Fluterview with Rachel WoolleyAug 15, 2021
Rachel is the amazing assistant flute teacher who helps me with responding to questions inside The Flute Academy. I decided to interview her because she is an excellent flute player and human. Have a read and you'll see for yourself!
What do you love most about being the Assistant Flute Teacher in Jane's Flute School?
I love being able to encourage students along their flute playing journey. It is so interesting hearing people's stories about how they came to play the flute whether it be something they did in school and are now picking it back up later on in life, or a hobby they have always loved.
What do you think are your greatest achievements as a flute player?
Achieving my Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the University of New South Wales after major disruptions including my own personal health issues as well as a global pandemic!
As a flute player I have had many performance experiences including musicals, chamber and orchestral ensembles, and being able to help my flute students throughout their own flute playing journey.
What is your favourite thing inside The Flute Academy?
My favourite thing inside The Flute Academy is the sense of community. Learning an instrument is often an individual experience but seeing people ask questions and interact with one another has been great! I love seeing everyone's little photos in their profiles too when they write comments!
It is awesome to know that everyone can motivate each other to keep learning. Reading student's micro-improvements in the Honour Board is a great source of inspiration for fellow flute players.
I personally can't wait to see the first online concert later this month too!
What do you think are the most important attributes in a flute student for them to be successful?
Dedication and commitment to achieving their goals. Whilst at university, I would always attend early in the morning (to make use of the empty practise rooms!) and do a solid hour of practise before anyone else arrives! Definitely keeping a practise routine and knowing what goals at the present time you need to achieve, whether this be preparing for a recital or excelling in different technical exercises.
Also having a teacher/mentor who is a constant support and provides their guidance and reassurance that you are good enough! Just keep developing your technical skills and musicality as a flute player!
Who are the flute players you find inspirational and why?
If I’m preparing for an orchestral audition, I love listening to Emmanuel Pahud (I even got to see him live in Sydney a few years ago!) as his sound is so consistent and he has great musicality.
Another flute player who inspires me in this crazy world that we live in currently is a YouTuber called katieflute (Katie Althen). She uses social media to discuss flute related topics. Katieflute is a great example of a flute player being creative and earning an income in a world where orchestral careers may not be as stable for a musician as it was once considered.
When you’ve had some time off, how do you quickly get your playing back up to standard?
I had quite a substantial amount of time off when I was 17 and 18 due to health reasons. The main issues I found when starting to consistently practise again was my stamina. I found it difficult to hold the flute up for a long period of time. I found practising in short bursts was more beneficial.
I also found my tone was not as clear and precise as how I wanted it. I practised tone exercises and scales, as well as looking at old material and seeing if I can get it to the same clear tone as before.
Practising pieces I knew really well was a good way to make comparisons about my past and present tone on the flute. I also recorded myself playing and listened back to it to work out what areas needed further focus in my practise.
What is your favourite lesson in The 45 Day Flute Transformation?
My favourite Transformation lesson is the 'Three Points of Pressure' on Day 13. This lesson explains where the 3 points of contact between you and the instrument should be when playing the flute. The way Jane explains this is so clear and I have definitely passed this on to many of my own flute students.
What is the best performance advice you’ve ever had from a teacher?
Take a few deep breaths before a performance and trust in yourself that you have done the preparation to deliver a great performance.
If you were to give a beginner flute student one piece of advice, what would it be?
Remember to keep practising so you’ll be able to hear those small improvements every week which will help motivate you to continue to practise.
What about advice for a more advanced flute student?
Take every performance opportunity that comes your way. All opportunities lead to something else even if you don’t see it at the time.
What has helped you prevent repetitive strain injury?
Practising in short periods as well as pausing and having a break if you start to feel any niggles.
What's the funniest or weirdest thing that has ever happened to you as a flute teacher?
I taught one of my flute students over zoom while they were in a quarantine facility for two weeks which I found pretty funny. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even imagined teaching online, let alone teaching a student in quarantine! How crazy!
What are your favourite instruments to play with in an ensemble?
My favourite instrument to play with is classical guitar as I love the tone colour it produces when played together with the flute. I am currently in a duo with guitarist Manuel Diewald. You can check out our duo website here.
How did you choose your current career?
I started learning piano when I was 6 and flute when I was 8 (from Jane!). So since a young age I’ve always really enjoyed music and it was something that I was passionate about. I was definitely inspired by my instrumental tutors and wanted to be just like them when I grew up! And now I’m doing just that! Crazy how it comes full circle.
I would also love to do more orchestral gigs in the future. Hopefully more opportunities come about when live music is thriving once again after Covid.
What advice would you give someone who wants to make a career out of playing or teaching an instrument?
For someone who wants to make a career out of playing an instrument, I would say to keep motivating yourself and go for auditions, and put your hand up for performance opportunities that come your way. Be prepared for knockbacks from professional auditions, but the more times you put your name forward, the more they will remember you.
For someone who wants a career out of teaching an instrument I would say to give your full attention to every lesson you conduct. For the majority of students, they would be looking forward to their lesson so much, so give them your full attention and provide good encouraging feedback. A good teacher is also someone who continues to perform regularly in order to keep up their own technical skills on their instrument.
Learning an instrument is all about the small improvements, one step at a time - exactly like how Jane teaches in her flute academy!
What is your favourite prize that people can win each month inside The Flute Academy?
My favourite prize would have to be the personal review of a student's flute playing from Jane herself. Jane was my flute teacher when I was younger (how cute!) so I know just how valuable her flute tips are to a flute player along their musical journey.