Grand Valley State University Flute Studio
GVSU flute students are an integral component of the warmth and friendly atmosphere of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, are treated to close student-teacher and peer relationships, small classes, and an abundance of individual attention all within the walls of the inspiring and beautiful Haas Center for the Performing Arts at Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus. Studying at GVSU gives flute students an average of three to four hours a week with Dr. Walsh. Read below for what you can expect when you join the GVSU Flute Studio!
All Flute majors and minors receive lessons with Dr. Walsh on a weekly basis. The focus of the lessons will be on etudes and repertoire with special attention to practice techniques and what to focus on physically and musically to improve flute playing and musicianship. At the end of every term, the student will perform a jury that combines technique requirements from technique class and repertoire from lessons for the GVSU faculty.
In addition to weekly private lessons, all flute students attend an hour of studio class. This is the time to polish performance skills, receive feedback, and improve pedagogy and communication skills. Additionally, masterclasses and lectures will be presented on a variety of required areas of knowledge as pertains to the flute, teaching, and music in general.
Technique Class is an hour-long weekly boot camp style performing class which covers an array of technical exercises. Through serious study of this technical material, studio members not only see success in achieving technical proficiency with their current repertoire but increased success in learning the most difficult repertoire for the instrument. This class has a circular curriculum including exercises from Taffanel-Gaubert, Andersen, Reichert, Trevor Wye, a variety of extended range scales and arpeggios patterns, and intonation work with the Tuning CD and group drone exercises. This group class serves as a model for daily personal practice of fundamentals.
Each freshman works with an upperclassman one hour weekly on improving flute skills. In turn, upperclassmen continue to develop their teaching skills. Students rotate partners so everyone in the studio develops invested, personal relationships that contribute to the warm and friendly atmosphere of the studio. These relationships are important for the transition from high school to college as freshmen receive support on processes and institutional knowledge vital to being a successful member of the music program.
Flute students will be assigned to a small chamber flute group (duo, trio or quartet) and receive several coachings by Dr. Walsh through the semester. Flute chamber groups perform in studio class, during recital hour, at the Great Lakes Flute Festival, and in the community at least once a semester.
Extra-Musical Skill Development
Flute students develop performance, pedagogical, entrepreneurial, and administrative skills by participating in flute events hosted at GVSU including the Great Lakes Flute Festival, All-State Flute Clinic, flute studio recitals, performing for their music major peers in recital hour on Friday afternoons, and numerous school and community outreach events throughout the year.
Performance majors take performance pedagogy and performance literature classes with Dr. Walsh wherein they develop a robust teaching method for private students from beginning through collegiate study and create professional materials related to running their own private studio business and building a career in music.
Additional Performance Opportunities
There are many fantastic performance opportunities at GVSU. All music majors are placed in one of GVSU’s three major ensembles by a professionally simulated blind audition each semester. Flutists also can participate in chamber music of mixed instrumentation, collaborative piano class, Early Music Ensemble, and GVSU’s nationally renowned New Music Ensemble. In addition to performing for studio class, students will sign-up for guest artist/ensemble masterclasses throughout the year, and students can compete in the GVSU concerto competition. Half and full hour recitals are open for students to schedule with Dr. Walsh.
To learn more about the performing opportunities at GVSU visit: https://www.gvsu.edu/mtd/performance-opportunities-at-gvsu-37.htm
About Dr. Abigail Walsh
“My passion for performance is matched only by my love of teaching. Every individual is unique, and I adapt my teaching style to each student so they can succeed in playing the flute and being a fine musician. My pedagogical approach to teaching flute emphasizes physical awareness to eliminate tension and fatigue and create a polished performance. My teaching philosophy is clear and concise: I aim to inspire students to master great control of their instrument. By mastering breathing and finger technique, perfecting air-stream control, paying attention to details in a phrase, and developing sound production the student learns to sing through their flute, learn pieces quickly, and perform with ease and artistry.”
- Abigail Walsh
A versatile and passionate performer and educator, Dr. Abigail Walsh is the Visiting Professor of Flute at Grand Valley State University. She has performed with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra since 2018 and has most recently performed with the West Michigan Symphony, Holland Symphony and the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. She serves as the Vice President of the West Michigan Flute Association and is the program chair for the Great Lakes Flute Festival. She is the author of “Plugged In: Practice and Performance Method for Flutists” which will be available in January 2024 from Conway Publications.
A dedicated teacher and performer, Abigail teaches the flute studio at Grand Valley State University and gives master classes, performances, and presentations regularly. Highlights include National Flute Association conventions, the Florida, Wisconsin, Mid-Atlantic, Chicago, Iowa, Great Lakes and FNMC Flute Festivals as well as at the Engelbach-Hart Music Festival, and the Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s “Around the Town” Chamber Music Festival. As an ambassador of new music, Abigail has premiered over 50 new works for flute. She is a member and performer in the Flute New Music Consortium, an organization dedicated to commissioning and premiering new works for flute. With pianist Pei-I Wang, Abigail performed 10 new works for flute and piano virtually and on tour with the Composers Alliance of San Antonio during 2021 and 2022.
First prize winner of the CanAmerican Flute Symposium Solo Artist Competition in 2021, Abigail has been a prizewinner or finalist in the NFA Piccolo Artist Competition, the Washington Society Young Artist Competition, the University of Iowa’s Concerto Competition, and the Emeritus Recording Competition. She was a 2023 finalist of the American Prize in the professional instrumental soloist division, and the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the performance of American music.
Abigail has served on the faculties of the University of Illinois Springfield, Illinois College, and the Hartt School. She is the former Principal Flutist of Hartford Opera Theater, the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra and the Oskaloosa Symphony and has performed with the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, the Whiting Park Festival Orchestra as well as the Peoria, Millikin-Decatur, and Dubuque Symphony Orchestras. She has been a flute faculty artist at the Flute by the Sea Masterclass (RI), Five Seasons Chamber Music Festival (IA), Hartt High School Intensive Instrumental Workshop (CT), the UIS Flute Festival (IL) and the Western Illinois University’s Summer Music Institute (IL). Abigail holds DMA and MM degrees from the Hartt School, where she studied with Janet Arms and John Wion. She received her BM degree from the University of Iowa while studying with Tamara Thweatt, Robert Dick, and Tadeu Coelho. Other primary teachers include Betty Bang Mather, Trevor Wye, and Margaret Linnan Kegel.