Robert Aitken's flute teaching is a distinctively Canadian hybrid of the poetic teaching of Marcel Moyse, particular lessons from Wilkins, Baker, Fiore, Gazzeloni, Barwahser, Jaunet, Rampal, and others, and Aitken's own notions of music as a language and of playing with the whole body. His teaching is infused with knowledge and stories connected with the many facets of his life: his work as composer, new-music aficionado, recording and performing artist, orchestral musician; his deep interests in music theory, acoustics and musical perception, music history, and flutes and flute music from many cultures; his love of sports—tennis, golf, skiing; and his deep interest in people and their aspirations. Although his teaching has many elements of what Moyse taught, Aitken found that to teach students to play expressively he had to find ways to explain and teach directly some of the physical aspects of playing—breathing, tonguing, embouchure, tuning, vibrato. He expects students to draw ideas for flute playing from many sources and never to trust their teachers without testing the ideas for themselves.
A substantial part of this wiki provides details on the elements of Aitken’s teaching, drawing on the author's direct experience of Aitken's masterclasses spanning over three decades, interviews with students and colleagues, dissertations and articles about him and his teaching, and many conversations with Aitken himself.
Because Aitken’s teaching can only be understood properly in relation to his character and his career as a musician, the reader is encouraged to read other parts of the wiki. Robert Aitken is a generous and caring friend of all with whom he has lived and worked, a musician of deep and thoroughly grounded convictions on what constitutes good flute playing and good interpretation, an inventor both of new music and of new ways of thinking about the flute, an international musician who has pushed the boundaries of contemporary music and flute playing, and a teacher highly gifted in developing in his students a deep understanding of a vast, diverse repertoire and the means to perform it with integrity.
The wiki pages on Aitken's teaching centre on the means to expressive performance that he cultivates in his students. In teaching he always has a two-fold aim: to teach students to listen to every aspect of their playing and to teach them how to teach themselves. His approach integrates the musical and physical dimensions of flute playing. He approaches music as a language that must be understand in order to realize the composer’s intentions. He makes the body and flute to be the music.
A concept map, Robert Aitken's Flute Teaching, developed using CmapTools, provides a structured view of his teaching.
The page Getting Started is a door to understanding Aitken's flute teaching, drawing from several of his own introductory talks in his masterclasses. It explains the organization of pages on his teaching and suggests paths for reading.
This page is a category page; it has links to all the pages in the category "FluteTeaching".
This category uses the form FluteTeaching.