Monday, February 13, 2017

Teaching Anywhere: Creative Environments for You & Your Students

Teaching Anywhere: 
Creative Environments for You & Your Students

Though applied lessons at UTA usually occur in my office and private lessons on the weekends usually happen in my music room at home, I've definitely learned the power of being creative and flexible when it comes to teaching environments!

The picture above includes me helping one of my students through an 8am recording session. That morning, I remember being particularly tired, but I knew how important the project was to her! Instead of letting fatigue rule me, I perked up at the thought of a nice iced Americano at Starbucks, put on some fun socks just for the heck of it, and headed to Arlington with the attitude that this was going to be an enjoyable and meaningful event. 

As I sat in the comfiest position I could find and gently prompted my student through the session, I learned that no matter how early the hour and no matter how serious the lesson, there's always a way to make it feel great for me so that I can be my best for my student!

The picture above shows a creative solution to a partner lesson that was interrupted by a fire alarm. When I first heard the grating sounds of the annoying disruption, I thought to myself Geez! This is a terrible time to miss out on a lesson! 

Once outside however, my students were game to just keep going! There were people all around us, but we continued with our lesson and meaningful progress was made that day.

I learned that no matter the location, there is always a way to keep teaching and connecting with my students!

This last picture was taken just a few days ago at the TMEA Convention in San Antonio. With a busy schedule this semester, make-up lessons are hard to come by, so my student and I found a corner just outside the convention center to have an out of town lesson!

At first, it was tricky figuring out how she was going to read the music (neither one of us had a music stand with us). If you look at the creative solution we figured out hopefully you will learn what I did that day! 

No matter how limited the teaching environment may seem, there is always a way to make it work!

Looking forward to posting more about teaching in the future, but for now...

Happy Teaching!
Terri Sánchez

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion is done!!!

I'm done with my book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Simon Berry at Carolyn Nussbaum Music Co. showcasing
The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion.

When I began writing The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion, I had no idea what a big project it would become. I started over more times than I can count, re-envisioning, rearranging, and re-editing as much as I could... searching for the "perfect" book I wanted to create. It wasn't until I decided that self-compassion, creativity, and a perfectly imperfect approach was necessary that I could finally make it all happen. 

Right before this picture was taken, I drove to Carolyn Nussbaum Music Co. to take a look at the prototype and hopefully say YES to printing. I still worried that there would be some tragic imperfection that made it necessary to go back to square one (yet again). When I saw the beautiful cover, flipped through the contents, and weighed whether the handful of tiny imperfections were worth postponing the release (even after all the editing, I still caught 3 typos and a couple of the musical examples look pixelated), something inside of me called out, quit worrying! This is an awesome book! It's time to be done and share this with others!

So I said YES! 

In a couple of weeks, at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio, my book will be for sale (for the first time!) at the Carolyn Nussbaum Music Co. booth. After that, it will be available at!

I cannot wait for you to read it... and try the practice games... and practice the exercises. I hope you get some great ideas for practicing in more productive, enjoyable, and fulfilling ways. I hope that you keep the book in your flute bag and turn to it anytime you need some company in the middle of a practice session. 

I hope you'll email me anytime you have a comment, question, idea for the blog, or anything else you'd like to share ( Stay tuned for new pages, new types of posts, and more pop music descants!

Happy Practicing!

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Fun & Easy Tranformation Exercise (Great for all musicians!)

Here is a fun and easy transformation exercise you can try yourself, with students, or anytime you want to show someone how to break through perceived limitations. A number of my favorite authors and speakers share this exercise and I'm excited today to share it with you!

Hopefully, you are some place where you can read one step at a time and really try it before reading the next one. If not, maybe save this post for later when you can actively participate. 

First Step: Stand with both feet apart and plenty of space around you for movement. Find something to look at directly across from you in the room, lift your right arm up and point at that thing. Then, with your feet still planted, twist your upper body as far as you can to the right, following your pointed finger with your eyes. When you've twisted to the right as far as you can, look at the new thing you're pointing to and make a note of it.  Next, come back to facing forward and relax your arm back to your side. 

Second Step: Close your eyes and imagine doing the exercise again. Visualize bringing your right arm up and pointing at the first spot and pretend you are actually twisting to the right again. In this imaginary version, see yourself twisting past the original landing point and going a little further. Then, imagine yourself returning to your original position. Repeat this two more times, going even further in the second imaginary version, and going super far the third time. 

Third Step: After opening your eyes, really do the exercise again.  This will be the second time you've really done it, but the fifth time you've gone through the process if you count the imaginary versions. Notice the new spot you are pointing to when you finish. Really try all three steps before reading any further!

I love this exercise!  I've tried it with a lot of students this week and every single time, they were pointing significantly further to the right after the visualization rounds. I reminded them that the instructions said to go as far as they could the first time and asked why they could go so much further when they did it again. The general response from all the students has been so simple... 

"Because I saw myself doing it!"

Remember this exercise next time you are facing a perceived limitation in your practicing, performing, or life. If you can see yourself doing it, that will go a long way toward actually doing it!

Happy Practicing!
Terri Sánchez

P.S. Want to read more about breaking through perceived limitations? Learn how to complain specifically and convert those complaints into practice productivity by clicking HERE.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Learning From My Students: A Flute Teacher Takes Her Own Advice

It's always so amazing to me how much I learn in every flute lesson I teach. By prompting my students to let go of limiting beliefs, break every complex task into user friendly baby steps, and make connections in every way possible, I remind myself to do the same. In fact, it's funny how much I like to give my students advice about the very things I need to work on myself!  

Some great examples of this are the lessons I am learning as I finish preparing my book for publication. The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion has been in the works for two years now. This project has gone from ideas written on a poster in my office (and flute exercises I wrote during hours of what I affectionately call "productive procrastination") to a real rough draft, to an edited rough draft, to a completely different rough draft, and now a third completely different rough draft currently in the editing and formatting stages. I've wanted it to be done for so long that I sometimes lose sight of the real meaning of the project and find myself wanting to hurry up and finish. 

During one lesson this week, I listened to a student who was busy convincing themselves that they could only handle a certain tempo of double tonguing. I knowingly smiled and reminded the student that it's not just about muscle memory, it's about attitude. Later, I realized the irony when I sat down at my computer and felt like it was just too hard to finish my book goal for today. It's not just about getting it done, it's about attitude, I reminded myself.

A few days ago, I taught a student that seemed paralyzed by the perceived difficulty in a new piece she was learning.  I looked her in the eyes and said firmly, "I'm not letting you bail. You can handle this!" I stubbornly insisted that she break the most challenging passage down into the smallest baby pieces, repeating each until they felt easy, then coached her while she put the pieces back together.  

I teased her, saying, "See? I knew you could handle this!" The next day, I found myself really frustrated as I tried to figure out some formatting elements for one of my exercises, not having much luck. I found myself staring at the computer screen, yet again, feeling more and more sorry for myself. I'm not letting you bail. You can handle this! I remembered telling my student.  Humbly, I took a deep breath and kept experimenting until I found my solution.

Just now, when it was time to write this blog post, I found myself thinking, I don't have to write this today.  I'm in charge of when I post and when I don't, why don't I just skip it for now? But I also remembered a personal goal I've set to post something every Monday unless I've taken a specific break or vacation.  I don't like the feeling of letting myself down, so I searched for a topic I could get excited to write about.  

I thought back to a lesson earlier in the week when I told a student of mine, "You are such a great conversationalist.  Bring the energy, personality, and tools you use for that skill to the challenge you're facing right now!" Remembering this lesson helped me stick with my personal challenge of writing this post. I looked at my computer, took a deep breath, and told myself, Bring the energy, personality, and tools you use when teaching to this challenge right now!

And so, I did :-).

Happy practicing this week... students AND teachers!

Terri Sánchez

P.S. Click these links if you'd like to read more about motivation to get started or what to do when you're feeling insecure about facing challenges.

Monday, July 11, 2016

5 Pop Music Flute Descants: Try them all for a super fun and challenging practice session!

The more I practice them, the more I enjoy them!  

If you haven't tried the pop music flute descants yet, you are missing out!  For today's post, I'm providing links to all five previously posted descants in one place for your convenience.

Try them in the following order for a super fun and challenging practice session!

Click HERE to read the original blog post. 

Click HERE to read the original blog post.

Katy Perry Roar Double-Tonguing Fun Exercise
Click HERE to read the original blog post. 

Sia Chandelier Flute Descant
Click HERE to read the original blog post.

Happy Practicing!
Terri Sánchez

Long Tones Boring You? Try these instead!

Long Tones Boring You?

For aspiring flutists, there is no better warm-up on the planet than long tones.  Closing your eyes, inhaling fully, listening intently, and discovering the heart of every long note (especially in the low register) lays a solid foundation for the rest of your practice session.  Long tones are great for breathing, tone production, intonation, embouchure development, consistency, endurance, and lots of other flute playing skills.  

Unfortunately, many flutists have trouble engaging in this magical, therapeutic, transformative practice each and every day, because they feel bored or impatient. 

It's pretty tragic, but true.  

In today's fast paced, instant gratification, gotta get exactly what I want exactly when I want it world, long tones require a kind of stillness and patience that is getting harder and harder to access.

Though I could use this blog post to talk about mindfulness, focus, and delayed gratification, instead, let's just focus on...


Anyone who's read much of my blog knows I'm a huge fan of playing flute with a pop music soundtrack.  A strong beat and a familiar song can make even the most repetitive exercises entertaining and the most intimidating etudes accessible!  

Download the descants by clicking the link below!

If you just don't have it in you to diligently practice long tones, and you need something a little more simple than my Epic Warm-up, I hope you'll enjoy these Adele & Pharrell Long Tone Flute Descants instead!  Play them along with Rolling in the Deep and Happy, and enjoy the benefit of long tone practice with the fun and spirit of singing along (mentally) to your favorite tunes. 

Happy Practicing!

Terri Sánchez

P.S. It is much, much easier than you think to practice long tones with ANY song you like!  You can figure out the key yourself (or just Google it) and simply stick to playing notes in that key.  If you play something that doesn't sound right, no worries.  Just figure out what notes do work and enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2016

2 New Flute Pop Music Descants on July 11th!

Taking a month off for teaching, travel, and the July 4th holiday, but I'm excited about my next blog post on Monday, July 11th, which will include TWO flute pop music descants! In the meantime... 

Happy Practicing!
Terri Sánchez