Dr. Christine Potter is well known to low flutes enthusiasts, both students and performers. An internationally recognized alto and bass flute virtuoso, she holds a Doctorate in Flute Performance from SUNY Stonybrook where she studied with Sam Baron. Her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees were with Fulbright scholar Frank Bowen at the University of New Mexico. She also attended numerous masterclasses of Marcel Moyse and William Bennett. She has performed at concert venues world-wide and at many conventions of the National Flute Association as well as British Flute Society. Chris spent five years as Chair of the National Flute Association’s Low Flutes Committee and developed the low flutes portion of the annual NFA conventions with numerous performances, world premiers and workshops. She directs a low flutes choir at the James Galway Festival in Weggis, Switzerland, where she is also the flute choir coordinator.
Having edited and published a number of works for low flute, as well as a series of flute method books, and aware of the extreme paucity of teaching and study materials for alto and bass flutes, Dr. Potter has now developed and published method books for both of these instruments. These beautifully prepared books are essential for those wishing to develop their skills in this area.
British low flute expert Carla Rees writes: “The alto and bass flute require different playing techniques from the C flute if you are going to get the most out of them. That means that no matter how good you are on the C flute, it is always worth treating yourself like a beginner on low flutes.” Potter’s new books are designed to aid with this transition, with carefully chosen exercises supported by other vital information and advice.
Among other useful information, the Alto Flute Method includes sections on tone development, improving breath control, low flutes scales, etudes for tone and technique, alternate fingerings, recommended repertoire, performance aids, and links to a list of repair people.
The Bass Flute Method includes sections on tone development, improving breath control, setting up the curve, how to hold the bass up more comfortably, low flutes scales, etudes for tone and technique, alternate fingerings, recommended repertoire, performance aids, tips for purchasing a bass, and, again, a link to a list of low flutes repair experts.
I have been known to praise certain publications as being valuable additions to their field. In this case, however, Chris Potter has essentially created the field — these books are now virtually all there is available for low flute studies that we are aware of. The only other book worthy of note is Trevor Wye and Patricia Morris’ The Alto Flute Practise Book (Novello & Co Ltd./Music Sales). Available since Jan. 2000 this publicationis promoted as “. . . the first book of its kind, a helpful guide that covers all aspects of the alto flute. Includes historical notes, useful technical information, a comprehensive repertoire list and orchestral extracts.”
This is fair enough, and it is an excellent publication, but Trevor Wye is the first to point out that this is a distinctly different kind of book. Although it does contain a great deal of useful information, it is not a method book as such. Its main feature is the selection and publication of orchestral extracts for alto flute. Very useful, and highly recommended. All of these books are essential, in fact, but alto flutists are advised to work through Potter’s method book before tackling the orchestral excerpts, which are by such composers as Stravinsky, Holst, Boulez and Tippett, and not for beginners. As for the bass flute, Potter’s new book is all there is.
It is encouraging when everything available in any field is also of very high quality, but that is the case here. If you play alto or bass flute these books belong on your bookshelf and your music stand.
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