In spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that he himself did not attend a college of music, university or conservatory, British flautist Trevor Wye has put a good deal of energy into educational activities, with several method books and other volumes to his name, including the six-volumed Practice Books for the Flute, A Beginner’s Book for the Flute, a piccolo practice book, and a biography of Marcel Moyse, all of this influenced by his private studies with Moyse as well as with Geoffrey Gilbert and William Bennett.
Wye’s most recent publication is Flute Secrets which claims to be a comprehensive guide to flute construction, purchase, performance and teaching.
The publishes claim that:
Flute Secrets tells you everything you need to know about being a flautist. This innovative volume presents indispensable guidance for all flute players, from choosing the right instrument and tips on how to practise, to establishing a professional career and becoming a flute teacher. In Flute Secrets renowned educator and master musician Trevor Wye shares a lifetime of knowledge and experience, enriched with music examples, illustrations and diagrams. With over 200 pages of advice, this book makes the perfect gift for students, teachers or professionals. Flute Secrets covers: The Instrument, Educational Assistance, Professional Strategies, Teaching Strategies, Aural Skills, Flute Tuning and repairs.
Wye outlines the parameters of his work in his preface:
There will be much in this book which is hardly secret to the experienced orchestral player, and much of it will be seen as ‘old hat’! Yet to some players there will be information which I hope will prove useful, especially to younger players starting out on their careers. Teachers too may find some interesting facts which may help them to help others.
The scope of Flute Secrets can be seen from the Table of Contents:
SECTION 1 — The Instrument: Flute purchase; Flutes; Choosing a flute; Headjoint and flute variables; Customizing your flute; The piccolo; Transporting flutes
SECTION 2 – Educational Assistance: Practicing: Tone; Technical practice; Articulation practice. A Guide to Faster Progress. Flute Literature; Practice schedules; Special and Sensitive fingerings; Trills
SECTION 3 -Professional Strategies: Helping Your Career; Competitions; Performing Style. Baroque Music; Classical Music; Roccoco and Classical; Nineteenth Century Bravura; Contemporary Music; Multiphonics; Career Strategies; Health Issues
SECTION 4 – Teaching Strategies: Student Performing Problems; Fun Stuff; Setting up a studio
SECTION 5 – Ear training: Playing in Tune; Flute Tuning and Repairs; Some Experiments to Try.
With such a broad range of topics, this is essentially a reference book, to be dipped into as needed rather than read from cover to cover. At the same time, Trevor Wye is stronger in some subjects than others. He knows a great deal about tuning and intonation, for example, an area of interest he shares with William Bennett. There is, perhaps, more information than most flute students might need here. At the same time, the section on repertoire could have been developed considerably further, especially as Wye has written on this topic elsewhere. Students will need to look elsewhere for this, perhaps to Kyle Dzapo’s excellent book.
Overall, I would agree with one reviewer’s assessment who found Flute Secrets to be “full of great advice and interesting opinions, but . . . somewhat imbalanced and unfocused.” In short, like its author, the book is brilliant but a little idiosyncratic. Nevertheless, as long as students and professionals do not make this their exclusive source of information, it definitely deserves a place on their bookshelf.
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