"Tadeu Coelho has the most solid technique of a very consistent school. The art of interpretation of this wonderful Latin American musician is compared by critics to soloists in the rank of Jean-Pierre Rampal or Severino Gazzeloni."
- Siempre!, Mexico
"Bravo! Tadeu! Rampal used to say that the flute has the sound of humanity. Listening to Tadeu Coelho, we can only agree with Rampal. Tadeu is impressive. He is the revelation of this generation."
- Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil
"Tadeu Coelho gave an exceptional interpretation. There is no doubt about his virtuoso abilities topped with a degree of musicianship that was magnific and complete."
- Diario Popular, Brazil
"My Miyazawa gives me a full, rich and flexible tone even in extreme dynamic ranges. The platinum riser offers a quick and focused response, which combined with a fast mechanism make a terrific instrument. I love my Miyazawa!"
- Tadeu Coelho
TADEU COELHO has been a Resident Artist and Professor of Flute at the North Carolina School of the Arts since the fall of 2002. He previously served as Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Iowa from 1997-2002, as Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of New Mexico from 1992-1997 and as Visiting Professor at the Ino Mirkovich Music Academy in Croatia. Dr. Coelho frequently appears as soloist, chamber musician and master clinician throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. He has performed as First Solo Flutist of the Santa Fe Symphony, Hofer Symphoniker in Germany and the Spoletto Festival Orchestra in Italy, among others, as well as guest appearances with the Boston Symphony.
An avid proponent of new music and music of the Americas, Tadeu Coelho has commissioned, performed and recorded works by notable composers. His solo CDs include: 18th Century Flute Sonatas, Life Drawing (works for solo flute), Rompe! (chamber music from Mexico), Miyazawa Flutists of the World, and Flute Music from Brazil. He can also be heard performing works by Thomas Delio on 3D Classics and Villa-Lobos on Albany Records with his brother, bassoonist Benjamin Coelho. He has published the complete works of Pattápio Silva and other pieces for solo flute as well as collections of daily exercises with accompanying CDs.
Tadeu Coelho received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Julius Baker and Ransom Wilson. Started on the flute by his father, Tadeu Coelho also studied with Keith Underwood, Thomas Nyfenger, Andrew Lolya and Arthur Ephross. He gave his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in April of 1992. In his native Brazil, Dr. Coelho studied with Spartacco Rossi, João Dias Carrasqueira and Jean Noel Sagaard.
For further information or for concert and/or masterclass bookings contact:
Irna Priore, Tempo Primo Enterprises
We had the opportunity to ask Tadeu a few questions. Take a look at his thoughts on balancing a full time teaching and performing career, preparing for college auditions as well as advice for upcoming flutists.
1.How did you come to choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?
There was a display of Miyazawa flutes at the Iowa Flute Festival one year when I was teaching at the University of Iowa. I remember playing every flute on the table, but coming back to one flute in particular that had a platinum riser. I didn’t realize platinum risers were even possible – but Miyazawa was experimenting with them at the time. I realized right then that the platinum riser was really special because I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I ended up taking that flute home at a later date to try. It was a silver flute and I was currently playing on gold, but I wanted to still spend some time on it. My wife, Irna, could hear me from the other room and kept saying, ‘Tadeu, you sound so much better on your gold flute!’ However, every time she said that… I was playing the silver Miyazawa with the platinum riser! Every time I played it for a student they said the same thing. The rest is history!
The whole flute has an amazing sound with a huge tonal color range. There are so many tonal possibilities with Miyazawa. The mechanism is also amazing. It doesn’t go out of adjustment. The Miyazawa technicians can confirm that I’ve barely had any work done on my flute. My flute has Straubinger pads which also hold up really well.
2. Your ‘3 Steps to Glory’ seminar has highly influenced many flutists. Can you give us a brief overview of what these steps entail?
First, I should begin by saying that the way that we teach today is not conducive to an artistic beginning. Many music educators teach 1-e-&-a for the subdivision. This way of counting music is logical mathematically, but it does not account for the shapes of phrases or musical lines. The artistry is important in counting as well. When we play, we don’t count with our voices, we count with our minds. In order to overcome that, I ask students to sing. If you can express the musical idea by following the shape of the phrase (but not necessarily the exact pitches) with the voice, then there are two things that will happen: 1. You will have a much clearer idea of how the music goes without relying on the pitches to give the contour of the line. 2. You won’t have to stress your vocal chords when you play the flute. This was a very important discovery. Especially flute players - we mentally sing the pitches, and we should. However, when we mentally sing the pitches we are to be playing, invariably we put our throats to work. We then start closing up the throat, which in turn results in a thin sound when you change registers because we are over working our vocal chords. This was the first step in my three steps to glory.
The next realization was when students would practice, practice, practice and then come to their lessons and stumble. They would say, “It was perfect at home.” Something was changing from home to the lesson. I discovered that it was a form of stage fright, as a result of my being in the room. They were nervous to play in front of me! There are two sides to the brain: one side is the artistic side which is normally involved in practicing the flute. The other side is the reasoning part of our brain which is normally not involved in practicing but gets in the way of playing the flute when we are in public. The reasoning side that is not usually involved starts asking the artistic side questions during the performance, and it interferes with the artistic side while performing. It says things like, “What note is that??” The other side panics and says, “I don’t know!!” Then we stumble because the brain sends mixed signals to the muscles. So…both sides of the brain need to practice! In order to practice the reasoning side, you need to sing your part in solfege. Students these days do not typically sing their entire pieces in solfege, so they do not necessarily know the notes they are playing. They are looking at the note and fingering it, which by the way is a very good thing to do. The problem arises when your brain asks, “What note is that?” and they don’t know. Wouldn’t it be better to sing/say the name of the notes in solfege? So, putting the two things together was an amazing discovery. It revolutionized my teaching. And sure enough, I’ve been teaching 3 steps to glory for 16 years!
The third step is to play on the flute. A great thing about the second step is that it is an amazing concentration tool. If you start getting nervous during a performance and feel like you are starting to lose control, start doing the second step while you are performing and immediately your focus comes back. It’s very difficult for your brain to think of two things at the same time. In a way, you kind of distract your brain. Concentration is being able to focus on one thing at a time.
3. What is your favorite piece to perform from the flute repertoire?
I have a very good answer to that! I really believe it and wish I would have come up with it myself. I am quoting Jean-Pierre Rampal. He said that “the piece that I’m playing at the moment is my favorite piece to play.” Another tool I use is called the Flute Attitude. I look for that in every student. If they don’t have a good flute attitude, I know we won’t be a good match. In essence, the flute attitude is a positive, joyful approach. This attitude embodies the idea that the piece that I enjoy performing the most is the one I am performing at that moment. And that’s the way it should be. Because you shouldn’t give to your audience what is not your very best. You should give nothing but your very best every single minute and every single time you play. If you practice that way, you will perform that way. That is flute attitude. If you have that attitude about life in general, you will be a very happy person!
4. How do you balance a full time teaching and performing career?
You start with a lot of prayers! What I have learned through the years is that no matter how much I’ve practiced, I never feel like I’ve practiced enough. It can be very frustrating going on stage thinking I haven’t practiced enough. However, that is the wrong approach because then I am relying on myself to do everything. And I really believe in something higher than myself, and I believe that I have to rely on something bigger than me, because I know how imperfect I am. There is an ingredient of faith that needs to be there. Fear can only be overcome with love. So, if you are fearful when you step on stage, it means that you don’t have faith in the love that has been given to you. That is how I balance everything in my life… it is through faith.
5. Growing up in Brazil, were you influenced by other styles of music during your early classical studies? If so, how did this affect you and/or your training?
Now that I reflect on it, growing up in Brazil and playing what we call Choro music has really influenced me a lot. It is usually played by very happy people and is a very social type of music with serenades from house to house. Very fun to play! You serenade people at their house, then they invite you in and feed you. You eat and drink, and then you go to the next house, etc.
The quartet I play with is Quarteto Vivace Brazil, and we play a lot of Choro music. It is very wonderful to get together – there are jokes all the time! It has had such a tremendous effect on me with my teaching. I am very serious and my expectations are high, but I see the value in having fun, too. Whenever I am performing, if it’s not fun, I have to immediately find out why so that I can fix it. This has shaped the way I approach music making, which is very positive. Just like flute attitude! Even when you are doing your scales, it has to be fun otherwise you are not engaged in the process of making music. Playing a scale should be just as important as playing a Bach sonata. You have to play with the same amount of sensibility and expression. That’s how growing up in Brazil influenced me – especially in terms of the attitude. Enjoying the process of making music rather than getting hung up on the technical aspects.
6. What does a typical daily practice session look like for you?
I usually start my daily practice doing some stretches and light aerobic exercises to get my blood moving. After that, I do the following routine:
1. I work for about 5 minutes with the Breathing Bag and about one minute with the Breath Builder.
2. I do some embouchure warm-up exercises by using overtones before doing intonation exercises.
3. Then, I put on one of my Flute Workout CD’s and do intonation exercises by playing long tones and simple melodies, major or minor scales, extended scales (in this order) while walking on the treadmill. On odd days, I do minor scales and the altered scales (octatonic, whole-tone, be-bop, blues etc., from my Flute Startup Book).
4. I end my technical warm up session with the Allegro from the Bach C Major Sonata, Mendelssohn Scherzo, and The Carnival of the Animals. All of this routine takes about 45 to 90 minutes depending on how much time I have available for practice. The treadmill helps me to learn how to control the breathing when my pulse is accelerated, contributing to my physical endurance as well.
5. I practice the repertoire that I need to prepare for my upcoming performances.
I take frequent breaks (every twenty minutes or so) so my hands don’t get fatigued.
7. How do you recommend preparing for college auditions?
First, I recommend that students research as much as they can about the teacher, the school, and the required audition repertoire. Most schools publish their audition repertoire on their web page. I highly recommend that students take private lessons with the teacher they wish to study with. Choosing a teacher is a very important step in someone’s career, as it is a personal choice based on the chemistry between the student, the teacher and the qualifications of the student.
I recommend students to have their entire audition memorized at least two months prior to the audition date. The audition repertoire should be contrasting and challenging; the student should have complete command of the audition repertoire. I do not recommend students to choose a piece they are not ready to play. I cannot tell you how many auditions I sat through where the student comes with an ambitious repertoire that she/he cannot play. This is an awkward experience for the person playing and for those listening. Therefore, I recommend students to choose wisely and have several “mock auditions” prior to their first audition. I highly recommend one to contact current students at that particular school and ask questions about the studio and the school. Be honest with your assessment of the teacher and the school. It’s important to have the best fit between you, the school, and the new teacher. You should not choose a place for its reputation and then find out later that you have no chemistry with that teacher. It is a waste of time, money, and a bad way to begin a career. Remember that in most cases, the student “makes“ the teacher. The student’s attitude is perhaps the most important part of the chemistry with the teacher.
8. Do you have any tips or suggestions for a flutist looking to buy a new flute -either on the trial process or how to decide/narrow it down?
I recommend students have several instruments to choose from. Flute conventions are usually very good for this purpose. It is very important to bring along some friends who know your playing and can listen to you while you are trying new instruments. You should choose a flute by how it sounds and not just by how it feels or looks. Therefore, do blind tests. Choose different instruments and don’t tell your friends which is which. Remember that you are playing for an audience and that the audience has a better perspective on how you sound than you do. Make sure that you always tune the new flutes at a constant reference pitch. It can be deceiving at times when there are some pitch differences. Test the flute first with a beautiful melody for the overall sound. The beginning of a Mozart concerto is a very good choice so that the flute is tested with one coherent piece of music. Test the instrument in the third octave (using, for example, the beginning of the Daphnis solo) to find out how well you can control the instrument’s flexibility in the third octave. Also try the highest notes, such as the high D’s, of the Prokofiev Sonata or the Classical Symphony. Test articulation by playing the middle and low registers. The Mendelssohn Scherzo and The Carnival of the Animals are great test pieces for this purpose.
If you have your mind set on a particular brand of flute or headjoint, then nothing else will satisfy you. There are also people who are never satisfied with their instruments, and are constantly looking for something better. I believe this a mistake brought about by insecurities or other issues that are not related to the flute itself. Ultimately, you are the one who needs to produce the beautiful sound, not just the flute, and that takes work.
9. If you have one piece of advice for an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?
At the final round of a job interview, it is not only how well you play but also how well you get along with your colleagues. If you are not a nice person, you will not be able to get or keep the job. Of course you have to practice, practice, and more practice, but always with love. Have fun practicing. Learn how to love practicing. If you hate practicing or if practice is a bore to you, this is the wrong profession for you. I remember fondly my teacher Julius Baker, and his legacy he left for us. One of his favorite times of his day was when he was doing his scales with the metronome. I loved calling Julius Baker on the phone around 11 a.m., because when he would pick up the telephone I would hear the metronome in the background. The metronome was at quarter note = 104 which meant he was doing his scales. I loved that.
Also – I really believe that it is 3% talent and 97% hard work. People don’t realize with great performers how much hard work they actually do behind the stage. So get working! :)