YouTube Email

« Back to Feed

Featured Artist - Spring 2017

Our Featured Emerging Artist for the month is Alyssa Griggs. Noted for her "high level of fearless skill", Alyssa is a dynamic orchestral, chamber and solo artist. Ms. Griggs has given her solo debut at Carnegie Hall as a First Prize Winner in the Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition. Additional accolades include First Prize in the Upper Midwest Flute Association Young Artist Competition, First Prize in the Florida Bach Young Artist Competition, First Prize in the Florida Bach Young Artist Competition, Honorable Mention in the Myrna Brown Flute Competition and Finalist in the Byron Hester Flute Competition.

Equally versatile as an orchestral musician, Alyssa currently serves as Assistant Principal Flute for the Omaha Symphony and Second Flute for Des Moines Metro Opera. She has also served as Piccolo/Assistant Principal Flute of Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and Piccolo for Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. She has performed at Carnegie Hall as Principal Flute of the New York Festival Orchestra, and has also played with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Philharmonic. 

 

We had the opportunity to ask Alyssa a few questions. Check out her thoughts on preparation for auditions, what qualities are essential to musical excellence as well as advice for upcoming flutists.

 

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

I believe musical excellence is fully achieved when an artist is able to clearly communicate their ideas and expressions through their instrument. With that idea in mind, the technical/fundamental aspects of the flute must be mastered so that they never interfere with the ultimate musical idea. When this happens it can feel as if the flute is truly your voice which is what I believe to be true musical mastery and excellence.


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

This ties in directly to the previous question; I’m always striving to play with as much ease, relaxation, openness, and flexibility as possible so that I can be free to explore my musical ideas. With that being said, I heavily emphasize fundamentals (ie. tone production, technique, articulation etc.) in my teaching so that actual music making is that much easier.

 

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

Because of the nature of my job and where my aspirations lie, I typically split my time between flute and piccolo equally. However,
based on what I’m preparing for, this can vary from week to week. I spend about half of a practice session working on fundamentals,
intonation etc. (common theme!) and the rest of the time is split between preparing music for work and for recitals/auditions/ competitions that I have coming up. I’ve really had to learn how to prioritize my time effectively and to have a clear schedule of what I’m working on before I start practicing.



4. What is the most valuable lesson the flute (or music) has taught you?

I think music has affected my life tremendously in many ways but one of the biggest aspects is that it’s taught me perseverance, determination, and a great work ethic.



5. How would you advise flutists to begin practicing for an orchestral audition and/or competition? What advice can you give to
those preparing as far as nerves/performance anxiety are concerned?

I get incredibly specific when starting to plan for a big audition or competition. I know how many weeks I typically need in order to reach my peak at the right moment. I can then arrange my practice sessions around the amount of time I have. My very first step is to always make an audition book for each audition I take. I like to start with a clean slate on all my excerpts so that I can form new ideas and not be influenced by what did not work for me in the past. I always start the process with a read through of my required playing to see what kind of shape my excerpts are in so I can then prioritize my time for the excerpts that need more work. I always try to listen to new and different recordings in the beginning as well, so that I have a fresh ear for new ideas and details. Leading up to the audition I work heavily and almost exclusively on fundamentals so that I’m in my absolute best shape to play my excerpts. Dealing with performance anxiety is a big topic for me and one that effects everyone differently. Figuring out what your specific symptoms
are and what works for you is well worth an in depth exploration and experimentation process. What has worked for me most recently is meditation and exercise. I think a common problem musicians run into are obsessions about aspects of an audition or performance that are out of your control which can ultimately ruin your headspace. Taking the time to clear my head, quiet my mind, and just breathe for ten minutes has helped tremendously. Exercise can also be a form of meditation as well- it greatly helps my stress levels and any form of muscle pain as a result of over practicing.



6. What musician has had the largest influence on your playing?

I would say my teacher at Eastman, Bonita Boyd, has had the largest influence on my playing. Not a day goes by when I’m not using her techniques, ideas, or have her sound and musicality in my head when I’m practicing. She truly helped me find my own voice as a performer, pushed me to my limits, and believed in me every step of the way. I feel that my most transformative years happened when I studied with her and I admire her not only as a musician but also as a role model for being such a wonderful person.



7. We are always evolving as people and as musicians. With this in mind, what is your musical vision moving forward?

What a great question! I have a lot of special ideas and projects that I hope to work on in the future and my passion continues to lie in being primarily an orchestral player but I’ve also realized that I enjoy a good balance of orchestral, chamber, and solo
playing. My vision moving forward is to stay true to my goals and who I am as a musician and follow as many performing
opportunities as possible!



8. What are your other passions outside of music?

I love being active, being outside, and spending time with loved ones- if all of those things involve being at the beach, even
better!



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

When I was trying flutes it became very clear early on that my Miyazawa was the front runner. The mechanisms and feel of the
flute is, in my opinion, completely above and beyond any other flute that I tried. I was also very attracted to the sound- I love a big, dark sound but also having the ability to easily access a broad spectrum of colors. My Miyazawa headjoint gives me exactly what I was looking for; the richness of gold, matched with the clarity that the platinum riser provides has really helped me find my voice!



10. If you have one piece of advice for an up-and-coming flutist, what would you tell them?

This piece of advice was given to me during my undergraduate years and has stuck with me ever since- you’re all going to be ok, you’re all going to make it. It can be a very tough and strenuous path but I really believe that if you stay true to your
goals and what you hope to achieve anything can happen. Also, there is no one, single, definition of success as a flutist. Success
comes in many different forms and jobs so always make sure to stay true to yourself!