“I had Dr Jennie Oh Brown as a flute professor during my time at Elmhurst University. I studied with her for my Bachelors in Music Performance. I will never be able to do justice describing how wonderful she has been to me during and after graduating…. but I will try. Never have I had a professor treat me with as much respect as Dr Brown has, she never treated me as less than. That gave me the confidence to go for whatever I wanted, auditions and job opportunities alike. She taught me not only how to better myself at the flute, but how to behave in a professional setting and how to market myself in the professional music field. I have learned that those skills are not always taught and are oh so important. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Brown for learning the skills I have now, and owe my career in teaching to her. Thank you ” Marissa Webb
What I love about the Elmhurst University Flute Studio
When I stop and think about what it is that I find most meaningful about my Elmhurst University Flute Studio, it is the one-on-one time that I share with my students, not only working through repertoire, but hearing their personal stories and professional aspirations. Whether my students are celebrating accomplishments or struggling through disappointments, it is this individual attention that makes our lessons together so rewarding.
With that in mind and regardless of which field they enter, my students must also be musically, academically, and professionally prepared, and they must feel confident that our work together in the Elmhurst University Flute Studio has helped them reach their full potential. The foundation in my teaching comes from three basic approaches: first, understanding and contemplating the artistry in music; second, mastering the instrument itself through proven methodology and processes; and finally, assessing student success not only to attain larger goals musically but also to ensure that they are professionally competitive.
Additionally, all Elmhurst University flutists are welcome and automatically admitted to Credo Flute, my summer intensive flute seminar held annually on the campus of Elmhurst University during the last week of July.
“Dr.Brown is such an amazing professor who truly inspires those around her. She knows exactly how to cater to her students needs and provides an education like no other. Going to Elmhurst University was one of the best decisions I have made!” Fatima Dabbah
The Artistry of Music: Studying with the Elmhurst University Flute Studio
It would be impossible to begin writing about my teaching philosophy for the Elmhurst University Flute Studio without first commenting on the important task of teaching artistry. In many ways, I love to speak about music as art in motion: the way the colors move through sound, the way the voices change and multiply, the complex interplay between musical lines and players, and the resulting rich musical legacy that has accompanied human history.
As a player, my emphasis has always been on the beauty and expressive qualities of sound as the foundation to all playing, whether virtuosic or lyrical. There are two great inspirations that inform my approach to sound:
- In any form of art, whether visual or musical, it is the skilled manipulations of colors and textures that make the art come to life. Legendary teacher Joseph Mariano once spoke of the fundamentals of sound as a three-legged stool held up by dynamics, vibrato, and focus. Much like the primary colors in art, the mastery and artful execution of these three simple concepts can lead to infinite possibilities in communicating both the sublime and the powerful in music.
- In terms of sound production, there is no greater model than a singer. It is my strong belief that a beautiful sound cannot exist when there is overall tension in the body. Much like a singer, the way we breathe, support our air, and hold our bodies have a greater impact on our sound than the flute itself. A relaxed and balanced posture contributes greatly to the release of tension and allows the body to be open and play more freely. A natural approach to playing becomes almost therapeutic, challenging us to work with the body rather than against it, and improving every aspect of playing, from technique to projection to vibrato.
In addition, the warmth and clarity of the voice, as well as the remarkable range of expression and lyricism, are an artistic inspiration, as well. Jan DeGaetani, Jessye Norman, and many other singers raise the bar for us as musicians in every way. I highly encourage my students to listen to, and collaborate with, singers, and I also suggest practicing vocal repertoire in transcriptions and in books, like Marcel Moyses Tone Development through Interpretation.
The Process: Studying with the Elmhurst University Flute Studio
In the Elmhurst University Flute Studio (where I have taught since 2012), the flutists take great pride in being exceptional players, whether they are a performance or an academic major. One of the great challenges and joys I have in teaching is to determine the most effective way to reach each student. However, within this individualized approach, three basic components structure all of my lessons.
- A conceptual approach, requiring frequent musical demonstrations and an emphasis on creativity including imaginative discussions about musical phrasing, colors in sound, and artistry.
- A cerebral, intellectual understanding of music in concrete terms, with a strong emphasis on history and theory, including rhythm, harmonies, and musical structures.
- An emphasis on fundamentals, including exercises in tonal control and expressivity, technical etudes, articulation exercises, scales, and arpeggios.
Strategy is essential to the development of the skilled musician. The issue of pacing is often discussed in sports, especially as athletes prepare to be at their peak level of performance at just the right moment. The same principal holds true in music, as well. Without question, time in the practice room contributes to success on stage. However, the pacing of this preparation must be carefully directed to achieve the most benefit while preventing injuries. For example, a student may have the equivalent of six years of work to do during a four-year undergraduate degree program in order to be competitive when it comes time to apply for graduate schools during senior year. On a smaller scale, the pacing of practicing can determine success in everything from juries to competitions. Careful attention to long- and short-term goals also helps the performer to learn repertoire more completely while managing nerves and avoiding panic on stage.
In my own experience, I have found that a balanced approach to music includes work both in and out of the practice room. This includes, work in the academic classroom, as well as careful study of scores and recordings. Academic work gives students the ability to understand music within a much broader context culturally, historically, and analytically as well as artistically. Also, a strong academic background gives students greater flexibility should they choose to pursue a career outside of performing.
Elmhurst University Flute Studio: Looking to the Future
When prospective students walk into Irion Hall at Elmhurst University, the comment I hear most is that they immediately feel a sense of encouragement and welcoming.
This is a place where everyone belongs and will find their community. Throughout the department, you will find faculty who are committed to helping students by giving them the tools they need to succeed and the encouragement to try. Additionally, the institution itself supports students through outstanding financial aid (including special scholarships for first generation college students) and merit scholarships. I have been teaching at Elmhurst University since 2012.
One of the things I appreciate about Elmhurst University is the integration of opportunities off campus. J-term (a mini-semester in January scheduled between the two main semesters each year) gives students easy opportunities to study abroad, study special topics, or pursue independent studies. Additionally, Music Education students go off campus beginning their sophomore year to receive hands on training in the schools with students. Music Business students pursue internships in Chicago’s most exciting arts organizations and receive credit towards their degrees. Elmhurst University’s jazz students have participated in award-winning recordings and concert tours throughout the country and overseas. Finally, with a clear faculty connection to the Chicago music scene, students see first-hand what it’s like to perform with any ensemble or venue in town from Hamilton to Symphony Center, and often develop meaningful professional connections themselves through the faculty. Students are energized to think entrepreneurially and to reach outside their comfort zones to reach for the next steps in their careers.
On campus, Elmhurst University’s Jazz area is particularly noteworthy with its celebrated Jazz Festivals on campus in February and outdoor festival during the summer. ILMEA District 1 Festival is often held on campus and gives visiting high school musicians the chance to visit campus. Our bands, choirs, and orchestra are growing stronger every year and have had opportunities to perform at Symphony Center, with Andrea Bocelli at the All-State Arena, and at the ILMEA All-State festival. The flute studio is filled with ambitious students who are focused, diligent in their work, and consistently and amazingly kind to each other. It is a beautiful place to be, truly. Students have pursued graduate studies at top graduate school programs and are entering a diverse range of music careers. The future is bright for our Elmhurst University students! For a sample lesson and a prospective student tour and visit, please contact me at Jennie.Brown@Elmhurst.edu.
Reaching Goals in the Elmhurst University Flute Studios
Throughout the years, it has served my students well to have prescribed performance competencies. Although choices of repertoire can vary according to students tastes, I strongly believe that there is a core set of pieces, etudes, and exercises that each student should play. Additionally, juries and recitals help students to assess whether they are reaching certain milestones in their playing. I also believe that it is imperative that students pursue competitions, professional opportunities, and summer festivals off campus to help them understand the competitive market they are entering.
Many Elmhurst University graduates have continued their musical lives in graduate school programs including Roosevelt University; composing, transcribing, and copying; performing in shows around the city; and in many different teaching contexts from private studios to music education programs at all grade levels.
My Purpose in Teaching
The truth is that I really love teaching, and I consider it an honor and privilege to work alongside my students in the Elmhurst University Flute Studios during this particular phase of their lives. There is a certain sense of self-discovery that comes from studying any form of art, but the daily discipline of being a musician makes music such a vital part of our lives, that it feels as natural, and as essential, as breathing. For some, this love of music will lead to a clear desire to perform professionally and pursue a career on stage. For others, it will lead them to study the academic side of music, perhaps in history, theory, arts administration, or education. For others still, music will become the respite in their lives as they raise families and pursue careers in completely different fields. Regardless, my purpose in teaching is to help my students discover their own unique talents and gifts, use these gifts to enrich their own lives and the lives of others, and to simply enjoy a lifelong love of music.
Sample Repertoire for Undergraduate Flutists in the Elmhurst University Flute Studios:
Elmhurst University Studio Class Assignments:
Marcel Moyse, De la Sonorite
Philippe Bernold, Le souffle, Le son; La Technique d’Embouchure
Walfrid Kujala, Orchestral Techniques for flute and piccolo
Jeanne Baxtresser, Orchestral Excerpts for flute
First Year Study
W.A. Mozart, Concerto in D Major, Barenreiter Edition
Music by French Composers, edited by Louis Moyse
Hindemith, Sonata for flute and piano
T. Berbiguier, 18 Etudes
Moyse, 24 Petites ètudes mèlodique
Second Year Study
A. Mozart, Concerto in G Major, Barenreiter Edition
Music by French Composers, edited by Louis Moyse
Poulenc, Sonata for flute and piano
Varese, Density 21.5
Moyse, 20 Exercises et ètudes sur les Grandes Liaisons
Third Year Study
Ibert, Concerto for flute and orchestra
Andersen Etudes, Op. 15 or Altes Etudes
Moyse, Ètudes et èxercises technique
Fourth Year Study
S. Bach Sonata in b minor, Henle or Barenreiter Editions
Nielsen, Concerto for flute and orchestra
Dutilleux Sonatine for flute and piano
Prokofiev, Sonata for flute and piano
Andersen Etudes, Op. 60
Moyse, Tone and Development through Interpretation