Meet your Online Flute Tutor, Monique
It's my pleasure to introduce Monique, who has joined as an online tutor in 2019. She'll be available as your personal mentor, to help you finally realise your unique playing ambitions.
Monique and I met through a mutual flute teacher. After our first conversation we realised we both shared an entrepreneurial spirit (thinking outside the box), and of course, a keen interest in flute playing. As our conversation continued, I shared with her my vision for extending The Flute Coach to include a new stream of interactive one-on-one learning. What I was finding was that whilst the online world was opening up great opportunities for time-poor students to learn, they were often getting lost in a sea of almost endless generic information that wasn't quite fit for their purpose. What students were really craving was three-fold: the convenience of online learning; instant, personalised feedback and a genuine sense of support and accountability. The solution, I told her, was to get students paired with a flute mentor online. Monique was naturally interested, so I quickly invited her to join my team, and apply her passion for flute playing and gift of teaching to this project.
I always enjoy hearing people's stories, about how they came to play the flute, or why they decided to return to it many years later. I sat down with Monique and she told me hers... I thought you'd enjoy hearing it too.
At what age did you start playing flute?
As most school musicians, I started playing flute as part of the school program at my primary school. That's 16 years ago now. I started at the ripe old age of 10 and was instantly attracted to the 'silver one in the front row'. My best friend also wanted to play the flute and the rest is history. She was of course, a much better student than I!
Can you remember those first years of learning? What particular 'wins' did you achieve or challenges you managed to overcome?
My early years were not smooth. My parents forced me to practice every day for many years and it took me 3 years to learn to read music. Then something changed. I was introduced to the world of Harry Potter through movie themes and suddenly I was playing for hours everyday. I'd found my niche! Always having something you love to play is so important.
What was the first flute you owned and what do you play now?
My father went down to the local Cash Converters and found a closed-hole, solid silver Gemeinhardt. It was a surprisingly good instrument and served me well for many years. I still have it and occasionally play it from time to time even though the buckles are now missing from the case and the case is held together with rubber bands! I now play a Miyazawa. I’m not sure of the model but I know that it was the one I liked. When choosing an instrument I am a believer of playing them all, even if they’re the same model, to find the instrument that works for you. It’s a beautiful instrument that I was fortunate enough to purchase during my university days and thoroughly enjoy playing it.
What's your favourite piece or genre to play and why?
Other than the obvious love for Harry Potter, Disney and other popular film scores I've found a love for French Romantic music and even a little impressionism in the form of Debussy. Anything that is expressive. I’ve also been quite interested in the compositions by Ian Clarke and his ideas about what a flute can do!
Which flute players personally inspire you?
For me, it's probably more composers like John Williams and Hans Zimmer. YouTube was certainly my friend growing up and I’ve spent many hours listening to different artists and performers. However, I certainly enjoy listening to Jane Rutter, James Galway and even Jethro Tull on occasion.
When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
I decided fairly late that I wanted to do music. I was in Grade 10 when my Dad enrolled me in private music lessons and then in university, I discovered my love of teaching.
What are your qualifications?
I'm Australia-based, and an instrumental and classroom music teacher. I've taught all ages and ability levels. I've been playing flute for 16 years and I also play piccolo, clarinet, saxophone and oboe. I've completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Flute Performance, a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning, and I'm currently studying my Masters Degree in Education.
Was there a teacher who made a real difference to your flute playing?
I think there were many teachers in my life that have helped me along my journey however the biggest influence would have to be my father. He forced and then encouraged practice sessions, bought me music, drove me to endless lessons, rehearsals and performances, sat through every practice session and looked for endless opportunities for me to perform and play. Without his support it is quite likely that I may have given up the flute and never learned a second, third and then fourth instrument.
What do you do to overcome a slump in motivation?
This has been a big one for me over the years. It all comes down to finding/discovering the enjoyment again. Various things work like setting a schedule, understanding why you are doing something (e.g. scales or exercises) or even playing along to recordings or demos.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I think the biggest thing for me is seeing my students progress or overcome something that they've been struggling to do. Whether it's that tricky passage or simply building confidence to perform.
How do you see online lessons, changing the way people learn flute?
I love the idea of online lessons. All of a sudden everyone, everywhere has access to professional guidance and feedback! Whether you want to seriously learn the flute or just have someone to bounce ideas off, you can do that via online lessons, anywhere, at anytime!
What do you say to people who may be sceptical of online flute lessons?
Face to face lessons are often considered the 'gold standard' and there's a lot of current conversation debating the usefulness of online lessons. If a teacher can't be in the same room, can learning still be as effective? The fact is, we're living in a digital age now, and it would be crazy not to take advantage of all the tools out there and apply them to music. If we don't embrace this new way of learning coupled with great technology, so many people would NEVER have the chance to learn - simply because of where they live, limited accessibility and complicated work/ family/ study schedules to juggle. The fact is people's lifestyles are changing. We are busier than ever before, We move jobs and cities far more frequently than generations before us. We are becoming inherently time-poor, but we still want to experience new things and do them well. So I say, why not give it a go? There's really nothing to lose! You can still achieve so much in an online classroom.