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Barre, VT

Performs On:

Classic RH-8k Gold Flute with 14k Gold Headjoint

Artist Bio

Laurel Ann Maurer


"A secure technician and an assured, communicative interpreter."
                                                                                             - The New York Times

"...She is technically superb in every way. Her tone is consistently attractive even in the most treacherous passages, and she plays with great rhythmic drive and impeccable phrasing."
                                                                                             - Fanfare Magazine

"Maurer has a strong, colorful, full sound and a sure technique..."
                                                                                            - American Record Guide

"Utah's flutist par excellence."
                                                                                            - Salt Lake Tribune

"Maurer is a veritable poet of her instrument."
                                                                                           - Deseret Morning News


Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer has been lauded by The New York Times as "A secure technician and an assured, communicative interpreter." Fanfare Magazine states that "she is technically superb in every way. Her tone is consistently attractive even in the most treacherous passages, and she plays with great rhythmic drive and impeccable phrasing." American Record Guide says that "Maurer has a strong, colorful, full sound and a sure technique" She has been described by The Salt Lake Tribune as "Utah's flutist par excellence...a consummate musician and a master of coloration and interpretation." The Deseret News has described her playing as "lush, luminous, expressive, dramatic and exquisite."

Ms. Maurer began her musical studies in Seattle, Washington under the direction of Dorothy Bjarnason. She continued her musical studies in New York City, studying with esteemed flutists, Jeanne Baxtresser, Samuel Baron and Julius Baker who stated that she is "one of our outstanding and gifted flutists."

As an award winner from such organizations as the National Association of Composers-USA, the National Flute Association, the National Orchestra of New York, the Chautauqua Institute and the Utah Arts Council, Ms. Maurer has concertized throughout the United States and Europe. She has appeared as concerto soloist with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Salt Lake Symphony and others. She has performed in many of the world's most famous concert halls including: Khachaturian Hall, Monte Carlo Opera House, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall. National Opera Orchestra of Armenia,

At the forefront of Ms. Maurer's career is her dedication to contemporary music. She has commissioned, performed and recorded numerous premieres for the flute compelling many important composers to comment, among them Otto Luening, who wrote "She projects composer's ideas with authority and elegance." Joan Tower has written, "Thanks so much for doing such an outstanding job! This performance (was) one of the best I've received." Augusta Read Thomas said, "Bravo! We composers need you." And Meyer Kupferman has called her playing "Truly sensational."

Ms. Maurer began her Suzuki teacher training in 1988 and has studied with Rebecca Paluzzi, Toshio Takahashi, Kenichi Ueda and June Warhoftig.

Laurel Ann Maurer has recorded for Albany, CRI, Soundspells and 4-Tay records.

Artist Interview

Laurel Ann Maurer


We had the opportunity to ask Laurel a few questions. Take a look at her thoughts on teaching talented students, the Suzuki Method, as well as advice for upcoming flutists.


1. How did you achieve such a high level in the Suzuki Teaching Method and what was involved?

After finishing graduate school and my internship as a fellow with the National Orchestra of New York, I began teaching and freelancing in the New York area. I was teaching at a community music school in Queens, New York and was introduced to the Suzuki Method by the school’s director, Sydell Roth.  The other faculty members - teachers of piano, violin and cello - were all Suzuki trained. I had the opportunity to observe their teaching and their results. Sydell encouraged me to seek out Suzuki training in the flute.  This was the late 1980’s. For the next several years, I attended many Suzuki Institutes, which are held in various locations in North America, usually at college campuses, in the summer months. A person can be a certified Suzuki teacher after taking Book 1 (the courses are about a week long and cover each book individually), but it is recommended to continue to the highest level possible. (There are 14 books in the Flute School.) Suzuki training is a long process and the method is still evolving and growing. Teachers are encouraged to continue their training and even repeat courses occasionally. My first teacher was Rebecca Paluzzi. I also took courses from June Warhoftig, David Gerry and Toshio Takahashi, the founder of the Suzuki Flute School. All of these teachers were excellent and dedicated to training future teachers.

After 20 years as a Suzuki teacher, I realized that I was ready for the next step: to become a trainer myself. The application process is quite intensive. Video tapes of examples of my teaching at various levels and with various ages had to be recorded. They had to meet specific criteria as did tapes of my performances and my student’s performances. These tapes took months to compile. I also had to write a paper and prove my involvement in the Suzuki Method and music in general at a high level. I officially became a teacher trainer in April 2007.

I am truly honored to be a spokesperson for Dr. Suzuki who was a great humanitarian. I encourage anyone who is interested to read his wonderful books, especially “Nurtured by Love." His insights and philosophies are very inspiring and enlightening. This past November I had the opportunity to go to Japan and visit the original school, the Talent Education Research Instititute, that Dr. Suzuki founded. In some ways, going to Japan helped me understand the Suzuki Method even more. The careful attention to detail that pervades the ordinary lives of the Japanese is astounding and refreshing.  I enjoyed experiencing this fascinating culture.


2. We understand some of your greatest influences were your teachers Jeanne Baxtresser, Samuel Baron and Julius Baker.  What were your most inspiring moments from each of these teachers?

I think that a great teacher provides years of inspiring moments.  Of course there are great moments of realization, for instance, when Julius Baker said to me “change your tone," that truly take your playing to a higher level.  But there are also the other comments that come back as you need them as you proceed in this musical journey.  Sam Baron was a great analyst and his approaches to understanding music and working on music are still with me today and are passed on to my students.  Precision and perfection are the qualities that Jeanne Baxtresser embodies in her playing and she continues to inspire me to play at the highest level that I can.


3. Your student, Helen McGarr, has been recognized as an outstanding young performer.  How do you recognize talent at such a young age and do you teach those students differently?

Well, first let me address the concept of talent. Dr. Suzuki believed that all people have talent; it’s the environment that makes it possible to develop the talent or not. I share this philosophy. Imagine if a child is born into a family where there are older siblings practicing classical music and classical music recordings are listened to. Imagine that the parents have the time and energy to assist their children with their practicing, making sure that all of the teacher’s directions are completed. Imagine a teacher who is experienced and involved and teaches in a positive manner. This student will probably do very well. This was the environment for Helen McGarr and she has done very well. Now imagine that very same child growing up in a house where there is no exposure to classical music. The student has the talent, but without the exposure and interest, the talent will not get developed. So, in a way, I teach everyone the same in that I am positive; I teach in progressive steps and I have high expectations. But, in a way, I teach everyone differently too. Each student is an individual with different strengths and weaknesses and I tailor my teaching to each person according to what they need.

4. As an award winner in many categories, how do you go about preparing for competitions and what advice can you give?

In my experience, preparation for anything is usually the same. Because I am striving for the best results that I can achieve. I begin, in a way, from the beginning. Covering the very basic components of good musicianship. This involves taking a very analytical approach to music making. The first thing that I address is tone. Am I producing the right tone for each note in every moment?  Coupled with that is intonation, dynamics and color. Each of these elements is integral to the tone. But sometimes must be added later. Like layers in a painting. As I work on the tonal landscape, I am first working with the music in a more free rhythm so that I can take time to develop the tone. As the tone develops in the music as I concieve then the metronome is utilized. First at slower tempi with lots of subdividing for precision and then at performance tempo. Even after a work is worked up to tempo, I still do a fair amount of maintainace practice under tempo. For myself, lots of slow, calm practice pays off in terms of learning a piece solidly.  And in performance, that is my foundation. In performance I channel any extra "nervous" energy into the music to give it that extra "drive". This ability comes from experience and from that experience one learns about one's tendencies and how to control them. All the work comes from an artistic concept of the piece. All of what the composer writes is important to follow. But following with the added element of intelligent and musical ideas. It's all about balance. The composers instructions and ideas are first and foremost. But I must use my skills and experience to embrace those instructions for a convincing performance that "speaks" to an audience.


5. What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day includes teaching, rehearsing and practicing the flute. I also spend a good deal of the year giving training courses for Suzuki Flute teachers as a Suzuki Certified Trainer. That being said, there are many variations to my daily schedule. But there are 3 things that ground me and are my daily priorities.

I always try to address all 3 things every day. I don't always succeed. Sometimes I only get 1 or 2 done if I am particularly busy or out of town. But the 3 things that are important to me as a person and a musician are: practicing my flute, exercising my body and meditating for calming my mind and connecting to spirit. I don't stress if I don't get everything done. But I just do the best that I can.

 

6. Who or what has been your greatest influence? 

The flutists that have influenced me the most are Julius Baker and Jeanne Baxtresser. I would also love to acknowledge my teacher when I was in High School-Dorothy Bjarnason for her wisdom and kindness and exceptional patience! 

Studying with Julius Baker was an honor. He demonstrated in so many ways, what it meant to be a great artist and a solid musician. Practical and yet inspired, he embodied great discipline and set the highest of standards. His sound and his ease of style were the examples that I followed in my own playing. He always made it look easy and sound effortless. Work is the key. It doesn't come by magic, just hard work. He knew this and was always in top form. He was an inspiration!

I have often sought out the sound, style and example of Jeanne Baxtresser. She is, to me, the finest example of the most artistically refined flutist. I admire her artistry and her analytical approach. Her performances are stunning for her consistently captivating sound and musicality. She is a great example of a musician who truly embraces the composer's intentions and makes the music the most important thing-not herself. Ego-less playing. To me, she serves as an example so that I can strive to be better.


7. How did you decide to play the flute?

I wish I had a really cool story of how I fell in love with the sound of the flute and begged my parents for one. But no such luck. I simply expressed an interest in the flute and the next thing I knew, my Mother (thanks Mom!) rented a flute and signed me up for band. Eventually she had me taking private lessons and like any well behaved child, I practiced and practiced and practiced.....  Well, see what happened!!?  In High School I knew that music was my path and I have never turned back from my "Flute Journey".

 

8. What is the most valuable lesson the flute has taught you?

Courage.

 

9. What qualities do you think are most essential to musical excellence?

Vision, modesty, discipline and an open mind.

An artist must have a vision or a concept of how he/she wants to sound, what he/she wants to express. This is the quality that drives a person towards their goals. When we are young, our teachers have this vision for us and instill it in us. As we become more independent, we develop our own tastes and create our own vision. We are influenced of course by conductors, colleagues and artists we admire. But we eventually undergo a synthesis that continues to develop if we keep striving.

I do believe that an artist needs to have a balance of a healthy ego and humility. We are all human and we all make attempts that sometimes fail. That is part of the process of development.  Artists need to forgive themselves of their "failures" (although I believe that if we learn from our mistakes it's never a failure). It is also very dangerous to think you know it all. If you cross that threshold, then you basically close your mind to learning. No one knows everything and we all learn from each other.

An artist must have a great deal of discipline. There is more to developing one's art than emotional expression and intellectual understanding. The training of the body in conjunction with the mind and heart is critical. Artists are very much like athletes. Daily focused practicing, which trains the muscles is necessary. My teacher, Julius Baker, used to say "If I skip one day of practice, I know it. If I skip two, you know it."

I believe that an artist needs an open mind because that is how we learn. When you can consider more or different approaches you can deepen your understanding. An open mind leads to many more possibilities. And by considering other approaches, techniques or interpretations, one can be more assured in one's own choices.


10. What do you think is the most important thing for you to emphasize in your teaching and in your own playing?

Acceptance of the whole person.


11. What does a typical practice session look like for you?

To me, first and foremost is tone. A beautiful sound must be cultivated and maintained. It needs constant honing. If the sound one produces is not beautiful, then how can one expect others to appreciate it? Now, beauty of tone is very subjective. And thank goodness it is! We don't want a world where everyone sounds the same!! We each have our voice and it is up to each of us to develop it. So each day begins with making sure the tone is what I want it to be. Next comes control of the tone. I have various exercises and short pieces that I play each day that tests my tonal range, dynamics and color. Intonation is the next component and then I go through various pieces and exercises that involve articulation and finger technique. After I have achieved all of these things and am comfortable, I then tackle music that I am learning for various programs.

12. What are your other interests outside of music?

I would have to say that I am a seeker of the truth. That is the only thing that I have a passion for that even comes close to music. I have an insatiable desire to dig as deeply as I can into a subject and find out what is truly going on. When I was a child, I always thought it would be neat to be a detective, so I guess I've always had this trait! I do love cooking as well, but for totally different reasons. I find it wonderfully relaxing to go into the kitchen and create healthy, delicious food!


13. What is your approach regarding the idea of developing a flute or music community in your area?

Just like the careful cultivation of a garden, the cultivation of a thriving flute community can be very rewarding. As I stated before, I believe that we all have the ability to learn from each other. Learning from others challenges our views and tastes and opens us up to more possibilities. I do not think that the best learning can occur in a vacuum. And I do not think a musician can thrive by him/herself. That said, it is also important to learn to engage different personalities. Relations amongst people are not always smooth and friendly; however, striving for harmony improves us all. So in addition to musical adventures, a flute community can help each of us to be better at communicating and relationships. Having to look at things from another person's point of view can teach us so much and expand our consciousness.

There are so many ways to begin; a joint studio recital, playing chamber music with colleagues, starting a flute choir or hiring a clinician. I know for myself, I’ve received so much from the contributions from colleagues that I feel it is time well spent in helping build my community of flutists!


14. How did you come to choose the Miyazawa as your flute of choice?


It was 1984 and I went off to my repairman’s studio because my flute needed some work. He said:  “Hey, you gotta try these new flutes, they just came in.”  I picked up a Miyazawa and played one note - a B and I knew. I experienced the sound as magical and I turned to him and said,  “I have to have this flute!”  In the years that have followed, I have tried just about every brand of flute out there and I am happy to say that I have not found anything that I love better than my Miyazawa!!


15. If you had one piece of advice to give an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?

Always know what you are doing and why. It is not good enough to play a certain way because someone told you to. There must be a reason and you must know it. Otherwise, your playing will be lacking in conviction.

Miyazawa’s Artist Profiles