They're a potent one to
four hour period where ideas are excited. Workshops are about creating "the
spark" that will ignite the sustained burn of practice. In a workshop
or master-class, listening to someone else play or ask a question can present
a completely different way of thinking about a situation than you might come
up with on your own. People who come to workshops and master-classes are
serious about music, whether as a profession or for personal enrichment,
and so they have the intensity of inquiry.
Fortunately, a certain bubbling of creativity has always led my life. I feel
that enthusiasm, joy and exploration add to one's studies. As serious as
we are, I think we can burn out if we're too serious. So I advocate treating
your work as important, while not taking it or yourself too seriously. I
teach to inspire a little bit of creativity and exploration, a sense of wonder,
personal responsibility and curiosity.
I offer a variety of workshops and master-classes sure to inspire any musician
at any level. My teaching style is about exploration and discovery and my
classes are upbeat and participatory.
Here are some of my workshops:
The Business of Music:
I have been solely making a living from music since 1990. I offer my ideas
of what you have to do to make music your career. We'll discuss attitudes
about how to stay healthy, whole, creative and excited about music; and how
not to burn out. Subjects include: scheduling, setting up a teaching studio,
getting students, getting gigs, how to prepare a press packet, networking,
etiquette, and business and financial planning for creative artists.
Using tone, technical exercises, extended techniques, pentatonic and blues
scales, graphic notation and game structures everyone can feel the joy, rather
than the fear, of creating music.
I have often come across pieces where I've had to use extended techniques.
My experience with extended techniques comes from improvising: from wanting
to create textures and colors and discover different sonic landscapes. I
teach extended techniques with a hands-on approach, based on fingerings that
you know and how you blow. Then you can push what you know into the unfamiliar,
making it become familiar. I show you how to get a certain effect, or how
to find the steps along the way to getting it. These include the most common
flutter tongue and jet whistle, chiffy sounds and even beat boxing. I'll
demonstrate and simplify basic techniques such as singing and playing, quartertones,
multi-phonics, microtones, jet whistles, slap tongue and more. We will explore
how these unusual sounds can help the traditional tone, expression and intonation.
Classical Master Classes:
The creative process is fundamental to me, and I believe good art is a balance
between skill, technique and the freedom to let your intuitive guide you.
Using traditional and contemporary repertoire, we will develop skill and
learn to create expression through specific objective exercises. With a fail-safe
dynamic exercise and an "emotion chart" we will build the tools
to express ourselves, and by creating stories we will help find the emotion
in the notes. Feel the rhythm in every day life, and find the natural pulse
in the music. Dance, march, skip — learn how subdivision and inner
counting help us feel the phrases.
Tools of the Trade:
As musicians, we all need the tools to go very far and very fast! We'll talk
about ways to vary your routine and start looking forward to your warm-ups.
Get ideas about practicing technical passages with varied rhythms, note couples
and simple improvisations. Get clear, visual mnemonic devices that help a
wind player understand theory principles and how to recognize them in music.
Learn how to memorize major and minor scales and the circle of 5ths, different
practice patterns and how scales are used in music. I'll discuss practice
planning and how in just twenty minutes a day you'll get more done if you
have a plan. Learn how to use a timer, charts, stickers and other motivational
This workshop is about mental and physical conditioning for musicians. We
all get nervous. Some of us thrive on the adrenaline; others fear it. What's
the difference? In addition to discussing basic physical and mental responses
to stress, we will play using exercises that induce stress so that we can
practice overcoming the jitters. Discussing stage etiquette is helpful for
concerts and competitions. How we handle ourselves on stage is as much a
part of the performance as are the notes. Inspired by my work with chiropractors,
yoga, Alexander Technique and Suzuki theater training, I'll also discuss
breath and body conditioning, stretching, physical warm-up/cool-down, fun
finger exercises, possible injuries and ways to prevent them.
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Amadeus Music Academy Flute Camp, Santa Monica, CA.
- Knuckle Buster Workout Master-Class on practicing difficult passages and a performance
National Flute Association Annual Convention, New York.
Workshop, Electric Lodge, Venice, CA.
- Music Improvisation Workshop-Turn on
Your Creativity! with Howard Richman and Florence Mercurio Riggs.
Merchant, Canoga Park, CA.
Exhibitor Showcase: Flutastics and Syukhtun
lecture on singing while playing, presentation of Flutastics extended technique
workbook, performance of Syukhtun, National Flute Association Annual Convention,
Kansas City, KS.
- GEAR UP Fourth Annual Career Day, La Puente, CA.
Music, MTAC Santa Clarita Branch, Santa Clarita, CA.
- Flute Masterclass,
MTAC Whittier Branch, La Mirada, CA.
- Pacific Flute Camp, Rolling Hills, CA.
- Flute Masterclass, Wichita State University.
- Flute Clinic, Jim Starkey Music Center, Wichita.
- Jazz Program's Guest Artist Series with Steuart Liebig's
Stigtette, Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, CA.
- Free Improvisation
Workshop I, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Flute Orchestra.
Planning and Financial Management for Artists with John Zarchen, Electric
- Composers in Performance with Sara Schoenbeck. Meridian Gallery,
- Money Matters, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia,
Improvisation and Extended Techniques, Wildacres Flute Retreat,
Little Switzerland, NC. 2001
- Electronic Effects, National Flute Association
Annual Convention, Columbus, OH.
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reviews and comments
You provided fresh insights
into the art of playing the flute and an all-around great experience, not
only for the students who performed, but for the teachers and other spectators
in the audience, as well.
During her week-long residency, Ellen
displayed excellence in the areas of composition, flute performance,
and improvisation. Her flute playing is at the highest technical level;
her compositions, both traditionally notated and improvised, are origi
You are so much fun and my students loved the class. I
was so impressed with how much you packed into 50 minutes. I appreciate all
your many facets and your unending creativity and enthusiasm.
Ellen was energetic, enthusiastic and knowledgeable
about all her subjects, and she presented her ideas in a non-intimidating manner. Ellen's
approach to improvising and learning new techniques is great for beginners
and the more experienced alike.
Ellen has done several master classes with various
levels of flute players – from beginning to advanced students who have
played 3-4 years. All of these students benefited from her sharing of
flute technique, breathing, vibrato and intonation.
My students were impressed with your musical
ability. They were eager to hear you demonstrate techniques such as multiphonics,
flutter tongue, and the jet whistle. In music rehearsals following your
demonstration, these young musicians were excited to show off to their classmates
what they learned in your master class.
Extended techniques can be quite overwhelming
but Ellen Burr has such an enthusiastic and magical way of presenting the techniques
that even the novice can easily grasp the concepts. Through demonstration and
audience interaction, Ms. Burr provides the participants a clear grasp of each
topic. Her performance at the end utilizes the techniques discussed in class
and demonstrates how a contemporary piece really can sound musical!
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