Instrument Introductions

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As the students are introduced to the various instruments over the course of this week, here is the link to the Youtube playlist that I have been using in class to highlight the different instruments.  Enjoy!



(You can forward through the list of videos by clicking the -> (right arrow) button in the player)

Interview with Greg Pattillo, YouTube’s “Beatbox Flute” Guy

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Kiera M. recently conducted an email interview with Greg Pattillo, who earned YouTube fame with his renditions of pop culture tunes laced with energetic beat boxing.


How do we play with better intonation?

Working with a tuner is very important for playing in tune.  Also important though is to be able to hear your pitch without a tuner!  Can you tell when someone else is sharp or flat?  If you can’t, it will be very difficult to adjust your own tone and intonation when you need to.  I suggest playing an octave of long tones (notes that are with one breath, and held for as long as possible, somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds) chromatically with a tuner.  also, pitch issues are different on the flute depending on which octave you are playing in.  So, make sure you stagger your long tone practice through the three octaves we have available on the flute, and make sure you can play all 3 octaves of your instrument in tune at 3 levels of dynamics: P, MF and F.

How do you play high and soft but have a good pitch?

The secret to high notes is to not push or force your air.  instead, keep the air stream relaxed and “thick”.  Also, pay attention to the soft palate (on the roof of your mouth, back past the bumpy part) as this when flexed and pulled back in your mouth (like swallowing a whole hard boiled egg!) can help focus the air in a relaxed way.  Make sure you are blowing deep from the diagphragm, and not from a tight and constricted throat.  And, play with a tuner.  Everyday.

Are there any alternate fingering to use for faster songs?

There are many alternate fingers, but I use them mainly for different colors rather than ease of fingering.  Often times people like to use the right hand middle finger #F, instead of the ring finger.  and some times people use the right hand fingers on c’s, #c’s, b’s, but this will make your tone flat and covered in stead of open and resonant.  Best to just learn how to play fast with normal fingers.  The secret is to keep your fingers as close to the keys as possible at all times, and keep thme curved!.  If you curve your fingers and have just the tips on the keys, you can’t move your fingers very far away from the keys, thus you will be closer to the keys at all times, and be able to play faster.  verses, flat fingers and using the pads of the fingers on the keys will make you to move your fingers way off the keys, thus making fast playing almost impossible.

How do you get better at transitions from high to low notes?

Slow long tones with jumps, slurred. I suggest taking a scale, starting with the first note, and slur to the next note.  then slur back to the first note.  then slur up to the 3rd note.  then back to the 1st. then slur up to the 4th, etc  when you get to the top, do the same in the opposite direction.  however, if your note “breaks” “cracks” or other wise doesn’t come out perfect, start over.  This excercise can easily be done for 20 minutes with a few scales.  do it everyday.  with a tuner.  everyday.  change the scale everyday, but do it everyday, right after your daily long tone practice.

How did you start career in music?

I earned a bachelors and masters degree in music performance from the cleveland institute of music.  afterwords I got a job in china with the guanzhou symphony orchestra.  then I wanted to play more in the states so I moved to san fracisco and started writing my own music and versions of other peoples music.  Eventually I ended up in NYC and my buddies from college and I started our trio, the project trio (projecttrio.com)  I had a great video on youtube that got quite a bit of views, and now I travel full time with my trio, educating and performing all around the world.

Who was your hero/role model?

On flute: My flute teacher in high school Pam pressely, my college teacher joshua smith, ian anderson of jethro tull, roland kirk ( the best jazz flute guy ever). On other instruments, I used idolize guitar players and wanted my flute to sound like electric guitar….my favorites were jimmy page of led zeppelin, jimi hendrix, and jerry garcia of the grateful dead.  also, I really like string quartet music and composers (beethoven, mozart, hayden, ravel, debussy etc) and most classical composers (especially brahms and mahler) and jazz greats (miles davis, john coltrane, charlie parker, wayne shorter, etc…)

How old were you when you first started playing?

I started in the 4th grade, at 9 years old.  I’m 33 now, so that’s 24 years!

What type of bands have you played in?

school orchestras and bands, youth orchestra, youth woodwind quintet, high school jazz band, started my own band in college called groove patch, slasa band in cleveland, cleveland orchestra sub, canton orchestra sub, blossom festival orchestra, guanzhough symphony orchestra, project trio, collaborate arts insurgency in san francisco…

How did you think of putting beat boxing and playing flute together?

I was street performing and thats what people payed most for.  So, thats what I practiced most. I had heard people beatboxing in general, and also doing it with other instruments, flute, pan pipes, harmonica, trombone.  Beatboxing and flute playing are very similar!

Did you learn it your self or did someone teach you?

I learned i t myself, but by watching others beatbox and practicing everyday on it for years before ever showing anybody.

Was it difficult to put together?

very difficult, but with goal oriented daily practice, anything can be learned and implemented.

Do you think we as seventh and eighth graders could possibly learn how to do it?

yes!  of course,  check out my beatbox flute 101 vid, and learn all about boots cats!  also, make sure to practise everyday, not just give up after not being able to do it after tring for only 20 minutes.  try for 2 years, and then evaluate how far along you have come!

hope this helps!

Check out Greg’s continued works on his YouTube channel: Freedomworksfilms