Jeanne Baxtresser

Former Principal Flute, New York Philharmonic
By Don Bailey

Note:  For a “Pre- Interview” Commentary on my first visit with Jeannie, click here.

“I have always been in love with the flute – from the first moment I decided I wanted to learn to play when I was nine. There are many brilliant things that the flute can do, but the sheer beauty and lyricism of the instrument has always drawn me more than anything else. The flute is such a powerfully primal instrument; it’s been a part of every culture on the planet since the beginning of time. We flutists are so fortunate – the sound is immediate and comes right from the heart of the player. I think many of us live in the world of music simply because this magical instrument called to us and we had to play…I know this is true for me.” – JB

Did you always want to be an orchestral flutist?

Yes – the power of orchestral music pulled me like a magnet! I was raised in a family of musicians and music lovers, and as a child I attended many concerts of the Minnesota Orchestra. Also, my father constantly played symphonic music on these huge stereo speakers in our living room. I felt the most beautiful flute music came out of the orchestral repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel and on and on….. I also knew that I would never have access to this music unless I was sitting in an orchestra. Because of this, I knew very early on that I wanted to be an orchestral player. I must add, the glory of the orchestral experience was greater than I ever imagined! There is nothing to compare with sitting in the middle of a great orchestra with a master conductor playing a great symphonic work!!!

Isn’t your mother a concert pianist?

Oh yes, and my father was an amateur pianist. There was music in the house all the time – all kinds of music.

Do you remember when you played in an orchestra for the first time?

I must have been about 13, and I was terrified out of my mind. I was second flute in a chamber orchestra playing some Haydn symphony, and I was counting like a maniac and came in wrong and was thinking, “How do people DO this?” I was so terrified. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to do this. I want to be a soloist – like Rampal.” Soon after that experience, I played in a number of youth orchestras, became more experienced, and got over my terror.

I read that you made your solo debut with the Minneapolis Symphony when you were 14. Do you remember what you played?

I think it was the Mozart Concerto in D. I had won a competition.

Who were some of your flute teachers?

Well I had a wonderful first teacher to whom I owe a great deal….Mary Roberts Wilson. I also did summer study with Albert Tipton, Moe Sharp, and others. I am also a great listener, and I studied many recordings of flutists, singers, and violinists. I believe that imitation is a great way to learn. I remember hearing a recording of Rampal and how moved I was by his wonderful brilliance. Another idol was Heifetz. I knew I would never sound like Heifetz, but I sure tried. I believed that everything I did trying to sound like him would make me sound better – at least. But Julius Baker, from the time I first heard him at age 12 or 13, was my ideal. I loved his flute playing, I loved his sound. Julie had such honesty in his playing – wonderful intonation, beautiful phrasing, everything for the music’s sake. I followed a path that I hoped would eventually lead me into his musical world, and indeed it did – in more ways than I ever could have imagined!

I would like to talk about this “coming full circle” from your being a student at Juilliard and studying with Baker to your returning to the same place as his successor. Did you play in the Philharmonic while a student at Juilliard?

No, I didn’t. I don’t know if there were any women in the orchestra when I first came to Juilliard. I had no expectation or goal or even a thought of ever getting into the New York Philharmonic. It never occurred to me. My aim was just to get into an orchestra….I didn’t care where. I just wanted to play that music. My first audition actually brought me into my first job. I was in my senior year at Juilliard and the Montreal Symphony Principal Flute was announced. My second audition was for the Toronto Symphony, where I played for seven years. My husband, David Carroll, is a wonderful bassoonist. He was asked to join the NY Philharmonic before I had even auditioned. We are extraordinarily fortunate that our careers have always worked out so we could always be together!

You were only 21 years old when you landed the principal flute position in Montreal. Surely you were nervous playing in front of your new colleagues the first time.

I can honestly say that for me, in the three orchestras where I served as the principal flutist, it always took about two full seasons for me to feel that I completely belonged and that I was truly worthy of the responsibility I had been given. I didn’t really feel settled until I played all the major solos – Beethoven 3rd, Leonore, Daphnis, Brahms 4 and 1, Capriccio Espagnol. It also takes that amount of time to adjust to new players around you, the acoustics of a new hall, and to a new conductor. I know that I put myself under a lot of personal pressure in those years to always be the best I could possibly be. But at some point, I had to realize that my pleasure and joy in doing the job could be enhanced if I became more accepting of my fallibilities. We strive for perfection in the practice room, but a human being sits in the chair in performance. That humanity is what makes live performance so compelling. Also, even at the highest level of performance, you must realize that you can’t possibly please everyone. It is even a bit arrogant to think you should. I guess in the end, I have come to a point in performing where I realize the most important thing is my love for music, for the flute, and my dedication to always prepare the best I can. Beyond that, the music belongs to the listener.

I’m curious how someone in your position interacts with the rest of the flute section. Are you the boss?

The real boss in an orchestra is the conductor. The principal players, however, are in charge of making sure the section works smoothly and cohesively. You certainly don’t come into an orchestra like the Philharmonic and tell people how to play….they already play beautifully. Most of my job was to make sure my colleagues’ needs were met, professionally and personally, while they were at work. I took this very seriously because I truly believe people that care about each other can play better together. I also had a great appreciation and respect for all the players in my section, and I tried to be sure to express it to them by never taking their extraordinary playing for granted. Our flute section was like a musical family, and our support of each other was a big part of our musical success.

Is it thrilling to play Daphnis and Chloe?

Oh, absolutely. And the thing that is so exciting is that everybody in the section is equally involved. The second flute part is incredibly challenging, the alto part is fabulous, and the piccolo part is so brilliant and touching. So, everybody’s sort of “in the soup” in that piece. Also, the music itself is so sublime, I feel as if I am in another world for the entire performance!

Can you remember how you felt the first time you played it?

There have been a number of pieces that I loved so much, I couldn’t wait to play them in an orchestra….and not all of them were big “flute pieces.” Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony for the first time was just as thrilling as Petrouchka. I think that the greatest sense of pressure in playing these pieces for the first time is that you want to do justice to the solo. I always listened to recordings of the big solos and played along with them in preparation. But, when you play your first Daphnis, it is overwhelming to realize it’s going to be YOU playing that opening scale and no one else!! I always wanted it to be as beautiful for the listener as it had been for me when I had heard it played. I had to learn not to let my powerful emotions about the music get in the way of my performance. All wind soloists experience the same thrill, I am sure.

What can say about tone projection in solo playing as opposed to playing in the orchestra?

You must learn a great deal about projection to be a successful soloist…in an orchestral setting, or with a piano. I think the most important thing for me to learn was that the tone had to be focused, and never forced. Julie used to talk about spinning the tone forward, which is a lovely image. My greatest challenge was to produce the most beautiful sound I was capable of making, at all times. Roger Mather wrote a wonderful article on this subject of projection…. it should be reprinted.

You mentioned once that you’ll never know how you actually sounded out there in the audience.

Yes….one of the ironies of being a musician is that you can never hear yourself as the audience hears you in the hall. It will be an eternal mystery to me, I guess. Sometimes I can’t even identify my own playing when I hear it on the radio!

Did you need to practice the repertoire daily, or had it become second nature?

It became somewhat second nature. I mean, so much of it I had played many times. I’ve been playing principal flute parts for thirty years, and six years before that at Interlochen and Juilliard. You get to know the repertoire. Still, with the big solos, I always reworked them for every new season. My feelings for the music changed with time, and my abilities on the instrument became stronger. This led me into new interpretations and a desire to say more with the music each time I played a standard solo. But there are always new things that come along that you have to learn. We did a world premier of a big Messiaen piece with Zubin, and it had a monstrous flute part which took a lot of work. But I think most of it comes down to staying in absolutely phenomenal shape so that you can play any note at any time at any dynamic. I always warmed up with daily exercises that I knew worked for me.

Any special tips on warming up?

An important part of my teaching is helping students find a system of warming up that suits them personally. We’re all different in this respect. I have my own daily regimen. I play crescendo/diminuendo on every note of the flute, tapering down to a thread of sound so there is just a little sliver of a tone left – all the while watching my tuner. Same with the crescendo. I hold each note about ten counts. I continue all the way up to high E and F – way way above high high D. Mind you, those notes were pretty crass and horrible, but I still do them. I always try – thinking maybe someday I’ll get a good sound on the high F. This was the kind of warm-up I did everyday when I was in the Philharmonic. You have to remain in shape flute-wise as well as physically.

Do you exercise regularly?

I have always felt that the better shape I am in physically, the better I am able to play. This is not always an easy task, with the extremely busy schedules we all have. I guess the only way to do it is to make it a priority…one of those things that’s easy to say and real hard to do!

How did you structure your day during the concert season?

The first thing I did every morning was ask, “What am I playing tonight?” We generally operated on a 6-day schedule so I would plan my day according to that. Mornings were spent teaching and rehearsing. I usually ate a big meal after rehearsal because flute playing is hard work and you’ve got to have energy. I took a nap every afternoon around 4, had dinner around 5:30, then usually did another practice session around 5:45 or so, going through everything for the last time and doing my final warm-up. I’ve asked many conductors what they do to relax, and most of them sleep for an hour or so to shut down the mind.

I enjoy learning about the various personal habits of performers.  Do you drink milk before you play?

I do have some very specific ways of doing things that have evolved into a kind of ritual…I think this is common for people who perform a lot. Someone once told me milk coated the throat, and after that, I never had milk products before playing….if it’s actually true, I don’t know. I also noticed that singers often had bananas taken to their dressing room, so I often have one before I play. I always try to have everything ready – dress, shoes, hair taken care of, etc. – but I confess, many times I am trying to scrape myself together at the last moment….makes for some exciting moments!

Do you usually keep water onstage?

No, not onstage. If I am sick with a cold, however, than I have some under my chair in case I start to cough. In auditions, by the way, I have noticed that people often come into the room with a cup of water. If this helps you in any way, I think it’s fine.

I’ve heard some interesting opinions about  the use of auxiliary (aka fake) fingerings for difficult technical passages. What’s your take on this issue?

First off, let me say that auxiliary, or alternate fingerings, are not fake fingerings – there’s nothing fake about them, they’re real. I’ve always said in my lectures and classes, “This is not an issue of morality where you’re a good person if you use a real fingering in a real fast passage, you’re a bad person if you don’t.” You learn when you’re in an orchestra playing at tempos that are so fast, especially in the third octave, that the most important thing is to get the notes out clean and clear, and any fingering that will enable you to do that is what you do. I’ll sometimes demonstrate difficult passages for students and they’ll sound fast and facile. They’ll never be aware that I’m using alternate fingerings. I regard alternate fingerings as very creative study. It’s exciting to try different ways of doing things. I must add, however, that these fingerings must have acceptable intonation and tone quality and not sound as if you are suddenly playing a bamboo flute!

I remember once playing the Prokofieff Scherzo in a master class using alternate fingerings for the four “rips” up to high D. It was so clean that the teacher singled me out as an example of proper technique. He had me demonstrate to the class by playing the section slower and slower until at one very slow speed he noticed I was playing harmonics for the top few notes. He was surprised and suddenly turned the lesson on me saying I must use the correct fingerings. My success with the alternate fingerings supports your philosophy.

Precisely. Alternate fingerings are also helpful in altering pitch so that you can play better in tune with other instruments. My colleagues on oboe, clarinet and bassoon often try different fingerings to bring a better blend into the tone in a unison with another instrument – we should do the same. We shouldn’t think that there’s just the one way to play we learned in the third grade. Any fingering you can use to make the sound, the intonation, or the technical ability easier, why not?

A former teacher of mine said there were three main ingredients to playing the flute – Tone, Fingers, and Tongue. Do you agree?

Yes, but I would also add Musical Style (playing in the proper style of the period), and a very complete understanding of phrasing – knowing where you’re going with your phrase and what you’re hoping to achieve. All the music we play in Western music has direction. It’s either going TO something or coming AWAY from something. We have to be aware of this at all times when we’re playing, and we must find the way to ensure that the phrase has life. Good flute playing with good rhythm and good tone is not enough – phrasing is key. In the end, it’s intelligent analysis that can free the heart and soul to sing!

Once you decided to leave the Philharmonic, was it more difficult to maintain your enthusiasm, drive, etc?

No, not for an instant. The entire operation of that magnificent institution, the great music, my colleagues, AND the conductor – those are pretty powerful forces. I told my husband, David, (bassoonist) that the feeling of achievement after a performance is one thing I definitely miss. Every night when you finish a concert, you sort of pat yourself on the back and say, “Job well done.” Or, (laughing) maybe “Woah!! I hope nobody was out there I knew tonight.” I’ve often thought the timing for my leaving the orchestra was perfect. I didn’t leave a moment too soon or a moment too late. I felt it coming.

When exactly did you leave?

I actually spoke to Masur year before last, and everyone suggested I take a sabbatical, a leave of absence. They said, “You may feel differently at the end of the year.” Last year was my sabbatical leave. They were very generous and said, “If you ever think, even after your resignation, that you might want to return, you just come back.” I can’t tell you what that meant to me, because no matter how thoroughly I had thought it through, it was still a frightening decision. But the orchestra was so wonderful; they gave me the luxury of possibly making a mistake with no penalty. It was like having a safety net underneath. At this point, however, my life has evolved into a totally new episode. The orchestral years, as much as I adored them, are a part of my past. I am so grateful for my life in music, I relish the opportunity to dedicate myself to a future of more study, teaching, playing, and sharing, with the remarkable students that will become the music world of tomorrow.

How has your life changed since you left the Philharmonic?

My life is very full and extremely busy. Of course I am teaching at three great and very different schools: Juilliard, Manhattan, and Carnegie Mellon University. I love the variety in this teaching, as each class is outstanding, but slightly different in focus. I am also doing classes all over the world – this is such an education for me! I am also doing much more solo playing – in classes and the recitals that are a part of my appearances.

Can you talk about the differences between solo and orchestral playing?

When I was playing in the orchestra, I was constantly thinking of following the conductor, matching my performance to his interpretation. Since the flute part is often right on top, we are like the lead alto player in a great dance band. We have tremendous responsibility in terms of leadership. We must always ask ourselves, “How am I fitting in intonation-wise with the clarinet, or oboe?” We’re thinking of balance – “Am I too loud? Is it too little?” “Is the second flute line more important and I should back off?” Everything you do goes through about eight or nine filters in terms of making your performance its best. You’re playing with about 106 people, so you develop wonderful flexibility.

You sound as if you have a sense of freedom since leaving the orchestra.

In a sense, yes. The responsibilities of being principal flute in the Philharmonic weighed on me very heavily. I had such respect for the institution – it’s one of the great orchestras of the world and my colleagues were so wonderful. I never thought there was even a rehearsal that I shouldn’t be prepared for. I would have been very ashamed to play anything less than my best.

What’s different about your playing now?

Something really important has happened to me as a player. Now, when I stand there playing alone with the piano, all those orchestral/ensemble filters I mentioned earlier are suddenly gone. Not that I’ve not played solo before, but now it’s all I’m doing, and my playing is taking on a certain kind of freedom. It feels great.

AND, you’re not being conducted!

Right! When you’re playing with piano you don’t have the same issues of balance, intonation, and conductor. You’re very free. Just recently, my husband David heard me play in Oxford (England) and said, “You’ve never sounded like this before. There’s something very different in your playing.” It’s wonderful.

Many flutists feel that being an orchestral player eventually takes its toll on the solo playing. Care to comment?

I feel that the ideal combination is to do both. Many great flutists feel the same. Whether it’s Galway or Baker or Adjoran, Nicolet, Marion, Debost, they are all great orchestral players, brilliant soloists, and valued teachers. It is true, that there are differences between orchestral and solo performance, but doesn’t that just make you stronger – if you can ride both of those horses? Everything you do in the orchestra serves you very well on the stage as a soloist….and as a great solo performer you are able to bring great strength and personality to your orchestra solos. It’s definitely a win-win situation!

Let’s change the subject a bit and talk about your renewed enthusiasm for teaching. You’ve taught all throughout your thirty-year career. Wouldn’t you rather do something else?

Oh no, not at all! I am tremendously excited about my teaching. It feels very different now. I have the time to read and research, and I’m developing new ideas. The whole teaching world has begun to open up. I’m traveling all over the world now working with remarkable students at a very high level. When I was performing four nights a week, there was no question that the most important thing in my life was what I did on the stage in the evening. Even though I taught with everything I had, I still had to save so much for the evening concerts. Now, I can devote all my energy to my students.

Students come to you from all over. They’ve already had great teachers who’ve brought them to a very high level of flute playing. What do you offer these players to take them to the next step?

You’re right. When students come to me at Juilliard or Manhattan or Carnegie Mellon, they are very serious and have already decided to dedicate their lives to music. With this in mind, it becomes my responsibility to prepare them not only as flute players, but also in every other way as well, because a career in music is a total existence in terms of commitment and lifestyle. Students must learn to be good business people as well as good colleagues. Not only is being a good colleague enjoyable, but it’s also helpful in a business sense. Being a generous person to your peers can go a long way in establishing yourself in the music field. I must also prepare my students for the possibility that they may not necessarily go in the direction that they originally intended – for one reason or another. For example, if someone says, “I just want to be principal of a major orchestra,” I might say, “Great. Hang on to that dream. It’s a great dream; however, there are many other wonderful ways of making your life in music. If this dream doesn’t happen when you want it, what are you going to do in the years leading up to that point? You can’t just wither and die.”

Do students really want to hear that?

Well, I hope they can realize that everything they learn while preparing for their careers will only enhance their overall success as professional flutists. Whether their preparation involves working with children in outreach programs or doing more teaching, it will make them better people and better professionals. This kind of approach relieves the student of tremendous pressure. When all of their energy is focused on achieving only one goal, the pressure becomes extraordinary when the time comes to prove themselves in an orchestral audition, for example. It’s very hard for the music to come through with that kind of pressure. If I can present other possibilities so that they become larger in their own minds, then they’re able to approach auditions and competitions with more of a philosophical and honest approach. I once told a student who was auditioning for Juilliard, “Don’t play for gain.” She said, “Can you TELL?” I thought it was so adorable. I said, “Don’t play to get into Juilliard, you’ve got to play the MUSIC. It must be an honest expression of your feelings and your love of the flute and of music. Don’t play in that audition TO GET IN.” Yes, there is a subtle difference and you can hear it.

(Grinning) Did YOU play for gain when you were younger?

Well, I think there has be a certain ambition; that’s healthy. I wouldn’t discourage healthy competition and a burning ambition, but I’ve learned to deal with this during the past thirty years, and I think I’m a better player for it. This is wisdom that I can share with my students and perhaps save them some disappointments.

It’s a shame how self-defeating our approach to success can be sometimes.

Yes, I think it’s too much the norm for people in this country. We tend to think that you start off towards a goal, and you stay on that path until you’ve reached that goal – never veering off the path for fear of being deemed a failure. I read a wonderful book about Eastern philosophy that suggests if we start off on a path, and are taken off that path for some reason or other, we should regard this juncture as a new opportunity and think to ourselves, “Ah, what brings me here? Where can this lead me?” It doesn’t have to mean we’re losing sight of the goal.

Do you ever discourage students because of the large number of flute players and the diminishing number of jobs?

No, I don’t discourage them, because the pursuit of music and music making is too lofty a pursuit. Instead, I try to guide them into the other possibilities as well. I never say “Don’t do this…” because you never know what might happen. I’ve had students who I thought would never make it, and I’ve seen them land wonderful jobs to everyone’s surprise. You just never know, and you can’t take on this responsibility for turning somebody away from something they love. But, I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure students are aware of other possibilities so they have a very broad base beneath them. This frees them as musicians and helps them not feel so defeated when they don’t win an audition.

Don’t you find that eager young students are reluctant to branch out because it might make them appear as failures in some way?

I agree with you, that this is a very normal response. It is imperative that the student has tremendous focus on their dream, their goal. I think that we teachers have to encourage them to realize that they still have space in their lives to learn other skills, as well. It’s irrational to think the more you do the less you are – the more you do, the MORE you are, the better you are!

You’re still playing your Haynes with the Cooper head?

Yes, since I joined the Philharmonic in 1984, I’ve been playing a relatively old Haynes, #29995 with a 9k Albert Cooper head, formerly belonging to Baker. I also have a LaFin headjoint, which is on it now. Both are beautiful.

You’ve been a positive role model for many flutists because of the special alterations you made to your flute. I can easily remember not so long ago when the BoPep was controversial, the offset G key was frowned upon, and the new scale was considered a crutch. Can you offer a few comments about “ergonomic flute playing?”

I think it’s anti-intellectual to think that way about a new scale or a new flute design. Albert Cooper once told me that the right hand closed offset G is the best flute for the vibration of the tube and intonation. We seem to have these pre-conceived ideas of what things should be. This type of rigid mindset prevents things from growing, changing, and getting better. Fortunately, over the last 20 years people have changed their opinions greatly about flute alteration. It used to be “you either played it as it was, or you don’t play it.” And that’s utterly ridiculous. Everybody’s hands are different. If your flute isn’t comfortable, it should evolve to fit you.

Do you think any of your flute changes will become standard features on flutes of the future?

No, not at all. My flute was changed to accommodate my hand at a certain point in my career with the rigors of playing seven hours a day. If someone has great discomfort playing their instrument, they could get some ideas from flutes that have been altered. but they should make a design to fit their own hand….and I must stress, if you don’t have a problem, don’t even think about it!!!!!

What flute/music curriculum do you recommend for your students? What’s in a typical lesson, and what do you expect from the student?

I expect a great deal from my students as the relationship is a true partnership. We are entirely dependent upon each other for the success of the venture. I never have a problem with my students as they are all motivated to becoming the best they can be…as flutists, as good colleagues, and as professional musicians. I am demanding, but I am always amazed at what they are able to accomplish. We work on tone and technique exercises, etudes, orchestral repertoire, and solo literature. The balance in these areas is always changing.

Jeannie, following an illustrious career such as yours, most people might prefer to retire completely, yet you chose to accept a new position at Carnegie Mellon University? What were you thinking?

Carnegie Mellon has been a remarkable addition to my teaching life, and my commitment is total….I am a full-time Professor, so I am there every week. The environment of a great university is very stimulating to me and to the students. With the help of my associates on the flute faculty, Jennifer Conner and Alberto Almarza, we have put together a curriculum that is unique and challenging. The flute studio is absolutely outstanding!

What are your views about the future of flute playing and for classical music in general? Do you have any suggestions for anyone aspiring for a professional career?

I have no doubt that classical music will always be an important part of the lives of those people who feel it enhances their lives in real and meaningful ways. However, in this extraordinary time of massive changes in technology, occurring faster than we can even adjust, there is a great challenge to those of us in the arts. We have to be very creative in making sure that art and music don’t become marginalized, and available only to a few privileged members of our society. Anyone thinking about a career in music has to have a very generous spirit and be very pro-active in areas such as keeping music in the schools, planning programs with outreach potential, and being involved in the community to keep all the arts a part of the lives of as many people as is humanly possible. This kind of thinking has to begin with the student in school….so that being a musician means always reaching out to others in a very real way, not just on a stage.

To what degree has your career shaped your life outside of your profession?

My career has shaped my life to an enormous degree….and it has been more than I ever could have imagined. The greatest gift that came to me from my life in music was my husband, David. We met in the Montreal Symphony, and it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Also, I have met and become friends with so many remarkable people. …I simply love musicians!! Every year, I meet the most extraordinary young people through my teaching….they become friends for life just as I did with my teachers. Last of all, it has been a great bond with my family…I owe my parents so much and music has enabled me to thank them.

Your career has been filled with the stresses of performing, traveling, and touring. Do you have any special coping mechanisms?

I think that in addition to the many things I have learned over the years about dealing with performance stress, one of the most sophisticated methods is with humor. Nothing shatters a stress-filled moment better than a laugh….and judging from the behavior of many of my colleagues, I have a lot of company in that approach.

Any horror stories to tell about travels or performances?

There are a few. Someone once said the greatest gift in life was good health and a short memory. In the area of horror stories, I am working on my short memory real hard!

Have you pursued any other arts, such as writing, painting, crafts?

I am not talented in art or crafts….but I have an absolute passion for looking at the work of others. Collecting art and simply looking at art of all kinds is my true hobby. Writing has always interested me, and one of my greatest goals is to do more publishing in the years to come.

Can you imagine your life as a non-flutist?

I cannot….music and the flute has always been such a part of the fabric of my life, I would be lost without it.

And finally, Jeannie, have you ever received a bad review for a performance, and if so, what effect did it have on your life?

Like every musician on the planet, YES. We musicians are all so vulnerable to criticism of our playing that of course, it hurts when someone has a negative comment about your performance. I think that a healthy attitude is to try to see if there is some possible justification in a criticism of your playing, and then to try to see if you can allow that criticism to make you better. Sometimes, it can be very helpful, and sometimes it is just plain hurtful. In the end, you play because you have to play, and you will do anything to be the best you can. Be true to yourself, take joy with each moment in the music, and be grateful for the privilege of being a musician. All the rest is unimportant.

Credit: This interview originally appeared in the New York Flute Club Newsletter in January 1999, and subsequently in the April, 2003 issue of Flute Talk magazine.