Fluterview with Laila EngleApr 05, 2016
Laila Engle is flautist in the Royal Australian Air Force Band, founding member and flautist of contemporary chamber group Syzygy Ensemble.When away from the flute Laila co-presents the Australian Sounds program at 3MBS FM and sings with The Consort of Melbourne and Astra.
What do you think are your greatest achievements as a flute player?
I feel incredibly lucky to be working in this profession. My greatest achievement would be the foundation of Syzygy Ensemble that has challenged me on every level.
What do you think are the most important attributes in a student who you believe could be successful as a professional flute player?
Time management, relentless drive and clear focused goals.
Who are the flute players you find inspirational and why?
Emanuel Pahud for his seemingly effortless mastery. Felix Renggli for his musical grace and charm. Wissam Boustany for his emotional intensity and holistic approach to music. Emily Benyon for her gorgeous sound and incredible legato.
When you’ve had some time off, how do you quickly get your playing back up to standard?
It is quite similar to how I would start my daily practise. Slow controlled tone exercises and short focused technical work. Peter Lukas Graf’s “Check Up”, Taffanel and Gaubert “Daily Exercises” and Robert Dick’s Tone Development Through Extended Techniques are my favourite to start with.
What is the best advice you’ve ever had from a teacher?
It is ok to say no. You don’t have to take every opportunity that is presented to you.
If you were to give a beginner flute student one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listening is just as important as playing. Enjoy the sound that you make and listen to your practise carefully.
If you were to give an advanced flute student one piece of advice, what would it be?
Invest in earplugs and practise playing whilst wearing them.
Do you have any advice that has helped you to prevent repetitive strain injury?
Plan your practise sessions, take regular breaks and stretch. I also believe it is important to find an exercise you enjoy like pilates or yoga to develop core strength.
What sort of daily exercise do you practice on the flute?
Some days I will use resource books eg Lukas Graf, Taffanel and Gaubert, Robert Dick, Trevor Wye and Moyse studies to pick relevant exercises tailored to what I am playing that week. Some days I begin just by improvising slow melodies and enjoying the sound before moving onto difficult passages in music I am preparing and explore. Photos courtesy Sarah Walker / Syzygy Ensemble