Canadian-born flutist Robert David Billington earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree majoring in flute performance from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. He also has a Master of Music Degree majoring in flute performance from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in music from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. Dr. Billington has also done post-graduate work at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, and at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne. His flute teachers have included Bernard Goldberg, Donald Peck, James Pellerite, Robert Aitken, Francis Fuge, and Arthur Kitti.
Dr. Billington is a free-lance flutist and flute instructor in the South Florida area. He has taught at the University of Miami, Boise State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Louisville Preparatory and Non-Credit Department, the Louisville Academy of music, and at Ball State University. His doctoral essay, "A Description and Application of Robert Aitken's Concept of the Physical Flute," demonstrates a means by which the flutist can control certain physical elements of flute playing to become a better flute player.
Dr. Billington currently performs as principal flutist of the Miami Lyric Opera Orchestra and performs on baroque flute with the Camerata del Re, an early music group. He concertizes with the Billington and Gonzalez Classical Flute and Guitar Duo and with the LGEM Trio, a flute, guitar, and percussion trio that performs Western Hemisphere popular and folkloric music. He has also has performed with numerous orchestras in the United States and with festival orchestras in Europe and has also been a soloist on Trinidad and Tobago Television.
Kris, one of my former students has returned to South Florida and will be resuming studies. Kris earned a BA with a concentration in music and his MBA from Rollins College. After working for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Kris is now working as the Marketing Manager at eMerge Americas.
Kris had our first lesson in many years last night and I was impressed! He’s doing very well. Great sound and intonation. He reads very well. And, last but not least, he attributes his excellent skills to our earlier lessons! It’s nice to have validation of one’s teaching. 🙂
We played duets as a preliminary to getting his flute chops back up. Telemann, op. 5, no. 4, and Tara Theme and Arthur’s Theme from the Magic Duet Book. The latter two are great for practicing with a natural sounding relaxed vibrato. Then it was time for some serious work. We worked on the Charles Keller Divertissement no. 2. The Keller Divertissements are really neat little pieces of music – flutistic while sounding vocally inspired.
Two things we worked on were the position of the head joint and tongue placement. After playing for a bit, I had Kris push the head joint in a scooch to aid in facility of leaps and opening the throat. We also worked on pickup notes and the placement of the tongue on the roof of the mouth for the attack, rather than between the teeth. Getting the pickup note to be a pickup and in the character of the subsequent phrase is very improtant. 🙂
So now, with Kris, we (my adult students and I) have the option of playing quartets and quintets. What great fun!
A beautiful card from Sara, one of my great students. She’s a freshman at her high school and got first chair in her band in part by being able to play her FBA scales. She’s a talented hard worker.
The flute that I had her get is an incredible deal. Kessler Music in Los Vegas bought out the remaining stock of the Jupiter DiMedici series with an offset-G. It has been supplanted in the Jupiter lineup by the Azumi flute. Both flute models were designed by the Altus founder and flutemaker Shuichi Tanaka.
I have been having my students purchase these flutes with the D2 HJ with the gold riser. The 1311 with the gold riser and engraved keys only costs $1500 with a nominal additional fee for extras.
The flutes are so good that I went through Kessler and purchased an in-line 1311 with a C# trill key and a D# roller for myself. There are no more GC D2 headjionts left in the USA (to purchase) so my students are now getting the GC D6 HJ with their 1211 and 1311 flutes.
BTW, I haven’t been using my Cooper-scale Powell hand-made flute in years, because I prefer my Jupiter DiMedici flutes. Every once in a while, I get out the Powell and play it and think how nice it sounds. Then I play one of my Jupiters and think, “Oh, yeah. That’s why…” http://www.kesslermusic.com/jupiter/dimedici.htm
This blog is designed to aid flutists in general and my students in particular in achieving their goals as flute players and musicians.
The thoughts and materials presented will be largely elaborations and musings upon teaching with the techniques described in my doctoral essay “A Description and Application of Robert Aitken’s Concept of the Physical Flute.” http://www.rdbflute.com/RDBDE.html
The codification of the ideas and techniques presented will aid in the development of my book-to-be, Secrets to Better Flute Playing.
These ideas and techniques herein are based upon research and empirical evidence. As this is a Blog rather than a scholarly paper, I am presenting the results of my research as fact without annotation. Please feel free to research my findings for yourself. Or, better yet, obtain a copy of my doctoral essay for annotations. 🙂 For a start here is a copy of the bibliography of my paper. http://www.rdbflute.com/RDBDEbib.pdf
And now, two disclaimers.
1. What works for me and for my students is achievable by most, but not all. The ideas and techniques presented are at least worthy of consideration. Sometimes it takes quite a while to incorporate new ideas and techniques into one’s playing. Without proper tutelage it can sometimes be impossible. SKYPE, anyone?
2. Regarding posts in the Flute Mechanics category, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! I cannot be held responsible for any deleterious effects from the implementation any of my suggestions. If you do not have the mechanical skills (and why should you?), then leave tinkering with the flute to the flute repair person of your choice.