart about what you do buy. There are some scams on there as well as some subpar products. In this post, we are going to talk about how to avoid those scams and stick to the good stuff.

Hannah B Flute | Shopping on Amazon for Flutists

I have personally used Amazon to purchase a lot of music stuff, everything from sheet music to instruments themselves. So I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to using Amazon to further my music goals.

So here’s how to use Amazon for flutists.

DISCLAIMER: This post includes affiliate links. To read my full disclosure policy, click here.

Fulfillment by Amazon.

The first thing you need to know about is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). This program lets individual sellers buy products that Amazon then sells for them.

That means these products qualify for free two day shipping (with Prime), and Amazon handles all questions and complaints for these orders, too. You don’t have to deal with a shady seller who wants to con you out of your money.

When you go to a listing, you can see the different options for pricing.

For example: New (1) for $25.99.

Then you can see the different prices you can pay for the item you want. To tell if something is sold by an independent seller but managed and shipped by Amazon, look for the Fulfillment By Amazon sign.

Hannah B Flute | Fulfillment By Amazon

Another benefit of the FBA program is that you get to work with Amazon’s customer service team if there are any issues. A lot of companies lack in the area of customer service, so returns and exchanges can be a hassle. But Amazon has great customer service, and you get all the benefits of it.

Verify Any Instrument Purchases.

The only reputable flute brand that allows Amazon to sell their flutes that I know of is Pearl Flutes. Pearl has Amazon listed as an authorized dealer on the Pearl website.

That is not the case with other brands. Some, such as Gemeinhardt, specify that Amazon is NOT an authorized dealer. Others, such as Yamaha and Jupiter do not specify either way.

Before you purchase an instrument that is hundreds if not thousands of dollars, verify that it is a legit sale. Amazon is a good company, but they are not authorized to sell certain flute brands. If you find a listing for Gemeinhardt, that listing will not be up to the quality standards set by the flute company.

If you want to purchase a flute online but Amazon is not an authorized dealer, try and stick to other websites. Flute World and Flute Center of New York (FCNY) sell almost any brand of flute, completely online.

You can buy these other flutes from Amazon, but be aware that the purchase may not go as smoothly as it would with another website that is an authorized dealer of your chosen flute.

Get Sheet Music, Fast.

If you don’t have a huge music store close by, you will probably have to go to the internet to get the music you need. You can get some stuff from local music stores, but online give you more options.

Amazon has a ton of sheet music for flute, both for the Kindle and shipped to you. You can order with Prime and get sheet music in two days. It’s pretty amazing. Other online music stores usually have longer shipping times. If you’re in a pinch, Amazon is a good resource.

Now, you won’t find as much or as many editions as you would on a site like Flute World, but Amazon does have the basics. I have had to order from other websites when looking for a specific edition, but I tend to go with Amazon when I can.

You can’t really beat free shipping.

Save Those Gift Cards.

Everyone uses Amazon. And everyone gives Amazon gift cards. It’s a great go to gift. If you are looking at purchasing something more expensive on Amazon (like a verified flute), save those gift cards.

Over a few years, I managed to save a little over $200 in Amazon and Visa gift cards, which knocked down the price of my Pearl piccolo quite considerably.

I had wanted to use those gift cards earlier, but I am so glad I saved them for the special occasion. Having those gift cards took away some of the “heat” from splurging on a new instrument for myself.

Whether you want to save for a new instrument or for a nicer music stand, gift cards are an easy way to set aside money and not be tempted to spend them elsewhere.

So…

Have you made a musical purchase from Amazon before? What was your experience? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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Reflecting and Planning

As we bring 2017 to a close, there is a lot to look back on. I know a lot happened to me this year, from graduating with my bachelors in music to changing the name of this very blog. I have some reflecting and planning to do.

Hannah B Flute | Reflecting & Planning

This past year brought with it many changes. I moved back home from college, worked a part time job before finding one full time, and I became more serious about sharing my music with the world.

I also have a lot of exciting things planned for 2018. One of my goals for the year is to write and publish a couple different ebooks. I also am working on a method book for older flute students.

Graduating from College

Getting my degree was probably my biggest accomplishment of the year. I got my bachelors of music in flute performance from a state university back in May. My college experience was not a normal one, but I am thankful for the experience I did have.

I got to experience commuting and living on campus. My last two years of college gave me the chance to learn a different form of music performance: marching band. I took an on campus job as an opinion writer. I, somehow, managed the writing side of my life with music side.

I even stayed close with one of my best friends since kindergarten. Even though we went to different colleges.

Moving Back Home

At the time of graduation, I did not have a job or any income. So I decided to move back home. I have been able to save money, and I could take a job without having to worry so much about money. I could consider other factors, such as the drive and the job itself.

It did take awhile before I found a job, but that’s okay. I was able to enjoy my last summer break of sorts. I did work part time for a couple of months still, but again, finances weren’t a huge stress.

Moving home has also allowed me to reconnect with family and friends in my hometown. I have stayed super close with my parents. I even joined a couple of community music groups.

Blogging More

Since being out of school, I have had more time for other things. In college, I tried to blog as much as I could, but classes took precedence. Now that I am not a student, my time outside of work is mine.

Yes, I have a day job. No, I am not ashamed. That day job allows me to spend my free time working on my music and this blog. I don’t have to stress about finding paying gigs or jobs. I can focus on what I like.

Maybe I will be able to make some money online one day. That is definitely something I want to work on in 2018. But the beauty of a day job is that I have more freedom to do what I want with this blog. I can grow it and work on products, but I don’t have to stress about paying the bills.

Changing the Blog Name

If you haven’t been here long, you may not know that this blog used to be known as Killer Harmony. I had the name for almost two years before changing it to Hannah B Flute. The decision was hard, but it was necessary for my growth as a blogger.

The old name no longer fit. I had niched down to writing about music and the flute. I needed a name that reflected that. Killer Harmony was too general and not very professional. Hannah B Flute fits the blog more.

Growing My Instagram

At the beginning of the year, I hardly used Instagram. I wasn’t a big photographer, and I didn’t think it would do anything for me. Boy, was I wrong. I started posting about my life as a young musician back in April, giving up on it as solely a personal social network.

Now, I have kept up with posting almost daily, sharing videos and behind the scenes photos of work for the blog and as a musician.

I even reached 200 followers, a big deal for me. Check out my 2017bestnine!

Hannah B Flute | 2017 Best Nine

Looking Ahead

As I already mentioned, I have a couple of ebooks in the works as well as a flute method book. I also want to work on composing and arranging, too. Over the past few months, I have realized that I want to show others that you don’t have to be a “typical” musician to be successful.

You don’t need to play in an orchestra to have a good career. Heck, you don’t even need to be a professional musician to be good at your instrument.

I want to bust all of those myths about what it means to be a musician.

So…

What are your biggest accomplishments of 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018? Let me know in the comments!