Professional flautist, author of several books on the technical aspects of flute playing, and founder of the International Summer School for Flute, Trevor Wye is a household name for any woodwind musician.
Wye studied the flute privately both with Geoffrey Gilbert and the celebrated Marcel Moyse. He was a freelance orchestral and chamber music player on the London scene for many years. Wye has made several solo recordings, notably on his specialist instrument, the flute d’amour, which he reintroduced in modern times.
With over 50 years experience, he shares his advice in the new Chester Flute Anthology.
Trevor sat down with us to talk all things music, advice on breaking into the performing industry, and his favourite pieces from the Anthology.
What is it about your instrument that initially captivated you?
It was the sound of the notes changing, where the fingers are put down rapidly. I liked the Clarinet for the same reason, especially The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra solo (Britten).
What is your earliest performing memory?
It was playing Chinese Dance from the Nutcracker Suite to friends on a one-keyed Bb Piccolo in the key of D. I had been playing for about 6 months.
Are there any points in your career so far which have helped shape your attitude to practising and performing?
Yes. Studying and watching the teaching of Marcel Moyse for many years. I also take my own advice from time to time!
Practising is often purely considered to be time spent honing repertoire and technique with your instrument to hand. What methods do you use to practise or memorise music that don’t necessarily require the use of your instrument?
I visualise music when driving, walking, gardening and listening. I also practise pieces in other keys too.
Have you any advice for conservatoire musicians looking to break into the performing industry?
Look around in the Flute world to see what nobody else is doing, and consider doing just that! Too many people are learning to do the same things, such as concerti, big solos and orchestral excerpts etc. Try specialising in – piccolo; alto and bass flutes; jazz; ethnic flutes; being a multi instrument player; recorder and baroque flutes; 8 keyed flutes, panpipes, repairing flutes… There are many ways to make music and hundreds of flutey instruments to choose from.
Study flute history and you will see what a diverse group of instruments aerophones are! Try to be innovative and don’t copy everyone else. Or, if you want to be the best, practise very hard. A serious student will do 5-6 hours each day. Go to competitions and listen to the opposition! Otherwise, don’t waste time practising those enticing solos: instead, practise scales and arpeggios and finger exercises. Footballers and other athletes spend most of their time training. Do the same. Invest in yourself.
What is the most unusual or pioneering concert that you have taken part in?
Playing as one of 24 flutes in part of the soundtrack of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Also, conducting my arrangement of the Tallis 40-part motet Spem in alium; performed by 124 flutes and 28 bassoons in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral in c.1973
Perhaps you can elaborate on your adventures with a bicycle pump?
I noticed the slide whistle (swanee whistle) used by the orchestral percussion section, and wondered whether a similar instrument could be made? The bicycle pump takes about 30 minutes to make.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have just completed a book to be published by Novello/Music Sales in September. I will start again on my biography of Albert Cooper, master flutemaker, in the autumn.
Do you have a favourite work from those featured in the Chester Flute Anthology?
The music is all beautiful, but my favourite, perhaps, is the Bach Sonata.
THE CHESTER FLUTE ANTHOLOGY
14 popular works for Flute with Piano accompaniment; featuring selected works from the major exam board syllabuses, spanning Grades 5 to 8 and beyond.
Includes pull-out part, and performance notes by Trevor Wye.